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1, 2 and 3 John - Part 15

"The Case For Christ"

by David Legge | Copyright © 2006 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com

'Preach The Word'Chapter 5, and we're beginning to read at verse 6, and the title I've taken for this evening's message is 'The Case For Christ'. Chapter 5 verse 6: "This is he", speaking of Jesus the Son of God, that he has spoken of in verse 5, "This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life".

What I want to suggest to you tonight is that John paints a different courtroom scene for us that effectively is the opposite of Paul's

The Greek word for 'testify' or 'bear witness' is used no fewer than ten times in the portion of Scripture that we have read this evening from verses 6 to 11. I see it that John is depicting for us in a type of illustration, a courtroom drama. Now, as you may be aware if you're familiar with the New Testament, Paul uses courtroom imagery in the book of Romans. Of course, specifically in some of those portions of Scripture, he presents God as our Judge; God, who is holy and righteous, weighing our sins against His law. Not only is God the Judge in Paul's courtroom scene, but we are the accused, we are condemned before the holy law of God. Then in his scene also we find that there's a third party, and that is Christ who is our Advocate. He is the One who stands before the throne of God, and pleads our cause and proves that, in fact, we are not guilty as God's law declares, but there is evidence to prove that our guilt has been exonerated. As we sang:

"Five bleeding wounds He bears,
Received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers,
They strongly plead for me;
'Forgive him, O forgive', they cry,
'Nor let that ransomed sinner die!'"

'Before the throne our Surety stands, our name is written on His hands'. Often when we talk about a courtroom drama, it is Paul's picture that is conjured up in our minds which chiefly concerns our salvation. What I want to suggest to you tonight is that John paints a different courtroom scene for us that effectively is the opposite of Paul's. What do I mean? Well, let me suggest to you this evening that in this scene, Christ is in the dock. Christ is being accused! Now bear with me: God is the Advocate, God is the lawyer, the barrister presenting a case on the behalf of Christ. 'Who is the judge?', you might say, 'If God is the Advocate and Christ is the accused?'. Well, you are the judge and I am the judge. Now, hearing that, you might say: 'Well, surely either you or John cannot be right?'.

Well, the key to understanding and interpreting that illustration is understanding what the issue is about, what John and Paul are respectively illustrating. Paul is illustrating salvation, but John is not illustrating salvation, John is illustrating the case for Christ. Jesus is in the dock, He is accused - who is He accused by? By those who are telling us falsely so, that He is a mere man, that He in His flesh is not the Son of God. Now, of course, John wants us to see Him being convicted for being God's Son - but He's in the dock. 'Who will convict Him?', you might say - well, it is God Himself. God, in this portion of Scripture, is presenting the evidence for Christ as being the Son of God. We are the ones to judge, we are to weigh the evidence that God presents to us and ultimately conclude beyond reasonable doubt that He is indeed who He said He was. Now, John has already been talking in verses 1-5 about our faith, what our Christian faith is. Now he's wanting us to consider whether or not our faith is resting upon solid ground. Our faith rests on the fact that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God - we saw that last week - but is that claim authentic? So he brings us into the courtroom, Christ is in the dock, God is presenting the evidence, we are to judge the case - the case for Christ.

So let the case for Christ begin: the first scene that John conveys to us is God presenting three witnesses for the accused, three witnesses on the behalf of Christ

So let the case for Christ begin: the first scene that John conveys to us is God presenting three witnesses for the accused, three witnesses on the behalf of Christ. So the first thing I want you to notice in verses 6-8 are the witnesses giving testimony. First of all let me say, and I think it's important that I do so, that we're confronted right away with a textual problem. Are there three witnesses that are presented on the behalf of Christ to prove that He is the Son of God, or are there six? If you were to read verses 7 and 8, you'll count that in heaven the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost bear witness; and then in verse 8, the Spirit, the water and the blood bear witness - in total there must be six. Now if you have a modern translation of the Bible, or at least you've read them, you may well know that most modern translations omit verse 7 from the text. Those that, perhaps, don't completely omit them, include them in a footnote below and cast some doubt upon the authenticity of that particular text.

