This is the one who came by water and blood: Jesus Christ. Not by water only but by water and blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. The three are testifying — the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and the three are united in agreement. If we receive human testimony, God’s testimony is greater, because this is what God testified: he has testified about his Son. – 1 John 5:6-9 (CEB)
John wrote this letter to a community of believers. The “we” is likely believers versus the world at large. But does the world accept God’s testimony?
We can easily be caught up in doubts and arguments against the truth. Most believers feel unprepared to argue the merits of God’s Word with a non-believer. Where are dinosaurs in the Bible? How can you prove the resurrection? Why would God want or even have the time to care for the individual? Maybe the apostles made it all up to save face? Where did Cain find a wife?
Maybe these questions don’t catch you off-guard and you eagerly hope someone will ask just these things. Maybe you are able to successfully argue these and other questions. But for most of us, these questions cause our stomachs to tighten and our hands to sweat. But we are called to be fishers of people – so what should we do?
We announce to you what existed from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have seen and our hands handled, about the word of life. The life was revealed, and we have seen, and we testify and announce to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us. What we have seen and heard, we also announce it to you so that you can have fellowship with us. Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy can be complete. – 1 John 1:1-3 (CEB)
I think one response can be not to argue. Our common response to most “proof” type questions and challenges to faith is to argue from the Bible. But this won’t work with someone who doesn’t see the Bible as a word of truth and authority. And “proving” something to someone is almost impossible because they choose the measure of proof. And so rather than arguing or trying to persuade, maybe we can just share why we believe what we believe.
No one can argue or disagree with my personal testimony.
The arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost testified to the truth of Christ and his resurrection. The Holy Spirit confirms that Jesus is with [us] always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20b). The Holy Spirit confirms that accepting Christ changes us in a way that we could never change on our own. Christ is Truth on his own: water and blood, baptism and sacrifice. The Spirit testifies to this truth. The three are in agreement.
In the same way, our lives should testify to the truth of Christ. Someone may doubt the truth of the Gospel but they cannot disagree with the change in the life of a believer. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit changes us forever. We no longer have appetites for the things of the world, yet the world has not changed. We seek justice and serve others in love and compassion, when there isn’t anything “in it” for us. We live out the spiritual disciplines – such as study of God’s Word, prayer, worship – not because we have more time but because we now know this is what our lives are about. We know that we are loved and God is with us, not because of anything we have done or could ever do, but because God has loved us completely, before we ever loved God.
The Spirit testifies in us.
Our lives in Christ should be the testimony that confirms the truth of the Spirit, water and blood. I – like many others – often feel that my testimony isn’t very exciting. Why would anyone else be interested in it? But the power of a story, an experience, the change in our lives demonstrates that we are in united with these truths as well.
What have you heard? What have you seen? What have your hands handled about the word of life?
It doesn’t need to be flashy – it just needs to be your story. How has God been active in your life? When have you experienced Immanuel, God with us? How did the Good News become Good News for you? What allowed you to lay aside the need for “proof” so that you could accept truth? Remember, reflect…and testify.