The Three Witnesses
I think that if I asked the people gathered here to raise their hands if they wanted to be resurrected from the dead and go to heaven, everyone would raise their hands. And if I asked each one how this was going to happen, most would explain in one way or another, that Jesus would do this because of our faith in Him. But if I went on to ask why you believe this to be true, or to give me reason to believe that what He promised was true - some might have difficulty answering. Some might say:
- I've always believed this, this is what I've been taught.
- Others might say, I don't know why I believe it, I just do.
- Still others might say - the Bible says so and that's it for me.
Well there may be sincere answers but not quite enough to answer a skeptic on why you believe what you believe. For this reason I want us to look at 1 John5 tonight and examine how John supports the belief that eternal life come through Jesus Christ as surely as the rain falls from the sky. John's approach to answering any doubts about the Christian's reward is to provide 3 witnesses who testify that what Jesus said (and especially what He said about our eternal life) was indeed true.
The concept of witnesses confirming the veracity of some event is an ancient idea.
6On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. 7The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
- Deuteronomy 17:6-7
In a judicial sense this same idea continues to be true today. If you have one eyewitness you have a good case against someone, if you have two it's a lock, three witnesses is insurmountable.
Jesus used this same standard when instructing His disciples on settling disputes over offenses against one another. "… if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the month of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed (Matthew 18:16).
John, in his 1st epistle also uses the idea of witnesses to confirm the fact that Christians a sure hope of eternal life.
Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
- I John 5:5
In this verse John summarizes his case by asking and answer the key question,
Question: "Who overcomes the world?"
In other words who overcomes what is in the world and what happens to the world - namely sin and death. This is what is in the world and what inevitably happens to everything in the world. He asks if there is anyone who can overcome these things.
Answer: He answers his own question by saying that - only the one who believes in Jesus overcomes the world. How the term "believes that Jesus is the Son of God" compresses everything that goes along with that.
- Repentance and baptism
- Faithful living
- Perseverance until the end.
In other words, only the Christian overcomes the world (sin and death).
This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
- I John 5:6
John wrote this letter to respond to certain heretics of the time which proposed the idea that Jesus was an ordinary man who possessed the Spirit of God, but for only a short time. They promoted the idea that the Divine Spirit first entered Him at His baptism by John but left Him before His death on the cross. This false teaching turned Jesus into a prophet (Holy Spirit for a time) and robbed His sacrifice on the cross of its power to atone for sins.
John, as an eyewitness of Jesus' life reminds them that Jesus had the full credentials of the divine Messiah. At His baptism (water) the father in heaven declared in an audible way that Jesus was His beloved Son (Matthew 3:17). And at the cross (blood) John re-offers that Jesus made the sacrifice needed to atone for sins.
For there are three that testify:
- I John 5:7
John declares to there heretics that the truth of these things does not rest solely on his eyewitness testimony but what he teaches stems from the Holy Spirit Himself. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide the Apostles into all truth (John 16:13) and part of that was correctly remember and interpret and the events surrounding Jesus life and death.
And so when John is speaking, it is the Holy Spirit who speaks through him.
...the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.
- I John 5:8
John now brings together the three witnesses that attest to the truth of the original statement concerning those who believe in Jesus.
1st Witness - The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit witnessed for Christ in many ways:
- The prophet He inspired to speak of the coming and ministry of Jesus of Jesus over a period of 1400 years. More than 300 prophecies given by the Holy Spirit fulfilled by Jesus.
- By His power Jesus was resurrected from the dead (Romans 8:11).
- Through His guidance the Apostles and disciples saw Jesus alive
- (I Corinthians 15:1-11)
- He guided the Apostles in their writings about Christ and His resurrection ([II Peter 1:21]])
So the Holy Spirit testifies in many different ways to bring us the word which teaches us about Christ.
2nd Witness - The Water
The water refers to the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. Some think it refers to the water the baby is immersed in when in the mother's womb. Others think it's the water that came from His side when He was pierced by the soldier on the cross (John 19:34).
