He Who Has The Son Has Life
By Nonso Ukeka
1 John 5:6-12
Key Verse: 5:11
“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”
Before we get into the passage, I’d like to share a short, humorous story: It’s about a bagpiper who was hired to play at a gravesite service for a homeless man with no friends or family. Unfortunately, on his way to the burial site, the bagpiper got lost and it caused him to be an hour late. Finally, when he arrived, he saw that the funeral workers were all gone. There were no mourners, only the diggers and their equipment remained, and the men were off to the side eating lunch. Feeling really bad, and not knowing what else he could do at this point, he goes to the place where the hole was dug, and began playing Amazing Grace. Closing his eyes, he poured out his soul and played with all his heart for this homeless man who had no friends or family. The workers put their lunches down and gathered around with their hardhats in hand. He played like he’s never played for anyone else before. The workers began to weep, he began to weep. There was not a dry eye in sight. When he finished, he packed up his bagpipes and headed straight for his car. As everyone dried their faces, one worker leaned towards another and said: “Boy, I’ve never experienced anything like this, and I’ve been installing swage tanks for twenty years!” Let’s not be like this bagpiper who poured out his heart and soul, only to find out that he was doing it for a sewage tank. We have to make sure we’re pouring our hearts to the right person!
In the first part of this passage— that is, verses 1-5— John teaches us that it is only through our faith in Jesus that we are able to live the lives that God wants us to live. And how does God wants us to live? Listen to what verse 4 says: “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (ESV). Our faith in Jesus has made us overcomers of this world and has enabled us to love God freely; It has enabled us to obey his commands freely; it has enabled us to love God’s children freely; and ultimately to love others freely as well. Everyone who is born of God has put their faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. See, it’s very important that we fully understand this truth. Our faith isn’t only that Jesus is the Christ— in other words, that he is the Messiah, the promised Savior of the world. Our faith is also that this Promised Messiah is not just any man, but that he is God’s very own Son. Understand then, that Jesus had to be the Son of God. Why? Because no man can save us from our sins. No human savior, no matter how great he may be can himself overcome the world and can help us overcome the world. It had to be the Son of God himself. He alone overcame the world. And it is the Son of God who passed on that victory unto us. Jesus himself said: “Take heart I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) And so, John tells us in verse 5: “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”
Therefore, only those who put their faith in God believing with all their hearts that Jesus is the Son of God can overcome the world. It’s what the word of God tells us. We can trust it. We can trust it not only because it is the word of God, but also because where there is truth there is witness and testimony and evidence to that truth. The word of God is true, and so, God did not leave us without any witnesses to verify these facts that he testifies to about his Son. So for this reason, we must examine what he is telling us a little more in depth. Our focus today will be on the second part of this passage, that is verses 6-12, in order to find out about God’s testimony concerning his Son. Remember this since its the central truth of today’s passage. We want to think about God’s testimony about his son. In these verses, God himself will be bearing witness to his Son. Remember this!
As we go through the passage, I want everyone to consider these three questions: Who are the witnesses involved? Who do they witness to? How do they testify?
Now in regards to the first question: Who are the witnesses? Let’s read verses 6 together, “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.”
John makes a remarkable claim here. First he states that Jesus came, not only by water, but also by blood. Jesus came by water and blood. Then he tells us that the Holy Spirit testifies to this because He is the truth. This is not very easy to understand. But many servants of God agree that the Spirit here is testifying to both, Jesus’ Humanity and Divinity at the same time. First let’s think about his humanity. Jesus was fully human when he entered the water to be baptized by John in the Jordan river. At the time the Spirit of God descended on him like a dove and God’s voice from heaven said of him: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17) Thus, he came by water or through the water of baptism and was declared with power to be the Son of God. Throughout his earthly ministry, the Spirit who had descended on him at his baptism, continued to work in and through Jesus to confirm that he is the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus’ teaching had been divine— no one had ever taught the way Jesus had taught. Jesus loved like no one had ever loved. He healed the blind and cured diseases. He cast demons out of those who were suffering from Satan’s oppression. It was the hand of God upon the Messiah the Son of God. Jesus’ ministry was the coming of the Kingdom of God upon the hearts of men.
