the Spirit, the water, and the blood--and these three are in agreement.
I. THE TESTIMONY OF HIS BAPTISM. "This is he that came by water,... even Jesus Christ." The coming here meant is not that of his incarnation, his entrance into this world; but his coming forth from the retirement of Nazareth to enter upon his great redemptive mission. His coming "by water" we regard as referring to his baptism by John. That baptism was:
1. The inauguration of his great mission. When Jesus went to John for baptism he had finally left his private life, and was just about to enter upon his public ministry, and his baptism was a fitting introduction to that ministry.
2. An inauguration characterized by supernatural and Divine attestation. Probably it is for this reason that St. John here refers to our Lord's baptism: "Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway from the water: and lo, the heavens were opened unto him," etc. (Matthew 3:16, 17). And John the Baptist testified, "This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a Man which is become before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not; but that he should be made manifest to Israel," etc. (John 1:30-34).
II. THE TESTIMONY OF HIS CRUCIFIXION. "This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood." The reference is to the blood which he shed upon the cross for the redemption of mankind. But how did his death witness to the truth that he was the Son of God?
1. By the extraordinary phenomena associated with his death. "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.... And Jesus yielded up the ghost. And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom," etc. (Matthew 27:45, 50-54; Luke 23:47, 48).
2. By the transcendent moral grandeur expressed in his death. He voluntarily submitted himself to death for the salvation of the lost world. Our Lord said, "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one taketh it away from me," etc. (John 10:17, 18); "He gave himself for our sins," etc. (Galatians 1:4); "He gave himself a Ransom for us," etc. (1 Timothy 2:6); "He gave himself for us," etc. (Titus 2:14); "Christ also suffered for sins once, the Righteous for the unrighteous," etc. (1 Peter 3:18). He freely surrendered himself to the most painful and shameful death, not for himself, or for his friends, but for sinners and rebels against him and his Father, and in order that they might have eternal life. Such self-sacrifice was more than human, more than angelic, - it was strictly and properly Divine.
"This was compassion like a God,
III. THE TESTIMONY OF HIS SPIRIT. "And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is the truth, For there are three who bear witness, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and the three agree in one." Notice:
1. The nature of the testimony of the Holy Spirit. At our Lord's baptism the Spirit bore witness that he was the Son of God (Matthew 3:16, 17). Our Lord said, "The Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall bear witness of me" (John 15:26). Again he said, "The Spirit of truth... he shall glorify me; for he shall take of mine, and shall declare it unto you." He bore witness to the Messiahship of Jesus by coming down, according to his promise, upon the apostles, and by making the gospel of Christ which they preached a saving power to thousands of souls (Acts 2; Acts 4:31). And he bears witness for Christ in the hearts of Christians (chapter 3:24; 1 Corinthians 12:3).
2. The value of the testimony of the Holy Spirit. "The Spirit, is the truth;" "The Spirit of truth" (John 14:17; John 15:26); "When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth." His testimony is of the utmost value and importance, because it is perfectly free from error or fraud; proceeding from the Spirit of truth, the Spirit who is the truth, it is light without any darkness, truth without any error. And his testimony is that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God.
IV. THE TESTIMONY OF HIS BELIEVING PEOPLE. "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in him.... And the witness is this, that God gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." "The object of the Divine testimony being," says Alford, "to produce faith in Christ, the apostle takes him in whom it has wrought this its effect, one who habitually believes in the Son of God, and says of such a one that he possesses the testimony in himself." All genuine believers in Jesus Christ have the witness of their own consciousness "that God gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." They are conscious that the life of love - love to God and. to man - is theirs. "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren." And we know that this life was quickened within us through the exercise of faith in Christ. To us individually this is the most convincing of all witnesses. "One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see."
V. THE TESTIMONY OF ALL THE BEFORE-MENTIONED COMBINED. All the foregoing witnesses are united and concurrent in their evidence. "The three agree in one." We may say that the four agree in one. Their testimony is unanimous. There is no contradiction, no discrepancy in their evidence. With one voice they declare, "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel." "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Notice two points in conclusion:
1. The claim which this testimony has upon, our acceptance. "if we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater," etc. We receive human testimony, notwithstanding that
(1) The witness may unintentionally be untrue. Human observations and impressions and recollections are not always accurate; hence the witness of men is sometimes undesignedly incorrect. But in the manifold and Divine testimony to the truth that Jesus is the Son of God there cannot be any inaccuracy or imperfection.
