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Sermon #45 — 1st John Series
Title: “The witness of God”
Text: 1 John 5:6-9
Subject: Faith Verified
Date: Tuesday Evening — October 1, 2013
Recording# 1st John #45
Readings: Larry Brown and Rex Bartley
I am often asked, “Do you really think yours is the only true religion?” My answer is always the same. — “Of course I do.” Our Lord Jesus did not say, I am one way; but there are others. He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” He did not day, I am a door, but there are other doors. He said, “I am the Door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.” — “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
If Christianity is true, then all other religions, and all other religious philosophies are false. And if one religion is as good as another, so long as it is practiced in sincerity, then Christianity is the worst of all, because Christianity asserts that all other religions are false and damning. — How can we know that Christianity is true? The answer that I give will not be sufficient to convince the deliberately ignorant skeptic, nor is it intended to do so. No man can receive the things that I will say, unless God Himself reveals it. But it will be sufficient to strengthen and confirm the faith of God’s elect in a world of scoffers and skeptics.
I do not believe in the science of comparative religion. There is only one true religion, and that is the religion which God himself reveals, Christianity. But Christianity is a term used to refer to many different religious movements in our day. So this question must first be answered. — What is Christianity? It is common to say that any religious movement, which claims Christ as its founder and teacher, is Christian. Papists, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Adventists, Churches of Christ, and Quakers are all called “Christian,” along with Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Anglicans. Billy Graham and the Pope were called “the two greatest Christian leaders of the twentieth century.” So it is obvious that we need to clearly define what we mean by Christianity. Christianity, simply stated, is the faith of the Gospel of Christ. It is the heart belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He lived upon this earth and died as the Substitutionary Sacrifice for sinners, and that He arose from the grave and ascended back into heaven as a sovereign Lord to give eternal life to perishing men. Those and those alone are Christians who trust Christ alone for their eternal salvation.
The title of my message is — “The Witness of God.” Our text will be 1st John 5:6-8. Let’s begin reading at verse 1.
“1 ¶ Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth Him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous. 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”
Now, here’s our text.
“6 ¶ This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” (1 John 5:1-8)
Our Christian faith rests entirely upon the Revelation of God in Holy Scripture. If it could ever be proved that the Bible is not the infallible and inerrant Word of God, Christianity would be proved false. So before we come to our text, I want to say something about our faith in the Holy Scriptures. We believe that the pages of this Book, which I now hold in my hand, were written by Divine Inspiration. The Bible is the Word of God. It does not contain the Word of God; it is the Word of God. It is, from Genesis to Revelation, infallible and inerrant. It is not a textbook on science. But when it speaks of scientific matters, it is perfectly accurate. It is not a textbook on history, but when it states historic facts, it is unquestionably accurate.
God the Holy Ghost is the Author of this Sacred Volume. He revealed the mind of God to holy men whom He chose. He spoke the Word of God to their hearts, making them think as He thinks. And He graciously compelled them to write what He would have them to write. All that they spoke and wrote, under His influence, was spoken and written as the very Word of God. God did not give His prophets and apostles a theme to write about according to their own abilities. They were confined to what He directed. They were secretaries who wrote infallibly what He dictated. This is the claim of those men who wrote the Scriptures. — “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). That is to say, the Word of God came as truly and immediately from God as our breath comes from our bodies. — “Holy men of God spake as they were moved (carried along) by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20).
The Bible itself is its own best witness to its Divine authority. We need not appeal to secular authorities to prove Divine Inspiration. Indeed, if we were to do so, we would be lowering our estimation of the authority of Sacred Scripture. The doctrine of inspiration cannot be explained and accounted for from any point of view, except the testimony of God and the experience of His saving grace.
A Miraculous Book
This Book is the greatest standing miracle in the world today. If anyone dares to deny the inspiration of the Bible, let him give a reasonable proof of his denial, if he can. Let him explain the peculiar nature and character of this volume, if he can, in a way that will satisfy any man of common sense. The burden of proof is upon the infidel, not the believer. The Word of God stands unshakably upon its own ground. It is not our job to prove its validity, but to proclaim its message and press its authority.
