I John 5:9-10 … God’s Testimony & Man’s Response

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.”

Mt. Transfiguration

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.”



I John 5:6-12 — A Sermon


John gives a bit of an apologetic here for the humanity of Jesus Christ. Remember His letter is concerned, at least in part, with dismissing the gnostic heresy that Christ was not very man of very man (I John 4:1-3, II John 7). And so in light of that, following God’s proscription in Dt. for witnesses to confirm truth, John brings forth his witnesses.

Either as a verb, a participle, or a noun, the word “testify” appears ten times in verses 6-11

The word in Greek is “martureo” {mar-too-reh’-o}, from whence we get the word “Martyr,” and it means:
1) “to bear witness, i.e. testify”
2) “to give evidence for, to bear record:

John takes seriously the Deuteronomic legal requirement for the testimony of two or three witnesses to establish truth and so John, playing somewhat the role of an Attorney making his case brings forth His witnesses.

Keep in mind that I John has in the background the Gnostic denial of the humanity of Jesus Christ. By appealing to these tactile human realities of water and blood as witnesses John may be seeking to undercut the denial of the Gnostic heresy.

I.) # 1 Witness Testifying For The Credibility of the Humanity of Christ

Water and Blood

A.) Baptism and Lord’s Table — Sacraments
B.) Water and Blood from the Lord’s Side (John 19:34)

This water and blood that is mentioned flows from Christ side and is mentioned here in order that the faithful may know the cleansing is found in Christ and that they might know that what all the sprinklings of blood formerly presignified was fulfilled.

If this is what John is alluding to then this likewise serves as a good apologetic against the Gnostics. The blood and water that flowed from Jesus side after His death attested to the reality of His death and the wound left testified to the reality of Jesus bodily resurrection. This would have been especially powerful against the gnostics since they denied both the death and resurrection of He who was very man of very man.

C.) Water and Blood typifying OT Sacrificial system — Thus teaching that Christ is fulfillment of OT Sacrifice

Water for Cleansing from pollution of sin
Blood for expiating (taking away) the presence of sin and securing reconcilliation

D.) Baptism and Crucifixion

This would have been especially effective against the Gnostic / Docetic heresy if that is what John has in mind here for there were people of this cult who taught that the Logos descended on Christ at Baptism but left before the Crucifixion.

Thus the beginning of Jesus ministry is book-ended along with the end of his ministry.

Now some may ask how inanimate object like water and blood can be called as witnesses in order to give testimony but here we must seek to think in a more Hebrew fashion. In a Hebrew mindset impersonal objects can testify. In Genesis 31:48 we find a “heap of stones” serving as a witness. In Isaiah 55:12 that which is impersonal ( fields and trees) sing and clap their hands. In the Scriptures stones are said to cry out.

Illustration — Tolkien & Glamdring

Notice that this witness of “water and blood” is an appeal to the Historicity of Jesus and the events surrounding His life. This reminds us why we can never accept theological paradigms that would create a distinction between what we might call historical history and heavenly history — the former of which is history concerned w/ the real events that happen on earth and heavenly history that suggest that while something may not be literally true on earth it could be spiritually true because it is true in a heavenly history that is inaccessible.

John begins with a Historical fact (vs 6) with noting that Jesus came and builds on historicity by appealing to the historical reality of water and blood.

II.) #2 Witness Testifying For the Credibility of the Humanity of Christ

The Spirit — who is truth (vs. 6)

It is interesting that throughout the life of our Lord Christ it is the Spirit of Christ …. the Spirit who is the truth who is testifying to Christ

A.) The Spirit is testifying as a witness to Christ’s birth (conception — Matt. 1:20 // Luke 1:35, 2:25-32)
B.) The Spirit is testifying as a witness to Christ’s Baptism (Mt. 3:16, Lk. 3:22).
C.) The Spirit is testifying as a witness to Christ’s teaching (John 6:63)
D.) The Spirit is testifying as a witness to Christ’s Ministry (Luke 4:18)

It is not a wonder then Jesus can later comfort the believers with the promise that the Spirit will lead them into all truth. (John 16:13).

We should also note again that the Spirit is spoken of as the Spirit of truth.

At this point there is disagreement about the nature of the text. Some versions add vs. 7 and much of vs. 8. I do not believe that the point of what John is teaching is altered by the addition of the text neither do I think that if those verses are deleted that we lose anything that we can not gain elsewhere in the Scriptures.

If we are to add vs. 7-8 then we could easily say that John is marshaling heaven and earth to give witness to the humanity of Christ, because 7-8 give us the testimony of the trinity.

III.) #3 Witness Testifying for the Credibility of the Humanity of Jesus Christ

Vs. 9 begins as a less to greater argument. If we receive the witness of men, then we should receive the witness of God for that witness if a greater witness.

A.) The Spirit of Christ (The Witness of God) in us (Romans 8:16)

John, like Jesus in John 5:31-39 dismisses all contradiction by appealing to Christ in us.

Many are the evidences that we can appeal to in order to verify the truths of Scripture. Indeed, we live in world that is saturated with divine evidences but if men do not begin with God they will never see the evidences that scream at them in a 1000 different languages.

So, John brings forth the witness of God. He who believes God has the witness of God.

This should remind us that the burden of proof for the reality of God does not lie on the believer. Belief in God is properly basic and the burden of proof is on the liar to prove that God does not exist.

Vs. 10 refers to the opposition as “Liars.” They are of their Father the Devil, who Jesus said was a liar from the beginning and when they lie they speak their native tongue.


What is the end of all this?

John says the end of all this is Eternal life.
John connects this eternal life to the Human / Divine Son
Apart from Christ all is death