THOUGHTS FROM JOHN’S LETTERS

THE TESTIMONY

In 1John 1:1 – 3 John wrote:

‘That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with the Son, Jesus Christ.’

Similarly John wrote in his Gospel:

‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth’ – 1:14.

‘Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name’ – 20:30, 31.

And Peter wrote in his second letter:

‘We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honour and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain’ – 1:16 – 18.

Now in 1John 5:9 – 12 John writes:

‘We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: 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 does not have life.’

In these few words – God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son – John has summarized the Gospel. This is all we need to know. This is the truth to which the Old Testament – the Law, the Psalms, the Prophets – pointed. This is the truth to which the New Testament testifies.

Here is the one critical thing, apart from which nothing else matters, and nothing else counts. The most important thing that God wants us to know, and the most important thing that God wants to know about us, is stated in these few words. John states clearly that this testimony is the truth that divides all humans into two clear-cut groups:

He who has the Son has life.

He who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

It is so simple: To receive the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is to receive life.

Jesus himself taught this truth again and again:

That those who believe in him ‘have eternal life’ – John 3:15, 16; 5:24; 6:40.

That he himself is ‘the bread of life’ – John 6:35.

That those who follow him ‘have the light of life’ – John 8:12.

That he came to give ‘life to the full’ – John 10:10.

That he is ‘the resurrection and the life’ – John 11:25.

That he is ‘the way, the truth and the life’, the only access point to God the Father – John 14:6.

In giving us his Son, in sending his Son into the world, God gave us the one way to have eternal life. As John has said in 1John 4:9, God sent his only Son into the world that we might live through him. If we received his Son we have, at the same time, received eternal life, because he is eternal life – 1John 5:20. This links right back to John’s description of Jesus in his first chapter: that Jesus is the Word of life, the life, and the eternal life.

In verse 12 John has stated the truth very simply and very clearly: ‘He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.’ This is similar to his statement in his gospel:

‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him’ – John 3:36.

There is no blurry ground here. There is no such thing as ‘sitting on the fence’ here. We have either received Jesus, the Son of God, or we have not. We either have eternal life, or we do not.

And it all depends on whether or not we have believed God’s witness, God’s testimony, about his Son.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2022