Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Seeing and Testifying

One of the reasons the book of 1 John was written was to help Christians gain assurance that they have been reconciled to God and are in fellowship with him. In order to achieve this goal, the writer gives us several evidences of authentic faith. We can easily find many of these evidences as we read this book because they often begin with the words "by this." One of those places is found in 1 John 4:13 where the apostle tells us that the presence of the Holy Spirit within us is proof of our mutual "abiding" with God.

What is the connection that the next two verses have with verse 13? Verses 14 and 15 read:

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

It is the word “and” at the beginning of verse 14 that makes me think that John intends to connect what he says here with what he says in verse 13. In other words, another way that we know we abide in God is by "seeing" and "testifying" that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. John says whoever "confesses" this about Jesus (v. 15) can be sure that "God abides in him, and he in God."

When John says “we have seen and testify,” he must not be referring only to himself or the other apostolic witnesses of Jesus' life on earth. The "seeing" and the "testifying" go together. Hundreds of people literally saw Jesus but did not confess him to be the Son of God. So the "seeing" John refers to is probably not intended to be taken literally. It is a "seeing" of faith that is in view here. It is a seeing that takes place when God opens your spiritual eyes and gives you a glimpse of who Jesus really is. Jesus came for this very purpose, to open the eyes of the spiritually blind (Isa 42:7; Acts 26:18).

Our eyes have to be opened before our mouths can be opened. There is a direct correlation between the number of witnesses for Jesus and the number of people who have seen Jesus with the eyes of faith. The reason why we do not have more witnesses for Jesus is because we do not have enough people who have seen him for who he is. This is also part of the reason why spiritual apathy can grow in our churches. It is why you and I often struggle to find our joy in God. We need to beg God to let us see again. We need to come to grips with these words that are pregnant with God-glorifying truth: “The Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” That is the gospel in a nutshell. The gospel is the good news! It is the best news! If our newspaper editors could see it for what it is, it would be front page every day of the week. It would never grow old, boring, or irrelevant.

For those who have the spiritual eyes to see the beauty of the Son, sent by the Father, to be the Savior of the world, they will thereby enjoy the fellowship with God that John so desperately wants them to have (1:3). It is the confession of the heart that Jesus is the Son of God that leads to mutual abiding with God.

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