The Apostle John had now given all but one of the proofs of salvation and its permanency. Those who are born anew, from above, live by faith in
- Willing cooperation with the Spirit of Christ.
- Holding onto the teaching of the apostles.
- Consecrating ourselves in God’s love, no longer a part of the world, but now being transformed into the heavenly.
- Genuinely loving the brothers and sisters in Christ.
- Trusting the Spirit’s discernment between truth and error.
- Loving with God’s love (agape) as begotten and beloved of God.
- The power of the Holy Spirit.
- Knowing God promises salvation to all who put their faith in Jesus.
The heart of John’s gospel is about the Light and Love of God as seen perfectly in Jesus Messiah. We who have put our faith in Jesus become children of that Light and that Love, and it is now our nature to walk in the Light, and to love with God’s agape Love.
Having prepared his readers, John was now ready to reveal the ninth proof of salvation and its permanency.
Evidence of Salvation: Exhibit 9
Living by faith in victory over darkness.
John summarized what he had so far taught.
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God, and everyone who loves the One Who begets, also loves the One Who has been begotten of Him.
In this we know that we love the little children of God, whenever we love God and do His commandments.
For this is the love of God: so that we would keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome . . .1 John 5:1-3 (my translation)
All of this leads to a truth that, to his audience, would have brought great courage and strength to persevere.
. . . for everyone who is begotten of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory, that which overcomes the world: our faith.
And who is the one who overcomes the world if not the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of the God?1 John 5:4-5 (my translation)
Those who put their faith in Jesus can overcome the darkness of the world and its systems.
Three Are the Ones Who/Which Testify
Scholars have gone round and round about what John might have meant by these next few lines.
This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ—not in the water only but rather in the water and in the blood, and the Spirit is the one Who testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.
For three are the testifying ones,
The Spirit, and the water, and the blood, and the three are one [in agreement].1 John 5:6-8 (my translation)
It begins with John the Baptist’s testimony.
I came baptizing with water for this reason, that [the Lamb of God] might be revealed to Israel.”
And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’
And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”John 1:31-34 (NRSV)
Then continues in several places throughout John’s account.
- Jesus transformed pure water to rich wine, laden with symbolism, at the wedding of Cana.
- Only those born of water and Spirit could enter the kingdom of God, Jesus told Nicodemus.
- The Spirit is as a never-ending well of living water, Jesus told the woman at the well in Samaria.
- Jesus walked on the water, portraying His sovereignty over all creation.
The last reference in John’s gospel to the symbolic significance of water happens at the cross.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.
Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.
(He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.”John 19:33-36 (NRSV)
All the above is exemplified in water. Jesus’ baptism, the inauguration of his public ministry, is affirmed by both the Holy Spirit and the voice of God giving unmistakable testimony Jesus is God’s Son, Messiah, the Lamb of God, and the Holy One of God.
There is one other really significant reference to blood in John’s account, that acted as a watershed for Jesus’ supporters, students, and disciples.
Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.
Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.John 6:53-57 (NRSV)
In view of the cross, the blood pours forth as expiation for humankind’s sin, which is confirmed in Jesus’ resurrection. The blood is also eternal life (you can read more about that here).
God’s testimony, both through the miracle of Jesus’ feeding five thousand men and their families (when Jesus gave his discourse on blood), and through the supernatural displays surrounding Jesus’ death (the darkened sky, the temple curtain torn, the dead shaken from their graves), give the blood its testimony.
Jesus taught extensively on the person and work of the Holy Spirit in John’s gospel—particularly in chapters 14-16. At one point, Jesus explained the Hoy Spirit would bear witness to the world about Jesus.
For this one who comes will expose and convict the world (cosmos) concerning sin, then concerning righteousness and justice, then concerning judgment.
So then, concerning sin, because they do not believe in me.
And concerning righteousness and justice, because I am withdrawing to the Father, so you all no longer see me.
And concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.John 16:8-11 (my translation)
Taken together, then,
- the water is God’s testimony at Jesus’ baptism,
- the blood is God’s testimony at Jesus’ death, and
- the Spirit’s testimony came after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.
These three become the most impeccable of witnesses in all the cosmos, providing both the royal seal of truth on John’s own testimony, and satisfying any court of law with the required number of three trustworthy testifiers.
The Testimony of God
Keep in mind how concerned the assemblies were about those who had left them, those who had been among them and seemed to grasp the gospel, then had started following Gnostic teachings, drawing them farther and farther away from the apostles’ teaching. Though many had heard Jesus’ teaching when they had gone to Jerusalem for the festivals, and presumably at least some of them were among the hundreds who had seen and been with Jesus after His resurrection, there were also many who had come to faith afterwards.
For a growing number of believers, their faith was established on the teaching of the scriptures, the apostles, and the inward divine work of the Holy Spirit. To them, John wrote,
If we accept the people’s testimonies, God’s testimony is one that remains, for this is God’s testimony that He has testified concerning His Son.1 John 5:9 (my translation)
[child holding a sparkler | pxfuel.com]