1 John 5:6-13 - This is the testimony
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And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 1 John 5:11.
One of the sacrifices we are called to make in mission is separation from loved ones. I had not seen my father for two years and was looking forward to returning home soon. That morning, the students asked me to speak in the university chapel on the death of Elisha from 2 Kings 13:10-25. They wanted to know how the bones of Elisha brought a dead man back to life. I spoke about the God who is reliable to the end, who saved his people in the past, who saves in the present and who will save in the future through eternal life in Jesus Christ. After chapel, I went back to work, preparing a study on the resurrection from 1 Corinthians 15 and was struck by the parallels with the morning talk. I went home rejoicing, only to receive the news that my father had passed away. I was stunned at first, but soon realised that he had died close to the time I was speaking about eternal life. The next day, I taught my class on the resurrection, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22). The reality of Paul’s words was tangible, and I found that I could shout with Paul, “Death is swallowed up in victory!” (1 Cor 15:54). I knew with certainty that my father was not dead but had eternal life with Christ.
In this section, John assures the church that God has given us eternal life in his Son and shows that this is a certainty that is attested to by reliable witnesses.
Although we are not sure exactly what the false teaching in the church was, we know that it concerned the identity of Jesus, the nature of sin and the Christian life. In v.6-8, John addresses the question of the identity of the Son of God. He shows that true believers cannot accept part of who Jesus is. They must accept the whole testimony.
It appears that the false teachers claimed that they received the Holy Spirit directly through the “water” of Jesus’ baptism, representing Jesus’ earthly life. This, without need for forgiveness of sin and redemption through the “blood” of the cross.
John corrects this error by stating that Jesus came both by the “water” and the “blood”. These historical facts bear testimony to the earthly life and ministry of Jesus that began with his baptism and ended in his death and resurrection. On the cross, he substituted his righteousness for our unrighteousness and made atonement for us in his blood. This is the message of the Gospel, to which the Spirit testifies (vv.7-8).
There are therefore three testimonies or witnesses, as required by the law (2 Cor 13:1). However, they are greater than human witnesses because they are God’s witness to the truth about his Son (v.9). Whoever believes God’s witness is transformed by it (“has the testimony in himself” v.10). It is the truth that God gives eternal life through the life and death of his Son (v.11-12). Anything less makes God a liar (v.10).
The purpose of John’s sermon is that we may know with certainty that we have eternal life (v.13). This is the true Gospel, which Calvin says we love “because it brings us to eternal life” (p.262).
What do we believe about Jesus? Have we taken hold of the whole message of Jesus’ life and death on our behalf? Do we know we have eternal life? Let us seek him in truth today.
“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22).
Heavenly Father, we thank you that the water, the blood, and the Spirit bear witness to the truth that Jesus Christ lived and died for us that we might have eternal life. Fill us with joy at the certainty that we will not die but will live forever with Him.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Pray with us today's prayer request:
The situation for Christians in north-eastern Nigeria is very frightening. However, Rev. Hassan John reports that there is also good news. Thank God for the mission groups reaching out to Muslims and for conversions in recent months. Pray for wisdom and safety for the pastors, church workers, evangelists and missionaries as they proclaim Christ.
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