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 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.”
In the previous section John has said that a person who is born-again must believe that Jesus is the Christ and that He is the Son of God. In 1 John 5:1he said, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God…”. He also said in 1 John 1:5, “Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
Now in 1 John 5:6-12 John gives us evidence that Jesus is the Christ and that He is the Son of God. The evidence that John gives is a direct assault upon the false teachers and their teaching concerning Christ. John makes clear in 1 John 5:6 that Jesus Christ was the eternal Son of God at the time of His baptism. He also makes clear that Jesus was the eternal Son of God at the time of His suffering and death. John says, ““This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood.”
Some, like Calvin, have said that John’s words are a reference to John 19:34which says, “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.”
Others, like Luther, have argued that John is referring to the sacraments: baptism and communion.
However, most scholars today believe that John writes of these things to emphasize the fact that Jesus Christ was revealed as the Son of God at His baptism and also in His sufferings. John has been addressing these false teachers and their teaching form the beginning and he continues to do so here.
Then John says at the end of verse 6, “And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.”
Eight times in the English Standard Version John uses the word ‘testimony’ and ‘testifies’ in verses 6-12. This is another reason that we should not soon forget this sermon. The LORD is continually giving testimony concerning Christ all the time. When John says, ‘the Spirit is the one who testifies’, he uses a present active participle which expresses continuous and repeated action. The LORD is consistently, repeatedly, perpetually, over and over again testifying to our hearts that Jesus is the Christ.
What a blessing! Do you appreciate what a blessing it is to be told that the LORD is continually testifying to us concerning Jesus Christ and the eternal life that we have in Him?
There is a story about a young man got to meet for the first time a minister that he greatly admired. After they meeting the minister who met this young man was asked what he remembered most about the meeting. The man said that the young man had asked him a question as soon as they shook hands and greeted each other. He was asked what the question was. The minister smiled and said, “He asked me if I knew that my sins were forgiven.”
Everyone needs someone in their life who will make us aware of the most important things in this life. The apostle John says that every believer does have such a Helper and it is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit never tires of reminding us about Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is always speaking of Him, who He is and what He has done for us. You may be a very mature believer who is sitting here this morning but you still need to know that the Holy Spirit is testifying to your heart concerning Jesus Christ. You need this testimony as much as a young believer does.
What a blessing this continuing ministry of the Holy Spirit is to each of us. Let me take a moment to try to help you to appreciate this blessing. In my devotions this week I have been reading Psalm 10. The psalmist begins the psalm with two questions. First he asks, “Why, O LORD, do you stand so far away?” Secondly, he asks, “Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” The psalmist desires to see the LORD respond against injustice, but he does not see Him acting. He desires to hear God speak, but God seems to be silent.
We have all experienced times like these. These are uncomfortable moments for all of us. One of the laments that we hear most often among believers is that God seems silent and distant.
As if these moments are not difficult enough for us, we also find that during these times we can hear the enemy the most. For example, the psalmist speaks of an enemy who is loud, boastful, and prideful. He says in Psalm 10:3, “For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD.”
We read in Psalm 10:7, “His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.”
We can hear the enemy say things like: “There is no God” (4). The godless says, “I shall not be moved; throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity” (6), And the godless says, “God has forgotten, He has hidden His face, He will never see it.” (11)
Like the psalmist, we all know what it is like to experience moments when God seems quiet, distant and hidden from our perception. We know what it is like to live in a world that acts sinfully and speaks ignorantly about God. So what encouragement can we have in such times? In the Old Testament the LORD would send His word to the people through the prophets to comfort, guide and discipline His people. (Hosea 6:5)
In1 John 1:6we have been reminded that the LORD is continuously giving testimony, and an inward witness, to those whom He is revealing Himself to by the Holy Spirit. In this world there are many antichrist’s, deceivers, and liars. But God has sent the Holy Spirit to testify to our hearts continually concerning the truth of the Scriptures concerning Jesus.
Some of you may have walked in here this morning and asked, “Why, O LORD, do you stand so far away?” and “Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Some of you walked in here this morning with your mind distracted by the things that you hear the godless saying. Things like: “There is no God”, “I shall not be moved; throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity”, and “God has forgotten, He has hidden His face, He will never see it.”
And yet, God is encouraging usthrough1 John 5:6. First, we are are encouraged as we remember the life, ministry and the death of Jesus Christ. Believers are not just aware of the facts concerning Jesus and the salvation that He provides, but we are aware of the life and the fellowship that we have with Jesus Christ right now. As we believe in the testimony of the Spirit (6), and as we believe the testimony of the Father, we will grow more and more in these things (10-12).
Secondly, we are encouraged by remembering that the LORD is speaking, continually the truth to us. He is testifying and witnessing to the truth all the time. The Spirit is truth and we have received the Spirit who will speak the truth always, every time, without failure. Proverbs 8:6-9 says, “Hear, for I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right, for my mouth will utter truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them. They are all straight to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge.”
Thirdly, I hope that we are encouraged to remember that many live in a world where God seems silent. Many live in a world where the voices of the godless seem to be so loud and they are drowning out everything else. However, believers experience a different reality now and we need to be testifying to the gospel now more than ever. This world desperately needs the church to give them the message of the gospel through which the Holy Spirit can confirm the testimony in their hearts concerning Christ.
Mindy and I are watching a home improvement show where two parents have a blended family. Between them they have six boys and a girl. When your watching the show it is hard to see which boys are children of the father and which are children of the mother. But sometimes you hear one of the children speak and you can hear the voice of the parent in their voice. One of the ways the world sees that we are believers is that we are continually testifying to the things that our Heavenly Father is testifying about. May our mouths be full of the Gospel concerning Jesus Christ – the Son of God.