Let Love Live Week 8 – Faith Wins
1 John 5:1-12
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
6 This is the one who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the[a] Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
John has made some pretty incredible claims about Jesus in this little letter to his people. He has spoken about who Jesus really is, what John himself and the other disciples saw and heard of Jesus first-hand that convinced them that he is indeed Saviour for the whole world.
John has proclaimed what Jesus began, which was a whole new start; a whole new creation founded on grace, received by faith in Jesus, and repeatedly shown what it means for living this life – it means loving each other and the world.
As John starts to wrap up his little letter to his people, he wants to really ‘seal the deal’. He now goes into ‘courtroom’ mode to try and sure up the truth and encouragement of what he has been saying so his people can rise to faith; rise to believe, rise to their present and future hope in this anti-messiah world.
This is the Holy Spirit’s goal for you today too.
John has been saying that he has seen God’s future for us all and it really works.
John saw and heart and touched the future in the presence of the Messiah Jesus. Jesus began the long-promised ‘new age’ spoken of by prophets, priests and kings for all those years before he arrived.
John has dealt with this besetting problem we all have – self-deception; not being able to see God or ourselves clearly.
- To know but not do.
- To believe but not love.
- To be forgiven but not forgive.
- To say we have faith but not do the things of faith – namely love.
But then, John has shone a big light on the gift of lavish forgiveness always available for any sinner struggling to love. John says that Jesus did it all and did enough for a life to be lived in the embrace of love, enough to be able to always return to the Father’s love by recognising the wrongs and claiming all Jesus’ ‘right doing’ to get us here.
John has urged his people to not give their heart to the pull of the anti-messiah world, their own anti-messiah drive within or the Anti-Messiah himself, but to allow God’s loving heart to do his work within them and give their heart to the Father.
John has urged his people to ‘force their way back to faith’ as Luther commented, so that those three covers – the world, flesh and devil, fall off and we are free again in the Lord to be loved and to love.
John has helped us remember that we are not the ones who are surrounded and outgunned by these anti-messiah forces active in the world.
4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
John has revealed to us that the world’s only chance of receiving this One who is greater; this future that is at work already now is by our loving people.
This is a lot take in!
As John has truthfully said, these things are hard to trust when you feel surrounded by the four things John names as threats to faith and love: false teaching, false teachers, suffering and sometimes dislike and hatred for the gospel we carry.
So as John takes us to a courtroom and calls upon three witnesses: the water, the blood and the Holy Spirit.
5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
6 This is the one who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth…
So, the one who witnessed the water and the blood flowing from the side of the pierced Jesus now calls them as witnesses in the case to convince you to that you live in faith, love and obedience.
When I first read 1 John ages ago, I immediately thought this little reference to the water and the blood was about the day they flowed from Jesus dead body on that cross.
… one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. (John 19:34)
That detail in John’s gospel tells everyone that Jesus really and truly was dead, dead, dead. And that means that Jesus is really and truly human. He is God and his death is atoning for all sin and defeated the hold that death has over the world. Can we see why this teaching is John’s ‘bottom line’ for discerning truth and falsity in your dealing with others.
But most see that this is not the main thing John is saying here in his letter about ‘the water and the blood’.
No. The ‘water’ is referring to that day at the Jordan when the other John, John the Baptiser, baptised Jesus and inaugurated his earthly mission.
The blood is that cross and all that Jesus did to achieve this world-shifting victory over the cover of darkness that engulfed the world.
This is crucial for John and his people, because, if you remember, they are dealing with false teaching.
One false teaching of the day was that Jesus was not really human; that he was indwelt by the Messiah at baptism and was left alone before his death by that same Messiah from heaven.
The other false teaching getting around was that Jesus was not really God. He was a great prophet who said and did some good things but met his end. There are other ways you need to find the mystery of God in your life…..
Not for John! From go to woe, from river to cross, from baptism to supper, Jesus is human, and Jesus is God, and he did what it took for death to be surrounded and outgunned!
So, in Jesus, there is truth in the world, and it produced faith and love in people. But who carries this word? Who gets this witness to the blood and the water; this word of truth to us? The third witness.
And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth …
The Spirit by his Word makes the water and the blood flow through our veins.
And there is one more way to hear John on this ‘water, blood and Spirit’. Especially in the early Christian leaders like John Chrysostom, the water and blood speak of the holy gifts of God that keep us going: Baptism water and Lord’s Supper blood of Christ.
The water of our baptism by which our life was begun in God and the blood of Christ poured out for us all in that holy meal Jesus began are the means by which the Spirit sustains us feeds us, supports us in those three foundational currents of our life together in Jesus: faith, love and obedience.
So, we have three witnesses witnessing to the love of the Three in One God, Father, Son and Spirit, to sustain three realities at work in your life as a Christian in this anti-messiah world.
Are you convinced? Has John clinched it for you today?
In all that surrounds you, outguns you makes you fearful more than faith-filled, has he helped you rise again to faith in Jesus, the love of Jesus for you and you living love out (obedience) as the foundation of your life in this future that John proclaims for you; this future that works because Jesus has worked it perfectly?
Friends, the courtroom witnesses are urging you to regard all relationships, your work, your plans, your contribution to the world while you are here, as the place where this future that works plays out; is playing out.
Here and now is where the Spirit, the water and the blood carry you on until you, together with all those who have ‘dipped their robes in the blood’ are gathered around the throne of grace to finally see Jesus in all his fulness and see how all along your Father was making you more like Jesus.
Friend, you can trust today that you are ‘born of God’; fathered by God like those being baptised today.
Because you are fathered by God himself, you know and love the Son and by his power and grace you have faith, and you can obey; you can love as he loves.
For you and me in all we face in family, in work, in church, in health, in business, in our own weaknesses and fears, obedience is not hard or heavy. So, John says:
And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world.
We have overcome thus far. We shall overcome it all when we finally see Jesus as he fully is.
No wonder Jesus can say;
28 ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
He can say this because he knows;
12 Whoever has the Son has life.
And by his water and blood, we have.