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Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1309

July 9, 2017 1 John 5:9-13

Dr. Ed Pettus

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)

“The Testimony of Life”


  • The Testimony of God (1 John 5:9)


Back in 2014 I preached a series of sermons on four characteristics of a Great Commission Church. A Great Commission Church is one that takes seriously the commission Jesus gave us to go and make disciples, teach them, baptize them, and to know that Jesus is with us to the end. While every church may have a particular mission statement that fits with their particular context, every church and every Christian shares in the Matthew 28 commission to evangelize. These characteristics include prayer, basic Bible, discipleship, and sharing our testimony. I covered three of those topics again in my last three sermons and I will conclude today with number four on giving testimony.


I want to begin in the text for today in verse 9, which makes sense since that’s where I began the reading!


9If 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.


The testimony of God is given to us through Jesus Christ. The testimony is sure. It is about the good news of Jesus Christ. It is revealed through every part of scripture, Old and New Testaments. At its basic level it is that God sent His only Son to live, suffer, die, and rise again that we might have life. John writes here that it is more reliable than the testimony of men. Humans err. Humans fall short when it comes to giving an accurate account. Studies show that eye witness accounts in court can sometimes be flawed to the point of identifying the wrong person. It is not hard to see that God’s testimony is greater than our own. And yet, the testimony of God is given to us through human beings. We trust and believe that God has inspired men and women of old to give His testimony in the form of the God’s Holy Testimonies, Old and New.


When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, the story says that he carried with him the testimony! When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God” (Exodus 34:29).


The Psalms give testimony to God’s testimony:

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7).


The testimony of Psalm 19 is that God’s word is God’s testimony.


Jesus gives this testimony about God’s testimony:

36But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 37And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life (John 5:36-40).


God’s testimony is that which is revealed in Jesus Christ. He is our testimony and when He has touched our lives so deeply, it is at a depth that transforms our lives and we cannot help but tell it.




  • The Testimony Within (1 John 5:10)



10Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.


The testimony is in us, we just have to find ways to get it out! As believers, God has written the testimony on our hearts. Moses and Paul both testify to God’s testimony in our hearts.


11“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it (Deut. 30:11-14).


Paul quotes this passage again in Romans 10:5-8, For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim).


It is the simple testimony of what God has done in your life. Not what he has done for anyone else, but in the story that only you can tell. I liken this to people who have difficulty believing in themselves with a talent or skill. They need lots of encouragement to share that talent with the world. We need encouragement as well, to “go tell it on the mountain”. We need God’s courage and faith to recognize how God has given us a voice. That voice may come in actual words or in actions. The gospel can be shared in speech or art or gifts or skills. We never know what God may use to touch the heart of the lost.



  • The Testimony of Life (1 John 5:11)



11And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.


I read about a defense lawyer who phrased his examination of a witness in this way, “I want you to tell the truth as you know it.” This is what we do as Christians, we tell the truth as we know it, but our truth is from God. It is the gospel truth and it is our truth, the truth as it has been revealed to us in the Holy Word.

The testimony each of us also tell is that which is uniquely ours. I remember when I first became a Christian I would hear people talk about “giving their testimony”. I was intimidated about that at first, because I did not think that my testimony was worth telling. We have all probably heard about testimonies that tell miraculous stories that greatly inspire others. If we think our testimony is nothing special, we may be reluctant to tell it. But every single testimony that reveals that Jesus Christ has saved us from sin and death is a special, miraculous testimony because testimonies are not primarily about us, but about the One who has given us life.


The Christian life is an on-going testimony because we are under God’s subpoena, called to the “courtrooms” of banks, grocery stores, golf courses, and family gatherings. We give our testimony whenever opportunity arises.


This is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in the Son (1 John 5:11).


God gave…it is a gift, nothing that we have done, but God’s gift to us.

Eternal life…it is a gift given for eternity and yet it begins in this life.

In the Son…the only way we can know this life is in Jesus Christ.


The testimony is simple. The Spirit works the testimony into the heart of the hearers. This is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in the Son. Take a look in your bulletin and read that verse with me.

This is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in the Son.


There are many summaries of the gospel in the New Testament. John 3:16 comes to mind. Or we might consider Jesus’ first sermon, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matt. 4:17). Sometimes folks will find the scripture that works best in their personal experience or is a favorite that speaks to their life.




  • The Testimony of Assurance (1 John 5:12-13)



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, that you may know that you have eternal life.


What we know from living in Christ and Christ living in us is life, true life, abundant life. John says it this way: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12). What then do people have who do not know Christ? All they have is existence, but not life, not the life God intends for his own. They do not know life, they do not know Jesus who is life and came to give us life in abundance (John 10:10).

I can still recall life without Christ, mere existence, breathing everyday – but without purpose, without depth and meaning, just existing and going through the motions. Such a life gives no thought to God or Christ, but simply moves from one thing to the next. What I found, and what many eventually find, is that there is more than mere existence. The world offers plenty of false promises to fill the void, but none of it satisfies. In the end there is nothing of worth to the vanities of the world.


Jesus takes it one step further to say that those who do not know him not only do not have life, but they stand condemned.


John 3:16-21

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”


Today we are offered everything under the sun as life giving promises: drugs that will cure your every need, entertainment to soothe your soul, that special car to excite your senses, sensual pleasures to fulfill your life, the perfect mate through various dating services, instant credit so we might have our every desire! But none of it gives life. Most of the things of this world take our life, sap our energy, and leave us in despair. We might call the worldly news “fake news”. Such a popular phrase these days! That news has no life, for there is no life without Jesus Christ! The irony of it all is that we must die in order to live! We die to the world, to sin, to the lure of life outside of Christ; we die to ourselves so that we may live to Christ.

The testimony we have for the world is that God gives life. In our hectic world we have the good news that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in the Son. This is the testimony we must share. It is the testimony that gives us full confidence in God’s promise of life eternal. Amen.