Reader: “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God,”
Response: “so that you may know you have eternal life.”
Scripture: I John 5:9-13
Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son. All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son.
And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.
I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
How do we know if something is true? Some kinds of things are easily provable. We can see an object―I do have a ball in my hand. Or we can measure a claim―I am six feet tall. Or we can test a statement as to its veracity―if I let go of the ball, it will fall to the ground. In the physical world that works well. But what about finding the truth of a statement that relies on human testimony rather than some other kind of observable scientific measurement?
Moses records in Deuteronomy the necessity of having at least two witnesses to verify a conviction of wrongdoing. In other words, human testimony can be believed as affirming something is true. It happens in court all the time. Our whole legal system is based on putting confidence in the reliability of the truthfulness of human testimony. The ninth commandment forbids bearing false witness, or false testimony. The character of the one bearing testimony is profoundly important.
Some form of the word “testimony” occurs six times in today’s short pericope. John writes if we can believe human being’s testimony, flawed as humans are, surely we must put infinitely more weight on God’s testimony, who is perfect, holy, and sinless. God’s testimony concerning his Son is perfectly, absolutely true with no possibility of falsehood in any way. Those who believe in the Son of God know their belief is perfectly placed with no possibility of being deceived. Their confidence is based on the reliability of a changeless perfect God in whom there is no darkness at all. Their certainty rests not on their amount of faith, but on the flawless character of God alone.
We may be tempted to think that while people in our world who reject Jesus Christ do so as an act of their will, it is just a choice they are making. Such thinking is a surface response. What is it that they are actually saying? In a nutshell they are calling God’s testimony regarding his Son, a lie. God is lying! What he says about Jesus being the Son of God is not true. God is flawed. Rejecting Christ is not only a choice, on a bigger scale, it is calling God a liar and as such, has cut off the only hope of salvation. The person who has rejected Christ, has put themselves in the position of judging God!
What has God testified? Whoever has the Son, has eternal life. No Son, no life―presently and eternally. John wrote this out in this short letter so believers could know, based on God’s testimony, the certainty of eternal life while still living on earth.
Believers need never doubt or wonder. Whatever emotional or psychological feelings I might have regarding eternal life in heaven bear little significance, everything rests on the truthfulness of the testimony of God. I know I have eternal life in heaven.
Music: “The Lord is My Light and My Salvation” Stonebriar Choir & Orchestra
O Lord Jesus Christ, Thou Word and Revelation of the Eternal Father, come, we pray Thee, take possession of our hearts, and reign where Thou hast right to reign. So fill our minds with the thought and our imaginations with the picture of Thy love, that there may be in us no room for any desire that is discordant with Thy holy will. Cleanse us, we pray Thee from all that may make us deaf to Thy call or slow to obey it, Who, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, art one God, blessed for ever. Amen. ―WIlliam Temple, 1881-1944, from The Oxford Book of Prayer, p.55