12 Mar An Unshakable Foundation: The Nature, Power, and Purpose of Testimony
Faith is the foundation upon which we build our relationship with God and our hope for salvation. But where does faith come from? How can we be sure that our faith is grounded in truth and not just wishful thinking? The Apostle John addresses these questions in his first epistle, particularly in the passage found in 1 John 5:6-12.
In this passage, John speaks of the overwhelming testimony that bears witness to the truth of Christ. He describes the nature and power of this testimony and the purpose and results it produces. Through John’s words, we can gain a deeper understanding of the foundation of our faith and how it is grounded in truth.
The Nature and Power of the Testimony
John begins this passage by describing the nature and power of the testimony that bears witness to the truth of Christ. He writes, “This is He who came by water and blood–Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness because the Spirit is truth” (1 John 5:6). This passage has been the subject of much debate and interpretation over the years, but most scholars agree that it refers to Christ’s baptism and crucifixion.
At Christ’s baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, and God the Father declared, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). This event marked the beginning of Christ’s public ministry and was a clear declaration of His identity as the Son of God. At His crucifixion, Christ shed His blood as a sacrifice for our sins. These two events, baptism and crucifixion, bear witness to the truth of Christ’s identity as the Son of God and the Savior of the world.
But it is not just the events themselves that bear witness to the truth of Christ. John also emphasizes the role of the Spirit in bearing witness to the truth. He writes, “And it is the Spirit who bears witness because the Spirit is truth” (1 John 5:6). The Spirit is the one who reveals truth to us and testifies to the reality of Christ’s identity and work. Without the Spirit’s testimony, we would be left to rely on our own flawed understanding and reasoning, which can easily lead us astray.
The Purpose and Results of the Testimony
So what is the purpose of this testimony, and what results does it produce? John continues, “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son” (1 John 5:10). The purpose of the testimony is to lead us to faith in Christ. When we believe in the Son of God, we have the witness of the Spirit in ourselves. This witness confirms our faith and assures us of the truth of what we believe.
But if we do not believe in Christ, we make God a liar, because we reject the testimony that God has given of His Son. This is a serious matter, for our faith in Christ is what saves us from our sins and reconciles us to God. Without faith, we are lost and separated from God.
The testimony also produces certain results in our lives. John writes, “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12 NKJV). The testimony leads us to eternal life found only in Christ. When we have the Son, we have life – not just life in this world, but eternal life that extends beyond this present age. This eternal life is a gift from God, made possible through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. When we believe in Christ, we receive this gift of eternal life and are assured of our salvation.
But if we do not have the Son of God, we do not have life. This is a stark warning, for it tells us that there is no hope for salvation outside of Christ. No amount of good works or religious devotion can save us apart from faith in Christ. Only through Him can we have eternal life and be reconciled to God.
Church History Examples
Throughout church history, we see examples of individuals who were transformed by the testimony of Christ. One of the most famous examples is that of Augustine of Hippo, who lived in the 4th and 5th centuries. Augustine was a brilliant philosopher and rhetorician who struggled with questions of faith and truth. Despite his intellectual prowess, he was unable to find satisfaction in the various philosophical and religious systems of his day.
It was not until he encountered the testimony of Christ that Augustine found true peace and fulfillment. In his Confessions, he writes, “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you” (Confessions, Book 10, Chapter 27). Augustine’s encounter with the testimony of Christ transformed his life and led him to become one of the greatest theologians in church history.
The testimony of Christ is a powerful and overwhelming witness to the truth of the gospel. It is grounded in historical events, confirmed by the Spirit, and leads us to faith in Christ. Through the testimony of Christ, we receive the gift of eternal life and are assured of our salvation. But if we reject the testimony of Christ, we reject the only hope of salvation and make God a liar. May we, like Augustine and Wesley, encounter the testimony of Christ and be transformed by its power. And may we always hold fast to the truth of the gospel, grounded in the testimony of Christ and confirmed by the Spirit.
Sermon & Sandwiches
Here are a few conversation starters based on the topics covered above:
- How do you think the testimony of the Spirit confirms our faith in Christ? Have you ever experienced this confirmation in your own life?
- Why is it important to trust in God’s testimony concerning His Son? How can we strengthen our faith in God’s trustworthiness?
- What does it mean to receive God’s free gift of eternal life in His Son Jesus Christ? How has this gift transformed your life?
- Where do you believe true life is found? How can we live in light of this truth?
- How has the testimony of Christ impacted your life? In what ways can we share this testimony with those around us?
The Daily Devotion
Read and study 1 John 5:6-9, paying close attention to the agreement of the three witnesses concerning Jesus Christ. Reflect on the power of this testimony and what it means for your faith.
Reflect on the trustworthiness of God’s testimony concerning His Son. Spend time in prayer, asking God to reveal the truth of His testimony to you and to strengthen your faith in Him.
Consider whether you have received God’s free gift of eternal life in His Son Jesus Christ. Reflect on what it means to receive this gift by faith and how it transforms your life.
Meditate on the question of where life is found. Spend time in prayer, asking God to reveal to you the truth of this question and to help you to live in light of it.
Read and study 1 John 5:10-12, reflecting on the purpose and results of the testimony concerning Jesus Christ. Consider how this testimony has impacted your life and how it can be a powerful witness to others. Spend time in prayer, asking God to use you to share this testimony with those around you.
Here are some age-appropriate questions and activities you can use to help your child understand the essential truths of the Christian faith:
- Who made the world? (God)
- Who is Jesus? (God’s son who loves us)
- What did Jesus do for us? (He died on the cross and rose again so we can be with God forever)
Activity: Draw a picture of the cross and talk about how much Jesus loves us.
- What is faith? (Believing in God even when we can’t see Him)
- How can we know God loves us? (Through the Bible and through the people who love us)
- What does it mean to be saved? (To be rescued from the consequences of our sins and have eternal life with God because of what Jesus did for us)
Activity: Memorize John 3:16 together and talk about what it means.
- How does the testimony of Christ confirm our faith? (Through the Holy Spirit and the evidence of history)
- Why is it important to trust in God’s testimony concerning His Son? (Because it is true and trustworthy)
- What does it mean to receive God’s free gift of eternal life in His Son Jesus Christ? (To be forgiven of our sins and to have a relationship with God)
Activity: Watch a movie or read a book about someone who lived out their faith, and discuss how their example inspires us to live for God.