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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 81 - 1 John 5:11 - Eternal Life in the Belief of God's Testimony Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius




Eternal Life In The Belief Of God's Testimony.


"And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life; and this life is in His Son."-1 John 5:11.



     The word 'witness' in the previous verse means not a person, but a statement or declaration, a 'testimony,'-the statement of one who tells us what he has seen, and heard, and known. The apostle speaks of two kinds of testimony, one human, the other divine. He points out the relative value and trustworthiness of these two, the divine so much excelling the human; and hence the much greater credit which we should attach to the words of Him who cannot lie, who is infinitely removed from falsehood, than to the words of men who lie a thousand times a day, whose very nature is deceit and untruthfulness.

     He next tells us that the sum and burden of the divine testimony is the Son of God,-the testimony of (concerning) Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, nay, of the whole Bible. He that has believed on the Son has taken in, or admitted this testimony to a place within himself; so that it is not now outside but inside,-a testimony which has not merely found an echo within, but has come in and speaks from within.

     He that hath not believed on the Son 'hath not believed God;' has not only not taken in His testimony, but has denied it, nay, has made God a liar. And how has he done this awful deed of inconceivable guilt? By not receiving the testimony (or record) which God has given concerning His Son. And what is this testimony? It is mainly concerning His Son, but it relates also to us sinners; and thus far it is a double testimony, having a twofold aspect. It is a testimony, the first part of which an angel or a devil might believe, and do believe, but in the second part of which they have no share; only men, only sinners, only the lost sons of Adam.

     God has given us eternal life; this life is in His Son. Such is the testimony; and it is God Himself, who testifies concerning His own gift',-for He is both the giver and the testifier: 'God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son.' Properly speaking, then, there are two gifts,-His Son, and life in Him. These are God's gifts to sinners; to 'mankind-sinners,' as our forefathers used to speak; to 'the world;' to the 'whosoever;' to the 'every one that thirsteth;' to the labouring and heavy laden; to the poor and needy.

     But let us mark the order of these gifts. First Christ, and then life; not first life, and then Christ. As this is the order in which God gives, so it is the order in which we are to take. They are inseparable, and yet we must not overlook the order. It is first the physician, and then the medicine; first the life boat, and then the rescue from the waves. No doubt the awakened sinner first asks for life and salvation; but then God tells him, You can only get these by getting Christ. They are in His hands, deposited in Him for those who need them. So take Christ, and you get all. 'He that hath the Son hath life.' Thus, then,-

     I. There is eternal life for us.-'This is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life,'-'eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.' Life; life for the dead; life that shall never end; the reversal of all death; the possession of all that constitutes true life for soul and body. Not life for a day, or for a thousand years, but for evermore; life, without the possibility of dying again.

     II. This life is God's gift.-Yes, 'the gift of God is eternal life.' Not wages, not purchase, not desert, but a pure gift, absolute and unconditional; a gift from the great Giver; a gift like Himself, corresponding to His greatness and love, as well as to our need. It is altogether free, unclogged by condition, but presented by His infinite generosity as the expression of His boundless love.

     III. This gift is for those that need life.-And who is there amongst us that is not needy? It is not life for the half-dead, but for the totally dead. This gift of life is laid down at the door of each dead sinner. It is not in heaven; it is brought down to earth. It is not placed in some far-off, inaccessible region; it is brought to each. It is not in Palestine or Jerusalem; it is here, in every land, city, village, nay, laid at every door; and He who laid it there knocks while He does, and cries aloud, O man, here is a gift for thee!

     IV. This gift is contained in the Son of God.-He is the great gift; but here is another, in Him and through Him, the one inseparable from the other. It is this twofold gift, this double blessing, that God has presented to our world. A king's gift is much, how much more God's! What gifts are these! Is it possible that He can mean all that is implied? Yes, He does; for He exaggerates nothing.

     V. These gifts reach us by means of a testimony.-In that testimony God speaks to us as a witness of what He knows. His apostles spoke in this way, 'That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you.' God is a witness, Christ is a witness, the Spirit is a witness; and thus there are three that bear record. But the apostles are witnesses also. They tell us of the Word made flesh, of a dead and risen Christ; and in so doing they announce God's great gifts, and we listen, believe, and are saved. In believing the testimony to Christ on the authority of God, we get Him, and in getting Him we get everything; for He that hath the Son hath life. This is our testimony still. Do you credit it? Is it all true? If not, then deny it, and go in quest of a truer and a better. If it is true, then receive it; and, in receiving it, receive eternal life.