I say that the Bible is the most amazing phenomenon in the world today. Anyone who has studied history and the origin of the Divine Word must be overwhelmed at the mysterious methods of its formation. Just think of this. — There was never an order given to any man to plan the writing of this volume. Nor was there any concerted effort on the part of men to write the Bible. The way in which the Bible gradually developed through the centuries is one of the greatest mysteries of all times. Little by little, part by part, century by century, it came out in fragments and portions, written by men separated by time and space. Yet, it stand as one unified volume, each part clearly related to every other part. This is the Word of God! If any man would be so foolish as to deny that this Book is the very Word of God, let him explain these facts upon any other ground.
1. The formation of this Sacred Volume is a miraculous, mysterious fact. Never was there a book composed in such a way as the Word of God.
· The Bible was written on two continents, in countries hundreds of miles apart, without the convenience of modern communication.
· The Bible was written under every imaginable circumstance, by men under extremely differing conditions. It was written in the wilderness; it was written in caves; it was written in palaces; and it was written it prisons.
· The Bible was written in three different languages — Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.
· The Bible was written by men who lived over a span of 1600 years.
· The Bible was written by scores of men, from every possible background variation.
· And the Bible has stood the test of time. It has been scrutinized, analyzed, and criticized by men and women of every generation for 2000 years. Many have been the attempts to discredit its claims, denounce its teachings, overthrow its authority, and destroy its existence. Yet, here it is, as fresh, new, and powerful as ever!
2. There are historical statements in the Bible that could not have been known by men except by direct revelation.
· The Account of Creation
· The Decrees of God
· The Covenant of Grace
3. There is an honesty and integrity in the Scriptures not to be found in any other volume upon the earth.
The fact that those men who wrote the Bible recorded their own faults and failures, and those of their dearest companions shows the Divine nature of this Book. Find me a volume anywhere, written by a man, which records the faults of that man, his family, or his friends, without making excuse for them. I hold the only Book of that nature in my hand.
· Abraham’s sin in not covered.
· Moses revealed his own faults; and the idolatry of his brother, and the sin of his sister are not omitted.
· David, the man after God’s own heart, is set before us not only in his greatness, but also in his weakness.
· This same spirit of simple honesty is demonstrated throughout the gospels, the book of Acts, and the epistles.
4. The absolute and perfect fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament undeniably prove Divine inspiration.
· The intricate details of Christ’s birth, His Person, His life, His sufferings and death, and His resurrection and glory are plainly set forth in the Old Testament.
· Many things regarding the nation of Israel were prophesied long before they took place. — Their bondage in Egypt and the day of their deliverance. — The exact period of their Babylonian captivity and their deliverance by Cyrus. — Their rejection of the Messiah; and their utter ruin.
5. The doctrines of the Scriptures cannot be explained, except by inspiration.
· The nature and character of God could be known only by revelation.
· The trinity of the Divine Persons could not be known, except by revelation.
· The Gospel message of substitution could not be known, but by revelation.
6. Add to these things the fact that there is a perfect unity to the Bible; and we are compelled to say, “This is the Word of God.”
Every part of the Bible fits every other part. It contains one system of doctrine, one rule of conduct, one plan of salvation, and one rule of faith. The one message of the Bible is redemption by the shed blood of Christ. Blood redemption is the scarlet thread which holds these pages together. Jesus Christ crucified is stamped upon every page of the Book. Everything in the Bible speaks of Christ and His substitutionary accomplishments at Calvary.
· Christ is revealed in the types and figures of the Old Testament. —Abraham offering up Isaac on Mt. Moriah is a picture of God offering up Christ on Mt. Calvary. — The lifting up of the brazen serpent in the wilderness is a type of the lifting up of Christ for the healing of the people. — Joseph being sold into Egypt is a type of Christ being betrayed by Judas.