(2) The human witness may intentionally be untrue. Man may endeavour to deceive; he may willfully bear false witness. But "the witness of God is greater." The Spirit of truth cannot lie. Therefore this testimony has the most commanding claims upon our acceptance.
2. The issue involved in type non-acceptance of this testimony. "He that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he hath not believed in the witness that God hath borne concerning his Son." Is any one prepared to discredit God? Will any one implicitly charge him with falsehood? Be it ours to receive his testimony with larger, fuller confidence, and to rest in his Son with deeper, more loving, and more reverent trust. - W.J.
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy GhostI. I shall attempt to show what conceptions the Scripture leads us to form of THE PECULIAR MODE OF THE DIVINE EXISTENCE.
1. The Scripture leads us to conceive of God, the first and supreme Being, as existing in three distinct persons. The one living and true God exists in such a manner that there is a proper foundation in His nature to speak of Himself in the first, second, and third person, and say I, Thou, and He, meaning only Himself. There is a certain something in the Divine nature which lays a proper foundation for such a personal distinction. But what that something is can neither be described nor conceived. Here lies the whole mystery of the Trinity.
2. The Scripture represents the three persons in the sacred Trinity as absolutely equal in every Divine perfection. We find the same names, the same attributes, and the same works ascribed to each person.
3. The Scripture represents the three equally Divine persons in the Trinity as acting in a certain order in the work of redemption. Though they are absolutely equal in nature, yet in office the first person is superior to the second, and the second is superior to the third. The Son acts in subordination to the Father, and the Spirit acts in subordination to the Son and Father both.
4. The Scripture teaches us that each of the Divine persons takes His peculiar name from the peculiar office which He sustains in the economy of redemption. The first person assumes the name of Father, because He is by office the Creator or Author of all things, and especially of the human nature of Christ. The second person assumes the name of Son and Word, by virtue of His incarnation, and mediatorial conduct. The third person is called the Holy Ghost, on account of His peculiar office as Sanctifier.
5. The Scripture represents these three Divine persons as one God. This is the plain language of the text. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three in respect to their personality, and but one in respect to their nature and essence.
II. This Scriptural account of the mysterious doctrine of the sacred Trinity is NOT REPUGNANT TO THE DICTATES OF SOUND REASON.
1. The doctrine of the Trinity, as represented in Scripture, implies no contradiction. There may be, for aught we know, an incomprehensible something in the one self-existent Being which lays a proper foundation for his existing a Trinity in Unity.
2. If it implies no contradiction that the one living and true God should .exist in three persons, then this mysterious mode of the Divine existence is agreeable to the dictates of sound reason. We cannot suppose that the uncreated Being should exist in the same manner in which we and other created beings exist. And if He exists in a different manner from created beings, then His mode of existence must necessarily be mysterious. And whoever now objects against the Scripture account of the sacred Trinity would have equally objected against any other account which God could have given of His peculiar mode of existence.
3. The doctrine of the Trinity, as represented in Scripture, is no more repugnant to the dictates of sound reason than many other doctrines which all Christians believe concerning God. It is generally believed that God is a self-existent Being, or that there is no cause or ground of His existence out of Himself. But who can explain this mode of existence, or even form any clear conception of it? It is generally believed that God is constantly present in all places, or that His presence perpetually fills the whole created universe. But can we frame any clear ideas of this universal presence of the Deity? It is generally believed that God is the Creator, who has made all things out of nothing. But of that power which is able to create, or produce something out of nothing, we can form no manner of conception. This attribute of the Deity, therefore, is as really mysterious and incomprehensible in its operation as the doctrine of the Trinity.
(N. Emmons, D. D.)