Now let me say right away that I would agree with many that some modern translations are unreliable, and doubt has been cast on many of the omissions that are found in the footnotes of those translations. But I have to say to you tonight that most evangelical conservative Bible scholars agree that verse 7 of this text is a later addition to the word of God. Now you're sitting here, and I realise that some very devout believers in the Scriptures are starting to get worried - and you're saying: 'Do you mean that part of my Bible is unreliable?'. Let me say categorically: no, I mean far from that! But if we're to understand the issues like this that are presenting themselves to us in this day of a plethora of modern translations, we need to understand that the Bible we hold in our hands tonight is a translation, it is an English translation. Now I am not a textual scholar, neither a Greek scholar, but many people do not appreciate how we got our English Bible. This adds to a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding when we talk on subjects like this this evening. You must remember that the English Bible you have in your hand is a translation into English from the Hebrew Old Testament text and the Greek New Testament text. What many Christians fail to appreciate is that the original manuscripts that were written by the hands of the prophets and the apostles are lost, they are not existent, we do not have them today in any museum, you cannot find them and get even photographs of them in your local Christian bookshop or any library in our world.

But this is what adds not to our doubt concerning God's word, but our faith in the fact that God has preserved His word. Because, though the original manuscripts are no longer extant, there are many many handwritten copies passed down through the centuries, multiplied over and over again and again, so that God could multiply the Scriptures right throughout the world. I have to say to you that there's very little difference between most of them. Now you will appreciate that through years of multiple duplication before the printing press - this was done by the hand of scribes - that that multiple duplication could expose those copies to human error. The original scriptures were divinely inspired of God, but just like making a copy of a text by your own hand, error can be introduced - whether that human error is through addition, adding something that wasn't originally there, or subtraction, taking something away. It is quite possible for something to be, perhaps, by a scribe, jotted in a margin just for consideration, and all of a sudden the next scribe that came along to make a copy several centuries later included that scribal insertion in the actual textual document.

If we are concerned about versions that take away from scripture, and we are; surely we should be concerned about additions to scripture?

The Authorised Version of the Bible is taken from a manuscript probably written and compiled around the 12th century AD. Now since that - and the scholars then were using the best manuscripts that they had - since then thousands of manuscripts have come to light from as far back as the end of the 2nd and the beginning of the 3rd century AD, and none of those manuscripts have verse 7 - none of them. Now you might say: 'Well then, where did it come from?'. Well, it's likely that it came from a fifth century old Latin version of the Bible, and it was incorporated into the Latin Vulgate in AD 800, and Erasmus was forced under pressure from the Pope to add verse 7 to his Third Edition of the New Testament in 1522. Why am I telling you that? Well, Luther took Erasmus' Greek manuscript and translated the Bible into German from it. Tyndale took it and translated the Bible into English, and it was by this route that it came into the Textus Receptus and therefore the first edition of the Authorised Version in 1611. By the way, you don't have the 1611 version in your hand, it's the fourth version you have, but the first version was 1611. None of the early Greek manuscripts, none of them, save a number of manuscripts that seem to have been doctored later on around the 15th century or so to placate those that believed this verse should be in - chiefly the Pope - none of them record this verse.

Also, historically speaking, none of the church fathers who, remember, were in battles concerning the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ against the Arians - none of them used this verse as a proof text to prove the Trinity that they were arguing for, and it would have been an ideal one to use if it was in the text - but they didn't have the verse. Now let me say categorically that we are not doubting what the verse says, the verse is true and the doctrine that it is espousing, the Trinity is true. There are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Son, the Spirit, and these three are One. Then you might say: 'Well, why make an issue of it? Why are you bringing this up at all?'. Well, the first reason I'm bringing it up is that the cults know about this verse. They know it is spurious, and they use it to disprove the Trinity. They say, because that verse shouldn't be there, that means the Trinity is erroneous - what would you say to that? Well I'm giving you what to say to it!

