1 John 5:6-12 Part One - The Testimony of the Holy Spirit
Our text this morning is 1 John 5:6-12 and states,
This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. 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. 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. 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.
In March of 1740 a sermon was preached by Gilbert Tennent that was entitled, “The Dangers of an Unconverted Ministry”. As you can probably tell by this title this sermon created quite a commotion throughout the colonies and in many churches.
Let me give you just a couple sentences from this sermon. He said, “Remarkable is the saying of our Savior, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of me’. See, our Lord will not make men ministers, till they follow him. Men who do not follow Christ may fish faithfully for a good name, and for worldly profit; but not for the conversion of sinners to God. Is it reasonable to suppose that they will be earnestly concerned for others salvation, when they slight their own? How can these men be faithful, when they have no faith?”
This sermon was published and it immediately became the focus of great discussions and bitter attacks. Some ministers commended Tennent’s statements and others condemned them. One man, Joseph Tracy, said of this sermon, “Neither friends nor enemies would let the sermon rest.”
In this sermon Tennent had powerfully addressed a problem that had been allowed to continue for far too long. The problem was that there were far too many leaders in the churches throughout England and in America who were not truly born again. As a result, they were not preaching for the conversion of souls. Nor were they preaching the truths that would lead to the sanctification and edification of the saints. They were more like the men in Jesus’ day who grumbled and complained when sinners and tax collector’s drew near to Jesus to hear Him speak. We read of this in Luke 15:1-2, “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’”
When Tennent preached this sermon there were many young ministers that God was raising up to preach to the gospel in a powerful way. Many religious leaders sought to remove these men from their churches and commanded them that they were not to preach in their communities even if by open air preaching.
One of these young ministers was George Whitfield. Even as his preaching was drawing thousands of people he was told that he could no longer preach in churches or in the fields to the coal minors or farmers. Whitfield sought out the advice of an older minister who had been a faithful pioneer in ministering under these conditions. After meeting with him Whitfield was encouraged and said, “I am convinced that I am but a young soldier, just entering the field. Good God, prepare me to fight like a man in any battle that You have appointed for me.”
I begin this morning with this story for several reasons. First, John’s message from our text today should not be to easily forgotten. We ought to be able to say with Joseph Tracy, “Neither friends nor enemies would let this sermon that the apostle John gives a rest.” There can be no doubt that there were many in John’s day who would have loved this message. And there were many who would have hated it. The believers needed to hear his clear and powerful message because there had been many false teachers whose teaching had brought confusion and chaos into the churches. We too are facing this same challenge in our day.
Every generation has to have faithful ministers who do two things. First, they are to faithfully preach and preserve truth. Secondly, they are to confront the error of false teachers and their teachings. We should desire that God would raise up leaders in this generation who will preach fearlessly the truth of the Scriptures. We need men who have faith in Christ and are burdened to go where God calls them to go and who will say what He tells them to say.
Secondly, we need to recognize these faithful ministers and believers and take every opportunity to go to them for encouragement to do the same. May the younger generation spend time with these faithful believers and come away saying, “I am convinced that I am but a young soldier, just entering the field. Good God, prepare me to fight like a man in any battle that You have appointed for me.”
The apostle John is that older believer, and that faithful minister, who comes to these churches in Asia Minor and speaks clearly and powerfully against the false teachers and their message in his day. John is not content to let these false teachers influence his ‘little children’ in the faith. John quickly and decisively addresses these false teachers and their message throughout this entire letter. He knows that those who do not follow Christ will not lead others to the LORD. John knows that those who are faithless will not lead others into the faith. He knows that those who are not concerned about their own salvation will not be concerned about the salvation of others. He knows that those who try to know the gospel apart from the Spirit will inevitably preach a liberal, progressive, man centered gospel in which there is no real Christ and through which there is no salvation. We read in verse 12, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
When the words of our text were read to these churches in Asia Minor we can be assured that there were some who loved this message as the Holy Spirit applied it to their hearts. And we know that there were others who hated this message. And we can be sure that as this letter went from church to church, “Neither friends nor enemies would let the sermon rest.”
Similarly, when we consider this text we should not quickly forget it. We are facing our own challenges from liberal theologians and progressive thinkers. We are facing our own battles with vain philosophies and teaching of men.
The false teachers in John’s day were teaching that Jesus was not the Christ. They were teaching that he was not the eternal Son of God. They taught that Jesus was a man like you and I and that at his baptism the Spirit of God came upon Him and then left Him prior to his sufferings. They could not imagine that God could suffer and die, so they taught that the Spirit departed from Jesus before his sufferings and death.
Knowing these things help us to understand what John is saying in verses 6 when he writes, “This is h