And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the bloodI. THE SPIRIT BEARS WITNESS. The Holy Ghost is meant. What is the permanent testimony which He bears to Christ and His gospel? The Scriptures are His witness to Christ. It would be impossible to overrate the value of this testimony. It is a written Word, and therefore not liable to change. We can study it in a way altogether different from the attention which we can give to a spoken discourse. We can carry it with us, whither we go. We can refresh our memory with it as often as we need it. Not only, however, did the Scriptures proceed from the Spirit at the first, but they have been preserved by Him in a most remarkable manner. He has used the most scrupulous care to maintain their purity. Nor does the testimony of the Spirit cease in the publication and preservation of the Scriptures. He continues to enlighten men in the knowledge of them, to impress their hearts by the belief of them, and to bring them under their power. But how are we to speak of the testimony itself which is thus borne by the Spirit to Christ? Then truly the words are verified, "He shall glorify Me, for He shall receive of Mine, and show it unto you." He gives the soul views of Christ such as it never entertained before, the most honourable to Him and assuring to it. He produces affections towards Him such as never existed before, the most ardent and self-denying. He causes unreserved submission to His will, so that it is either borne with patience or done with diligence.
II. THE WATER BEARS WITNESS TO CHRIST.
1. What are we to understand by this water? There is only one use of water in the Christian economy. This is in the administration of baptism. But the fact that an ordinance is made to be a witness to Christ is not to be passed unnoticed. It resembles the Scriptures in being permanent, but it possesses a feature peculiar to itself. It is a testimony to the eye, and by it to the understanding and heart.
2. What is the amount of the testimony borne by the water of baptism? It is very simple, yet very expressive. In this ordinance we behold reflected, as in a mirror, the gospel of Christ. It is a standing testimony to the depravity of the sinner. If we come to it at all, it is because we are defiled. At the same time the efficacy of cleansing is no less clearly signified. It says, here is a fountain, and everyone that washes in it is made clean. Nor is it the pardon of sin only that is figured in baptism. We are at the same time reminded of the destruction of its power. A great moral change is made to pass upon the soul that is pardoned. Pardon is received by faith, but this grace is ever accompanied by regeneration.
III. THE BLOOD IS A WITNESS UNTO CHRIST. How is it to be understood? The reference appears to be to the Lord's Supper, as a lively representation of the death of Christ.
1. His person is presented to our faith in the bread and wine. They are emblems of His body, of its reality, that He was truly a partaker of flesh and blood. But this fact cannot be separated from His original and higher nature.
2. Equally clear is the representation of His work. It is testified in the broken bread. That calls up the fact of His crucifixion.
3. We are also taught how we are saved by it. Eating and drinking are essential to the preservation of life.
4. But these exercises are not observed by us singly and alone. We are associated with others. The Lord's table is thus the emblem of the Church of Christ. There is at it the interchange of a holy and heavenly communion.
(James Morgan, D. D.)1 John 5:7. The sentence is irrelevant to this context, and foreign to the apostle's mode of conception. It is the Church's victorious faith in the Son of God, vindicated against the world (1 John 5:1-5), that the writer here asserts, and to invoke witnesses for this "in heaven" is nothing to the purpose. The contrast present to his thought is not that between heaven and earth as spheres of testimony, but only between the various elements of the testimony itself (vers. 6-10). (For this manner of combining witnesses, comp. John 5:31-47; John 8:13-18; John 10:25-38; John 14:8-13; John 15:26, 27) The passage of the three heavenly witnesses is now admitted to be a theological gloss, which crept first into the Latin manuscripts of the fifth century, making its way probably from the margin into the text: no Greek codex exhibits it earlier than the fifteenth century. "This," the apostle writes in ver. 6 — this "Jesus" of whom we "believe that He is the Son of God" (ver. 5) — "is He that came through water and blood — Jesus Christ." By this time "Jesus Christ" and "Jesus the Son of God" had become terms synonymous in true Christian speech. The great controversy of the age turned upon their identification. The Gnostics distinguished Jesus and Christ as human and Divine persons, united at the baptism and severed on the Cross, when Jesus cried, "My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" St. John asserts, therefore, at every turn the oneness of Jesus Christ; the belief that "Jesus is the Christ" he makes the test of a genuine Christianity (1 John 5:1;comp. 1 John 2:22; 1 John 3:23; 1 John 4:9, 3, 15). The name thus appended to ver. 6 is no idle repetition; it is a solemn reassertion and reassumption of the Christian creed in two words — Jesus Christ. And He is Jesus Christ, inasmuch as