Haves and Have Nots

This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given 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.

1 John 5:6-12

What an interesting text!  Do you remember John’s warning about antichrists in chapters 1 and 4? John was warning the people of his time against the false teachings of the Gnostics, who denied that Jesus came in the flesh, and that He was “from the Father.”  John is taking aim at them again in this text when he speaks of the testimony of three witnesses.  In our time, while this is still a very important point, we tend to get into arguments about the water and blood part, with various interpretations regarding John’s meaning. For our purposes, I’ll give you my idea on this point, but I’ll spare you the lengthy dissertation on it, since I’d prefer to focus on application rather than systematic theology, and you probably would as well.

One of the main points of contention between Christian teaching and that of the Gnostics was whether or not Jesus came in the flesh in a human body.  The Gnostic approach was that He came more in a spirit form and not in physical form, since everybody knows that the physical body is evil… or so they said.  It is always interesting to me to hear Christians who maintain this, since the notion of the human body being evil or dirty is a Greek impulse, not a Biblical teaching. That the Spirit testifies that Jesus is from the Father is obviously a reference to the Holy Spirit who testifies about Jesus.  The water, in my view, is a reference to His baptism.  To be baptized is a physical activity, in which an actual body is needed; a spirit would be rather impossible to immerse in water.  The blood, as I see it, is a reference to what Jesus did on the cross, since it would be a difficult thing to nail a spirit to a cross and have it bleed.  The water as a giver of testimony seems to me to refer to the baptism of a new follower of Jesus, who is immersed as a testimony of dying and raising again as a new creation.  The blood is declared when we partake of Communion, where we declare for all time the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

When you put these three things together, you have an ongoing testimony about Jesus from the Holy Spirit, from millions of baptisms, and from our observance of Communion that Jesus came in the flesh from the Father.  You might also note that the Old Testament Law requires the testimony of two or three witnesses, and John is providing three. If your reading of this is different from mine, that’s fine, for the larger point for us is what follows…

Let’s pick up John’s discussion here in verse 9:

We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  (5:9-11)

His point that we will readily believe a human testimony, but not God’s, is a warning to all of us.  There are all sorts of human teachings about Jesus, many of which are designed to convince us that He never even existed, and the difference between life and death is whether or not we will accept God’s testimony, given not only by His Word, but by the Spirit.  just think about how crucial this is!

Then comes the most important, bottom-line statement of all in verse 12:

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Please take a moment for this to sink in… and recall our discussion last time about keeping His commands.

Yes, this is what I think we need to consider.  Some of John’s writings are a little cryptic; he has a way of meandering around in a circle, and his meaning is vague… until he drops the bomb at the end, and this is one of them.  It’s one thing for us to say that life is in Christ, but the other side of the proverbial coin is that outside of Christ there is only doom.

Jesus has commanded that we make disciples, and that begins with leading the lost to Him.  There is a great deal at stake with this process, and John has made that abundantly clear in verse 12, wouldn’t you agree?  Maybe there was a time when you could share the peril and doom with a person who didn’t know Him, but if there was such a time, it is long gone.  I am aware that many Christians have been impressed with this, and out of their misguided love, they have run out and shared the warning… and driven off those whom they had hoped to save.  The world around us, our culture, and our society has picked up on this, and rather than be flattered that someone cared, they became enraged at the affront of it all, causing no end of trouble.

When Jesus Christ is involved, there is always hope: In this case, there is a simple, if not always easy, answer: Share His love in grace.  In loving relationship, many will respond to His love.  We must be sensitive to the fact that so many have a negative image of Christianity, whether it is fair or not.  Approaching people in love means that we bother to actually care about them, it takes time, and it is a kind of investment in people, without judgments, without threats, without doom.  Even the most hardened hearts can be mended by the love of God… and I think it is especially important to bear in mind that it is God’s love that we must display in sharing with others.

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About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
This entry was posted in Bible and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Haves and Have Nots

  1. Steve B says:

    Mat 3:17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

    Spirit
    Mat 3:16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;

    Water
    When Jesus came out of the water the Father spoke. The apostle John was present at this time being a disciple of the Baptist. So Jesus was baptized in water and Father spoke and this was the witness.

    Blood
    When Jesus was on the cross the sun was darkened for 3 hours. John was at the cross so the Father spoke again and was the witness.

    “When Jesus Christ is involved, there is always hope: In this case, there is a simple, if not always easy, answer: Share His love in grace. In loving relationship, many will respond to His love. We must be sensitive to the fact that so many have a negative image of Christianity, whether it is fair or not. ” We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit or we may as well forget about it.

    Steve

  2. atimetoshare.me says:

    So true, Don. I’m a firm advocate for friendship evangelism. In our current society we must first establish trust with those we share the good news with. Sometimes it takes a little longer, but the end result is more lasting.

  3. “Approaching people in love means that we bother to actually care about them, it takes time, and it is a kind of investment in people, without judgments, without threats, without doom. Even the most hardened hearts can be mended by the love of God… and I think it is especially important to bear in mind that it is God’s love that we must display in sharing with others.”

    I think this pretty much sums it all up. I have never found it helpful (but only hurtful) to “pound someone over the head with the Gospel,” as I say. People are looking for authenticity in their relationships, not a cheap version of love that has conditions.

  4. Reblogged this on Cynthia Hilston – Author & Blogger and commented:
    “Approaching people in love means that we bother to actually care about them, it takes time, and it is a kind of investment in people, without judgments, without threats, without doom. Even the most hardened hearts can be mended by the love of God… and I think it is especially important to bear in mind that it is God’s love that we must display in sharing with others.”

    I think this pretty much sums it all up. I have never found it helpful (but only hurtful) to “pound someone over the head with the Gospel,” as I say. People are looking for authenticity in their relationships, not a cheap version of love that has conditions.

  5. DWMartens says:

    “Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar,…” I’ve read books and heard speakers and debaters arguing for belief in God, or at least in a creator. As important as that point is, certainly the more important question is, “Do you believe God?”

    “Share His love in grace.” Recently someone was going on about how everyone was just showing off, whether it was the kind of designer wheels on their car, their facial hair, — on and on. After suggesting that the important thing was that we try to lead them to Jesus, and getting “I know that,” I said, “We are not the police; we are the people with the Good News.” Thankfully, the discussion topic then changed.

  6. Filosopete says:

    There are “progressive Christians & pastors” here in South Africa denying the existence of Jesus, or that He died & rose again. They say it is a myth. Crazy to call themselves “Christian” if you don’t believe in Christ.

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