Thursday, December 13, 2012
1st John Chapter 5 Part 5
5:6-8 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, cont.
We also see in Acts chapter 5, when Peter rebukes Ananias for his sin he tells him, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?…You have not lied to men but to God,” Acts 5:3-4. Later in Acts we find that it was the Holy Spirit who appointed the overseers in the Ephesian church, 20:28. Yet in Ephesians (ironically) Paul writes that it is Christ who appoints pastors (elders) and teachers, 4:11.
We find the resolution to this problem in John 16:13-15 when Jesus explains that the Comforter, the Holy Spirit is coming in His stead to lead, teach and equip the church in Christ’s absence, and that what Christ received of the Father (being jointly owned) so the Holy Spirit likewise possesses. The Holy Spirit affects the rebirth of regeneration when a person places their faith in Christ, Titus 3:5; Acts 2:38.
These three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are all intimately involved in the redemption of mankind, yet the Old Testament makes it abundantly clear that we have but one Savior: God, Psalm 106:21; Isaiah 43:3, 11; 45:15, 21; 49:26; 60:16; 63:8; Hosea 13:4. In the New Testament Jesus is referred to as our Savior at least 16 times. God the Father is referenced as Savior some 7 times. This creates more than just a semantic argument; it creates an incongruity in our theology that no amount of polemics will escape. This seeming incongruity is resolved in the light of the trinity.
We return in verse 8 to the earthly witness of Jesus Christ. Verse 7 contends that the three witnesses in Heaven (the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit) are one; that is, one unified witness. There are three earthly witnesses who likewise attest to Jesus Christ; they are not one as the Godhead is one, but rather they agree as one. The Holy Spirit leads the unsaved to the Savior, while the water and the blood testify of His redemptive power. Water baptism, commanded by Christ (see Mark 16:16; Matthew 28:19) paints a vivid imagery of the regeneration that occurs when one is born again, Romans 6:3-5; 1st Peter 3:21. The blood of Calvary’s cross is recalled by the symbolic commemoration of communion (again, more appropriately translated “fellowship”). We partake of the Lord’s Supper in memory of His triumph over death until His return, 1st Corinthians 11:26.
This biblical memorial is not like the ritualistic perpetuation of the RCC who refuse to permit the finality of Christ’s payment on the cross. Rather it serves to remind us that the bloody death of Christ and what He did on our behalf, in our stead, was to wash us from our sins in His own blood and release us from sin’s power and dominion in our lives, Revelation 1:5. The Greek behind the word “washed” in Revelation 1:5 refers to bathing someone completely, so they are utterly clean, John 13:10; 15:2. The Holy Spirit testifies of Christ through the Bible and the lives of spiritual believers, and the Lord’s Supper and Baptism powerfully relate the spiritual reality both symbolically embody.
Many interpret verse 8 to mean only our Lord’s baptism at the Jordan and His death on the cross, as seen in verse 6. Verse 6 does indeed state that Jesus came by water and by blood. We find in verse 7 the heavenly witnesses of Christ’s person and purpose, followed by verse 8, which states that there are (present tense) three on Earth that bear witness. The three that bear witness of Jesus Christ in our day are the Holy Spirit and the institutes that Christ command we maintain: water baptism and participation in the Lord’s Supper, Luke 22:19-20; 1st Corinthians 11:24-25. As we have seen, they bear witness of the reality of our Lord’s triumphant death (the Lord’s Supper) and His glorious resurrection from the dead (immersion in water).