He "came through water and blood — not in the water only." The heretics allowed and maintained in their own way that Jesus Christ "came by water" when He received His Messianic anointing at John's baptism, and the man Jesus thus became the Christ; but the "coming through blood" they abhorred. They regarded the death of the Cross, befalling the human Jesus, as a punishment of shame inflicted on the flesh, in which the Divine or Deiform Christ could have no part. Upon this Corinthian view, the Christ who came through water went away rather than came through blood; they saw in the death upon the Cross nothing that witnessed of the Godhead in Jesus Christ, nothing that spoke of Divine forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:7, 9), but an eclipse and abandonment by God, a surrender of the earthly Jesus to the powers of darkness. The simple words, "that came," are of marked significance in this context; for "the coming One" (ὁ ἐρχόμενος, Matthew 11:3; John 1:15, 27; John 11:27; Hebrews 10:37; Revelation 1:4, 8, etc.) was a standing name for the Messiah, now recognised as the Son of God. "He that came," therefore, signifies "He who has assumed this character," who appeared on earth as the Divine Messiah; and St. John declares that He thus appeared disclosing Himself through these two signs — of blood as well as water. So the beginning and the end, the inauguration and consummation of Christ's ministry, were marked by the two supreme manifestations of His Messiah-ship; and of both events this apostle was a near and deeply interested witness. When he speaks of the Lord as "coming through water and blood," these are viewed historically as steps in His glorious march, signal epochs in the continuous disclosure of Himself to men, and crises in His past relations to the world; when he says, "in the water and in the blood," they are apprehended as abiding facts, each making its distinct and living appeal to our faith. This verse stands in much the same relation to the two sacraments as does the related teaching of chs. 3 and 6 in St. John's Gospel. The two sacraments embody the same truths that are symbolised here. Observing them in the obedience of faith, we associate ourselves visibly with "the water and the blood," with Christ baptized and crucified, living and dying for us. But to see in these observances the equivalents of the water and blood of this passage, to make the apostle say that the water of baptism and the cup of the Lord's Supper are the chief witnesses to Him and the essential instruments of our salvation, and that the former sacrament is unavailing without the addition of the latter, is to narrow and belittle his declaration and to empty out its historical content. Nearer to St. John's thought lies the inference that Christ is our anointed Priest as well as Prophet, making sacrifice for our sin while He is our guide and light of life. To the virtue of His life and teaching must be added the virtue of His passion and death. Had He come "in the water" only, had Jesus Christ stopped short of Calvary and drawn back from the blood baptism, there had been no cleansing from sin for us, no witness to that chief function of His Christhood. This third manifestation of the Son of God — the baptism of the Spirit following on that of water and of blood, a baptism in which Jesus Christ was agent and no longer subject — verified and made good the other two. "And the Spirit," he says, "is that which beareth witness" (τὸ μαρτυροῦν, "the witnessing power"): the water and the blood, though they have so much to say, must have spoken in vain, becoming mere voices of past history, but for this abiding and ever active Witness (John 15:26; John 16:7-15). The Spirit, whose witness comes last in the order of distinct manifestation, is first in principle; His breath animates the whole testimony; hence He takes the lead in the final enumeration of ver. 8. The witness of the water had His silent attestation; the Baptist "testified, saying, I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and it abode upon Him," etc. (John 1:32, 33). "It is the Spirit," therefore, "that bears witness"; in all true witness He is operative, and there is no testifying without Him. "For the Spirit is truth," is "the truth" — Jesus called Him repeatedly "the Spirit of truth" (John 14:17; John 15:26; 1 John 4:6; comp. John 4:23, 24) — truth in its substance and vital power is lodged with Him; in this element He works; this effluence He ever breathes forth. Practically, the Spirit is the truth; whatever is stated in Christian matters without His attestation, is something less or other than the truth. Such, then, are the "three witnesses" which were gathered "into one" in the Apostle John's experience, in the history of Jesus Christ and His disciples: "the three" he says. "agree in one," or more strictly, "amount to the one thing" (καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἔν εἰσου, ver. 8); they converge upon this single aim. The Jordan banks, Calvary, the upper chamber in Jerusalem; the beginning, the end of Jesus Christ's earthly course, and the new beginning which knows no end; His Divine life and words and works, His propitiatory death, the promised and perpetual gift of the Spirit to His Church — these three cohere into one solid and imperishable witness, which is the demonstration alike of history and personal