In our passage today, John wants to make sure we are sure. John is beginning his conclusion. He’s beginning to wrap up his epistle, and he wants to end it by making sure that we are sure. And that is why he uses this language of “testimony.”
Our brother Craig was called upon to give his testimony last week. He had to undergo a deposition and, if you ever have to do that, what you do is give your testimony. The lawyers are looking for your witness account on such things so that they can make their case.
That’s what John is doing here. He’s got one last chance to make his case. So he is spelling out the testimony he has concerning our Lord Jesus Christ. And again, his testimony is to make you sure that you are sure.
So we are going to look at his testimony this morning so that we can be sure we are sure. And I want you to notice three things regarding this testimony. First, the content or the substance of the testimony. Then, the veracity or the believability of the testimony, and then the purpose of the testimony.
Let’s begin with the substance of his testimony.
I. The substance of the testimony: Christ has two natures [6a].
In the first part of verse 6 he says, “This is he who came by water and blood--Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood.”
To what is it that John wants to testify? Well, it’s this fact that Jesus came by both water and blood.
Now, there are perhaps a thousand different views of what this means. I’ll give you the three main ones. One interpretation is that the water and blood refer to the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. You can see how those fit together; the water of baptism and the communion cup present a good analogy.
Another view is that John is referring to what he said in his gospel account. You remember that when Jesus was crucified he was pierced with a sword right through his side. They wanted to make sure that he died before the Sabbath, so they pierced him right through the ribs. And John records that a flow of water and blood came running down because of the puncture. Some people think that John’s words here refer to that event.
Another view is that the water and blood refer to two events in Christ’s life; his baptism and sacrifice. So this point of view says that John is emphasizing two big days in Jesus’ earthly life. Commentators give some reasons why there might be particular credence to this view. I’ll spare you that though. The point is, in this view, is that Jesus was really alive in human form and has some concrete events to which we can point to show it.
Now for the moment for which you all have been waiting! Which is the right view? Which of these do I believe is the right one? If you want to know which view I take, I’m sorry that I’m going to have to disappoint you. I really don’t know. I really don’t know if we can tell with precision what exactly John is talking about.
I can tell you this though: John is most definitely making sure that we know that Jesus was not just divine, but that he was most certainly a man too. I believe that John is emphasizing the two natures of Christ, specifically his human nature. Jesus came by the water and blood, not just the water, but also the blood. Whatever it might be referring to, the point is that Jesus was fleshy.
John’s audience was most likely struggling with an early heresy called Gnosticism. Gnosticism typically downplayed the physical dimension and stressed the spiritual and mystical. So they were making Jesus out to be a super spiritual entity that had little or no human element. And John wanted to make sure they knew that he most certainly had a human nature, as well as a divine one.
There is a tendency among men to gravitate to one or the other: the human or the divine. Typically in our day people tend toward the human element. But there are some who tip the other way. Some like to stress the mystical and the supernatural.
Islam is one such religion that does this. They don’t necessarily believe that Jesus was divine. But they do recognize him as a great prophet. He was a holy man. And since he was so spiritually inclined, they can’t fathom that Jesus was really crucified. They actually say that Jesus was taken up to heaven before his crucifixion. They believe that God put another person in his place.
Then there are people who eradicate Jesus altogether. They make it a mystical experience. They say things like “you have to release the Christ in you. You have to realize your Christ potential.” There is a sort of Eastern mysticism tone to it where Christ isn’t so much one who came to earth, but he is this thing you become.
Wherever you find people placing an emphasis on spiritual and mystical elements of religion, you will find that they downplay the historical and physical elements of Christ. The whole crucifixion thing typically gets lost too. Really, that’s one of the first things to go because that whole crucifixion thing seems a little too icky. It is too fleshy and physical.
But John says, “Make no mistake.” Jesus did come and he did have a real human nature, just like ours. And he did in fact die upon the cross. He shed a lot of blood, and his body was laid in a tomb. John wants to make that clear. That is the substance of his testimony.
Now, you can hear people of John’s day, can’t you? Here are the super spiritual people. You can just see them turning up their noses and saying, “There goes crazy Uncle John again—talking about that crucifixion stuff!”
So John needs to take his testimony to the next level. He needs to drive his point home. So in the next portion of the text—you might say the main portion of his testimony—verifies his argument.