· Bible characters present the full personality of our Lord. — Adam was the federal head of the race; so Christ is the covenant head of his people. — As Melchizedek is a priest without beginning of days nor end of years, so Christ is a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. — As David was the king of Israel, so Christ is God’s appointed King of Zion. — As Aaron was the high priest in Israel, so Christ is the High Priest over the house of God.
· The institutions of the Old Testament wonderfully portray the work of Christ. — Noah’s ark is a picture of Christ our Ark of Safety. — The cities of refuge picture Christ our Refuge. — The tabernacle and priesthood portray Christ in His work of atonement. — The water from the rock, the manna from heaven, the pillar of cloud by day, the pillar of fire by night, all point toward the glorious Person and Work of our Lord.
· This blessed Book, from Genesis to Revelation, is the story of Christ. — The Old Testament is the story of the preparation for the coming of Christ. — The Gospels record the manifestation of Christ. — The Acts recounts the propagation of the Gospel of Christ. — The Epistles explain the message of Christ. — The Revelation presents the consummation of Christ’s kingdom and His coming in glory.
There is no explanation for all of these things, except this: — “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” This Book is the Word of the eternal, unchanging God, who lives and abides forever! Let the infidel rage and decry us as fools. With confidence we sing —
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word:
What more can He say, than to you He hath said,
You who unto Jesus, for refuge have fled?
I have said all of this, because I want you to understand that our faith rests entirely upon the Word of God. How do we know that Christianity is true? How do we know that ours is the faith of God? Let’s look at “the witness of God” given in 1st John 5:6-9.
Proposition: We know that our faith is true, that our religion is true, we know that Christianity is true, because God Himself has both revealed and confirmed the truth of the Gospel we believe and preach in His Word.
Divisions: In our text this evening, the Holy Spirit gives us four indisputable proofs that Christianity is true.
1. The Testimony of the Fulfilled Law (v. 6)
2. The Inward Testimony of God the Holy Spirit (v. 6).
3. The Infallible Testimony of the Holy Trinity (v. 7)
4. The Unified Testimony of the Gospel (v. 8)
The first proof that Christianity is true is — the testimony of the fulfilled law (v. 6). John has been talking about the believer’s confession of faith. We believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, Prophet, Priest, King, Redeemer, and Deliverer whom God the Father anointed and sent into this world. Now, he says, we know that this confession is true, because He came fulfilling the requirements of the law.
Two things were involved in the sacrifices of the Old Testament: — The washings of the holy water, and the shedding of blood. The blood showed the necessity of an atoning sacrifice. And the water showed the necessity of an inward cleansing. Now, “This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood.”
We were both outwardly and inwardly defiled. Therefore we must have from our Redeemer both an outward atonement and an inward cleansing.
1. We were defiled outwardly by the guilt and condemning power of sin. By this we were separated from God and banished from his presence. Before we could be reconciled to God, we must be purged from sin by an atoning sacrifice. — “Without shedding of blood there shall be no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). Therefore, the Savior from sin must come with blood.
2. And we were inwardly corrupt, because of the pollution of sin in our hearts and nature.
Therefore, we must be spiritually washed. And there is in Christ Jesus, “the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). Our Lord said, “Except I wash thee, thou hast no part in Me.”
These two things (water and blood) represented the sanctification and justification of the believer. And John here shows us that Christ supplied both. When our Lord was crucified, the soldier pierced His side, and out of the wound there came water and blood (John 19:34-35).
“34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.” (John 19:34-35)
Now this water and blood are comprehensive of all that is required for our complete salvation. By water our souls are washed and purified for heaven. By blood God is glorified, His law is honored, and we are justified.
· The blood of Christ accomplished our justification (Romans 3:24-26).
· The water flowing from Immanuel’s side secured our regeneration and sanctification by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:13-14; Ephesians 5:25-27).
He who came by, or with water and blood is a perfect and complete Savior. Everything required and typified by the law of God is fulfilled in Christ. This was signified by the rending of the veil in the temple.
