Subject — God
Theme — God’s Testimony of Christ
Proposition — God’s Testimony of Christ reveals that men have no reason not to believe upon Christ.
Purpose — Therefore having seen God’s testimony of Christ let us challenge all men everywhere to believe Christ.
Re-cap from previous weeks.
In 5:9-13 John Comes to some concluding thoughts on what he has been saying regarding the “Son of God.”
In 5:1-4 the emphasis was on Faith in God’s Son
In 5:5-12 the discussion has been on the necessity to accept God’s testimony regarding the Son
In his concluding thoughts in this section regarding the Son of God John specifically states the content of God’s testimony concerning His Son, thus eliminating any misunderstanding concerning the Son.
I.) God Has Given Testimony Concerning His Son (9)
Note the continued emphasis on objective evidence. The greek word for “Testify” is used 10 times in verses 6-11 teaching us that John is concerned with the validity of the divine testimony to Christ.
This necessity for Testimony was essential in God’s economy. Jesus himself lays claim to it.
17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”
In vs. 9 the testimony of man that is being referred to is likely John the Baptist’ testimony.
John 5:31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.
But John, noting that Jesus has Man’s testimony, insists that God’s testimony is greater. And this line of thought is consistent with the words of Jesus in John’s Gospel.
37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen,
This greater Testimony was given, as John says, with “The Spirit, water, and the blood.”
But this Testimony of God would also include
God’s voice speaking from heaven sanctioning the Work of His Son.
“and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Entry into Jerusalem
John 12:18 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son,[a] with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
So, John seeks to establish the validity of Jesus and His ministry by appealing to the very requirement that God’s word gives us for seeking to establish truth. All of this reminds us that our faith appeals to objective evidence and not merely subjective inclination. We do not have faith in faith (existentialism), rather the faith we have rests in the Testimony of God.
Illustration — The Faith that will walk off a 50 story bldg. vs. the Faith the Scripture advocates. Not faith in faith.
Now, this evidence is true, but the evidence itself does not convert. Remember the story of the Rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16
He said, ‘I ask you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house; for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, so they won’t also come into this place of torment.’
“But Abraham said to him,
‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’
“He said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
“He said to him, ‘If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded if one rises from the dead.’
The Rich man want’s Lazarus to go back and Testify to his brothers, but Father Abraham says not even that testimony or the testimony of line rising from the dead would by itself lead to persuasion.
The point here is that Divine testimony to the truth of Christ does not guarantee that people will believe in Christ. The proof of something does not always lead to persuasion. God’s testimony is valid but that testimony and that evidence does not by itself convert because before the testimony and evidence can be seen for what it is men must be given eyes to see and ears to hear.
So, when we are dealing with those who know not Christ, our role is to do what John has done and to lay out the testimony… the evidence … the proof, but the persuasion belongs to the Holy Spirit.
And as John says in the next verse, some will not receive the wittness of either man or God.
II.) The God Given Testimony Has Been Accepted By Some And Rejected By Others (10)
A.) Accepted by Some
What John writes in 5:10 harmonizes nicely with what Paul writes in
Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
Once we look to Christ, once we are born of God, the witness — the testimony is not merely external to us but we have the Testimony of God in us. Sooner could we deny our own Mothers than we could deny Christ or the Christian faith.
By way of application we might say that in having this testimony in us becomes the great animating engine for our whole lives and all that we do. This testimony is a restless passion that desires all to bow the knee to the glorious Lord Christ. This testimony fills us with the longing to Know him ever more that we might make Him known. This testimony in us works in us to love God’s law and to desire to set forth the beauty of God’s grace in reconciling Himself to sinners. The Testimony of God in us, makes we ourselves the Testimony of God to others regarding the person and work of Christ.
Note also in vs. 10 that for John that Faith is the constant bond between the believer and Christ.
Here we have the doctrine of faith alone emphasized. This idea of faith alone is central to Biblical Christianity.
B.) Not Accepted by Others
John says of those who refuse to believe God have made God out to be a Liar.
Liar is another one of those words that John likes
I John 1:10, 2:4, 2:22, 4:20, 5:10
Sometimes he applies the “Liar” label to men (i.e. — men are liars), and other times he says that men who act a certain way are calling God a “Liar.”
1:10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
5:10 Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.
Now to make God a “Liar,” is to attribute to Him a cornerstone attribute of Satan.
John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
So, those who make God out to be a “liar” have inverted reality. They have become those who call evil, “good,” and “good,” evil.
We see hear a foundation premise on the part of the unbeliever that colors their view of all the rest of their reality. If they have made God out to be a liar then all of reality for them, in principle, is a tissue of lies. One cannot make God out to be a Liar and discern the true truth about anything else.
Note that when they make God out to be a liar they have attributed to God the foundational characteristic of Satan who our Lord said was “a liar from the beginning.” With this characterization of John of unbelievers in Christ “making God out to be a liar,” we see both the tendency for the unbeliever to call “evil,” “good,” and “good,” “evil” and we see the antithesis in action. Either a person accepts God’s testimony of Christ and so is epistemologically whole in their ascertaining of the rest of reality or they don’t accept that testimony of Christ and so have taken up league against God. In making God out to be a liar, they have made themselves walking incarnations of lying and liars. They are indeed, children of their Father the Devil, who was a murderer from the beginning.
Such a sin as “Making God out to be a liar,” is the sin of the Garden and is the sin that all those outside Christ are chiefly guilty of. For man to “make God out to be a Liar,” means that such men have claimed for themselves the position of Deity because in making God a Liar they are accepting their Word over God’s word on who God is.
This is the Reformed Anti-thesis once again. Those outside of Christ who do not believe the God of the Bible have made God out to be what Satan is… a Liar. The contrast between belief and unbelief could not be made more stark.
Calvin offers here,
“John makes the ungodly to be guilty of extreme blasphemy, because they charge God w/ Falsehood. Doubtless nothing is more valued by God than His own truth, therefore no more atrocious wrong can be done to Him, that to rob Him of this honor.”
The truthfulness of God is not a take it or leave it proposition. If God’s testimony is rejected man will become twisted and distorted much like old Gollum living in the roots of the Misty Mountains. If God’s Testimony is accepted then man will become increasingly human.
We conclude then this section by noting with John Stott that
“Unbelief is not a misfortune to be pitied; it is a sin to be deplored.”