Also I'm bringing it up because you might be shaken in your faith in the Trinitarian doctrine of the Godhead by thinking this verse is not there, when in fact you don't need this verse to prove the Trinity - it is right throughout the whole of the New Testament, and indeed in many places in the Old. But you may retort: 'David, you're making people doubt the authority of the word of God!' - on the contrary, on the contrary, because textual accuracy is the goal of translation: to bring us to the full and complete word of God. Let me say that if we are concerned about versions that take away from scripture, and we are; surely we should be concerned about additions to scripture - and here is one. Guy King, the commentator, said: 'This triumvirate of almost complete silence of old manuscripts, versions and writers convince us that the verse must be excluded'. You can look at all the commentators, even your Scofield Bible, all the reference Bibles, all of them say the same thing - conservative evangelical scholars and we need to be transparent and man enough to admit it. Now if that rocks your boat, I'm sorry, and you need to have a conversation with somebody who knows what they're talking about. But you need to realise that what our faith is in is not in a translation, it is in the Scriptures.

If that rocks your boat, I'm sorry, and you need to have a conversation with somebody who knows what they're talking about

But there are three witnesses to the authenticity of Christ whom our faith is built on. Those three witnesses John gives us as: the water, the blood, and the Spirit. Now again there are various interpretations of what the water and the blood are - these first two witnesses. For instance, Augustine and others say that John 19, where John says that he witnessed the blood and the water flowing from the side of Christ, that that's what he is alluding to here - the death of our Lord Jesus, and how that proves that not only He was man in dying, but He is our Saviour through a sacrificial death. Then Luther came along and said that the water represents baptism, and the blood represents the Lord's Supper - that is problematic because the Lord's Supper is not blood, and if it's representative of the wine, well, that's only half of the Lord's Supper; there is the bread as well which represents the body. That doesn't seem to be what it means at all. Then there are others who look to the Levitical system in the Old Testament, and see that water was the cleansing agent there and blood was the atoning agent. While there may be a measure of truth in that, it doesn't bear any relation to the context that John gives us here in this portion.

Others say the water represents the word of God, and yes in scripture it often does - but I don't believe that's the real interpretation of it. I think the answer to what the water and the blood are in this portion of Scripture are found in the text first of all, and then also in the context of the text. Let's look at the text first of all: 'He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood'. Now the preposition 'by' in this verse, in the middle of verse 6, not the first one but that in the middle, is vital to our understanding of what the water and the blood are. Literally it could be read like this: 'In', or 'by means of', or 'through' - read it again: 'He came by means of, in water, through water, through blood, in, by means of blood'. 'How so?', you say. Well, I believe that the interpretation of this verse is that the water refers to the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ, the baptism that was feted as the beginning of His public ministry here on earth. The blood, of course, refers to His death, the fact that He was incarnate and because of it He could go to Calvary, and He did go, and He bled and died on our behalf and in our place for sin.

So that's the text, it literally means that, read it again: 'This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but through water, in water, by means of water and blood'. That's the text, what does the context say? Well, you remember that the heresy that John is writing against in this epistle in particular is that of false teachers personified in a man called Cerenthus, and later on the Docetists and the Gnostics. What were they saying? They were saying that Jesus was not born as the Son of God, He was not originally from His birth the Christ, but at His baptism in the river Jordan the Christ-spirit that had been on many other men, even in other religions, came upon Jesus and He became the Christ. Then of course they believe that before He went to Calvary that Christ-spirit ascended from off Him, and the man that died there on the cross was just a man, He was not the Son of God.

