The witness of men to the Gospel may be valuable, if its doctrines are purely taught, and the ordinances rightly administered. But the testimony of men is always a shaky foundation upon which to build our faith. In reality, man’s testimony only has weight insofar as it corresponds to the doctrine of God’s word. The testimony of God is far greater. We have just described the testimony of God, as it relates to the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit in regeneration and sanctification, and of the blood of Christ as regards our guilt and the purifying of our consciences. But all of this is connected to the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel, which involve Jesus Christ in His sacred person and His glorious work. John would forever be pointing us back to Christ, in Whom alone salvation is found. We must believe that He alone is God’s Messiah, and that He is uniquely God’s only begotten Son, of one essence with the Father. We must believe that only through His blood may our sins be forgiven. This is the witness of God regarding His Son, which all men must believe if they would be saved. Upon believing, we are sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, Who is the witness within us that we truly are the children of God.
“Woe unto those that call evil good, and good evil!” These words from Isaiah 5:20 are God’s declaration to the Supreme Court of the United States after they affirmed that homosexual marriage is a positive good, thereby intimating that those who oppose it are homophobic bigots whose voices ought to have no place in society. America has become Sodom, and we may fully expect the enemy to turn up the heat on God’s people as time progresses. This message seeks to explain clearly why homosexuality is so destructive to mind and body, and urge Christians not to compromise on standing against it as an outrageous sin against nature and against God. I conclude by urging Christians to consider the implications concerning imprecatory prayer, preparation for persecution, and desiring the return of Christ.
Along with these three that bear record in heaven, there are three also which bear witness in earth: the spirit, the water, and the blood. “These three,” John concludes, “agree in one.” This last of these three consecutive difficult verses is perhaps the hardest of all to interpret. Most dubious of all is whether the “spirit” should be capitalized, to refer to the Holy Spirit, or if it refers to Gospel doctrine, which is sometimes referred to as “spirit,” or to the spirit of the regenerate man. Without performing an in-depth study of what can be a very controversial issue, it appears to me that John is directing our minds to the cleansing power at operation in the work of salvation. When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, He said that men must be born “of water and of the Spirit.” Many have tried to force “water” there to mean baptism, even though baptism is completely foreign to the entire context. Rather, it refers to the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. This is confirmed, not only by the fact that very many Old Testament prophecies describe the work of the Spirit under the similes of the cleansing and fructifying agency of water, but also by Paul’s words to Titus, when he spoke of “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” In the act of regeneration, the Holy Spirit cleanses away the filth which contaminates our spirits, and renews us so that we now have pure desires to live for God, which is a desire that was entirely absent beforehand.
Thus, I take John to be speaking of three different types of cleansing here. The Holy Spirit is the true Vicar of Christ on earth, having been sent by the Father and the Son to take up residence within the people of God. First, He regenerates them by His sovereign power, bringing us out of darkness and into the light. This is purely the work of God’s Spirit, and is done without the cooperation or permission of men, who are in themselves spiritually dead until they are raised up to newness of life.
“The water,” then, would describe precisely the same thing as Jesus spoke of to Nicodemus. The Holy Spirit not only regenerates us, making us alive to God, but He cleanses us from all our filthiness and all our idols, just as Ezekiel prophesied. He delivers us from slavery to Satan, from the dominion of the flesh, from subjection to the opinions of men, and liberates us to walk in the purity and holiness enjoined by the Word of God.
All this is efficacious because of “the blood.” The blood of Christ is the ground of our forgiveness. Regeneration would be a meaningless concept if God did not accept our persons, based upon the blood atonement of His dear Son. He cleanses our record, so that God no longer sees our sin, but sees Christ’s righteousness, and accepts us in His person. He purges our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. His blood ratifies the New Covenant, so that now the law is written upon our hearts, and our sins and iniquities are remembered no more. These three cleansings, then, agree in one, and combined together achieve the glorious salvation of which all God’s elect are partakers.
Now follows the so-called “Johannine comma,” which heretics and liberal scholars have long attempted to excise from the biblical text. The reason is obvious: 1st John 5:7 is the plainest Trinitarian formula to be found in all the Bible. I would hasten to add that this sacred mystery of a trinity of persons in the one Godhead can be proven apart from this passage; yet that is no reason why this one should be discarded. This verse can be traced back to very early ages, and it has been shown by some that the Greek scholar Constantine Simonides, who claimed to be the author of the Codex Sinaiticus, identified a document containing this verse as belonging to the 1st century, which should have been just a few years after John wrote it. At any rate, if we accept the Textus Receptus as the true and stable Word of God, then we should receive this verse as part of the inspired record.
