Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Certain Witness

Preached at Northwest Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, October 31, 2010

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1 John 5:6-13, “This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” How many of you have made that 'Good Confession' as it is called? How many of you have spoken those words, before an audience of witnesses such as this one, and the, a few moments later been immersed into Christ for the remission of your sins?

I believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God.” The Lord willing, in just a little while, my youngest son, Jaden, will step onto this aisle, and walk up here to make that very confession of faith and to join Christ in Christian baptism. And, to say the least, we're very thankful. We praise God for how He's been working in Jaden's heart and mind, leading him to this point of decision, quickening him to trust in Christ, convincing him of his sin, and his need of a Savior – THE one and only Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ - calling him to repent and believe the gospel, and giving him courage to make that step. And, you're here, our dear Northwest Church family, and so are many other dear ones we've invited for this special day in Jaden's life, to share in it with him, and with us.

But, while I have your attention, allow me to point out something to you. According to this Book - this Book that declares itself to be God's book, and that, through many unique, and convincing proofs, shows itself to be God's book – Jesus Christ, believing Him or believing in Him, receiving Him for whom He claims to be, confessing Him, as the Lord-willing Jaden will do in a few moments, it is THE dividing line, the line in the sand, so to speak, between life and death. Life and death. For several of us, those words have come to have new and deeper meaning, just in the last few days, haven't they?

Confessing Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, is MORE than a religious ceremony or the reciting of some theological magic formula! Way more! To put it simply and soberly, it is a matter of life and death. Why is that? Well, as the apostle John would say it, as he has communicated it in the Scripture text we read a moment ago, it has to do with the issue of testimony, or testifying. God's testimony about His Son, Jesus Christ, first and foremost, and then our 'testimony' that hopefully follows thereafter.

Before we explore the gravity, the serious nature of this 'Heavenly' and 'Human' activity of testifying, allow me to sort of lay out the 'facts' pertaining to this testimony.

To begin with, going all the way back to the legal code of the Old Testament - the Law of Moses as we often call it – the idea of testimony or testifying is crucial.

Deuteronomy 19:15 indicates that every matter, every legal action must have at its root, it must be based upon the testimony of at least two or three witnesses. Such is the situation here in what the apostle John is proclaiming to us. The 'point of law' under discussion is this 'testimony' – 1 John 5:11&12 - “that God has given eternal life, and this life is in His Son”. And, that “[those] who have the Son have life [eternal life]; [but] [those] who do not have the Son of God do not have life.”

Now if you think about it, that 'testimony', that legal and theological 'claim' is quite a claim indeed. As I said a moment ago, there is nothing gray-colored here, is there? This 'testimony' puts things in very black and white terms. “He who has the Son, has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life...”

But, legal claims, declarations of this sort have to be backed up, they have to be established, according to Deuteronomy 19:15, by more than just one person's words, by more than one witness.

Look here – scan across this passage again with me, and what do you see? You'll see that this declaration about God and Christ and eternal life is not made merely by a single witness. But by multiple witnesses, or perhaps I should say, multiple layers of witnesses. Let me show you have I mean.

First of all, this witness, this testimony is a surpassing witness, a supreme kind of testimony, because, ultimately, it is given by, spoken by, God Himself. Verse 9: “IF we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son.”

Now, to observe that fact about this testimony, the surpassing nature of this testimony because it is God's testimony, might seem like an odd place to start. But allow me to make this observation with you: what kind of 'case', what kind of claim, what kind of testimony, do we have here, if we have here the testimony of One who never, ever lies?! The editors of one particular edition of the Bible I own put it well in their summation of this section of this letter of the apostle John, when they inserted this heading over it: “God's witness is certain.” God's witness, what makes it a supreme or surpassing witness? The fact that His testimony, what He proclaims from His heavenly 'witness stand' is certain! It is sure! Why? Because it is TRUE!

