These studies look at the overwhelming goodness of the Triune God. Depicted by Andrei Rublev's icon of The Holy Trinity.

1 John 5:6-12

6 This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. 7 And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth. 8 There are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has borne witness to his Son. 10 He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. He who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne to his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life.

John in his letter has spoken already of the testimonies that point to Jesus as the Son of God. At the beginning of his letter, John says that he is telling them about "That ... which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands."(1:1) He states in 3:24 that we have assurance that God abides in us "by the Spirit which he has given us" and he repeats this idea in 4:13 ("By this we know that we abide in him and he is us, because he has given us of his own Spirit.") In 4:14 John mentions again his own testimony of this truth, "And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world."

John is assuring his readers of the truth that Jesus, as God's Son, has united Himself to us and brought us new life and the hope of being fully separated from our sins. Here again he wants to assure them as he brings his letter to a close. He mentions that there are three witness: the water and the blood and the Spirit. The references to the water and the blood are enigmatic and I found in reading through several commentaries that there was not complete agreement on what these referred to. All the commentators believed that the blood referred to Jesus' shedding of blood on the cross for our sins. But there was more disagreement about the water. I won't take the time to talk about all the possibilities, but instead to just talk briefly about what I thought seemed the best interpretations.

A number of commentators thought that water refers to Jesus' baptism. John, you will notice begins talking about the water and the blood as what Jesus "came by" or "came through." They witness to Jesus as the Son of God, but they are also what Jesus passed through or came by. We know that there was some teaching at the time John was writing, that Jesus was just a man that the Son of God "inhabited" for a period before his death. These teachers assumed that God would never really be a human being and would certainly not die!

Earlier in his letter John says that "every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God."(4:2) Here John is helping his readers to discern which teachings and ideas to listen to and which to ignore. The key, John asserts, is whether the spirit is willing to confess not just that Jesus is the Messiah or Christ, but that Jesus is "of God" and that He has "come in the flesh." The truth is that Jesus is fully God and fully man and both of these facts have to be received. God, Himself, truly does redeem us in Jesus. God did not send someone else to do the job for Him. Jesus is our advocate, the One who comes alongside, who forgives us, abides in us, and makes us His brothers and sisters. This is because He, in Himself, is the true mediator between God and man--uniting us in His very person.

It is crucial that John's readers grasp this truth and hold onto it. In chapter 4, John speaks of this to help them discern truth from falsehood.

Here John could be referring to this important truth again when he speaks of the "water and the blood." Water, as I have said, could refer to His baptism. Or it could refer to His birth. If John meant it this way, then he is saying Jesus came in the flesh, by coming by or through the water of human birth and the blood of human death. He united Himself to us in a whole human life, redeeming and healing us from our birth to death. It was Jesus, the Son of God who died to destroy sin in us. He is our advocate because He did pass through the whole of human existence from birth to death--He didn't leave at the last minute. John is saying this here because in the preceding verse (5:5) he says of Jesus: "Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." Our trust overcomes the world because it is placed in the Son of God who came down to the bottom of our sin and pain, and shed His blood to overcome sin and death the the same world in which we live. Thus His victory for us is really our victory in Him.

In the next few verses, John speaks of the witness of the Spirit. The Spirit is "the truth." The Spirit's witness agrees with the witness of the water and the blood. The Spirit testifies in us as well. John has mentioned the witness of the Spirit other times in this letter, as I have already pointed out. He wants to assure his readers again before he ends his epistle that we have the witness of God the Spirit to assure us that Jesus is truly our Redeemer and that we can count on Him to make us new people. This Spirit lives in us, abides in us, when we trust Jesus with our lives. So, we not only have objective, external testimony but by His Spirit, we have "the testimony in (ourselves)."

Now John speaks of what the testimony delivered to our very spirits is: "that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." At the beginning of the letter, John said that he and others were proclaiming to his readers "the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us-"(1:2) Jesus is the eternal life made manifest! Now as he concludes his letter John wants to remind us that God gives us this eternal life in Jesus and that the conviction we have of this comes from the very Spirit of God.

What God is up to is giving us life, eternal life, real, joyous, deep, loving life--the very life that He lives as the triune God. It is a life of love, of giving and receiving love forever. This is what God has always been up to as we know from the first chapter of this letter "God is light and in him is no darkness at all." All that God does in our lives to prune away the sin and make us more His children is in order to bring us more of His life, to fill us up until the day when we are full to overflowing.

Sometimes day to day existence is so wearying and painful and we wonder where God is and what He is up to in the midst of it all. Well, what a joy to remember, to see that He is making us more able to be full of life! Our lives are not leading to death, but to life. George MacDonald, a Scottish pastor and theologian once wrote a sermon entitled "Life." In it MacDonald argues that when we are weary we may think we are weary of life. He goes on to say that really we are weary death, sin and its consequences. So, what we should long for is not death, but more life. In fact, he argues, that all of creation lies in the shadow of death and longs for the day when we are been completely made new and live in the fullness of life. "'More life!' is the unconscious prayer of all creation, groaning and travailing for the redemption of its lord (each one of us), the son who is not yet a son."

Remember then that our abiding in God and being made His children is for us to know full, joyous, pulsating life. We are indeed now only living in and knowing His life a tiny bit. But it is with the hope of His filling us more and more that we can give Him our lives each day--including today!

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