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The Witness of God
By David A. DePra
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. For this is the witness of God which he has testified of his Son: He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself. He that believes not God has made him a liar; because he believes not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God has given to us: Eternal life. And this life is in his Son. He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:9-13)
John here draws a contrast between what he calls, "the witness of men," and "the witness of God." John does not say that, "the witness of men" is invalid – if it is a true witness. But he makes it clear that no witness of man can equal the, "witness of God." The witness of God, says John, is greater.
What IS the, "witness of God?" John answers: "For this is the witness of God which he has testified of his Son: He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself."
According to the apostle John, "the witness of God" is the life of Jesus Christ IN the one who believes. It is just that simple. If you have Christ in you, THAT is the witness of God. In other words, the witness of God to you is, "Christ in you." (see Col. 1:27)
A "witness," of course, is someone who represents the Truth about something – either in word or deed. You "testify" to the Truth by virtue of your words and actions, and thus, are a "witness" to that Truth. In this day and age, we tend to take such things lightly. In the days of Jesus, when there were no books, or recording equipment, the word of a man equaled his moral worth. In those days, a false witness was therefore considered one of the worst kinds of people.
In the case of the apostles, they were witnesses to the ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. If we listen to them, we are hearing a "witness of man." Of course, later this was a witness of God – in the sense of the inspiration of scripture. But according to John, as wonderful as that is, there is more. There is still a greater witness of God – one which is even greater than what we get from the apostles. You see, the apostles were not called to start a religion based on THEIR experience with Jesus. They came telling us that WE can have that same experience. And that experience with Jesus IS OUR WITNESS.
Get that. Christianity is not a "religion" which has, as it’s center, the teachings and experiences of the apostles. We hold both of those things in high esteem. But Christianity is centered upon the Person of Jesus Christ, and the personal witness and relationship with Him that EACH of us can have is the center.
The greatest witness is one we get from GOD HIMSELF – to us personally. That witness is Christ in us. Sure. Jesus is THE witness. Thus, to each of us, He is OUR personal witness.
A Personal Revelation
The witness of God is from God. It is not from men. Sure, it can come THROUGH man. But there is a witness of God which did not come through any man. That witness was, and is, a Person, Jesus Christ.
These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. (Rev 3:14)
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. (Rev 1:5)
The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. (Rom 8:16)
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? (John 14:6-9)
Jesus Christ was God Incarnate, and as such, was THE witness of God in human form. But the witness of God that He brought was rejected. Why? Because it did not cater to the religion of those to whom He came.
The tragic irony is that the "religion" of those to whom Jesus came was Bible-based. The Jews had been given the OT and the law of God. But IN THEIR HEARTS they had strayed so far away from God Himself, that when God Himself stood in their midst, they called Him the Devil. Their "religion" – which supposedly had God at the center -- had no place for God!
The witness of Jesus Christ, when He walked upon this earth as a flesh and blood human being is self-evident. But today, Jesus Christ continues to be THE WITNESS OF GOD. How? He is a witness IN US. That’s what the apostle John said. He said, "For this is the witness of God which he has testified of his Son: He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself."
We see this Truth expressed in Matthew 16. There, Jesus asked His disciples, "Who do MEN say that I am?" (Matt. 16:13) Notice that Jesus is asking them as to what was "The witness of men." They gave a few answers, all of which were wrong. Then Jesus asked, "But who do YOU say that I am?" (Matt. 16:15) Jesus wanted to know who THEY, personally, knew Him to be. He wanted to know whether THEY had a revelation of Him as the Christ.
Peter spoke for all of them. He said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." (Matt. 16:16)
Jesus answered and said, "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. " (Mat 16:17-18)
Jesus had just asked the disciples, "Who do MEN say that I am?" In other words, "Who do OTHER PEOPLE say I am?" But then He asked the disciples who THEY believed Jesus to be. Upon Peter’s confession of the Truth, Jesus said, "Flesh and blood – in other words, any other person – has not revealed this to you. My Father in heaven has shown it to you."
Jesus was telling them that only God can reveal to people Jesus Christ. This is the witness of God. God can use preaching, ministry, and His Word. But unless God does the revealing, by the power of His Spirit, there can be no revelation.
This is why Jesus also said, "No man can come to Me except the Father who sent Me draw Him." (John 6:44) The "drawing" is the revealing of Jesus to a person. This does NOT YET mean that person has "come to Jesus" and been saved. Revelation alone does not equal conversion. That person must embrace what God reveals by faith in order to be saved. But none of that is possible unless the Father first draws a person, or reveals to him the Christ.
Peter had confessed Jesus was the Christ only because the Father had shown him this Truth. In other words, Peter now had more than just "the witness of men." He personally had "the witness of God."
How Are We Sure?
Of course the question arises, at this point, as to how we can know that the supposed "witness" we have is of God. I mean, lots of people say lots of things. They create their own reality out of the imagination of their own heart, and say it is of God. How can we be sure that they witness we say is of God – within us – really is of God? How do we know that it is not the product of human subjectivity?
First of all, there is NOTHING – if man is left to fend for himself – that is not at the mercy of human subjectivity. Without God, how we perceive things is how we perceive them, and to us, this is reality. So the possibilities of a person creating a reality based on his own subjective bias is not only there – but has been done a million times over with regard to the things of God. Yet none of that does away with the fact that there IS Truth, and that there IS God, and that He wants to reveal Himself to us.
Not a Religion
All "religions" are of MAN. By this, I mean that men have constructed what they think about God, or "gods," and presented these beliefs to others in the form of teachings, doctrines, and various practices. But what does any of this have to do with the Truth?
Most people are blind to the fact that they are blind! We live in a little black box that we think is reality, and have no frame of reference for the possibility that there could be something outside that box – outside of our perception. So we take what is in "our box" and we create for ourselves a world and a zone which provides us with as much comfort as possible. And then we judge all else by this reality that WE have created.
There are people in this world today, some of them claim to be Christians, who are so utterly and totally deceived, that what they produce is nothing short of insanity. They have no knowledge of God, and consequently, have even lost common sense wisdom. The terrifying aspect of this is that they think of themselves are progressive, open-minded, and intelligent. Some of them will even tell you that the reason they believe what they do is that God Himself, or some form of "god," has come into their "black box" and enlightened them.
Some of these people today saying, "Think outside the box." I mean, religiously. This sounds like good advice to a deceived world. In fact, that’s really what I’M saying right now. But what THEY mean by that statement is not what I mean by it. They mean, "recreate your black box to look more like MINE." But my advice is: Open up your box to the true Light of God in Jesus Christ.
The Truth is, unless God comes in from the outside, and brings the Light of Christ, you and I are left to ourselves. We WILL have a black box with a reality created by our own bias, subjectivity, and ignorance. Not maybe. We will. Only if we open ourselves to Christ, will the Light come, and we be delivered from our black box. Then, and only then, will we begin to see HIM.
This is why Jesus was able to say, "You will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free." He wasn’t being poetic. His promise presupposes that you and I are in darkness and bondage to error – and need to be set free. He is promising deliverance from such through Himself, for He also said, "I am the Truth."
If Christianity were merely a religion, it could set no one free. It could just give them another belief system to follow, according to the mind of man, and within the possibilities of the black box.
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