So the text is pointing to us that at His baptism, it was the same man at the baptism as it was at His death. He came by means of the water and of the blood. What John is hammering home now is: No, Jesus Christ did not come by water only, but by blood. Jesus Christ, the man Jesus was the Christ before and at His baptism, but the Man that died was the Christ of God, the Son of God. In other words, he's telling us the Jesus Christ that was born in Bethlehem was the Jesus Christ that was baptised at Jordan, and the same Jesus Christ died at Golgotha and shed His precious blood for us as an atonement for our souls. In Acts 1 verse 11 the Lord Jesus said that He was going, but He would come again, and it was pronounced to the disciples: 'This same Jesus shall come again in like manner as ye have seen Him go'.

He's telling us the Jesus Christ that was born in Bethlehem was the Jesus Christ that was baptised at Jordan, and the same Jesus Christ died at Golgotha and shed His precious blood for us as an atonement for our souls

Now these are two of the witnesses that Jesus - this is the point - Jesus is the Christ. The Man that was born in Bethlehem of the virgin Mary was born as the begotten of God from all eternity, the eternal Son of God by water and the blood. In other words, if I could put it to you like this: as Christians, our faith takes hold of a complete Jesus, a complete Jesus. What am I talking about? He did not come by water only, this was not some experience that a man called Jesus had, good that He was, at His baptism - and that was just a spirit, and it has come upon Mohammed and other men, the Baha'u'llah and others in other religions throughout all the years. No, no! This is unique, this Man, He is the Son of God come in flesh - not only come by water, but come by blood and dying in blood!

Now if water and blood are external witnesses, and they are, God presents and calls forth an internal witness, and that internal witness is the Spirit - the water, the blood, the Spirit, we're told in verse 6, bear witness. Now the principal role, you will know, if you're familiar with the New Testament, of the Holy Spirit is to testify of things concerning Jesus Christ. In John chapter 15:26, Jesus said: 'But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me'. In John 16:13: 'Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come'.

His witness, the Spirit's witness, along with the water and of the blood, can be completely and utterly relied upon - why? John tells us in verse 6 at the end, because He is the Spirit of truth. Now keeping with the courtroom drama, in other words what John is telling us is: the Holy Spirit, as God as Advocate calls Him into the witness box in this case for Christ, He doesn't need to take an oath. He doesn't need to say: 'I swear by Almighty God that I will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth', because He is the truth! He is bearing witness because He is God the Holy Spirit. He is truth personified, He is the only truth - not a truth, but absolute truth!

This is important: there are three witnesses called forth. The first two are external, the water and the blood; the third is internal, and it is equally as important - because without the internal testimony of the Spirit of God, we could not be saved. Do you hear that? It is not enough for Christ to die, it is not enough for Him to be raised from the dead: if we are to believe these things, and our blind eyes to be opened, and our hardened hearts to be broken and made anew, we need to have the work of the Spirit in our hearts. I mean it's obvious, isn't it: one person hears the external witnesses of the water and the blood, they hear that this is indeed Christ, He is the Son of God and He has died for sins, yet they turn their back on Him and reject the Gospel. They don't have that internal witness of the Spirit of God, they're not convinced and moved and convicted. But then there's another, and he hears that this is the Christ that was baptised, this is the Son of God that died for his sins and rose again, and he has the witness within his heart, and he realises that Christ is who He said He was, and what He has done, and he knows no peace until he rests his all upon Christ by faith.

Do you have that witness in your heart? Do you have that testimony?

Do you have that witness in your heart? Do you have that testimony? This epistle is all about the assurance, and so we are asking the question of ourselves: do we have not only the witness of the water and of the blood, knowing who Christ was from His birth, His baptism and even in His death, and what He died for - but do you have the witness of God's Spirit in your heart? Does He bear to you and in you the witness that Christ is the Son of God, He is your sin-bearer, He took your sins, sorrows, iniquities, transgressions as His own and carried them away? That's what Wesley meant when he said: 'His Spirit answers to the blood, And tells me I am born of God'. Does He tell you that?

