November 8, 2012

Who is Jesus the Christ?


Carnegie Simpson wrote about Jesus: "Instinctively we do not class him with others. He is not the Great; he is the Only. He is simply Jesus. Nothing could add to that. He is beyond our analyses."

Charles Lamb, in a conversation with Robert Browning, said, "If Shakespeare was to come into this room, we should all rise up to meet him, but if that person (Jesus) was to come into it, we should all fall down and try to kiss the hem of his garment."

Who is Jesus? It's an ancient question. Before John concludes his letter, he wants to answer that question and make crystal clear what our faith is all about.

Victorious faith in Jesus Christ (1 John 5:1-5)

John begins with the most basic statement of our faith. "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (1 John 5:1). John seems to be drawing from his recollection of that now-famous conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus in which Jesus says, "No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" (John 3:3). Spiritual birth is just as much a reality for the Christian as is physical birth.

John also warns us that our love for God is inextricably tied to our love for each other, and especially our love for young Christians (1 John 5:1b). We know that we love the children of God when we follow God's commands.

And what are God's greatest commands? Love God and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).

Victorious faith is forged in the crucible of our everyday relationships. We cannot have a faith that will overcome unless our relationship with God is the kind of relationship that is strengthening all our other relationships.

This is the kind of faith that overcomes all things (1 John 5:3-5).

Testimony of the Spirit, Water, and Blood (1 John 5:6-8)

John seems to be battling against a false teaching that is circulating in the early Christian church. A man named Cerinthus taught that Jesus and the Christ were two different people. According to the heresy, Christ came upon Jesus at his baptism and left him shortly before his death on the cross.

John seeks to refute this heresy (or one similar to it) by emphasizing that Jesus was the Christ at his baptism (with water) and at his crucifixion (with blood). The Holy Spirit testifies to the truth about Jesus (John 1:32).

John points to the three that bear witness: the Holy Spirit, who lives in every believer and enables us to witness, baptism by immersion in water, and the Lord's Supper, symbolizing the broken body and poured out blood of Jesus Christ (1 John 5:7-8).

Testimony of the Father (1 John 5:9-12)

It is God himself who ultimately testifies to the veracity of all John has preached. Jesus is the Christ and the Savior of the world, ultimately, because God said so. And anyone who has enough faith to hear God will know this to be true in their hearts (1 John 5:10).

John spells out God's testimony: If you have Jesus in your heart, then you know it to be true. If you don't, then you don't. I guess that's why they call it faith.

Bible Study: 1 John 5:1-12

Public Domain Image • Guido Reni's Baptism of Christ

Originally Published: November 8, 2012
Category: Bible Study
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