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Faith in the Son of God March 5, 2014

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on 1 John 5:1-12.

Summary: John begins by stating that those who hope to receive from Jesus everything that has been promised concerning the Messiah:

  • receive the Spirit of regeneration
  • seek the good of others.

Those who seek the good of others exalt God, and their hearts are prepared to obey the commands of righteousness. Indeed, it is not wearisome for believers to obey God, as they have the power of the Spirit of regeneration. Since believers seek salvation from Jesus as the Christ and effectually lay hold on Him, the Spirit of regeneration empowers them to conquer whatever is against Him.

John then states that the Spirit of regeneration makes believers certain of the following fact: the real substance of the shadows of the law appears in Christ. God confirms this fact by employing the harmonious testimony of the Spirit of regeneration and the pledges of salvation. Now since believers accept the testimony of people in worldly affairs, they cannot reject the testimony of God regarding Christ. Indeed, those who reject the testimony of God regarding Christ are guilty of extreme blasphemy – as they charge Him with falsehood. On the other hand, those accept the testimony of God regarding Christ receive the free gift of salvation. John concludes by stating that:

  • those who do not seek life in Christ do not have life
  • those who do seek life in Christ have life.

Thoughts: In verse 3, John states that the Holy Spirit gives believers the ability to enjoy God’s law. Calvin offers some insights on this point:

After saying that it was impossible for the law to confer righteousness on us, he [Paul] immediately puts the blame on our flesh. This explanation fully reconciles what is said by Paul and David, who appear to be wholly contradictory. Paul makes the law the minister of death…David, on the other hand, says that it is “sweeter than honey” and “more precious than gold”…But Paul compares the law with corrupt human nature; hence arises the conflict. David shows how people think and feel when God has renewed them by His Spirit.

It is safe to say that in this life, any believer will experience both the struggles of Paul and the joys of David regarding God’s law. For example, I can recall situations where I chose to seek the good of others in spite of the best efforts of my sinful nature; although I was initially plagued by doubts and misgivings, I eventually found great satisfaction in the knowledge that I made the right choice in those situations. That feeling of contentment only flows from the Holy Spirit, since He – unlike my sinful nature – desires that I delight in seeking the good of others. I do hope that as time passes, the Holy Spirit will enable me to experience fewer doubts and misgivings when similar situations arise in the future.

In verses 6-8, John states that both water and blood testified to Jesus being the Christ. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point in his commentary on verse 6:

I am sure John here is referring to the fruit and effect of what he recorded in the Gospel story, for what he says there – that water and blood flowed from the side of Christ – is no doubt to be seen as a miracle. I know that such a thing does naturally happen to the dead, but it happened because God planned that Christ’s side should become the fountain of blood and water so that the faithful would know that cleansing (of which the ancient baptisms were types) is found in him, and so they might know that what all the sprinklings of blood had indicated was now fulfilled.

Calvin also states that it is unlikely that John was referring to Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River when he mentioned “water”; initially I was skeptical of Calvin’s point, but since John does not explicitly mention Jesus’ baptism in his Gospel, I decided to concede it. As for Calvin’s point that blood and water can “naturally” flow from a deceased person, I was reminded of The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. In the first chapter of that book, Strobel interviews Dr. Alexander Metherell, who describes how a pericardial effusion and a pleural effusion occurred in Jesus at His crucifixion; this caused blood and water to flow from His side when a Roman soldier pierced it. In some sense, we can be thankful that modern medicine has allowed us to gain a scientific understanding of the death/resurrection of Jesus. Of course, this did not preclude God from using pericardial and pleural effusions to symbolize the fulfillment of the Old Testament law…

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