May 16, 2015
1 John 5:9-10
We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.
It seems strange to put it this way, but in today’s text, as John moves through his closing argument, he’s making a move that requires extreme care. John plays the God card.
Sure, he’s done it throughout his address in this sermonic letter, but he brings it hard here in the close. In making his case, John all at once has it much easier than we do and yet much harder. It’s easier because John is an eye witness. All that John speaks of is recent history. People are still meeting at the empty tomb in Jerusalem. The world is being turned upside down by the Gospel. It’s harder because the New Testament was not the New Testament yet. John and others were writing what would later become the New Testament. Nobody’s handing out Gideon’s pocket New Testaments with the Psalms on the street corner. Sure, there are all sorts of credible human witnesses. Then again, these false teachers are also making a human witness to the contrary. Why Paul writes 1 Corinthinians, a host of other teachers are writing 2 Opinions.
It’s why from the get-go John has been careful to say,
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. 1 John 1:1.
This is why the Word of God matters so much. It was written by THE eyewitnesses. We aren’t dealing with a John told Paul to tell Timothy that Jesus was raised from the dead. In our New Testaments we have the direct evidence. The New Testament we hold in our hands today is “God’s testimony” as John uses the term in today’s text.
Let me say it even plainer: The Word of God as witnessed in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible is God’s Testimony. Many people do not believe this. At them the mission of God is aimed. Unbelievers are not the problem. The problem is those who believe a distorted or errant version of the Truth. When it comes to the bonafide Christian faith, people are not typically misled by unbelievers. People are misled by so-called Bible teachers who do not believe the whole Truth. People are misled by so-called Christian leaders claim to treasure Scripture yet who interpret the Scriptures to mean something they have never remotely meant before.
Here’s the grave danger. False teachers will readily play the God card under the auspices that the Holy Spirit is revealing new truth and new doctrine which effectively translates into a form of “new scripture,” as they place it on the same level as the Old and New Testaments of the Bible as we know it. They claim the writers of the New Testament were doing in their day the same thing they—these new teachers—are doing now; interpreting an ancient text according to the new revelation of the Holy Spirit. In other words, as the Apostles were interpreting the Old Testament, they are now interpreting the New Testament. According to their “hermeneutic” (method of biblical interpretation) the Holy Spirit can reveal new truth that actually contradicts Scripture. Do you see the problem with this? History is littered with these kinds of teachers. In their wake follow wave on wave of well meaning people shipwrecked in their faith on the shoals of heresies and half truths, bailing water from their boats with broken buckets.
Here’s what I would like to say about that. It is human testimony. It is not God’s testimony. Be very careful when people start playing the God card in ways that contravene God’s testimony as we have it in the Bible. In fact, because of the Holy Spirit inspired way John and the other writers of the New Testament so judiciously played the God card we don’t have to. We can simply stand on the testimony, and stand we must—not with our “gospel guns” raised to shoot, but as humble lovers of the Truth, ready to quietly serve or boldly speak up as the calling of faith requires.
False teachers can be fairly called enemies of the Gospel, yet Jesus demands that we love them with holy love. He just won’t let us give them a pass. It’s about speaking the truth in love. Paul put it well when he wrote to the Ephesian Church, also in the throes of false teachers, to grow into maturity, even the whole measure of the fullness of Christ:
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:14-15.
P.S. New Sixth Day Exercise coming tomorrow! Tell all your friends to tell all their friends. ;0)
J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at email@example.com. Get the Daily Text delivered to your inbox fresh every morning. Subscribe HERE.