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I John 5:6-13
I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. (I John 5:13)
Ok, You may notice that I stole today’s lesson title. "Evidence That Demands A Verdict" was the title of a book written by Josh McDowell. When he was a pre-law student, he was challenged by a group of Christians to investigate the claims of Jesus from a purely intellectual standpoint. He set out to disprove what the Bible had to say about Jesus and that Christianity was a sham. But, in his investigation, he found that the evidence was credible and that Jesus must be exactly what those narrow-minded Christians said all along. We talk to our friends, neighbors, family - trying to convince them of who Jesus is and what he can do for them. It’s not always easy… people are skeptical - and to them, we’re no different than the other religious folks. We have one view of Jesus and there are lots of different ideas out there. They’ll ask us “Why should I believe what you say?” That’s a legitimate question. Christianity is based on evidence and to the shock of some, can even stand up against honest scientific investigation. Our faith is rooted in history… in a particular place and in a particular time. It’s based on events that can be confirmed by the study of history. Do you realize how unique that is? Not every religion can make that claim. History means nothing to a Buddhist. It really doesn’t matter if Buddha was proven to be a fictitious character. The Buddhist still has his philosophy and thoughts of his own divine self whether or not it was Buddha who first taught it. But, Christianity stands or falls on the existence of a man and an event in history. If we have our history wrong then our faith is meaningless. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith is empty. Also, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified against God that he raised Christ from the dead, when in reality he did not raise him, if indeed the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins. Furthermore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. For if only in this life we have hope in Christ, we should be pitied more than anyone. (1Co 15:16-19) Awhile back, The Discovery Channel ran a documentary claiming that Jesus' grave has been found. The show was pure schlock, without any real archeological support. When checking out online what people were saying about the documentary, I read one guy say that it’s great if the tomb could be proven to belong to Jesus. It would finally prove that he really did exist. NO! It would prove that Christ was only a man who had no more power over death than the rest of us. It would mean that we have no hope in eternal life. So, it’s important to us more than anyone to have evidence that what we believe is reality. We need solid testimony, reliable witnesses. Do you like courtroom dramas? The problem with legal trials is that some people will put their hands on a Bible and swear not to lie but even then, you can’t be sure that their trustworthy. Someone’s life and freedom may be on the line, but you can never be sure if the witness is really telling the truth. In the final analysis, a witness is only as good as his character. And when it’s all boiled down, John
wants us to know that there is ample evidence in the Case For Christ and the testimony is absolutely trustworthy. The testimony is clear, convincing, and absolutely trustworthy. People who believe that God came in Jesus only at baptism and left before His crucifixion believe that God came to model the perfect life but not to pay for our sins by His death. Such people have too high a view of mankind and too low a view of sin. If Jesus were born human, he would be born with a sinful nature like you and me. If Jesus died as a human, even a sinless human, his death would only be sufficient to pay for the sins of only one human being - one for one. Only the Son of God, without sin and with infinite worth, could pay for the sins of the world.
I. The Witnesses (6-8)
John tells us that we do have reliable witnesses to Jesus. He, in fact, gives us three: the water, the blood, and the Spirit. It’s significant that John emphasizes three witnesses. (Deu 17:6) At the testimony of two or three witnesses they must be executed. They cannot be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. (Deu 19:15) A single witness may not testify against another person for any trespass or sin that he commits. A matter may be legal only on the testimony of two or three witnesses. (Mat 18:16) But if he does not listen, take one or two others with you, so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. (2Co 13:1) This is the third time I am coming to visit you. By the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter will be established. (1Ti 5:19) Do not accept an accusation against an elder unless it can be confirmed by two or three witnesses. (Heb 10:28) Someone who rejected the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Testimony of a single person wouldn’t stand. He could have reason to lie or it may be that his memory of the events were cloudy. God takes justice and truth seriously, so He demands multiple witness testifying the same thing. At least two is required in order to make sure that a testimony is accurate. Three witnesses would be icing on the cake. If you can get three people that saw the same thing in the same way then you have a solid case. In the Case For Christ, the issue is too important to leave any doubt. God has supplied not just the minimum but a full compliment of three witnesses. The witness of the water and the blood. That’s an odd way of putting things. In trying to unwrap the meaning here, I had to do a lot of extra study. There are various ways scholars have interpreted these verses. The best I can do is give you what I’ve read and give you my ideas of what it means. You can take it from there. A. The Water How is it that water is a witness? What’s John trying to get at here? Well there are different interpretations. 1. Some have said that water = natural birth, as in the amniotic fluid that surrounds a baby in the womb. So, coming by water would speak of Christ’s incarnation and humanity. That sounds good, except that it’s a stretch. There’s no evidence of that in first century Jewish thought. They didn’t think of water in those terms. 2. Another thought is that water signifies cleansing and purification. I’m sure that thought is folded in there,
