The Great Testimony - 1 John 5:6-13

1 John: The Light Already Shines  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction & Review

ILLUST: A faithful testimony
RECAP: Today, we reach the end of the BODY of the letter of 1 John and prepare for its conclusion.
The letter began with a statement about testimony
1 John 1:1–2 ESV
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—
A trustworthy witness is a gift to anyone who loves the truth.
Think about what a difference it makes to even unimportant things.
In May of 1965, Muhammad Ali fought Sonny Liston met in the boxing ring for a rematch. At the time of the first fight, Ali was not yet a living legend, and Liston was expected to win. When Liston failed to come out of his corner in the 7th round, people decided the match must have been fixed. The rematch should have settled the matter. In fact, Ali won by a knockout in the first round. But no one saw the punch that felled Liston. It became known as the Phantom Punch. In the most famous film of the fight, you can see Liston lean into a jab, that Ali dodges, then camera flashes and Liston is falling as Ali misses with an uppercut. But other footage exists showing Ali clearly connect with a fast right cross right on Liston’s chin.
But nothing went the way it was supposed to. Even Ali didn’t think that punch was a knockout. The crowds were angry. Many of them didn’t see the punch land. The referee, the timekeeper, nobody quite knew how to proceed. And the result was a controversy surrounded by other controversies and one legendary photograph of Ali standing over Liston and shouting at him to get back up.
Boxers, officials, sports photographers, eyewitness fans, all had their own testimony - from different angles, and distances, and contexts. There was no clear, unified, testimony that the authorities agreed upon. And so, it was chaos.
On the other hand, we know of other situations where testimonies lined up in unexpected ways to prove something beyond doubt, and disprove the falsehood.
And one of the central tenets of Old Testament justice found in
Deuteronomy 19:15 ESV
15 “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.
The same principle is picked up in the New Testament in several places. The agreement of witnesses helped protect against false accusations and vindicate the truth.
In 1 John 5, John calls us to look at a clear, unified, authoritative testimony. But it's not a testimony about a boxing match, or a crime. It’s a testimony about a much greater matter - God’s COVENANT fulfilled.
It’s designed to push us to answer the question:
Q. What should we do about this great testimony?
Org. Sentence:

