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Standing on the Promises (1 John 5:6-13)
Sermon Notes
Sunday, 17 November 2013 00:00

In light of 1 John 5:6, it is possible to surmise what might have been the specific theology of some, or all, of the false teachers/antichrists.
1 John 2:22 tells us that they claimed that Jesus was not the Christ. Quite possibly, they regarded the “Christ” as a spiritual being (the Spirit?) who descended on the man Jesus at His baptism, but left Him to die alone.

Ancient Christian literature informs us that there was a man named Cerinthus, who lived at Ephesus in Asia Minor. He is said to have taught that Jesus was a mere man and that the divine Christ descended on Jesus at His baptism but then left Him at the cross.
Thus, only the human Jesus, not the divine Christ, died and rose.
Thus, the work of the cross was not a sacrifice offered up by God’s Son, bu the death of a mere man. Therefore, what saving value could it have?
This ancient Christian literature also portrays Cerinthus as an arch enemy of John.
Eusebius of Caesarea (265-339) reports, as a story derived from Polycarp (70-155/160), a famous encounter by John with Cerinthus. Although not particularly convincing, the story is amusing, and evidences the ancient view that the apostle John was strongly opposed to Cerinthus and his doctrines.
Eusebius wrote that “… John the apostle once entered a bath to wash; but ascertaining that Cerinthus was within, he leaped out of the place, and fled from the door, not enduring to enter under the same roof with him, and exhorted those with him to do the same, saying, “let us flee, lest the bath fall in, as long as Cerinthus, that enemy of the truth is within.”
It is quite possible that the false teachers distorted the event of the baptism of Christ by making the Spirit to represent the “divine Christ” who descended on the human Jesus at that time, only to later leave Him to die. They identified the Spirit as being “the Christ.”
Verse 6 is John’s rebuttal of this false teaching:
6a This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood.
The reference to water is a reference to the baptism of Jesus.

The reference to blood is a reference to the death/crucifixion of Jesus.

These two events were focal points to His coming to earth to carry out His messianic work.

John uses dia in its well-recognized usage called “attendant circumstance.” We might translate it with respect to, in relationship to. John is saying that Jesus Christ (one person) came (His whole first advent) in relationship to water and blood.
These two occasions mark the two horizons of the earthly ministry of Jesus as Messiah.
John refutes this false teaching by asserting here that Jesus came to be baptized and to die!!
Not just to be baptized (not only by water), as Cerinthus and his ilk taught, but also to die (but by water and blood).
7 For there are three that bear witness [in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness on earth:] the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.
The following translation is based upon the vast majority of Greek manuscripts2.
6bAnd it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth – 7because there are three that bear witness: 8the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.
John has affirmed that the Spirit is reliable – He is truth – and this is not just because of His nature as truth, but also because His testimony follows the biblical law of verification which required two or three witnesses (Deut 17:6, 19:15; Matt 18:16; John 8:17-18).
9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son.
The opening words are a first class condition, meaning that it is assumed true, and could be translated If (and it is a fact that) we receive the witness of men, This phrase probably looks both backward and forward.
The backward reference would be to the testimony in vv 7-8.
Their forward reference will be to the witness of God stated in vv 11-12.
John’s point here is that since we do receive human testimony and treat it as valid, how much more should we be able to do this with the witness of God which, considering the Source, is obviously greater and thus much more deserving of our reception.
In other words, if we can regard the witness of men as valid when adequately supported, surely the witness of God should be treated as valid too.
John will now state this further testimony of God (vv 11-12) after a brief, parenthetical, yet significant observation in the next verse: v.10
(10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.)

These words state a brief side comment before the “witness of God” is actually stated in vv 11-12. In this comment John draws the contrast between believing and not believing the testimony about God’s Son.
John tells us that God’s testimony (for the person who exercises faith in/believes it – i.e., the testimony) about His Son is internalized (has the witness in himself), whereas the person who does not believe God (that is, disbelieves the testimony that God has given of His Son) for all intents and purposes makes God out to be a liar, saying in effect, that God’s testimony is false!
The issue for John is the truth or falsity of what God says about His Son. Once we have understood that message, the issue is: Is it true or is it false? Do we believe it? Or do we not?