How can we know that Christianity is true? Here is another evidence of its truth. — We have the inward testimony of God the Holy Spirit (v. 6).
“This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.” (1 John 5:6)
The Spirit of God bears witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. — “And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth” (John 16:13-14; Acts 5:31-32).
“13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you.” (John 16:13-14)
“31 Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him.” (Acts 5:31-32)
The Holy Spirit has born witness to Christ’s Messiahship and eternal Sonship in numerous ways. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to glorify Christ and to honor Him. And this work He has done.
· He descended upon Christ in the form of a dove at His baptism.
· He fell upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, confirming that Christ was indeed the exalted King.
· And He confirmed the Gospel preached by the Apostles with signs and wonders.
· In the penning of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit infallibly directed the Apostles to understand the things of Christ, guiding them into all truth.
The Holy Spirit also bears witness to Christ as the Messiah and Son of God in the ministry of the Word.
· It is the Spirit of God who has sovereignly sustained and maintained the ministry of the Gospel in this world.
· By the Word of God, the Holy Spirit continually increases the Kingdom of Christ.
· The Holy Spirit is the Guardian of Christ’s truth, the Defender of His cause, and the Builder of His Church.
And the Holy Spirit bears witness in our hearts that Jesus is the Christ. The Spirit of God gives us an inward, intuitive, experimental knowledge of Christ. We know Christ only by the illumination of the Holy Spirit.
· He shows us the beauty of Christ.
· He opens to us the Word of Christ.
· He seals our hearts with the grace of Christ.
· The Holy Spirit gives us the peace of Christ.
· The Holy Spirit fills our hearts with hope in Christ.
· The Holy Spirit gives and sustains our faith in Christ.
And we know that we are not deceived, because the Spirit is truth. He cannot lie.
Here is the third proof of Christianity. We know that the Gospel, the declaration that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is true, because we have the infallible testimony of the holy trinity (v. 7).
“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” (1 John 5:7)
This text of Scripture plainly states the doctrine of the Trinity. And it tells us three things about the Triune Godhead.
We are told that there are three distinct Persons in the Godhead. We do not worship three gods. Nor do we worship one god who is simply manifest in three persons. But we worship one God in three distinct Persons — God the Father — God the Son — and God the Holy Ghost. Christ, the Son of God, is called the Word, because He is the Revelation of the Triune God.
Each of the Divine Persons bears record that Jesus is the Christ, God the eternal Son.
· God the Father acclaimed Christ to be His Son at His Baptism and His Transfiguration.
· The Lord Jesus Christ claimed to be the Son of God throughout His earthly ministry (Mark 14:61-62; John 5:17-19, 10:30, 8:13-18).
And we are told that these three are One. — “And these three are One.” — The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are One God. — One in essence, in power, in glory, and in Being.
How can we know that Christianity is true? John tells us that there is one more evidence which God has given to show the truth of the Christian faith, and that is — The Unified Testimony of the Gospel (v. 8)
“And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” (1 John 5:8)
The Spirit of God, by the Word of the Gospel bears witness that Jesus is the Christ. This is the fundamental and essential point of Gospel preaching. The Spirit of God, speaking by the Gospel through His servants, makes known to men in the earth the Person and work of Christ.
· Who is Christ?
· Why did He come to this earth?
· What did He accomplish here?
· Where is He now?
All of God’s children bear witness to Christ by their confession of the Gospel in the waters of baptism (Romans 6:4-6).
“4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” (Romans 6:4-6)
And the people of God bear witness to Christ, showing forth the Lord’s death by drinking his blood in the Lord’s Supper. The two ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper are like the two cherubs over the mercy-seat, looking to one another. The one is remembrance; the other is anticipation.
In the ninth verse John states his reason for giving these indisputable witnesses of Christianity. Here is his conclusion. — “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.”
In any court of law two credible witnesses establish a thing as a matter of fact. God has given us a much greater witness with regard to His Son. Surely, we must believe “the witness of God.”
· Who will believe our report? Will you?
· If we believe it, let us preach it.