Well, praise God, as God calls these three witnesses to the witness box, the record is given that these three agree - that's what he says: 'These three are one', at the end of verse 8. They are united in the testimony, these witnesses on earth, concerning the perfection of the person and the work of our Lord Jesus Christ - they're in agreement! So that leads us on from the witnesses giving testimony to the weight of their testimony. It is in that fact of their agreement, first of all - verses 9-10. It's hard to get three men to agree on anything anywhere - especially in Christian circles! But when these three witnesses are assembled together in the court, it's amazing: they are found to be completely in agreement! 'They are one', could be translated in the Greek: 'They're in complete harmony, they're all united'.

Now in any court of law in any land of our world, three witnesses all agreeing would provide the strongest evidence of the truth; beyond any doubt the case would be carried. But we have to look at the word of God, and in Jewish law we see from the book of Deuteronomy 17 and 19 that it was necessary to have either two or three witnesses for a case to be carried. Our Lord Jesus recognised that principle, if you care to turn with me to John chapter 5 to show you this, John chapter 5 beginning to read at verse 31, the Lord Jesus conceded in verse 31: 'If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. Ye sent unto John', the Baptist, 'and he bare witness unto the truth' - there is the first witness that Christ is pleading for Himself, John the Baptist. 'But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me'. So the first witness that He pleads is John the Baptist, who testified who He was. The second is the works that the Father gave Him to do, those miraculous signs. Then the third in verse 37: 'And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape'. The Father witnesses to who the Lord Jesus Christ was and is. Three witnesses bearing truth to Christ's claim, the authentication of His claim by three witnesses' testimonies.

Do you accept it? That's the question the whole wide world needs to answer, because many do not. The weight of the testimony of these three witnesses is complete, it is watertight evidence

This is staggering, for when we go to Hebrews chapter 6, you don't need to turn to just now if you don't wish to, but even God, God Almighty, confirmed His promise recorded in Hebrews 6 with an oath by two unchangeable things, calling them to witness that what He has said is true. Here we have God calling three witnesses, all agreeing that Jesus is the Son of God, just as John the Baptist testified at His baptism when he said in John 1: 'And I saw and bear record that this is the Son of God'. The Roman Centurion, though he was not at the water, the baptism, he was at the blood - and what did he say? 'Truly, this man must be the Son of God'. The big question is this evening: do you accept it? That's the question the whole wide world needs to answer, because many do not. The weight of the testimony of these three witnesses is complete, it is watertight evidence.

This is what John presents to us, for in verse 9, if you go back to 1 John, he says: 'If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son'. You see, oftentimes we have no qualms or questions in accepting the witness of other men. You might say: 'Oh, no, no, I test everything' - do you? When was the last time you were on a plane, and you went into the cockpit and said: 'Now, boyo, give me your flight certificates for passing your exams, I want to know that you can fly this plane'? You don't ask him, you just get in, you trust that he is qualified and he's not on the drink. Then there's the doctor, you walk in and, whilst they make mistakes just like the pilots, you put a measure of trust in them. You don't question their word at times, even when you should. But this is what John is saying: we often do not question other men, but many are found questioning God!

Indeed, in our own shallow society much of the public fall hook, line and sinker for anything - particularly that the media tells us. If they read it in The Sun, The Star, or the Daily Mail - maybe it's pushing it to say The News Of The World - but if they read it in the media, they seem to believe it. When you see some of the different polls that are taken from time to time, they tell us that the influence of a personality or a politician or a public person is often determined by what the media say about them. If the media turn against you, you're in trouble, you're finished! You could call it the 'new media gospel' - it's accepted as truth! Many people believe anything they hear or anything they read, but here's the point: whilst they often do not question men, some of the most irreputable at that, they question what God has said in His witness of His Son.

Yet, which is greater, John says. God is greater! For He has given three indisputable pieces of evidence, and then we see that we have also the Father's testimony. He has testified of His Son, and we know that He did that - for if we go to this first piece of evidence, the water, we read in Matthew 3 that at His baptism: 'Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove', there's the Spirit, 'and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased'. At the water He testified of Him: 'This is My Son'. At the Transfiguration in Matthew chapter 17 He does the same, His voice is heard: 'While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him'.