experience and the Spirit of God. They have one outcome, as they have one purpose; and it is this — viz. "that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son" (ver. 11). The apostle has indicated in vers. 6-8 what are, to his mind, the proofs of the testimony of Jesus — evidences that must in the end convict and "overcome the world" (ver. 5). So far as the general cause of Christianity is concerned this is enough. But it concerns each man to whom this evidence comes to realise for himself the weight and seriousness of the testimony which confronts him. So St. John points with emphasis in vers. 9 and 10 to the Author of the three-fold manifestation. "If we receive the witness of men" — if credible human testimony wins our ready assent "the witness of God is greater." The declaration of the gospel brings every soul that hears it face to face with God (comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:13). And of all subjects on which God might speak to men, of all revelations that He has made, or might conceivably make, to mankind, this, St. John feels, is the supreme and critical matter — "the testimony of God, viz., the fact that He has testified concerning His Son." The gospel is, in St. Paul's words, "God's good news about His Son." God insists upon our believing this witness; it is that in which He is supremely concerned, and which He asserts and commends to men above all else. Let the man, therefore, who with this evidence before him remains unbelieving, understand what he is about; let him know whom he is rejecting and whom he is contradicting. "He has made God a liar" — he has given the lie to the All-holy and Almighty One, the Lord God of truth. This apostle said the same terrible thing about the impenitent denier of his own sin (1 John 1:10); these two denials are kindred to each other, and run up into the same condition of defiance toward God. On the other hand, "he who believes on the Son of God," "hearing from the Father and coming" to Christ accordingly (John 6:45), he finds "within himself" the confirmation of the witness he received (ver. 10a). The testimony of the Spirit and the water and the blood is no mere historical and objective proof; it enters the man's own nature, and becomes the regnant, creative factor in the shaping of his soul. The apostle might have added this subjective confirmation as a fourth, experimental witness to the other three; but, to his conception, the sense of inward life and power attained by Christian faith is the very witness of the Spirit, translated into terms of experience, realised and operative in personal consciousness. "The water that I will give," said Jesus, "will be within him a fountain of water, springing up unto life eternal" (John 4:14). It is thus that the believer on the Son of God sets to his seal that God is true. His testimony is not to the general fact that there is life and troth in Christ; but "this is the witness, that God gave to us life eternal, and this life is in His Son"? (ver. 11). This witness of God concerning His Son is not only a truth to be believed or denied, it is a life to be chosen or refused; and on this choice turns the eternal life or death of all to whom Christ offers Himself: "He that hath the Son, hath life; he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life" (ver. 12). Life appears everywhere in St. John as a gift, not an acquisition; and faith is a grace rather than a virtue; it is yielding to God's power rather than the exerting of our own. It is not so much that we apprehend Christ; rather He apprehends us, our souls are laid hold of and possessed by the truth concerning Him. Our part is but to receive God's bounty pressed upon us in Christ; it is merely to consent to the strong purpose of His love, and allow Him, as St. Paul puts it, to "work in us to will and to work on behalf of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). As this operation proceeds and the truth concerning Christ takes practical possession of our nature, the assurance of faith, the conviction that we have eternal life in Him, becomes increasingly settled and firm. Rothe finely says, "Faith is not a mere witness on the man's part to the object of his faith; it is a witness which the man receives from that object...In its first beginnings faith is, no doubt, mainly the acceptance of testimony from without; but the element of trust involved in this acceptance, includes the beginning of an inner experience of that which is believed. This trust arises from the attraction which the object of our faith has exercised upon us; it rests on the consciousness of a vital connection between ourselves and that object. In the measure in which we accept the Divine witness, our inner susceptibility to its working increases, and thus there is formed in us a certainty of faith which rises unassailably above all scepticism." The language of St. John in this last chapter of his Epistle breathes the force of a spiritual conviction raised to its highest potency. For him perfect love has now cast out fear, and perfect faith has banished every shadow of doubt. "Believing on the name of the Son of God," he "knows that he has eternal life" (ver. 13). With him the transcendental has become the experimental, and no breach is left any more between them.
(G. G. Findlay, B. A.)
Expository Outlines.I. THE VIEW HERE GIVEN OF THE GOSPEL TESTIMONY.
