Making God a Liar1 John 5:9-12
P.G. Mathew | Sunday, August 20, 2006
Copyright © 2006, P.G. Mathew
Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.
1 John 5:10
Have you ever called God a liar? The apostle John declares, “Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son” (1 John 5:10).
The vast majority of the people of the world do not believe God’s testimony. They do not believe the gospel that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, came into the world to save sinners and that God gives eternal life to every sinner who believes in his Son. They do not believe that eternal life can only be found in Jesus and that Jesus Christ is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Because they do not believe, they remain under God’s wrath and judgment.
Such unbelief is not new. Although Noah preached this gospel for a long time, only eight people were saved from the great flood of God’s wrath. The rest rejected the testimony of God given to them by Noah. They treated it as a lie, as did the Sodomites, including Lot’s wife. Only three people believed the witness of Lot and the angels and were saved when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah by fire. The vast majority of the Israelites-over six hundred thousand men-who had been delivered from Egyptian bondage perished in the wilderness because they treated the testimony Moses gave them as a lie. Only a minority like Joshua and Caleb were saved.
Jesus acknowledged this truth when he exhorted, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Again, he said, “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14, KJV). The Testimony of Man
Human society could not exist without people believing one another and acting on the basis of it. So John says, “We accept man’s testimony” (v. 9). This fallen world continues to exist through God’s common grace and because man believes human testimony. How can a girl date a boy unless she believes him? How can a husband live with his wife unless he believes her? How can a justice system exist without people believing the testimony of witnesses? Political, economic, and family life will collapse if people do not believe each other.
Trust in human testimony is foundational to the continuance of human society. For example, when a company advertises a sale, people believe it and act accordingly. People believe other people daily. Yes, they must use their reason to check the veracity of the claims of others. We may choose not to trust everything the politicians or media tell us. Yet society cannot exist without some belief in the testimony of people with careful use of our reasoning powers. Even the Bible says that a matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.
God’s Greater Testimony
If sinful man’s testimony is essential, how much greater is the testimony of God! It is greater in its validity and authority because it is the testimony of the infinite, personal, most holy God.
The Bible says, “God is not a man that he should lie, nor a son of man that he should change his mind” (Numbers 23:19). What God promises, he fulfills. He created all things out of nothing by his command, and he upholds all things by his powerful word. By him all things exist. He also redeems sinful people.
As creatures, we are to trust this God and his testimony and obey him always. In Hebrews we read, “Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his promise very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged” (Hebrews 6:16-19). There is none greater than God. Thus, we can believe in his gospel with great confidence because not only is it a promise of God, but then he swears by himself.
Paul speaks of this: “But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’ For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not ‘Yes’ and ‘No,’ but in him it has always been ‘Yes.’ For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1:18-20).
If we daily believe human testimony and order our lives by it, how much more should we trust God’s testimony and act accordingly because it is the infallible testimony of God who cannot lie! And what is God’s testimony? His plan of salvation for sinful people. God loves sinners; therefore, he reveals to them a way to be saved from his wrath against them. This great salvation comes to us through God’s eternal Son, Jesus Christ, who was sent by the Father into this world to make atonement for our sins by his sacrificial death. So all sinners ought to believe in the infallible testimony of the most holy God concerning his Son, the only Savior of the world. And God graciously gives us this testimony in many ways.
The Testimony of the Father
First, the Father himself testifies about his Son. In John 8:18 Jesus declared, “I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.” And in John 5:37-38 he said, “And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.”
In Matthew 3:17 we find a direct, heavenly testimony from God the Father concerning his Son: “This is my Son whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” On the Mount of Transfiguration the Father again spoke directly: “This is my Son whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5) In other words, “Believe him! Trust him and be saved!”
The Testimony of John the Baptist
God also spoke through John the Baptist. In John 1 we read: “There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” (vv. 6-9). And in verse 15 John cries out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'” In verse 29 we read: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!'” Again, in verses 32-34, we read, “John gave this testimony: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me baptize with water told me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.'”
The Testimony of the Holy Spirit
The Father also testifies through the Holy Spirit concerning Jesus Christ. First John 5:6 says, “This is the one who came by water and blood-Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.” The Gnostics denied that Jesus Christ died and that God came in human form. They said that the Spirit, or Christ, came upon Jesus at his baptism but left before the crucifixion. But John declares, “This is the one who came by water,” which is baptism, “and blood,” which is Christ’s death for our sins. Yes, the Gnostic heretics denied Christ’s atonement for our sins, but the Holy Spirit, who is truth, testifies to the truth.