The water, the Transfiguration in between, and then the blood that we have been speaking about. In John 12, 'Now', He says just before Calvary, 'is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him'. It is the Father's testimony that Jesus is His Son. My friend, you can believe what the BBC newscaster tells you tonight at 10 o'clock - oh, believe it if you will - but believe God's testimony of His Son! For if anything is sure: it is that.

My friend, you can believe what the BBC newscaster tells you tonight at 10 o'clock - oh, believe it if you will - but believe God's testimony of His Son!

In verse 10 John says: 'He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son'. You see this isn't some laissez-faire attitude that you just say: 'Well, I'm not sure about this whole subject. I maybe accept He's a good man and all that, and maybe even a prophet or philosopher like the Islamists say. Oh, He's a good man, but He's not the Son of God' - and they, by the way, many of them say that it was Judas went to the cross rather than Christ - 'He did not die, the Son of God!'. But my friend, this is indisputable evidence that God is bringing to the case of Christ to show and prove to all without reasonable doubt that He is who He said He was. It is indisputable evidence, and to reject it is not unreasonable, it is unbelief! As one well-known writer said: 'Unbelief is not a misfortune to be pitied, it is a sin to be deplored'. The evidence is staggering, and to reject it, John says, you're making God a liar! You can call yourself an agnostic: 'Oh, I just don't know' - you should know! The evidence is stacked in Christ's favour completely.

That is the weight of their testimony after the three witnesses have given it, and then thirdly and finally John presents to us in the courtroom the verdict on their testimony, what the verdict could be. Verse 11: 'And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life'. In other words, John - and I love John, because he's black and white. Now I know not everything is black and white, but he says: 'Here is the record, take it or leave it, here's the facts: God has testified concerning His Son - God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son'. This is the record, this is the testimony, it's indisputable. Listen, you can't misunderstand language like that, it is clear and plain: the Christian faith is Christ, start and finish. It is Christ: He that hath the Son hath eternal life - and if you don't have the Christ of the Bible, and you don't have the Christ of history, you haven't got eternal life. Man, people need to hear this: you can use evangelical language, you can belong to a denomination that classes itself as evangelical, you can say 'I belong to the church, I'm a Baptist, I'm Presbyterian, I'm Brethren, I'm Episcopalian, I'm this that or the other' - listen to God's word: it's got nothing to do with all that! He that hath the Son hath life!

Have you got the Son? This is why we're being misrepresented and misinterpreted in this present age, because we're getting caught up with a lot of nonsense; when, if we were Christ-centred and Christ-focused, people would understand what we're all about. Man, this is important, have you the Son? Do you know the witness of the water, that He's the Christ of God from birth, sent from God's right-hand as the eternal Son, coequal with the Father? Do you have the witness of the blood that there on that cross He was atoning for your sin as your substitute, He was bearing the punishment of the wrath of God, exhausting it in a complete and finished work, rising again the third day? Do you have the witness of the Spirit in your heart that cries 'Abba, Father!', knowing that you're a child of God?

My friend, you don't have to wait until you stand before God's judgment to know whether you're condemned - you're condemned now!

I don't know when you're going to die, I don't know when I will, it could be years away, decades away. I don't know when the Lord will come - some people think they know, but we don't know. The fact of the matter is: you can know your condition before God now. It's all to do with whether you have eternal life, and that's not a thing, that is a Person: this is eternal life, that you believe in the One that God has sent. Eternal life is not some gift in and of itself as a separate entity, it is the very life of God that He has given in His Son. All that John is saying here is what he said in John 3:18: 'He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God'. My friend, you don't have to wait until you stand before God's judgment to know whether you're condemned - you're condemned now! God has sent proof of who His Son is in the water, in the blood, in the preaching of the word that comes forth in the Spirit - what have you done with it?