Throughout this epistle, John has proven his belief in the Trinity, by ascribing divine power and activities to the Father, then to the Son, and then again to the Holy Ghost. Here He speaks of these three sacred persons “bearing record in heaven.” I suppose John means by this that Father, Son, and Spirit together, bear record to the truth of the Gospel. They testify to the efficacy of Christ’s blood, and secure the fulfillment of the divine promises to all those who believe them.
The three who bear record are “the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost.” The Father is, as some have called Him, “the fountain of deity,” always put in the first place whenever a Trinitarian formula is delivered in the sacred writings. It is He Who chose a people, ordained the means by which they should be saved, and committed the outworking of His purpose of salvation to His Son. God’s only begotten Son is often called in John’s writings “the Word,” showing that He is the expression of the mind, will, and purposes of His Father. He is, as Paul puts it, “the image of the invisible God.” Everything that the Father is, is reflected in Jesus Christ, His eternal and well-beloved Son. The Word is of the same character, attributes, and essence as the Father. And likewise is the Holy Ghost clothed with all the trappings of deity, being eternal, immutable, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. “And these three are one.” They are three distinct persons, to be certain. Yet these persons together compose but one God. They are of the same essence, of the same mind, always working in absolutely perfect harmony to the same purposes. Truly, “this is a great mystery,” yet it is a divinely revealed mystery, and therefore is to be received with all humility of mind. We subscribe to this glorious mystery of the Trinity each time we baptize a new believer in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. We confess our belief in this wonderful doctrine each time we repeat Paul’s benediction from II Corinthians 13:14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all.” We believe that this doctrine is a vital element in the outworking of our salvation, for each divine person plays an indispensable role in the outworking of redemption. It is the Father Who chooses us to salvation, and appoints the means by which we should be saved. It is the Word Who is made flesh, submits Himself entirely to the law, makes an atonement by His bloodshedding and death, and then is raised again for our justification. It is the Spirit Who quickens those who were once dead in trespasses and sins, bringing them out of a state of death into a state of life, and empowering them to walk with God. Remove any of these elements, and we have no salvation at all. Therefore, all sound Christians subscribe wholeheartedly to John’s dogma, that the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, are one God in three persons.
Christ received an indignant response when He demanded of His enemies, “Why go ye about to kill Me?” The common people thought such an accusation was madness, not being privy to the murderous designs of their leaders. But Christ knew the hearts of all men, and the subsequent events would show that He knew whereof He spoke. This message seeks to explain why the people were so incredulous about Jesus asking such a question, and also the “one work” which had made all men to marvel, mentioned in verse 21.
As usual, Patrick Buchanan does an excellent job summing up what is really going on with all this flap over the Confederate flag: it is cultural cleansing, an all-out assault on a way of life of an entire people, their beliefs, customs, and heritage. This is what happens when Marxists are in control. The very names listed who are calling for a ban on the Confederate flag only proves more conclusively to me the virtue and honor of the flag, under which men fought and died for independence, and the Southern way of life, against Lincoln’s brand of federal tyranny. When America embraces the rainbow flag and tears down the Confederate flag, we know we are living in a moral universe turned upside down.
“The parties in this conflict are not merely Abolitionists and Slaveholders; they are Atheists, Socialists, Communists, Red Republicans, Jacobins on the one side, and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other. In one word, the world is the battle ground, Christianity and Atheism the combatants, and the progress of humanity the stake.” James Henley Thornwell, Southern Presbyterian minister and theologian
“Every man should endeavor to understand the meaning of subjugation before it is too late… It means the history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy; that our youth will be trained by Northern schoolteachers; will learn from Northern school books their version of the war; will be impressed by the influences of history and education to regard our gallant dead as traitors, and our maimed veterans as fit objects for derision… It is said slavery is all we are fighting for, and if we give it up we give up all. Even if this were true, which we deny, slavery is not all our enemies are fighting for. It is merely the pretense to establish sectional superiority and a more centralized form of government, and to deprive us of our rights and liberties.” General Patrick Cleburne, author of a plan to arm the slaves and use them as soldiers in exchange for their freedom; killed at the head of his troops assaulting the Union defenses at Franklin, Tennessee