I. Hear the Great Testimony of God (vv6-10)

<<READ 6-8>> The Threefold Testimony of the Holy Spirit (vv6-8)
Verses 6-8 give us a clear and concise testimony about the identity of Jesus and our salvation.
Jesus is the One Who Was to Come - the Messiah
Water and blood are the bookends of His public ministry on earth - His baptism and crucifixion.
Jesus’ baptism made it clear that His mission was to save us by drawing near and partaking of the same life that we had.
Jesus, the immortal, eternal, almighty Son of God, took on mortality, temporality, and weakness in human flesh.
Even though John’s baptism was for repentance of sins, John knew Jesus didn’t need to be baptized for that. He said, “I should be baptized by you,” and Jesus said, “This is a fitting way to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus had no sins to repent of, and yet, just like sinners, Jesus was baptized.
It foreshadowed another way He identified with us, when the sinless Lamb of God died a sinner’s death as our substitute, our atonement, our propitiation, on the cross.
At the other end of Jesus’ public ministry is the blood. Blood is New Testament shorthand for Jesus’ crucifixion. At the Last Supper, Jesus explained the meaning of His impending death with bread and wine, saying “This is my body, which is given for you,” and “this cup is the New Covenant in my blood.”
As Hebrews 9 says, Jesus secured an eternal redemption for us through His own blood.
The testimony of the Holy Spirit turns these from events into witnesses. Verse 6 into verse 8 says that the Spirit testifies, and the Spirit, the water, and the blood testify together in agreement.
The Holy Spirit testified at the baptism of Jesus that He was the Son of God and the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
The Holy Spirit testified at the death of Jesus, too.
1 John has taught us that everyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God is born of God by the Holy Spirit.
And at the death of Jesus, the Gospel of Mark says,
Mark 15:39 ESV
39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
The Spirit takes the water & blood and shows us what they mean
But the Spirit testified about the water and the blood long before this. Over a thousand years before Jesus was baptized in the Jordan and his blood spilled on Calvary
In Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers - the Holy Spirit instructed Israel so that they would understand the nature of sin and the necessity of salvation. And so to have fellowship with God, they washed in water. The sprinkled water was for purification.
And in the same Law in Exodus through Deuteronomy, they were taught that the guilt of sin must be atoned for, because God is holy. And so, they were commanded to offer sacrifices for atonement, and the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled upon the altar. On the Day of Atonement, almost everything, even the people, were sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice to atone for sin.
In the Prophets, the Holy Spirit testified that salvation would come by water and blood:
In Isaiah 52-53, the LORD declares that He is going to redeem His people, to purify them, that His salvation would be seen to the ends of the earth. And in verses 13-15, he says that the Messiah would sprinkle many nations.
In the next chapter, the Messiah is referred to like a sacrifice for Passover or the Day of Atonement.
Isaiah 53:5–7 ESV
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
In the book of Ezekiel, chapter 36,
Ezekiel 36:25–27 ESV
25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
And in the Book of Zechariah, the Holy Spirit declared that when God sent salvation, Israel would look upon God Himself as the one whom they have pierced, and mourn for Him as an only Son. And
Zechariah 13:1 ESV
1 “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.
And in the same moment that the centurion saw Jesus die and declared, “Truly this was the Son of God,”
John 19:34–35 ESV
34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe.
The Scriptures are an overwhelming cascade of evidential testimony to Jesus the Son of God, and I’ve just given you the very beginning.
ILLUST: Have you ever been confronted by proof of something that at first you wanted to reject? But as the evidence mounts, you finally have to decide either to go with the truth or plug your ears? Usually, that happens with bad news. But it can happen with Good News, too.
The apostle Thomas is a great example of this. You can imagine his frustration at first. Jesus had died, and was buried, and had risen. The tomb was empty, Mary had given testimony that Jesus was risen, and then Thomas is out of the house at some point. We’re not told what he’d been doing, but when he returns, all the disciples testify that Jesus had come and spoken with them, that He was truly risen.
And Thomas says, “I need to see Him myself, unless I touch the wounds on his hands and his side, I won’t believe it.”
And a full week passes. A full week of Thomas, surrounded by rejoicing men and women while he mourned. And Sunday comes again, and Jesus comes and stands among them, and invites Thomas to do exactly what he had said. And he says, “Stop doubting, and believe.” And Thomas’s response is a Holy Spirit-birthed statement of faith: “My LORD and my God.”
God Himself changed Thomas’s mind and heart.
When we hear the united testimony of the Spirit and the water and the blood, we’re hearing the very testimony of God about His Son, given for us.
And this is why we’re talking about the GREAT testimony.
Verse 9 says “If we accept the testimony of men,” and John expects us to supply the other half of the “if-then” from the context - “If we accept the testimony of men, then we definitely should accept this testimony, the Spirit’s testimony, because “the testimony of God is greater… <<READ 9>>”
So don’t close your ears to the words that God declares about His Son. Hear the Great Testimony of God. Listen like your life depends on it, because it does. So hear and believe. <<STATE point 2>>

