************ Sermon on 1 John 5:9-12 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on May 17, 2020
1 John 5:6-12
1 John 5:9-12
"God's Witness (2)"
Do you remember the trial of Scott Peterson for the murders of his wife Laci and their unborn child? The prosecution was based almost solely on circumstantial evidence. A good part of the case against OJ Simpson was also based on circumstantial evidence. It is better, far better, if prosecutors have what we call a smoking gun -- solid, physical proof that someone actually did the crime of which they are being accused.
When evidence is solid, we "accept man's testimony" (1 Jn 5:9). According to the Bible, we accept what is being said only when two or three witnesses say the same thing (Deut 19:15).
I A Witness that is Greater
A We continue our study of God's proof, God's witness, to the Lord Jesus Christ. "God's testimony," says John, "is greater" (1 Jn 5:9). "We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater." If you can accept the witness of man, then surely you will accept the witness of God. That's the argument here.
"God's testimony is greater." God does not give circumstantial evidence. Rather, God offers proof -- solid, physical proof -- about Jesus His Son.
What is it that God proves? What does God's evidence, God's witness, show? That Jesus has come to die for our sins as the Christ, the Messiah, the eternal Son of the living God.
B We looked at God's proof, God's testimony, God's witness, last time: the water, the blood, the Spirit.
The water looks at Jesus' baptism. It was a baptism of repentance and Jesus, the Perfect One, took the sinner's place. At that time the Father's voice said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased" (Mt 4:17).
The blood points us to the cross. Then, too, there was proof after proof that Jesus as Christ took the sinner's place: the darkness showing He was forsaken by God, the Temple veil being torn in two, the earthquake, the holy men being raised from the grave, the witness of the Centurion, the seven marvelous words of the cross.
The Spirit is the Spirit of truth. It is His job, in and through Scripture, to reveal God's truth to us about the Christ, the Messiah. So, over and over again in the gospels we see the presence and work of the Spirit: in the conception, the baptism, the teaching, the ministry, the miracles, the promise of another comforter. It is the Spirit who testifies in the promises of the Old Testament about the Messiah's coming. It is the Spirit who testifies about Christ in the letters of Paul, John, Peter.
C None of this is circumstantial evidence. The water, the blood, and the Spirit are in agreement. When two or three witnesses are in agreement, we know it is dependable, reliable, trustworthy (Deut 19:15). When two or three witnesses are in agreement, we know what they say is something we can believe. "We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater."
D Some of you have noticed the footnote attached to verses 7 & 8 which mentions the Vulgate. The Vulgate is the Latin translation of the Bible first prepared by Jerome in the late fourth century. Later manuscripts of the Vulgate have made an addition to verses 7 & 8. Our pew Bible says:
"For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood."The addition to the Vulgate says:
"For there are three that testify in heaven: the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. And there are three that testify on earth: the Spirit, the water and the blood."
What happened? And how did this addition appear in some English translations of the Bible? Sometime around the year 800 someone wrote the addition in the margin of the Latin Bible. In the 16th century the Latin Bible was retranslated into Greek with the marginal note added. And that Greek translation of the Bible is wrongly used by some English translations.
Now, remember, it is a sin to add to or to take away from the text of the Bible. So we are not talking about a small thing. Yet, let me hasten to add nothing in the addition is heretical. All of the addition is true. But it is an unwarranted addition that is not part of the original Greek.
II A Witness that Leads to Eternal Life
A "We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater." 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, eternal life, 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 "so that you know that you have eternal life" (1 Jn 5:13). Believe in Jesus, congregation; believe in Jesus so that yours is eternal life.
I ended this way last time. So why am I saying this again? Because of the Jews -- the Jews of Jesus' day.
The Old Testament is full of testimony from God about the coming of His Son. If the Jews took this testimony seriously they would have realized Jesus was the fulfilment of what God said: born in Bethlehem, born of a virgin, a son of David, rescued out of Egypt, raised in Galilee, John the Baptist as forerunner, filled with the Spirit, the Suffering Servant of Isaiah, the crucifixion and death, Easter's resurrection, the ascension and rule. All of that is found in the Old Testament. Everything the Jews needed to know about the coming of the Messiah was written in the Old Testament. If they paid careful attention, they would have known. If they only opened their eyes and heard God's testimony, God's witness, they would have seen Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God who died for their sins. But they didn't. They rejected Jesus as the Christ, as their Messiah.