but it doesn’t seem to fit the context in my view. 3. Water is sometimes a symbol in Scripture for The Spirit. Ok that could “hold water” but yet the Spirit is given as the third witness. 4. Some say that the water is the word of God. That imagery is found in scripture, for sure. But, again, it doesn’t seem to fit the context. 5. I think the best explanation could be the water denoting Jesus’ baptism. This was the official beginning of his ministry and was his identification with mankind. I think the idea is the witness of his public ministry, and so also his humanity. Jesus came as a man. He lived his life in public, in front of his chosen twelve and in front of the people in general. Much of what he did and said was a matter of public record. If you want to examine the evidence for Christ, it’s there for you. It was recorded by secular historians and by the Gospel writers. I think this interpretation particularly makes sense when you understand the gnostic error that John was refuting all the way through his letter. He makes the statement that Jesus came “not by water only, but by water AND the blood.” The gnostic were saying that the Divine Christ appeared as a dove at Jesus’ baptism. That was when God entered into the man and then the Divine Christ left Jesus at the cross. So it was only a man who died. But, that’s not the witness. He came both by water (in ministry) and by blood (in death.) His life and his public ministry are a witness to his identity. Few would argue that his life wasn't unique. Yes, Jesus was a man of flesh and blood; just like us except without sin. When he died, water poured out of his side as well as blood. He lived and he died, not as a man only but as Almighty God. B. The Blood He came not by water only but also by blood. Most people today would be more comfortable with the gnostic doctrines of Christ than the traditional Christian teaching. This whole idea of blood and death - it sounds so primitive, so gruesome. We’ve gotten beyond that haven’t we? Most people have no problem with John’s assertion of Christ coming by water. They admire his ministry and sincerely try to emulate him. But, like the early gnostics, they have no tolerance for the suggestion that Jesus first and foremost came to die. The blood is a witness to who Jesus is. In purely human terms, his death was a remarkable event in human history. Study the life of Jesus and tell me why men wanted him dead? Why would anyone campaign so hard to execute a poor, itinerate preacher who even his worst enemies admitted that they could find no fault in him? That, alone is an exceptional situation in itself. But that’s not why Jesus’ death was so profound. He died to give us eternal life! You can’t say that about anyone else in history. No founder of any religion ever made that claim. The witness of the blood is powerful and unique. C. The Spirit The third witness taking the stand is The Spirit. The Holy Spirit guided the prophets and apostles to proclaim and testify to Christ throughout the ages. He is working today to attest to the truth of the Scriptures and as Paul told us in Romans, He’s within us testifying to our spirit that we are truly the children of God. …And notice: “it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.” Get the thought: The court is in session and the next witness is called. He takes the stand but he doesn’t place his hand on a bible and he doesn’t swear an oath to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.” Why not? Because He IS the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! He is truth, itself and His purpose is to bring truth to light.
The witness of the Spirit is effective and absolutely reliable because it’s the testimony of God, Himself. Three witness to testify that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah, the Son of God and Savior of the world. These three are reliable and powerful witnesses and they all are in complete agreement.
II. The Testimony (9-14)
So, we’ve learned a little about the witnesses. Now it’s time to start thinking about the testimony, itself. what is their testimony? What is it that they’re saying? That’s John’s topic in these next few verses. A. The Source The first thing John tells us is the source of the testimony. It’s not just the opinions of men, but the declaration of God, Himself. Whatever God has to say ought to believed, wouldn’t you think? We decide court cases upon what a few men have to say. If two or three witnesses say the same thing in court without seeming to have motive to lie, that pretty much settles the case. Courts make literal life and death decisions like that all the time. In fact, lots of cases are decided without any eye-witness testimony at all. We believe the testimony of men… how much more credence should we put into God’s testimony? That sounds like a no-brainer but how many people actually pay attention when God speaks? Not many. I remember back when I was first saved. I was naïve (kind of dumb) I expected people to at least give some thought when I’d say “God said…” I didn’t always expect people to take my word for it, but I thought they’d give it serious consideration. I thought people would actually care about what God has to say. Sadly enough, that’s usually not the case. People generally ignore God’s testimony. John says “the one who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has testified concerning his Son.” That’s a strong statement: “calling God a liar.” But, that’s how serious the issue is. Believe God and the testimony that He gives concerning His Son… or call Him a liar. B. The Essence God is the source of the truth about His Son. Let’s examine this truth. What is it that God wants us to know? “This is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. The one who has the Son has this eternal life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have this eternal life.” That’s crystal clear. It’s black and white. This thing called eternal life is all about Jesus. If you have Jesus, you have eternal life. You can’t get it without him and if you don’t have him, well, you don’t have eternal life. That’s the story, that’s God’s testimony. Christians are so misunderstood and misrepresented today and much of it is our own fault. We sometimes forget what we’re all about. We’re considered Bible-thumpers who’s identity is about the things that we’re against. We’re Right Wingers who’s identity is about mean-spirited politics. We’re those guys who talk about sexual purity when our leaders are indulging in things that even shock the jaded people of the press. But, what we’re suppose to be about is Jesus and eternal life. Everything else is peripheral. If we show ourselves to be that kind of people, we’ll probably be just as rejected… but we’d be less misunderstood. God has given those three witnesses: the water, the blood, and the Spirit… but that’s not the end. WE are also His witnesses. It’s our purpose as well to bear testimony to the Son. Let’s be good and reliable witnesses for Christ.
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