It's not embryonic fluid because it does not relate to anything else in Bible. It's not the water from His side because the order is wrong.
- John 19:34 - Blood and water
- I John 5:8 - Water and blood
Also the water from His body was a sign of life and renewal and it is in the same order that His life took - first the baptism then the cross. The water is a witness because God xxxxx His Baptism with many signs of His special status. The appearance of the dove to signify His anointing in a special way by God. The hearing of God's voice acknowledging His unique position with God as beloved Son. God Himself testifies that Jesus is the Chosen Savior if God says Jesus is divine and that His work is blessed, then we have pretty strong evidence that it is so.
3rd Witness - The Blood
The blood is His suffering and death on the cross. It is a witness in several ways:
The Old Testament prophets said that the Messiah would suffer and die for other's sins (Isaiah 53:4-5; Acts 2:30). The way He suffered and died and all He said and did at the time revealed Him to be the Messiah. The fact that He rose again from the death on the cross is the strongest evidence that He is indeed the divine Son of God, (Romans 1:4). Because many came since declaring that they were the Messiah, The writer closes the verse with the comment that the testimony of these three witnesses do not conflict - all three are saying the exact same thing about Jesus - that He is the Messiah.
Now in a court of law - three corroborating witnesses create a basis for believing that something is true beyond doubt. In Jewish numerology the number three represented God/Divinity (4 = earth; 6 = imperfection; 7 = God and creation together). What John is implying here is that with these three witnesses - Holy Spirit/ Water/ Blood you have a witness equal to God Himself giving testimony.
If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son.
- I John 5:9
John refers to his reader again by saying that if they can believe the witness of weak men teaching false things, surely it shouldn't be a stretch to believe what God has even bothered to do?And that is hear witness for His Son. It should be obvious but God testifies anyways.
The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son.
- I John 5:10
Here John describes the good and bad consequences of not believing such a powerful witness:
- Good - The one who believes the testimony receives the witnesses into himself. If he believes he receives. The baptism, the blood, the H. S. The witnesses continue to testify with in him to maintain his faith.
- "Holy Spirit cries Abba Father with- in the Christian" (Romans 8:15).
- The one who believes also grows to believe other things revealed to Him by the Holy Spirit in the word.
- Bad - The one who disbelieves the witnesses makes them out to be liars. You reject the witness, you reject the Son, you reject the Son, you reject the Father. You reject the Father, you suffer the consequences.
11And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
- I John 5:11-12
John reviews the promise once again. Those who believe the witnesses receive the gift of eternal life. Those who do not believe forfeit the eternal life they could have had.With this unequivocal statement John rest his case concerning belief in Jesus as the Son of God.
In many ways we today face the same kind of challenge to our faith in Jesus Christ: Within Christianity there are those who are trying to cast doubt on the fact that He is the Son of God (like the Jesus Seminar for example).
In the World there is a constant attack from every quarter challenging the teaching of the Bible and specifically of the claims of Christ. These modern day heretics and disbelievers offer modern theology; evolutionary theories; scientific snobbism as their case against Christ. We, on the other hand, remain with the three witnesses and the decision that faces every generation. We are the Jury and we can either:
A. Disbelieve The Witnesses - We then dismiss their evidence and reach the same conclusion that the Jews arrived at: Jesus is not God. We then have to look elsewhere for our salvation, our answers, our God.
B. We Can Be A Hung Jury - Continue in doubt, delay, put off a decision. In this case we remain deadlocked. Dead - Spiritually, Locked - into this world and its outcome
C. Believe the 3 Witnesses - If we believe the water, the blood and the Word of the Spirit then we must:
- Believe that Jesus is the Son of God and acknowledge this.
- Repent of sins.
- Be immersed in the water of baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
- Be ready to live eternally with God in heaven when Jesus returns.
What will your verdict be?
If you've had to make this decision for the first time tonight believe the witness and come now for baptism. If you've wavered in your faith and need to be renewed --- confirm your decision by coming for prayer. If you need ministry at this time or would like to identify with this congregations … come.