1 John 5:10
God’s Testimony concerning His Son—In Us
We read a few days ago, “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit” (4:13). Today, we read, “Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself.” Here is a powerful statement about our faith in God which is God’s gift unto us. It is something that we cannot explain to the unregenerate man because “the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). This is why witnessing to others is best done by referring not to our experience of faith but to Christ’s work on behalf of sinners.
The inward testimony of the Spirit was one of the great rediscoveries of the faith by Reformers such as John Calvin. Yes, we need the Church and the sacraments and we need to examine and prove ourselves. Indeed, we must have these things for the Church is the Bride of Christ and must never be seen as optional, for growing in grace is not optional. However, the ultimate proof for the believer that he is a child of God will ever be the testimony of the Holy Spirit within. This is the reason why we believe in the perseverance of the saints to the end, for the one in whom God has placed His Spirit will never leave that one, though the Spirit may be grieved by that one’s straying into sin. But then the Spirit will “spank” that person with such conviction to make him so miserable that he returns with tears and pleas for mercy. Yes, the believer in Jesus Christ believes because the Spirit has birthed him anew and is now his Helper who speaks to him that word of comfort or conviction, of encouragement and peace, depending on the believer’s need.
But it is the Spirit’s presence within that convinces us that we are children of God by redemption. The world does not accept this because the world has not the Spirit. So the unbeliever, the man without the Spirit within, cannot and will not believe God’s testimony concerning His Son, the testimony which John has declared: That Jesus Christ is God’s Son who came in the flesh to take God’s wrath upon himself for our salvation. This is not a matter of faith in the same way that one may believe that George Washington was the first President of the United Sates; this is a matter of faith that receives God’s testimony that Christ is God’s only-begotten Son of the same nature as Himself but who in the fullness of time came down from heaven and was born of a virgin to take man’s sins upon himself. Faith in this testimony is a work of God within and so is miraculous. And so the believer has the testimony within himself—from the Spirit within.