Posts Tagged ‘1 John 5’

1 JOHN 5:9-13

If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. 10 Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

The wonderful universal message of Jesus is that “God gave us eternal life” – all of us, the whole world. There remains, however, the necessity for each of us to choose God’s gift and receive it for ourselves personally. For Christians, our reception of this gift is an act that goes by several names: believing in Jesus, following Jesus, abiding in Jesus, becoming as Jesus.

The human extension toward God in self-transcending gratitude and surrender was incarnated in Jesus to such a degree that he became for us not merely one example but its definitive prototype. Therefore, “whoever does not have the Son does not have life,” which is to say that real life is found only as we willingly step into the mold of Jesus and conform our minds to the mind of Christ.

For the writer, anyone who really knows God will immediately recognize the presence and work of God in Jesus. It’s like a masterwork of some great artist. You can identify the telltale marks of a painter’s style and personality throughout the gallery, but in the masterpiece it is as if the canvas opens up to the artist’s soul and you encounter his or her “truth.”

In a similar way, the Christian belief is that Jesus (his life, his message, his example, his personality, his enduring presence) reveals to us the very heart of God, as God’s “masterpiece.” Anyone who is familiar with the works of, say, Rembrandt van Rijn will instantly recognize the man in his greatest work. So also will anyone familiar with the works of God, evident throughout the universe and in the evolutionary promise of our own species, see in the Son the inherited traits of the Father.

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1 JOHN 5:9-13

If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. 10 Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

A hard line in the doctrine of predestination asserts that our world population is divided into two camps: those elected for salvation and those marked for destruction. The way of the righteous, happy and thriving like fruiting trees beside streams of water, is opposed to the way of the wicked, those unfortunate others whose lives are sterile of meaning and a driven waste on the winds.

When the poet says that “the way of the wicked will perish,” is this because their fate as individuals was decided beforehand? Or should we hear his words in the spirit of moral wisdom: whoever lives like this is certain to end up like that? The second reading seems more consistent with our own sensibilities.

The doctrine of predestination notwithstanding, the moral core of religion is itself centered on a pivotal and self-evident truth: that we human beings are indeed free to choose the “righteous” path of self-restraint and goodwill over the “wicked” path of selfish ambition. If we hadn’t the power, the exhortation would be meaningless.

But our path in life is something we choose – or to put it another way, our path in life is paved by the large and small choices we make as we go along.

1 JOHN 5:1-6

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.

Not with water only but with the water and the blood. In the seventh verse we read that “there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and the three are in agreement.” Something of a trinity, don’t you see.

We might interpret these three as representing the three essential transformations that Jesus underwent in his hero adventure as world savior. As we all enter this world, we pass through the water. The membrane that holds us in the amniotic fluid of our mother’s womb suddenly breaks, and out we rush with the tide. Jesus, too, was “born of a woman,” as Paul acknowledges.

Having heard the call of God in his life, Jesus went on to commit himself to the divine purpose – so completely that he died on the cross for the sake of the gospel and in solidarity with the suffering multitudes of the world. There’s the blood. And when, in that moment we cannot describe in mere literal meanings, the disciples experienced the spirit of Jesus in their midst and later within them each, Jesus was transformed yet a third time.

First as one of us, then as one with us, and finally as one in us.

1 JOHN 5:1-6

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.

Is this some sectarian fantasy of domination at work here: to “conquer the world”? If we didn’t know what the writer means by “the world,” we might think so. In the tradition of John (Gospel, Letters, Apocalypse) the world refers not to the planet but to the institutional system of human society. This is the “world” mentioned in the opening hymn of John’s Gospel, to whom the Word came but without recognition or acceptance.

Out of great love for “the world,” God gave his only begotten son for its salvation. Where we are right now, however, is still immersed in the dark resistance of the world to the liberty and joy of our final fulfillment.

How do we then “conquer the world”? Not through force, for that is the world’s way. Not by seduction or slippery persuasion, for that too is how the world captivates its prey. And finally, not by convincing arguments or doctrinal conversions, seeing as how the world is itself a revolving carousel of dogmatic proofs and trendy philosophies. No, we “conquer the world” through our own inward transformation and being “born of God.”

The author explains this as an event of faith, as the moment we see into the truth of who Jesus was and is, and believe so fully in him that we risk meaning, sanity, and existence itself in personal surrender to the God beyond, beneath, and at the heart of all things. Such release into God requires our release of the world (and its attachments), which becomes our liberation from the world and our victory over the world.