9If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son.10Those 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.11And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.12Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13I 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.
Summary—If the testimony of those who may be mistaken or may even lie is good enough— if we normally just accept what we hear from others—then how much greater is God’s testimony (v.9)? And God has testified concerning His Son (v.9): at Jesus’ baptism, God declared, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;” in Jesus’ ministry, God empowered Him to perform miracles; at Jesus’ crucifixion, God darkened the sky and shook the ground and tore the curtain; but most astoundingly, God breathed out our Bible. In more than one way, God the Father has publicly testified that Jesus is God the Son. And this testimony is in our hearts (v.10); in other words, God has placed in our hearts the conviction that His testimony about His Son is true and good and wonderful. Those who do not share this conviction call God a liar (v.10). And God’s testimonies about His Son (which He has placed in our hearts) are summed up in this testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son (v.11). Those who are in the Son have life, and those who aren’t, don’t (v.12), because union with Christ is the central reality of salvation—every other benefit flows through our union to Him. And St. John says all this so that we’ll know that we have eternal life (v.13): if God’s testimony about Jesus has been placed in our hearts, then we are in the Son, where life is.
Insight— If your mother says that she’s laid out a pair of pants for you on the bed, do you squint your eyes and respond, “Hm, I’m not sure whether I ought to believe you…”? Or even if you meet a disreputable car salesman, who mentions that his partner’s name is Fred, do you cross your arms and reply, “Nope, not buying it—your reputation has preceded you; I bet your partner’s name isn’t Fred…”? No, we tend to assume that most of what we hear is true. We really couldn’t function if we didn’t. So, how much more unquestioningly should we take God at His Word? Yet, every time we make an idol of a hobby, we’re not believing God’s testimony that His Son is all-satisfying. Every time we’re unkind to our spouses, we’re not believing God’s testimony that His Son’s relationship to His bride is infinitely glorious and worth mirroring. Every time we feel as though God is impressed with our performance, we’re not believing God’s testimony that His Son is our righteousness. Every sin grows in the soil of unbelief.
Child Catechism—In whom did God give us eternal life? God gave us eternal life in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Discussion—What kinds of growth in your life would evidence that you truly believe God’s testimony about His Son? If you do truly believe God’s testimony about His Son—if you believe in a way that shows—then what does St. John assure you of?
Prayer— O God, if we receive man’s testimony, Your testimony is greater. You have borne testimony concerning Your Son; and, whoever believes in Your Son has that testimony in his heart, but, whoever does not believe that testimony makes You a liar. And this is Your testimony: that You have given us eternal life, and this life is in Your Son. If we have Your Son, we have life; if we do not have Your Son, we do not have life. Graciously grant that we may know that we have eternal life, as we believe in the name of Your Son, through whom we pray. Amen.
Contributed by Scott Cline