The Testimony of God

If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son” (1 John 5:9).

- 1 John 5:9–10

The principle in legal matters that one is to be considered innocent until proven guilty recognizes the fact human beings are prone to either make false accusations against others or to be wrongly accused of a crime themselves. Though this principle is well-known in American jurisprudence, the recognition that the rights of the innocent need to be protected finds its roots far earlier. The Mosaic law dictates that no one can be convicted of a crime without the testimony of two or three witnesses (Deut. 19:15).

The emphasis on three witnesses to the reality of the incarnation found in 1 John 5:6–8 likely has roots in this teaching from the Torah. Yet the law of Moses was not only concerned with the number of witnesses, it also had much to say about the character of a witness. False and malicious witnesses were to receive the punishment due the crime of which they falsely accused another (Deut. 19:16–21). This concern for the character of the witness is naturally shared by John who in today’s passage appeals to the witness of God Himself, whose character is beyond question.

We read that if we are willing to accept the testimony of men (and we all do, every single day), we should therefore be willing to accept the greater testimony of God (1 John 5:9). Whoever believes in the Son has this testimony in himself (v. 10).

The question remains, however, what exactly constitutes this testimony? God’s testimony is likely the same as the testimony of the Spirit, the water, and the blood (vv. 7–8). In other words, God Himself speaks through the inner witness of the Holy Spirit (3:24) and the events of Jesus’ baptism (Matt. 3:16–17) and crucifixion (27:32–54) to confirm the incarnation.

Those who reject His testimony regarding the incarnation make the trustworthy God into a liar (1 John 5:10) and thus blaspheme His name. Jesus is not merely a good teacher, He is the incarnate Son of the living God, and if this is rejected, then God Himself is rejected, no matter any protestation to the contrary. Without confession of the incarnate Son, the Father remains unknown.

Coram Deo

Those who reject the full humanity and full deity of Jesus are not only mistaken, they are sinning. It is not possible to accept the Son of God unless you believe the biblical testimony — God’s testimony — about His person and work (1 John 5:9–10). Muslims, secular humanists, Mormons, and all others who reject the divine Messiah are guilty of blasphemous unbelief. Spend some time today praying for a friend who does not believe in the biblical Christ.

Passages for Further Study

1 John 5:9–10

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343