I'm finished really, in all I have to say, save to point you in this case for Christ to verse 10. You see, your verdict doesn't have to be the right one, you can reject Christ and ignore the evidence, never have that witness of the Spirit that you're born of God. Now I'm asking all of you here tonight, it's not my wish to get anybody doubting their salvation, but listen: I'd rather get you to doubt it at some point and make sure, than go into hell thinking you're well saved and the transaction's done - and there's ones will do just that. Listen to me: do you have the witness of the Spirit that you're born of God? Romans 8 verse 16: 'The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God'. Galatians 4 verse 6: 'And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father'.

I'm not saying you'll never have any doubts - doubt the man that never doubts! But if you're growing in the Christian faith, you'll exhibit the signs that we have in 1 John: the sign of the knowledge and doctrine and belief of the faith of who Christ the Son is. You will have that social evidence and sign, loving the brothers in a continual constant fervent love. You will have the moral examination passed, where you obey the commandments of God - you'll fail now and again, but it's not going to be an habitual lifestyle of flagrant rebellion and sin against the Lord. Do you show the fruit of the Spirit in your life? That's how the Spirit witnesses with our spirit - do you have any witness? Please don't tell me you're not even reading the Bible, you're not even praying to God - and you want a witness? - and here's the truth of God's Spirit in it, and that's what gives you confidence.

Oh, my friend, make sure, because do you see when you are sure? I'll tell you this: there's nothing greater, nothing greater than to have the Spirit witness to the blood that I am born of God - that's everything! Now you know that I've been getting hooked lately on Wesley's hymns, and there's one I want to share with you. Do you know what he does? He takes this biblical theology and he turns it into a prayer in the form of a hymn. He grasps, as a hymn writer, many truths that I find no other hymn writers seem to do. He grasps the reality of the Spirit witnessing to the blood that we are born of God, and in this hymn he asks the Holy Spirit to move convicting and converting in power. I'm going to read it to you before we sing it, it's called 'Spirit of Faith Come Down':

'Spirit of faith, come down, reveal the things of God,
And make to us the Godhead known, and witness with the blood.
’Tis Thine the blood to apply and give us eyes to see,
Who did for guilty sinners die hath surely died for me.

No one can truly say that Jesus is the Lord,
Unless Thou take the veil away and breathe the living Word.
Then, only then, we feel our interest in His blood,
And cry with joy unspeakable, “Thou art my Lord, my God!”

O that the world might know the all atoning Lamb!
Spirit of faith, descend and show the virtue of His Name;
The grace which all may find, the saving power, impart,
And testify to humankind, and speak in every heart.

Inspire the living faith (which whosoever receives,
The witness in himself he have and consciously believes),
The faith that conquers all, and doth the mountain move,
And saves whoever on Jesus call, and perfects them in love'.
 
You're the judge, Christ's in the dock, God has presented three witnesses that agree in the water, the blood, and the Spirit. If you're not convinced, you'll never be converted.

Let's all bow our heads. Can I ask you: have you called savingly on Jesus Christ the Lord, the Son of God, believing who He is - that is, who He said He was, what God testified of Him, what He did at the cross for you, what He has said by His Spirit through the word to you. Cry out to that Jesus, and you will be saved. Believer, listen to me tonight, whatever you're going through: 'For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?'.

Lord, help us, like Wesley did and like John did, to grasp the fact that Your Son is Jesus the Christ, the only begotten of God - that He is everything, He is our faith, He is the Rock on which the church is built. May He be everything to us, corporately as a church and individually as Your people. Whatever we face in this life, may we be overcomers because our faith is in the Christ of God. Lord, let us go with the joy of the Lord in our breast from knowing that cry within our soul: 'Abba, Father'. Amen.

Don't miss part 16 of 1 John: 'Sure Life and Prayer' Jump To Top Of Page

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Transcribed by:
Andrew Watkins
Preach The Word.
March 2006
www.preachtheword.com

This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the fifteenth recording in his '1, 2 and 3 John' series, entitled "The Case For Christ" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.

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