Here is the irony. The Jews diligently studied the Scriptures (Jn 5:39). That's what Jesus said. They knew the Scriptures forwards and backwards. They read and memorized. They encouraged and comforted each other with the promises during the black days of the exile, when they were conquered by the Greeks, when they became a part of the Roman Empire. They diligently studied the Scriptures but they did not accept the Christ when He came. In fact, they are the ones who screamed at Pilate for His execution.
B Do you know why the Jews diligently studied the Scriptures? "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life." That's what Jesus said in John 5:39. The Jews studied the Scriptures because they wanted eternal life. John has good news, the best news, for the Jews:
(1Jn 5:11-12) And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (12) He who has the Son has life ...You want eternal life? You want life that never ends? Believe in Jesus. Come to Jesus. This is why God has given His testimony, His witness, about Jesus. That's the purpose, the reason, for the water, the blood, and the Spirit: so that the Jews and the Gentiles, so that you and I, can have eternal life. All anyone needs to do is come to Jesus. But the Jews couldn't and wouldn't. They wanted nothing to do with Jesus. Back to what Jesus says in John 5:39:
(Jn 5:39-40) You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, (40) yet you refuse to come to me to have life.Isn't that sad? They want life; they want it so badly. They study the Scriptures -- at least they are looking in the right place. But, they don't want the Jesus of the Scriptures. Here is a reminder you can study and memorize Scripture all you want, but if you don't meet and accept and believe in Jesus, it does you no good.
C Verse 12: "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." Do you hear the intolerance of the Gospel? Do you hear how exclusive it is? There is no salvation in any other. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). As Jesus Himself put it, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (Jn 14:6).
The secular world hates this. The secular world hates any claim that Jesus is the only way. Of course, Muslims and Jews and Hindus hate this too. Remember the TV interview that tricked an elderly Billy Graham to say there are other paths to God? That's what the world wants us to say. What hurts is that there are even those in the church who hate this. I've told you before about Pastor Rob Bell's book "Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived." Pastor Bell says everyone ends up in heaven. Moody Press has published a book that says you don't need to believe in Jesus to get to heaven. Maybe there is someone in worship with us by LiveStream who also has doubts about Jesus being the only way. So let me say it loud and clear: "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."
III A Witness that Demands a Response
A We have looked at the greater witness of God: the water, the blood, and the Spirit. We have looked at the purpose of the witness: eternal life, life that never ends. We end by looking at the response to God's witness.
We have already looked at one response: that of the Jews. The Jews rejected God's witness. John harshly condemns this response. "Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar" (1 Jn 5:10). Believe God about what or whom? If you do not believe God about Jesus. If you do not believe what God says about His only begotten Son. If you do not believe what God says about His Son and eternal life. If you don't believe God you are saying God is a liar. To any Jew, to call God a liar is blasphemy itself. John is saying rejection of Christ, rejection of the Gospel, rejection of eternal life in Jesus, makes one guilty of blasphemy.
B Like the Jews, do you want eternal life? Do you want to live forever? Here is God's testimony, His witness: "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son" (1 Jn 5:11). "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 Jn 5:12). If you want eternal life, you need to do what the Jews didn't do: you need to come to Jesus, you need to believe in Jesus. You need, says John, you need the testimony of God in your heart (1 Jn 5:10); that is, you need to believe.
"He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." Pretty simple. Pretty basic. If you don't have Christ, you don't have life. But if you do have Christ, if you believe in Him, you have life, life everlasting, life that never ends.
The testimony of God is so clear. He gave it through the Old Testament. He gave it in the New Testament. He especially gives it through the water, the blood, and the Spirit.
If you believe this testimony then you have life. Come to Jesus, congregation. Come to Jesus and have life.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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