The early church faced the challenge of the teaching of the Gnostics, who denied the humanity of Jesus. John writes to confirm their faith in the physicality of Christ, & that their faith was sure.
There are many today that are more dedicated to asking questions than to having answers.
They believe that there is greater intellectual and spiritual integrity in being open than being sure.
Christians should never proclaim to have all the answers, but we must definitely say we have many answers, based on strong physical evidence, and that we have the answer regarding eternal life.
We must be dogmatic about that, or there is no Christian faith.
I. The Physical Jesus
A. The Witness Of God
1. Verses 6-8 are passages that are difficult to understand.
2. Context and the historical setting help us make the best estimation of God’s intended meaning through the writing of John.
3. The Gnostics denied the physicality of Jesus. They believed all material things to be evil, therefore, Christ was a spirit, but not a man.
a. Why does that matter? Because a spirit or phantom can’t die for your sins.
4. Based upon the Gnostic heresy, we presume that the intended meaning was to fortify the truth of the physicality of Jesus.
a. He was not a phantom.
b. He was not on upon whom the “Spirit of Christ came and left”.
c. John 1:1-3 started this letter with the same theme. The “physical Jesus”.
d. He was God, the Son, sent as Messiah and Savior of men, sent to die for the sins of mankind, raised from the dead, & ascended to heaven.
5. V. 6-Different ideas re. blood and water.
a. Our baptism and communion. Water of baptism, cup of communion.
. The idea of Jesus “coming to us” at baptism and at communion.
ii. But John wrote of something that happened, not that happens
b. Water & blood from Jesus’ side when the solider pierced him. (John 19:34)
. Unclear how that could mean that Jesus came by water & blood.
c. Water of birth (womb) & blood of death. Jesus was born & died as a man.
i. Jesus wasn’t a phantom, but a man. Not a spirit being, but a man.
d. Water of Jesus’ baptism, the blood of his crucifixion.
i. Jesus baptized not for repentance, but to identify with sinful man
ii. Jesus crucified not for his own sins, but for mankind.
iii. Some said the Christ spirit came upon Jesus at his baptism, but left at his crucifixion. John refutes this: Jesus was Christ even at death.
e. Spirit “bears witness” to the Christian re. the physicality of Jesus.
. The Spirit that convinces the unbeliever of his need for Jesus, also speaks regarding the physical Jesus, who came by water & blood, & that he wasn’t a phantom.
6. V.9- We believe the words of men everyday. Better to receive the witness of God
a. We have the witness of the Scriptures.
b. We have the inner witness of the Holy Spirit
Romans 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our Spirit that we are children of God.
7. V. 10- The Christian comes to faith via the work of God’s Spirit convincing of sin, righteousness, and judgment.
a. The Christian also has the inner witness of God’s Spirit confirming what the Scriptures say about Jesus’ physicality.
b. To deny that witness of the Spirit of God is to essentially make God a liar.
c. God has given his testimony re. Jesus, via the Bible and the internal witness of those who believe. The historical Jesus is hard to disprove.
B. Disputed Verses: 7b, 8a
7For there are three that bear witness (in heaven: the Father, the Word (Logos/Jesus), and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. 8And there are three that bear witness on earth: ) the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.
The following is from David Guzik- http://enduringword.com/commentaries/6205.htm
The New King James Bible makes a marginal note on 1 John 5:7-8, stating that the words in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on the earth are words that are not included in the vast majority of New Testament Greek manuscripts.
The words in question occur in no Greek manuscript until the fourteenth century, except for one eleventh century and one twelfth century manuscript in which they have been added to the margin by another hand.
In the first few hundred years of Christianity, there were many theological debates regarding the exact nature and understanding of the Trinity. In all of those debates, no one ever once quoted these words in question from 1 John 5:7-8. If they were originally written by John, it seems very strange that no early Christian would have quoted them. In fact, though none of the ancient Christians quote from this verse, several of them do quote from 1 John 5:6 and 1 John 5:8. Why skip verse seven, especially if it is such a great statement of the Trinity?
In all ancient translations – Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopian, Coptic, Sahidic, Armenian, Slavonian, and so forth, this disputed passage is not included. Only in the Latin Vulgate does it appear.
It is probably best to regard these words as the work of an over-zealous copyist who thought that the New Testament needed a little help with the doctrine of the Trinity, and he figured this was a good place to do it. Or perhaps the words just started as notes written in the margin of a manuscript, but the next person who copied the manuscript thought they must belong in the text itself.
While there is no explicit statement of the Trinity in the statement (such as this), it is woven into the fabric of the New Testament – we find the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit working together as equal, yet distinct Persons (Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19; Luke 1:35; John 1:33-34 14:16, 26; 16:13-15; 20:21-22; Acts 2:33-38; Romans 15:16; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 13:14; Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 3:14-16; 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2).
Passages like this give us no reason to fear that our New Testaments are unreliable. In the entire New Testament, there are only 50 passages which have any sort of question regarding the reliability of the text, and none of those are the sole foundation for any Christian doctrine or belief. If 50 passages sound like a lot, see it this way: no more than one-one thousandth of the text is in question at all. (1/1000%.)
In addition, when such a passage like this is inserted, the textual evidence from the manuscripts makes it stick out like a sore thumb. This gives us assurance, not doubt.
Evangelical Christians may not know much about these passages, but many religious people who don’t believe the Trinity (such as a Jehovah’s Witness) do know the textual issues around this passage. Therefore if you bring up this verse to support your position, they will show you how this passage doesn’t belong in the Bible. It may get some thinking, “Well, maybe the Trinity isn’t true. Maybe Jesus isn’t God. Maybe it’s just the invention of people who would try to change the Bible.” This can do some real damage.
So a passage like this also warns us that when it comes to such matters, God doesn’t need our help. The New Testament is fine just like God inspired it. It doesn’t need our improvements. Though the teaching of these added words is true, they shouldn’t be here, because we should not add our words to the Bible and claim they are God’s words.
The text of 1 John 5:7-8 should more accurately read: For there are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.
Refer to Powerpoint slides re. the reliability of the New Testament.
II. Eternal Life Found In Jesus
A. The Exclusivity Of Eternal Life In Jesus Vs. 11, 12
1. This is God’s declared statement regarding eternal life.
2. It is narrow, direct, and unapologetic. It is not inclusive, but exclusive.
3. The offer is for all men, but the offer is not negotiable. It is God’s testimony.
4. It stands alone in its content, & does not allow for addition or subtraction.
B. Continuing To Believe V. 13
1. John wanted them to be sure of the basis of their eternal life:
a. Faith in a real Jesus that was born physically, dies physically, and was raised physically.
b. He wanted them to be sure about the source of their eternal life.
c. Some religions tell us that we cannot know for sure if we are saved.
d. John’s statement tells us that we can know that we are saved
2. He exhorted them to continue believing in Jesus.
a. We must have faith to begin the Christian life.
. Faith is the means of us accessing the gift of eternal life.
b. We must have faith to continue to have a relationship with God.