1 John 5:6-13
Peter Kendrick, professor of theology and culture
New Orleans Seminary, North GA HUB
Jesus once asked his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” (Mt. 16:15) Every person and religion has an opinion. You have one as well. But is it the right one?
While visiting Cuyahoga Valley, OH I saw a woman wearing an imprinted shirt with the classic Warner Sallman portrait of Jesus and the word JESUS under the portrait. She told me that she and her church had been attending a retreat.
I asked, “So you believe in Jesus?”
To my utter amazement, she replied, “No. We’ve gone way beyond him.”
The church had attended an Ulrich Leonard Tolle conference. Tolle, you might remember, was Oprah Winfrey’s spiritual guide. For this woman, Oprah, and Tolle, Jesus is a messenger and the precursor of what transformed humanity can become. In their view, Jesus is not divine. He is not unique. He is simply what we aspire to become.
Then I recalled what Marsha West, in her article “Oprah’s at it again, declaring she’s a Christian,” noted: “In our fast food ‘Have it your way’ culture, instead of the Jesus of Christianity, deceivers are serving up a McJesus Happy Meal.”
John was facing that exact problem. A heretical group (Cerinthians) had split from the believers’ church (1 John 2:19) but was still trying to influence them. Among the heretics’ teachings were a denial that Jesus was the Messiah, God’s Son (2:22; 4:15; 5:1), Jesus had come in the flesh (4:2-3), and of the atoning nature of Jesus’ sacrifice that gives eternal life to those who believe in Him (5:6-13).
They claimed Jesus was born an ordinary human being but became God’s special agent when the heavenly Christ descended upon him at baptism. The heavenly Christ abandoned Him before His death and, consequently, it was only the earthly Jesus who died on the cross.
John encourages the believers by echoing the words of John 20:31: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 Jn. 5:13).
What does it mean that Jesus is the Son of God?
Jesus is God’s Son
1 John 5:6-9
Jesus is God! John is specific. Only those who believe “Jesus is the Messiah” (1 Jn. 5:2), that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” (1 Jn. 4:2), that He is God’s Son, and that He is the Savior of the world (1 Jn. 4:14-15), has been born of God. According to John, only the liar, the antichrist, denies the truth of these statements (1 Jn. 2:22-23; 4:2-3; 5:9-10, et al.).
John goes on to demonstrate that there is more than adequate evidence to prove Jesus is the Son of God: three external and one internal witness. John emphasizes that it was Jesus Christ who experienced both baptism (“water”) and crucifixion (“blood”). He also appeals to the witness of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit can be trusted since He is the truth convicting men of the truth (Jn. 14:17; 15:26; 16:13).
John argues that the three witnesses – the Spirit, water, and the blood are the expressions of the witness of the one God (1 Jn. 5:9). Lastly, he writes that there is an internal witness – the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer testifying to the truth (1 Jn. 5:10).
Paul’s last words before his conversion are, “Who are you Lord?” and the first words after his conversion are, “He is the Son of God” (Acts 9:5, 20). To confess that Jesus is the Son of God is to declare as true Jesus’ claim: “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn. 14:9).
1 John 5:10-11
Life is found in Jesus
Only Jesus and Jesus alone can give you new life. John writes, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son has not life” (1 Jn. 5:11). Jesus said, “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance” (Jn. 10:10). When questioned by the Jewish leaders, Peter replied, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). John asks, “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 Jn. 5:5).
The testimony is clear. New life is a gift to us from God (1 Jn. 5:11). But this new life, salvation, is found in, given by, and received only from the only begotten Son of God (Jn. 3:16). To deny this is to make God a liar (1 Jn. 5:10).
1 John 5:12-13
Life = believing
The born again new life in Christ is an immediate possession. It is not about the “pie in the sky.” John writes, “The one who has the Son has life … I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 Jn. 5:12-13). The text is clear. You possess this eternal life the moment you believe in Christ.
C.S. Lewis observed, “Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Who do you say Jesus is? Let Him be your Lord, Christ the Son of the living God!