In John 14:17 we are told the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, and in John 15:26 Jesus speaks about the testimony of the Holy Spirit: “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.”
The Testimony of Jesus Christ
But more than that, God also testifies to us through Jesus Christ himself-Jesus Christ, who is God, who is truth, who is sinless, the eternal Son who took upon himself human nature. The writer to the Hebrews tells us, “In these last days [God] has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:2). God testifies concerning the Son through the Son.
Referring to Christ, John writes, “He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony . . . For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit” (John 3:32, 34). In John 8 Jesus said, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid. For I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going . . . I am one who testifies for myself” (v. 14, 18).
The Testimony of Christ’s Miracles
God gives us additional testimony through the miracles Jesus Christ performed. In John 5:36 Jesus said in reference to John the Baptist, “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.”
Christ’s miracles were not designed to entertain or amaze spectators; God used them to point to Christ’s glory and divinity. In his gospel, John identifies seven such signs.
- Changing water into wine (John 2:1-11). This points to the truth that Jesus Christ alone is able to bring us joy. No one else can do so. Fallen man by nature is miserable, wretched, and gloomy. Jesus Christ is sent from heaven to bring us joy.
- Healing the nobleman’s son (John 4:46-54). This miracle tells us that Christ has power over sin as well as sickness. Elsewhere, we read that Jesus Christ has authority on earth to forgive sins. People objected, saying that only God can forgive sins. Then one must conclude, “Jesus is God.”
- Healing the impotent man (John 5:1-18). It is a sign that tells us salvation is by grace alone. Jesus seeks and saves those who are powerless to save themselves.
- Feeding the five thousand (John 6:1-14). Jesus alone satisfies our spiritual hunger. He is the bread of life that came from heaven; everyone who feeds on him shall live.
- Walking on water (John 6:16-21). This demonstrated that Jesus is Lord of all natural laws.
- Healing the man born blind (John 9). The devil blinds us from seeing the reality that God is; that God created the universe; that God is the Savior; and that Jesus Christ is God. But Jesus came to open our blind eyes that we may see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ in the gospel.
- Raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11). This sign points to the fact that Jesus alone has power over death and hell. He is the resurrection and the life.
Thus, the miracles of Jesus point to his glory, his heavenliness, his divinity, his deity, his power, his authority, his infallibility, and his lordship.
The Testimony of the Scriptures
But we can go beyond even this. God witnesses to his Son through the Scriptures. The entire Bible is God’s testimony concerning his Son. Jesus told the Jews, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40). Their problem was that they did not believe the testimony of the Scriptures.
In Luke 24:27 we read, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” And Hebrews 1 tells us, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets in many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son (vv.1-2).
God the Father is speaking all the time; it is his testimony that we either accept or reject. In Luke 24:44 Jesus told his disciples, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” When we open the Bible, we see God’s testimony concerning his Savior/Son. (PGM) It is given that we may believe on him and be saved. God so loved the world that he gave up his only begotten Son that no one should perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
The Testimony of the Apostles and Others
Additionally, God designated the apostles, who were eyewitnesses of the words and work of Jesus Christ, to testify about him. John writes, “The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it” (1 John 1:2). In Acts 10 Peter affirms, “We are witnesses of everything [Christ] did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen-by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead” (vv. 39-42).
In Matthew 28 Jesus commissioned his disciples to bear witness to the person and work of Christ: “Therefore to and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). And in Acts 1:8 he told them, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When the apostles preached, God the Father was bearing testimony through them, pointing people to Jesus Christ, that they may trust in him and be saved. God does not want anyone to perish.
Ministers of the gospel throughout the ages have borne witness to this gospel and are doing so today. We all are bearing witness to Christ. Whenever we speak the gospel, God is bearing witness to his Son through us. That is why we must witness to others.
Through all these means, God the Father is testifying concerning his Son, and his testimony is greater than that of any man. Everyone ought to believe this infallible testimony of God the Father concerning Jesus Christ, the only Savior of the world.
What Is God’s Testimony?
What is the content of this testimony? In John 5:11 the apostle begins, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life.” The first thing we learn is that God has given us eternal life. Where is this life located? John continues, “This life is in his Son.” In fact, the Son is eternal life, as we read in 1 John 1:2: “The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.” Jesus Christ is eternal life, and Jesus Christ gives eternal life. He is life, and he makes us alive. He is the life-giving Spirit.
Salvation is found in no other but in Jesus Christ. This is the exclusivism that the Bible declares. All other saviors are false. And if eternal life is in Jesus Christ alone, those who are wise will go to him to receive that life.