Secondly, please note with me that this witness, this testimony could also be called a Spiritual testimony. A spiritual testimony. Look again at verses 6, 7 and 8, and you'll see it rather clearly. Verse 6 – Jesus Christ, how did He come? In what ways did He manifest Himself? “He came by water and blood”... who says? End of verse 6 – The Spirit, the Spirit – look at this – who is Truth! Furthermore, take a look at verses 7 and 8, and note WHO is testifying: In heaven, all 3 member of the God-head – the Holy Trinity – including the Holy Spirit. And then, the earthly witness – verse 8. The same three mentioned in verse 6, “the Spirit, the water and the blood.” The claim, the declaration that “God has given eternal life – that that life is in His Son, that whoever has the Son has life, and that whoever does not have the Son of God doest not have life...” That legal claim is backed up by the SURPASSING witness of God Himself. It was His voice that declared at Jesus' baptism (Matt. 3:13-17), at Jesus transfiguration, and by means of His resurrection power at work 3 days later (Romans 1:3-4) – it was God's voice at Jesus' death, when water and blood flowed freely from the soldier's piercing of Jesus' side. It was God's voice, on all three of of these momentous occasions that made this magnificent declaration: “This is my beloved Son, in Him I am well pleased!” And that claim about God, and Christ, and eternal life is backed up by the Spirit, the testimony of the Spirit, the Heavenly Dove who descended at Jesus' baptism, the Glory cloud of God's Holy presence who descended so heavily and so powerfully on the mount of transfiguration, and the “Spirit of Holiness” as the apostle Paul calls Him in Romans 1:4, mightily at work at Jesus' death, and especially at Jesus' resurrection! It is a spiritual witness that we are learning about here! And it is a supreme, a superior Witness, the testimony of God Himself, that we are learning about here.

But then, thirdly, not very carefully the content of this testimony, not only WHO is giving it, but WHAT these witnesses – God the Father, and God the Spirit are saying! Verses 9-13. God the Father's witness, the Holy Spirit's testimony about Jesus is what? Simply, that He is God, the Son, that He is the Son of God. And, listen, despite what the false teachers of John's day, and our day would have us believe otherwise, God the Father's witness, and God the Spirit's witness, is that God the Son is both fully God and fully man!

I mentioned a few moments ago that, in keeping with the legal principle of Deuteronomy 19:15, that every matter be established by the testimony, the unified, not divided or disagreeing, but unified testimony of at least two or three witnesses, the declaration of verses 11 and 12, “that God has given eternal life that eternal life is IN His Son, Jesus Christ, that having – possessing and being possessed by the Son of God means that life, eternal life is your possession. And that to fail to have, to refuse to have the Son is to do without, to reject eternal life. This monumental declaration is backed up, established by not just one witness, or even two witnesses, but by multiple witnesses, or we might say, multiple layers of witnesses. Allow me to explain this a little further. By means of His own words, and the powerful presence of His Spirit at Jesus' baptism, transfiguration, death and resurrection, God the Father and God the Spirit have said OF Jesus of Nazareth, He's the One, He's my Son. These are what we might call God's testimonies about His Son, to us.

Now, here's where things get interesting, exciting, and yes, even sobering – that 'line drawn in the sand' kind of stuff! Not only has God testified, provided His CERTAIN witness about His Son – to us!

Listen, if you're a Christian – if you HAVE boldly, unashamedly, sincerely testified, made your own humble and joyful declaration, “Yes! Yes! I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God” and been joined to Him in His death, burial and resurrection in Christian baptism – then, guess what? These very same witnesses, the Spirit, the water and yes, even the blood of Jesus, are at work, testifying, in you! In you!! Verse 10 – It's there in black and white, “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness IN himself.” Christian, do you know what that is? That's a 'hallelujah verse'!! That's a 'glory to God' verse! What God has declared of Jesus by means of the Spirit, the water and the blood, “this is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased.” He has also declared, loud and clear, about you!

But, listen. As joyful and exciting a truth as this is, God's witness to our Son-ship written and established in us, in our hearts by His Holy Spirit, as joyful and exciting as all that is, for the Christian – what if you are NOT a Christian?

Sobering – that what this is, or ought to be – sobering, because it is a line-drawn-in-the-sand kind of stuff. Verses 10 through 12 – the Good news, “He who believes in the Son of God has this witness in himself” is set off in stark contrast to the BAD news, namely that “he who does NOT believe God” - not only is such a person calling God, the Certain Witness, a liar! How dare we do such a thing!! But “he who does NOT believe God” - believe what God has said about Jesus, does not have Jesus, God the Son, and in Him, possess eternal life...

I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” That Good Confession, that testimony made by folks like you and me that sets the stage for Christian baptism, this most sobering of life and death matters – let me ask you just this as we close.

If you do not have eternal life, because you do not have the Son of God, then what DO you have? What DO you have?

He who as the Son, has life; he who does not have the Son of God, does not have life.”

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