In God’s grace, he has given us two witnesses that testify to the profoundly unique mystery of Jesus Christ’s having come in the flesh: the water and the blood. At Jesus’ baptism and at Jesus’ cross, our Lord physically received the sacrament of baptism and he physically bled out his life–yet in doing so he was recognized as the Son of God.
John, however, writes not of only two but three witnesses “that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree” (1 John 5:7-8). So, what is the Spirit’s testimony? How does he contribute to the witness of the water and the blood?
It is not as though the Spirit reasons persuasively with us, “You know, I really think that you should believe in Jesus for three reasons…” Not at all, for “Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself” (1 John 5:10). Whatever testimony we receive from the Spirit, we receive it internally, not as something outside of us. What is this internally received testimony?
John tells us exactly what the testimony is. He writes:
 And this is the testimony, that God gave 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 5:11-12 ESV)
The testimony we receive does not consist of intellectually sound reasons to believe, nor of an aesthetically beautiful faith system, nor of emotionally pleasing feelings. The testimony we receive is nothing that we evaluate before we deem it valuable because the testimony we receive is life itself.
As C. S. Lewis write in his famous essay, “God in the Dock,” we tend to think of God’s testimony as something that he gives in his own defense, in order to justify who he is and what he has done in the world. We see ourselves as fair, impartial jurors waiting to hear God’s testimony. He is in the dock, and we judge him. We may indeed vindicate God, but we are the ones evaluating his testimony.
God’s testimony, on the other hand, actually works like this: We, like Lazarus, lie dead in the tomb. We have been swallowed up by the grave because of our sins, without any hope of recovery. The Holy Spirit, like Jesus in front of his friend’s tomb, proclaims, “Lazarus, come out!” By this testimony of the Holy Spirit, we are born of God in a moment to new, eternal life–as well as to new faith, new love, and new obedience. We believe that Jesus is the Son of God because the Holy Spirit puts this testimony in us.
But this eternal life is no independent, stand-alone eternal life. Our life is wrapped up in Jesus Christ himself: “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.” The eternal life given to us by the testimony of the Spirit is in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
More than this, the eternal life placed in us by the testimony of the Spirit is Jesus Christ.
If you have Jesus, you have life–in fact, you also have, along with Christ, the testimony of the Spirit, the new birth, the faith, the love, and the obedience as well. The Spirit testifies to Jesus. The new birth is being given the Spirit of adoption as Sons as a brother to Jesus, for the purpose of being conformed to the image of Jesus. The faith is not only our belief in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, but it is the faith that Jesus won for us in [permalink id=1260]his victory on the cross. The love is not only something that Jesus demonstrated perfectly on the cross; Jesus made the old commandment to love one another something radically new by actually transforming hearts through the gospel. The obedience commanded by God’s law becomes simple in Jesus–we learn to obey as we learn to gaze more fully upon Christ.
But if you do not have the Son of God, you have nothing. On behalf of Christ, by the mercy of the Father, according to the life-giving testimony of the Spirit, I implore you: be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. No longer harden your dead heart against the life that is in Jesus Christ–embrace him by faith.
Choose the life that is in Christ, that you might live.
Post Series on 1 John 5:1-12:
- The Victory of Being Born of God (1 John 5:1-5)
- There are Three that Testify (1 John 5:6-10)
- Whoever has the Son has Life (1 John 5:11-12)