Then of course, John also tells us that the Spirit testifies that Jesus also came by blood. In other words, the Spirit testifies that Jesus was also fully divine. The blood represents Jesus’ death on the cross. It was that moment in time, in which everything the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit had been planning for was coming to pass— the climax of the Gospel. According to Luke 22:20, during the last supper, Jesus had taken a cup and gave thanks, and then he gave it to them saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” Jesus’ blood was holy blood, the blood of the Son of God, the sinless blood of the righteous God that did this for us. His holy blood gives us a new covenant with God almighty, in which we have the forgiveness of sins, eternal life and a new relationship with God as our heavenly Father. No modern medicine can ever touch the inner man, and no psychologist can ever wipe away the guilt-ridden conscience. Only the blood of Jesus can! Jesus’ blood has the power to cleanse our conscience, to purify us from all unrighteousness, to alleviate our guilt if only we come to him by faith. The blood of Jesus was the redemption of the human race. His blood held the atonement for our sins and our deliverance from slavery to sin and death. It was Jesus’ holy and righteous blood that provided this escape for sinners from condemnation. Who does John say testifies to this? In verse 6 he tells us that the Spirit himself testifies that it was the divine blood of the Lord Jesus that testifies to Jesus’ Divinity.
What does this mean? It means that if Jesus had not been divine, his blood would never have been able to redeem even one sinner from sin and death. The very fact that numerous sinners have been forgiven and redeemed and transformed by the blood of the Lamb is evidence and testimony and witness itself to Jesus’ own divinity. Thus Jesus indeed did not come only by water and live among us and was seen and heard by many. Jesus indeed did not perform miraculous signs and reflect the very nature and love of God towards many. But Jesus did come by water and the blood. He came as the Incarnate Son of God as a Man in the Flesh to redeem sinful men from the power of sin and death. That is the testimony of the Spirit who is the truth. It is also our very own testimony as well— we— every one of us who has been blessed— delivered and transformed by the blood of Christ. We too testify that Jesus came by water and the blood.
Read verses 6-8. “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. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.”
Let me offer you another insight into what the water and blood speak of in these verses as well. The apostle John who spent much time with the Lord Jesus, and was influenced by Jesus’ teachings was talking about the water and the blood in symbolism. In Biblical history, water usually symbolized the word of God. In Ezekiel 36:25-26, God says, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” This means that we are cleansed by God when we believe his word and let his word cleanse our hearts through repentance. We are made completely new. Without the word of God, its like the feeling we have of not taking a shower for a week. Then the moment you bathe, you have the sense of being renewed! In the same way, we have a new life in the word of God. All that buildup of dead skin cells (yech), the stickiness (yech!), the bad smell (yech!), all the dirt (yech!) are all washed away.
At the same time, water also quenches our thirst. People think that their souls thirst for many things in life, especially for love. But the truth is that our soul thirsts for one thing only— the Word of God. And our soul can only revive and live by the Word of God. One time Jesus met a woman in Samaria. She had come to draw water from a well in the scorching heat of the day at a time when no one comes to draw water. She was thirsty. But more so, it reflected the inner thirst of her soul. She felt alone and lonely and miserable. She had been married and divorced five times and now she was lived with her boyfriend. But none of these men could satisfy the thirst of her soul for love. Jesus honestly told her who alone can satisfy the thirst of her soul when he said: “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water … whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jn. 4:10,14) As soon as she received Jesus’ words, her soul was satisfied, and she was no longer thirsty. Jesus himself is the fountain and spring of living water. Jesus came to satisfy our spiritual thirst by giving himself to us so that our soul may not die of thirst but live. He gives us his Word that we may drink deeply of the living water and satisfy the thirst of our souls. Every one who has tasted of the waters of Jesus’ word and drank deeply from them testifies to the truth that they truly satisfy. This is our Christian testimony.