1. Unspeakably important.
2. Exceedingly comprehensive.
3. Preeminently gracious.
4. Remarkably distinct and definite.
II. THE EVIDENCE ADDUCED IN CONFIRMATION OF ITS TRUTHS.
1. The voice from heaven.
2. From earth.
3. Scripture testimony.
4. Personal experience.
III. THE CLAIMS WHICH IT HAS, AS THUS ESTABLISHED, UPON OUR REGARDS. It claims our earnest attention and most serious study; but, above all, it claims our unwavering faith. This is the main point which is here set forth.
1. The nature of faith. It is nothing more nor less than receiving the Divine testimony, especially concerning Jesus Christ.
2. Its reasonableness.
3. Its importance. Through it we have eternal life.
4. The opposite of faith is unbelief — a sin most heinous in its nature, and most awful in its results.
I. OUR LORD HIMSELF WAS ATTESTED BY THESE THREE WITNESSES. If you will carefully read in the twenty ninth chapter of the Book of Exodus, or in the eighth chapter of the Book of Leviticus, you will see that every priest came by the anointing Spirit, by water, and by blood, as a matter of type, and if Jesus Christ be indeed the priest that was for to come, He will be known by these three signs. Godly men in the olden times also well understood that there was no putting away of sin except with these three things; in proof of which we will quote David's prayer, "Purge me with hyssop" — that is, the hyssop dipped in blood — "and I shall be clean; wash me" — there is the water — "and I shall be whiter than snow"; and then, "Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and uphold me with Thy free Spirit." Thus the blood, the water, and the Spirit were recognised of old as necessary to cleanse from guilt, and if Jesus of Nazareth be indeed able to save His people from their sins, He must come with the triple gift — the Spirit, the water, and the blood. Now it was evidently so. Our Lord was attested by the Spirit. The Spirit of God bore witness to Christ in the types and prophecies, "Holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost"; and Jesus Christ answers to those prophecies. The Spirit abode with our Lord all His life long, and to crown all, after He had died and risen again, the Holy Ghost gave the fullest witness by descending in full power upon the disciples at Pentecost. It is also manifest that our Lord came with water too. He came not by the water merely as a symbol, but by that which the water meant, by unsullied purity of life. With Jesus also was the blood. This distinguished Him from John the Baptist, who came by water, but Jesus came "not by water only, but by water and blood." We must not prefer any one of the three witnesses to another, but what a wonderful testimony to Christ was the blood! From the very first He came with blood, for John the Baptist cried, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!" In His ministry there was often a clear testimony to His future sufferings and shedding of blood, for to the assembled crowd He said, "Except a man eat My flesh and drink My blood, there is no life in him"; while to His disciples He spake of the decease which He should shortly accomplish at Jerusalem. However pure the life He led, had He never died He could not have been the Saviour appointed to bear the iniquity of us all. The blood was needed to complete the witness. The blood must flow with the water, the suffering with the serving.
II. THESE THREE REMAIN AS STANDING WITNESSES TO HIM TO ALL TIME. And first, the Holy Spirit is witness at this hour that the religion of Jesus is the truth, and that Jesus is the Son of God. By His Divine energy He convinces men of the truth of the gospel; and these so convinced are not only persons who, through their education, are likely to believe it, but men like Saul of Tarsus, who abhor the whole thing. He pours His influences upon men, and infidelity melts away like the iceberg in the Gulf Stream; He touches the indifferent and careless, and they repent, believe, and obey the Saviour. Then, too, the Spirit goes forth among believers, and by them He bears witness to our Lord and His gospel. How mightily does He comfort the saints! And He does the same when He gives them guidance, enlightenment, and elevation of soul. The next abiding witness in the Church is the water — not the water of baptism, but the new life implanted in Christians, for that is the sense in which John's Master had used the word "water": "The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." The world's conscience knows that the religion of Jesus is the religion of purity, and if professed Christians fall into uncleanness the world knows that such a course of action does not arise out of the religion of Christ, but is diametrically opposite to it. The gospel is perfect, and did we wholly yield to its sway sin would be abhorred by us, and slain in us, and we should live on earth the life of the perfect ones above. The third abiding witness is the blood. The blood of Christ is still on the earth, for when Jesus bled it fell upon the ground and was never gathered up. O earth, thou still art bespattered with the blood of the murdered Son of God, and if thou dost reject Him this will curse thee. But, O humanity, thou art blessed with the drops of that precious blood, and believing in Him it doth save thee. The blood of Jesus, after speaking peace to the conscience, inflames the heart with fervent love, and full often leads men to high deeds of consecration, self-denial, and self-sacrifice, such as can scarce be understood till they are traced back to that amazing love which bled upon the tree.