II. The veracity of the testimony [6b-10]
How do we know that what he said is true? What’s going to make his argument believable to these super spiritually minded people? Well, how about talking about the Holy Spirit?
Look at what he says in the middle of verse 6, “The Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son.”
John’s saying, “You want to get spiritual? I’ll get spiritual with you. God himself has given this testimony. You don’t believe me? Then you do not believe the Holy Spirit who is right now testifying to these things! If you doubt me, you are doubting the Holy Spirit!” And you can kind of hear John saying, “Now how spiritual is that?”
But it is true. The Spirit does testify to the reality that Jesus came in the flesh and died on the cross for our sins. Where? You ask. It’s in the Scripture. It is in the gospel accounts. Certainly these people would have heard those stories which had been in wide circulation by this time. Perhaps they had even read the gospel John had written. We don’t know that for sure, but it is possible. The fact is, the Spirit was the one who had written the Scripture. The word of God was divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit.
That’s why John can then go on to say what he says in verse 10. “Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.”
If you believe the Gospel accounts, then the Spirit who wrote them is living in you. You not only have the objective witness of the Bible, but you have the internal witness of the Spirit right in your own heart.
And John says, “If you don’t believe them, well then, you are calling God a liar. God said he wrote it, but you are denying it. You are essentially saying that he didn’t. So you are pointing your finger at God and saying, “You are not telling the truth!”
That’s a pretty good argument for spiritual people. John really takes them to task. You think you are spiritual? You are denying the Spirit’s testimony and you are calling God a liar! What kind of spiritual person does that?
You know, one of the greatest sins we have is thinking that we are smarter than God. When we fail to simply take the Scripture at face value and come up with something we think is better, we are trying to be smarter than God. That’s downright foolish. Don’t do that. Don’t call God a liar. Just accept what he clearly has laid down in his word.
That’s what John is telling these people to do. Don’t try to be so pious. Don’t try to go beyond the Spirit of God. Just take what the Bible says at face value. When you do that, then you really are being spiritually minded.
Now, if you look in verses 11-12, you’ll find out why John is so fired up about all this.
III. The purpose of the testimony: Eternal life
Read with me verse 11. “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
John’s purpose is quite clear isn’t it? He wants you to be clear on this; he gives you this testimony because he doesn’t want you to miss out on eternal life. He is so adamant about this because the consequences are so great! It is the difference between heaven and hell.
This is important because it emphasizes how necessary it is to believe in the right Jesus. John is showing us the importance of doctrinal accuracy, specifically when it comes to the person of Jesus.
This is why the early church took such great pains to hammer out the specifics regarding Jesus’ deity and humanity. They understood what John is saying here. They understood that if we get it wrong, the future will not be very pleasant. And that is why, after formulating the creeds that we have now, they said, “If anyone does not hold to this, let them be anathema.” That is to say, they are condemned. The framers of the creeds made no bones about it.
Now, we live in a day that is radically different. Ours is a day where we downplay doctrinal differences. Everyone just wants to hug and get along. And I’ve even heard people say that it really doesn’t matter what you believe, just as long as you are sincere. People will say, “It doesn’t matter if you are a Mormon or a Catholic or a Buddist, as long as you are sincere.” They think that’s what God really looks at.
But as you see here, that’s not true. John says that you can be sincere about the wrong things and go to hell. The only way to keep that from happening is to embrace Jesus Christ as he is offered to you in the gospel. If you don’t have this Jesus, then there is no hope for you.
I believe I’ve mentioned before how I love it when the cults come to my door. My parents will tell you how excited I get. They live across the street from me and they can always tell when they come. They say that the pitch and the volume of my voice increase—they can just tell I’m excited.
It’s true. I love it. Those of you who have played sports know what it’s like before you run out on the court or hit the field. You just feel it jumping inside of you. That’s the way I feel when I hear that doorbell ring and I see a white shirt through the window.
The other day some Mormons were walking down the street towards me. I don’t know if they saw me or not, but they turned down another road! I almost ran after them!
It’s true. I love to engage in that conversation. But that is not what made me want to run after them. It was more because I know that they have the wrong Jesus. And because they do, they do not have eternal life.
I might not have been able to talk to those Mormons. But I can talk to you. You must receive and rest upon the Christ that John describes here. He is the only one who is able to give you life. Listen to his testimony and
He who has him, has life.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.