Look again at verses 6-8. John says that the three witnesses who testify to Jesus are the Spirit, the water and the blood. In other words, the Holy Spirit is in agreement with the Word of God, and with Jesus’ blood when it comes to who Jesus is. The Holy Spirit, the word of God and the redeeming grace of God through the blood of Jesus, always work together to testify that Jesus is our Savior Christ, the Son of God. For example, the Word of God which we read and study always testifies (or points) to Jesus as the Son of God, our Savior. It points to him through all the prophesies, through his words and works. Then the Spirit is always testifying (or pointing out) to the children of God that the Word of God that we are learning or receive is true. At times we are convicted by the Spirit, and we accept the word that rebukes us because it is true. And so we repent and we are forgiven by the blood of Jesus. At other times we are encouraged and we accept the word that uplifts us because it is true. And we rejoice. At times, even if the whole world seems to be living and walking in lies, as it seems to be doing in our day and age, we know that instead, we must walk by the truth of the Word of God. How do we know? Who testifies to us what is truth? It is the Spirit who testifies, and confirms the Word as well as the gracious holy blood that works on our behalf— all testify about the truth of Jesus.
Read verses 9-12. “We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
First, let’s understand that the one who is testifying is God himself. And that he is testifying about his Son, Jesus Christ. It is as simple as that! At first we saw three witnesses, the Spirit, the Water and the Blood. These witnesses testified about Jesus’ humanity and divinity. They testified that he is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. But in truth, the One True Witness who has testified from the beginning of time until this very day is God himself. John makes that very clear. But when he introduces other witnesses who testify, it is to make the case for Christ more solid. But in these last verses I want to focus on God’s testimony only.
I want you to notice how John brings into the picture also human testimony. He says “We accept man’s testimony.” Why does he say that? Because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the testimony of those who also received grace and mercy from God and turn around and give it to others. In fact, every single believer who has received grace from the Lord, is called to be witnesses and to testify to God’s grace. It is an honor and a privilege for us to do so. Jesus said, “…you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). One time after healing a demon possessed man from his terrible possession, Jesus told him: “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19) The New Testament is filled with exhortations to share the good news with others. The Bible is filled with encouragements and commands to witness and testify to the Lord’s mercy in our lives. When John says, “We accept man’s testimony” it is because man’s testimony about the water and the blood of the Lord is precious. It is because your and my testimony about the good news of the gospel is imperative in a dying and hopeless world. But John does not stop with this phrase. He goes on to say: “But God’s testimony is greater.” And indeed it is greater. Why?
Look at verses 9b-10a “God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart.” When we have received the grace of forgiveness through the gospel of our Lord Jesus, our hearts compel us to turn around and share this grace with others. This is our joy. This is our testimony. Our testimony may move people’s heart but it cannot change their hearts. Only God’s testimony can change their hearts. God’s testimony is about his Son. He has given his Own Son who shed his blood for the sins of the world. He has given his Spirit to work in people’s hearts to convict hearts and to imprint the message of love and grace upon people’s hearts. When people hear our testimony they may be moved. But only God’s own testimony can plant that testimony in people’s heart and transform them into children of God. John honored men’s testimony about God’s son, but he honored God’s testimony more, because God’s testimony is more powerful, for it is written in blood and in sacrifice, and in love and in more grace than we can imagine or describe. John clearly divides people into two parts, those who believe in the Son of God and those who do not. In other words, those who accept the testimony God has given to the world and those who do not. Ultimately, it is a matter of having life or not having life. Believing or not believing God’s testimony about his son is a matter of life or death. Read verses 11-12. “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
In this post-modern world we live in, there are still many young people who do not know the gospel; and there are many who have heard the gospel, but still struggle very hard to accept and believe. The enemy is fighting very hard for the souls of these young men and women. We who believe in God’s saving grace must fight equally as hard. We must not give up praying for those who are lost. We must not give up in sharing the gospel. Unbelief is a serious issue before God. Let us keep praying that they might humble themselves, accept and believe God’s testimony. And if we ourselves find that we struggle to believe what God has said; and what scripture has taught about Jesus, then let us not waste any time in coming before God in repentance, asking for his mercy to accept and believe the truth about the Son of God.