God’s testimony consists of two closely related affirmations:
(1) An affirmation about what God has bestowed: God has given us eternal life.
11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
Phrased here as a confirmation of what God has already given because the hearers are believers!

(2) An affirmation about the exclusive character of this bestowal: this life is in His Son.
12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
The false teachers called into question the readership’s belief that they possessed eternal life (2:25). They denied that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God (2:22), so they would quite naturally have affirmed that there was no eternal life available in Jesus.
Thus, in the eyes of these antichrists, John’s readers did not really possess such life.
In all probability they taught that eternal life (or whatever passed for such in their theology) was to be sought in some other way and somewhere else, other than in Jesus.

John counters all this nonsense by asserting that he and his readers do have eternal life because God has given it to them in His Son and that this life is to be found in Him and nowhere else. If someone does not have the Son, that person does not have this life.

So then, John has refuted this teaching and now summarizes the implications in v. 13 --
13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

13 These things refers to what John has just written in 1 John 5:6-12. The words (Tauta+graphein) translated “These things + I have written” is consistently used in this epistle in reference to immediately preceding material (1:4 refers to 1:1-3; 2:1 refers to 1:5-10; 2:26 refers to 2:18-25).

In considering this, it is important to note the flow of John’s thought in 5:6-12. Zane Hodges summarized it well: “According to 5:5, the “world-conqueror” is the one who “believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” But when one believes this, he is believing in the one, indivisible Person of Jesus Christ whose messianic coming was marked by His baptism and His crucifixion (5:6a). To this reality, witness has been borne by the Holy Spirit and the historical events of His baptism and death themselves (5:6b-8). Furthermore, God has given additional testimony to His Son, and this testimony assures us that He has imparted eternal life to us in His Son, in whom alone this gift can be found (5:9-12). It follows from this that those who have believed in the Son’s name can know, on God’s testimony, that they do indeed have eternal life (5:13)4.”

The words to you who believe in the name of the Son of God do not mean to those of you who believe. The phrase here (hymin tois pisteuousin) simply means “to you believers.”

Notice again that John addresses his readers as “believers.”
Although the false teachers are telling them that they do not have eternal, John is reminding them that indeed they do!
It is their world-conquering faith in Jesus as the Son of God that has given them this life, and God’s testimony about His Son verifies this fact beyond all controversy or contradiction

John 5:24 ~ 24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes [in] Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
Jesus speaks of those who hear His word and believes [in] Him who sent Me. In other words, if they accept Jesus’ word as true, they will be believing God! The testimony is the same, that the one who believes Him who sent Jesus “has everlasting life.”
The logic of John’s argument is clear. Since the believers he writes to have believed in the name of the Son of God (whose identity is attested by “the Spirit, the water, and the blood,” ~ 5:8), then they should rest securely on the testimony that God has given about and through His Son. This “testimony” (found in John 5:24, and many other passages in John’s Gospel) assures the believer that he does indeed have eternal life.
If Jesus said so, God said so – and there the matter should rest! AMEN!
All true assurance of eternal life rests on the “testimony of God,” for only His testimony has full reliability and solidity. John here seeks to reaffirm the assurance of his readership.
It was the antichrists who had called that assurance into question.
Many teachers today would think that a more stable basis for assurance can be found in the lives they lead, but they are only deceiving themselves.
There is never a time at all in our Christian experience where we are free from sin (1 Jn 1:8).
To suggest that Christian experience can stand on some relatively equal level with the “testimony of God” as a grounds for assurance is nearly a blasphemy, since it compares and exalts human experience in its multitude of flaws with the flawless word of God.
Those who are willing to look at themselves with complete honesty will find more grounds to doubt their salvation than to be assured of it.
Some even teach that this uncertainty is healthy! But this does not reckon with the fact that the apostle John expected his readers to know that they had eternal life.
The ironical, sad fact is that once Christian experience is made the grounds for assurance, as some hold First John does, John’s statement in 5:13 about knowing becomes a complete impossibility!

 

 

 

 

 

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