************ Sermon on 1 John 5:6-8 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on May 10, 2020
1 John 5:6-8
Testifies. Testify. Testimony. Or -- maybe a better translation -- Witness. The word shows up nine times in verses 6-12. So, the main topic or subject of our Bible reading is witness. God's Witness. The Witness of God.
A You all know of a group of people who claim to be God's witnesses. That's even in their name: Jehovah's Witnesses. They claim to be witnesses to God's truth. But are they really God's witnesses? Can they rightly call themselves Jehovah's Witnesses?
To answer this question let me ask: What is the number one truth that God has revealed? What is the witness of the Father about the Son? The number one truth of God is that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the second person of the triune Godhead. As John writes in his gospel:
(Jn 20:31) But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Look at the opening words of our Bible reading: "This is the one who came ..." (1 Jn 5:6). Who is Jesus? He is the one "who came." John is talking about the incarnation. John is reminding us that the eternal Son of God took to Himself a truly human nature. He came. This is the glorious central fact of redemption history. This is the foundation of the Christian faith. Jesus was not created when He was born. Rather, He came into the world. "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us" (Jn 1:14).
So, are the JWs God's witnesses? Of course not! They are nothing but liars. They are nothing but liars because they deny the very thing, the main thing, to which God gives witness in the New Testament. The JWs are willing to say Jesus is god -- small g not a capital G -- but not the Lord God Almighty. They say Jesus was created by God. They say He is not part of the Trinity; in fact, they don't believe in the Trinity. They say that before He was born Jesus was the angel Michael. When He was born to Mary, Jesus became a mortal human who died on the cross. And at Easter His body did not come back to life; rather, He became an immortal spirit. Did you get that? He started as an angel, became a mortal man, and then He was an immortal spirit. Is this God's witness to Jesus? What gibberish! What heresy! The JWs should change their name to Satan's Witnesses. Satan is the father of lies and they simply spout what they have learned from their father. God's witnesses say what God says, not what the Devil wants. Go back to what John said earlier:
(1 Jn 2:22) Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist--he denies the Father and the Son.
If you want to hear the testimony of God about Jesus, don't listen to the JWs. Listen to John, and the other gospel writers. And, all of God's true preachers today.
B We need to spend a few moments looking at the Greek word. Testifies. Testify. Testimony. Witness. It means someone who knows something and informs us about it, remembers and can report, has seen and tells. The terms have a wide range of usage: legal, military, civic, social, economic.
The actual Greek word is "martus" which is the root of the word "martyr." Martyr -- that is, someone who dies for their faith. How does witness become martyr? At the time of John, just like today, it happens far too easily. Those who are willing to testify or witness to Jesus as the Son of God are often killed for their faith. Remember, this is what happened with Stephen. He witnessed to Jesus. He testified to Jesus. And, he became the first martyr of the Christian faith. In the years that followed many Christians lost their life because of their witness to the Lord.
C Our topic or theme today is God's witness. God's witness to and about the Son. And, God has given us numerous testimony about Jesus. That witness starts already early in the Old Testament with the Mother Promise of Genesis 3:15.
(Gen 3:15) And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.We see the witness of God about Jesus in the ceremonies and symbols of the Law. We see the witness of God in the Servant Songs of Isaiah. We see the witness of God in the psalms telling us about God's Son sitting and ruling at God's right hand. From the beginning to the end the Old Testament is God's witness or testimony about Jesus.
The New Testament is also God's witness to the Son. The gospels are full of God's witness to Jesus: the testimony of John the Baptist, the witness of the disciples, the words of Jesus, the works of Jesus, the words of God at the baptism and transfiguration, Eater's resurrection. The book of Acts is God's witness to who Jesus is. Same with the letters of Paul and Peter and all of John's writings. From the beginning to the end the New Testament is God's witness or testimony.
Why so many witnesses? Because God Himself has declared no matter can be confirmed without two or three witnesses (Deut 19:15).
"This is the one who came ..." So how many proofs does John need to establish this? Following the declaration of God, John needs two or three witnesses. John settles for three:
(1 Jn 5:7-8) For there are three that testify: (8) the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.Three witnesses to the coming of the Son, three that testify to Jesus. Who are they? They are water, blood, and Spirit.
II The Three Witnesses
A In our passage, God's first witness is water. "This is the one who came by water ..." (1 Jn 5:6). What is John talking about here? Go back to the start of Jesus' ministry. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist with the water of the Jordan River. John's baptism was what? It was a baptism of repentance. But Jesus was and is holy, perfect, righteous, obedient. He had no need for repentance. He had no sin in His life. So what was Jesus doing? He identified with sinners. He put Himself in the place of sinners. He took the place of sinners. And the voice of God witnessed, testified, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased" (Mt 4:17). God Himself witnessed, testified, that Jesus is His Son and took the place of sinners.
B But, remember, "He did not come by water only." So there is a second witness: the blood. The blood on the cross. The blood at the end of His earthly ministry. Again, He identified with sinners. He took our punishment. He took our judgment. He took the anger of God against the sin of the whole human race. And God gave testimony then too. The earth became dark at midday. The curtain of the temple was torn in two. The earth shook and rocks split. Many holy people who had died were raised to life. When the centurion and those who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed what? "Surely he was the Son of God!" (Mt 27:54). Again, God testified that Jesus is His Son and took the place of sinners.
See the witness of water and blood as brackets to Christ's earthly ministry. It started with water. It ended with blood. The Father witnessed to who Jesus is at His baptism. The Father witnessed to who Jesus is at His death. Water and blood. "He did not come by water only, but by water and blood" (1 Jn 5:6).
Why does John insist on both water and blood as God's witnesses? Because of a heresy that developed in the early church. This heresy said Jesus was God's Son at His baptism but not at the cross. The heresy says the Spirit descended on Christ at His baptism and left Him before the cross. According to this heresy, Jesus came by water but not by blood. According to this heresy, God claimed Him as Son at the baptism but not at the cross. We know and believe that if Christ did not take His divine nature to the cross, He could not reconcile us to God. That if He wasn't fully God at the cross He could not and did not conquer sin or death for us.
C Now, remember, there are three that testify: not just the water, not just the blood, but also the Spirit. Says John, "And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth" (1 Jn 5:6).
The Spirit is the Spirit of truth. He always speaks what is true. He reveals what is true. It is His work to reveal:
(2 Pet 1:21) For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.The Holy Spirit is the source of revelation. The Holy Spirit is God's witness, through Scripture, of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done. Its testimony, its witness, is that Jesus came; that the eternal Son of God took to Himself a truly human nature in order to take the sinner's place.
(Jn 16:13) But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.
(1 Jn 5:7-8) For there are three that testify: (8) the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.They are in agreement. When two or three witnesses are in agreement the matter has been established as true, reliable, trustworthy.
So, do you believe? Do you listen to God's witnesses? That's the point, the reason, for God's witness -- that you believe (cf Jn 20:31). Do you listen to the water, the blood, and the Spirit? Your salvation, your eternal salvation, depends upon your answer. Do you believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God?
I invite you to listen to the three that testify. I invite you to believe Jesus is the Christ, the eternal Son of the living God.
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