II. Believe the Great Testimony and have life in Christ (vv10-13)

You might summarize John’s thought like this:
I have it on the greatest authority -
an unimpeachable testimony
Concerning the topic of highest importance: How will you face eternity if you do not know the One who will rule it?
Do you know Him? If not, it’s not because He has hidden. It’s because you have. We’ve been hiding since the Garden,
fig leaves held over sin and shame and failure.
But His testimony calls you to believe and live.
His testimony is sure, making wise the simple (Ps 19).
He has left Himself a witness in every breath you respire - it’s inspired by His Spirit. His voice is heard every time His Word is declared. It reverberates in the hallways of the soul so that when you hear Him say,
Come to me all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest,” when you hear Him say, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scriptures say, OUT of his heart will flow rivers of living water,”
If you do not go to Him, it’s not because you don’t feel the truth call to your soul but because you dig your heels into the dry and weary ground in stubborn preference for darkness, sin, death. Insanity.
Do you know Him? If not, then hear and believe the Great Testimony and live.
This is not a courtroom testimony. Jesus is not on trial with you the judge. Hear that word, “Testimony,” and think of witnesses to a wedding. This is covenant testimony. When a king in the ancient world entered into a covenant with a people, the testimony told the history and nature of the covenant. Witnesses guaranteed its authenticity AND were called to vindicate the truth if anyone called it into question.
God called heaven and earth, the mountains, the sea as witnesses in the Old Covenant. Now, He calls the Spirit, the water, and the blood.
They are the guarantee, the vindication, the proof that He has fulfilled the covenant and will be the salvation of all who enter in by faith.
This is not the first time that blood has stood as a witness, but it’s the first time it stood as a witness to life instead of death, which is why Hebrews 12:24 says that those who believe have come
Hebrews 12:24 ESV
24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
As our Great King, He is more reliable than the best neighbor of spouse; more righteous and good than the greatest hero you’ve ever known; and He has conquered our great enemy and will finish what He has promised.
So what are you to believe?
That He came by water and by blood. And not by the water only as verse 6 says. There are a lot of pretenders who put forth a partial truth and it ends up being a whole lie. They separate the water from the blood when they tell you that it’s Jesus’s moral teachings that matter or his identification with humanity that matters, and then deny that He died a sacrificial death as our substitute, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God.
We see this in a number of places today. Islam says that Jesus didn’t die on the cross at all - that he taught his teachings and then was snatched away to heaven and someone else died in his place. No atonement, no Lamb of God, and if you believe that, you’re still in your sins and do not know God.
Other people claim to be Christians, but deny that Jesus’ death was God’s intended mission. Against the Spirit’s own testimony, they claim that God had nothing to do with Jesus’s death, sometimes they call it “a non-violent atonement”. Or they claim that being a Christian really amounts to being part of a church and considering Jesus to be the Greatest Teacher. They want the water without the blood.
But the Spirit and the water and the blood agree: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came in the flesh and was baptized and declared the Son of God, called all people to believe in Him, died as the substitutionary atonement for our sins, shedding His blood for our forgiveness, and rose the third day just as the Scriptures had declared. Do you believe this?
“Whoever does not believe” => looks @ God’s consistent Word, millennia-long testimony, & the clear word from the water & blood and says, “I know better than the all-knowing, I understand more than the all-wise Creator. I dispute and challenge this testimony. I declare Truth to be a liar.”
But verse 10 - “Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself”
The Testimony becomes central to your identity because it’s your history now. Your King who conquered and redeemed. His Spirit is in you. The living water and the new covenant in His blood are now yours because you are His.
And if the testimony is in you, then verses 11-12 tell us that you have eternal life.
Here’s the content of the testimony: <<READ 11-12>>
Believe God’s great testimony about the Son and you will have life in Him.
And if His testimony is in you, there’s a reason for that, too.

III. Take the Great Testimony into the world by the Spirit (Acts 1:8)

And Testify (Acts 1)
Driving into Breckenridge, you’ll notice the sign says, “Welcome to the Town of Breckenridge. Established 1859. Elevation 9600 feet.”
The sign makes a testimony of sorts. When we moved to the Chicago suburbs in 2007, I noted with some confusion that on the tollways, every one of those no-stop toll stations had a huge blue sign that said, “Rod Blagojevich, Governor” on them. Every visitor’s first impression of the governor was that he wanted your money.
In Ancient Egypt, Canaan, Mesopotamia, etc., as you entered a city, you’d often encounter a statue of the king on the way in - and often a covenantal statement - either a friendly promise of protection or a warning against rebellion.
1st c. Israel, different kind of sign on the edge of town. A sign that declares, “Rome rules here.” Crosses with condemned, dying rebels upon them.
But one of those crosses had a sign that said, “Jesus, King of the Jews.” It was intended by Pilate as mockery, but it was true testimony to the New Covenant. Now, that sign is written in those who believe so that we too can bear testimony - that everyone would see the sign & know that He is King & SAVIOR - that all would come to Him for life.
Acts 1:8 ESV
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
And that’s exactly what we see in chapter 2, when the Holy Spirit falls upon the believers. They bore faithful testimony to salvation in Jesus.
The testimony of salvation is now ours to declare. The same Spirit who bore witness in every page of Scripture is now at work in every believer.
Like John declared in chapter 1. What we have seen, we now declare. What we have come to know, we now make known.
Because the Good News that John believed, that Thomas came to believe, that so many of us have come to believe, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the only Name given under heaven by whom we must be saved.
HOW will you bear the testimony with you this week? Who most needs to hear the message? How would you do it?
Believer, consider what it means that when you proclaim the Gospel, it is God’s testimony in you. You don’t have to dress it up, you don’t have to try to improve it. Jesus died for sinners, and because He lives, I also live.
This also means that whether your testimony includes great excitement, or if you became a Christian as a child and have walked with Jesus ever since, the message about Jesus - our King of kings who saved us by His great sacrifice - that is the Good News, that is the epic testimony that can change hearts.
<<ILLUST Devil’s Backbone last week>>
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