“Come, Holy Spirit, and teach me now that Jesus is my life.” Amen.
Text: First John 5:4–12
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is He who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three who bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth:1 the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one. 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 who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
The Spirit testifies at Jesus’ Baptism that He is God’s Son (Mat 3:17). But the water He is baptized in – to suffer death, and the water which flows from His side, as well as the blood He shed in death for our atonement, these two, the water and the blood, must be added so that He can be our Savior. So the Spirit, the Water, and the Blood testify together that God has given us His Son as Savior. The Spirit’s testimony cannot be denied; He is the chief Witness. But the Blood and the Water cannot be denied either. (Note John’s words in his gospel 19:34-35: “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe.”) If we did not have these three: the Spirit and the Water and the Blood, then we wouldn’t know for sure that God gave His Son for us. But now since we have these three as constant living witnesses for the eyes and ears of faith, through them we are certain that God’s Son died for us and lives for us. The same testimony of the Spirit that once sounded over Jesus, still sounds for us through the Word. We have in our Baptism the Water in which Jesus was baptized, and the water from His side, together with the Blood. Likewise we have the Blood He shed as well as His Body in the Holy Supper. Whoever does not believe this testimony of God must seriously ask how these three, the Word, Baptism, and the Sacrament of the Altar, can continue and exert such divine power in our human world. But whoever believes has the testimony in himself and knows that the Spirit has created a new life in him.
This life is eternal life, dear Christian. For your new nature, your sanctified mind, which loves God and the brethren, but hates sin and denies the flesh and overcomes the world: what else is that but Christ in you? Without seeing Him you hold fast to Him through these three witnesses. You have Him and love Him from the heart. God’s Son is in you and you in Him. If you have this life, then you are blessed; if not, then you are surely in death. But come and hear. The triple testimony still sounds forth. Hurry, before it is too late! You must be born of God and overcome the world, or else you are lost.
Lord Jesus, open our eyes and our ears. Help us to believe, overcome our unbelief by Your Spirit’s testimony, and draw our hearts to You, so that You may be our life. Amen.
Preserve me, Lord, from worldly lore
That God’s wisdom is spurning;
The proper meaning of Thy Word
Grant that I may be learning,
And keep me steadfast by Thy pow’r
Until my life’s most final hour.
Thy name be praised forever!
For all things let Thy death and blood
Bring comfort for my grieving,
And may my spirit by Thy good
Thy merit be receiving,
To live and die by Thy good name,
To know the world is empty fame,
Unworthy of our mention.
And when my faith becomes too weak
‘Midst dangers tantalizing,
Then help me find the Light I seek
That soon shall be arising,
And fan to life my fading flame,
Strength for the broken reed reclaim,
By power of Thy Spirit!
Denicke: O Jesu, Troens dyre Skat L 371:4-6 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Es ist gewisslich (ELH 25); alternate hymn: If God Himself be for me ELH 517:3