III. THIS TRIPLE YET UNITED WITNESS IS PECULIARLY FORCIBLE WITHIN BELIEVING HEARTS. John tells us, "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself." Now, these three witnesses bear testimony in our souls abidingly. I speak not of years ago, but of last night, when you prayed, and were heard. Did not the Spirit when He helped you to pray, bear witness that the gospel was no lie? Was not the answer to your prayer good evidence? The next witness in us is the water, or the new and pure life. Do you feel the inner life? You are conscious that you are not what you used to be, you are conscious of a new life within your soul which you never knew till the date of your conversion, and that new life within you is the living and incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth forever. Witnessing within us is also the blood. This is a witness which never fails, speaking in us better things than the blood of Abel. It gives us such peace that we can sweetly live and calmly die. It gives us such access to God that sometimes when we have felt its power we have drawn as near to our Father as if we had seen Him face to face. And oh, what safety the blood causes us to enjoy! We feel that we cannot perish while the crimson canopy of atonement by blood hangs over our head. Thus I have tried to show that these three witnesses testify in our souls; I beg you now to notice their order. The Spirit of God first enters the heart, perhaps long before the man knows that such is the case; the Spirit creates the new life, which repents and seeks the Saviour, that is the water; and that new life flies to the blood of Jesus and obtains peace. Having observed their order, now note their combination. "These three agree in one," therefore every true believer should have the witness of each one, and if each one does not witness in due time, there is cause for grave suspicion,
IV. THESE WITNESSES CERTIFY TO US THE ULTIMATE TRIUMPH OF OUR RELIGION. Is the Spirit working through the gospel? then the gospel will win the day, because the Spirit of God is almighty, and complete master over the realm of mind. He has the power to illuminate the intellect, to win the affections, to curb the will, and change the entire nature of man, for He worketh all things after His own pleasure, and, like the wind, He "bloweth where He listeth." Next, the gospel must conquer, because of the water, which I have explained to be the new life of purity. What says John? "Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world." It is impossible for the gospel to be vanquished so long as there remains in the world one soul that is born of God. Living and incorruptible seed abideth forever! Lastly, the gospel must spread and conquer because of the blood. God, the everlasting Father, has promised to Jesus by covenant, of which the blood is the seal, that He "shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand." As surely as Christ died on the Cross, He must sit on a universal throne.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
TopicsAgree, Agreement, Bear, Blood, Complete, Spirit, Testifying, Testimony, Witness, Witnesses
Outline1. He who loves God loves his children, and keeps his commandments;
3. which to the faithful are not grievous.
9. Jesus is the Son of God;
14. and able to hear our prayers.
Dictionary of Bible Themes1 John 5:6-8
3130 Holy Spirit, Counsellor
5030 knowledge, of Christ
LibraryThe World Our Enemy.
"We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness."--1 John v. 19. Few words are of more frequent occurrence in the language of religion than "the world;" Holy Scripture makes continual mention of it, in the way of censure and caution; in the Service for Baptism it is described as one of three great enemies of our souls, and in the ordinary writings and conversation of Christians, I need hardly say, mention is made of it continually. Yet most of us, it would appear, have very …
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VII
A Call to Backsliders
On the Trinity
The Witness of the Spirit
The victory of Faith.
The victory of Faith
Alive or Dead --Which?
Faith and Regeneration
The Three Witnesses
The Blessing of Full Assurance
1 John 5:4-5. victory
"Wash You, Make You Clean; Put Away the Evil of Your Doings from Before Mine Eyes; Cease to do Evil,"
The Unity of the Divine Essence, and the Trinity of Persons.
Of the Unity of the Godhead and the Trinity of Persons
The victory of Faith
But if Our Sense is not Able Till after Long Expectation to Perceive what The...
The Apostolic Experience
The Ordinances of the New Testament.
Assurance of Salvation.
The Work of the Holy Spirit
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