Then John says, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son does not have life” (v. 12). How, then, can we possess the Son and thereby possess life? The answer is not difficult to find. In 1 John 3:23 we read, “And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ.” We come to possess the Son and eternal life by believing in the Son, Jesus Christ, who died for us on the cross. There is no other way to be saved from eternal damnation.
In 1 John 5 we read, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (v. 1). And verse 5 says: “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” Verse 13 declares: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God.” Eternal life is Jesus Christ, and it is in Jesus Christ. “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son does not have life.”
We come to possess Christ and eternal life by entrusting ourselves to him who is eternal life. If we accept human testimony and regulate our lives in accordance with it, how much more must we accept this greater testimony of God the Father, for it has to do with our eternal salvation, which is found only in his Son! If we believe in him, we shall be saved. We can either accept God’s testimony or reject it, but we cannot ignore it.
Those who reject God’s infallible testimony are making God a liar. This is exactly what the heretics of John’s day did. They did not believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. They rejected that the God/man Jesus was crucified for sinners on the cross. These heretics found their own way of salvation apart from the atonement of Christ. We see the same thing today. People create every kind of religion as long as it is not about Jesus Christ. They are comfortable and happy with their religions; but such religions can never save.
Everyone who rejects God’s testimony about his Son in the Scriptures makes God out to be a liar. Such people are saying that God the Father is a liar, that Jesus is a liar, and that the Holy Spirit is a liar. They are saying that the Bible is a lie, that the apostles are liars, and that gospel ministers are liars. They are declaring that man is not a sinner and that God did not create the world. The world is eternal, according to them, and man is evolved from matter, just another animal, without a soul. The Ten Commandments do not matter to them; they do not believe in any absolute standard of behavior. They do not believe in heaven or hell; death is the end of existence. Therefore, they say, let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we shall die. They think that anyone who believes in testimony of God is stupid. To them, the devil speaks truth, evil is good, and good is evil. This is what people are saying when they reject God’s testimony.
But God is not a liar, as we all will find out on the last day. Who is the liar? The devil. He has been lying from the beginning. He told Adam and Eve that they would not die by eating the forbidden fruit; rather, he said, they would live, and through their disobedience gain wisdom and become gods. He is the father of all lies and of all liars. But Paul says, “Let God be true and every man a liar.” In accordance with God’s word, Adam and Eve died, and all their descendants died-physically and eternally. So God sent his Son to give us eternal life. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). He said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). He said, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10:28).
How can we possess eternal life? By possessing the Son, who is eternal life. How can we possess the Son? By entrusting ourselves to him by believing in him. God commands that we believe in him. In Acts 17:30 Paul says, “God commands all people everywhere to repent,” and in 1 John 3:23 John writes, “God commands you to believe in his Son, Jesus Christ, who is eternal life.” Not only does God command us, but he also gives us faith to believe and the gift of repentance, that we may repent and believe. He also gives us an internal witness that we are children of God: “Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart” (1 John 5:10). So there is the external, objective testimony as well as the internal, objective testimony of the Holy Spirit. If we believe in him, we will have this testimony within us. In fact, the entire epistle of 1 John is written that we may have assurance we are children of God.
Romans 8:15-16 also speaks about this: “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
Jesus Christ is coming again in great glory to save and to judge. In Matthew 25:46 Jesus said, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” In John 5:23 we find a disclosure of the desire of the Father’s heart: “that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.” This is serious business. When we believe in Jesus, we are honoring the Son and the Father. When we refuse to believe in him, we are dishonoring both the Son and the Father. But there is coming a day when those who refuse to honor Christ will have to bow down and confess that he is Lord before they go to eternal punishment. Philippians 2:10-11 tells us that “every knee should bow . . . and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Have You Believed God’s Testimony?
We receive human testimony daily, and we must believe it to live. But there is a superior testimony, an infallible testimony, which has to do with God’s Son, sent for our salvation. God desires us to believe his testimony so that we may be saved, not damned. The truth is, there is heaven, there is hell, and there is God.
Think about these things. If God has granted you faith and repentance to believe in Jesus Christ, praise God! You have nothing to worry about; you have been given eternal life, and nothing can shake you. Psalm 46 tells us, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” There is a river that flows in the city of God to refresh us. God is within the city; though everything else is shaken, it shall not be. Nothing shall shake us-not even death-for “neither death nor life . . . nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). We are in him and he is in us.
If you have not believed this testimony, you have all the reasons in the world to be shaken and afraid. You can only trust so much in yourself. I give you God’s testimony and God’s eternal Son, who came down to die in our place, that we may live forever. May God grant you the gift of repentance and faith, that you may be saved forever. Amen.
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