TAKE your Bible, and turn to 1John v,9-12. May I ask you to read this passage aloud, verse by verse? In order to believe, you want to know how you are to believe, whom you are to believe, what you are to believe, when you are to believe, what is the sin of not believing, and what you are to get by believing. Perhaps in these verse, of all others in the Bible, this all-important subject of faith is stated in terms the most simple and unmistakable.
"If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater."
To "receive the witness of men," is to believe their testimony, (the old English words, witness, and testimony, being the same.) To "receive the witness of God," is to believe his testimony. It is precisely the same act of the mind which receives both, it is believing what has been said. In other words, if you want a definition of faith in its simplest form, it is "giving God credit for what he says;" receiving his testimony as true; believing what he has declared; taking him at his word! See Christ's definition. John v,24.
Whose testimony is the best, or greatest?
God's, of course, for he cannot lie! 1Sam.xv,29.
Which of the two, then, ought it to be the easiest to believe?
It ought to be, though I never thought of it just in that light before, easiest to believe God.
Read now the remainder of the verse.
"For this is the witness of God, which he hath testified of his Son."
Of whom has God given the testimony he wishes you to believe?
Of his Son, Jesus Christ.
So far, then, all is plain. Faith is believing what God says; believing what God says about his Son. This you can believe; this you ought to believe. But do you believe it?
How am I to know whether I believe it or not?
The next verse will tell you.
"He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself."
The belief in the testimony of God concerning his Son, leading naturally, if not of necessity, to a belief or trust in the Son himself, simultaneously with this believing in the Son of God, the Holy Spirit enters the heart along with this truth thus received, and begins to bear witness there. 1John v,6; Rom.viii,16; Gal.iii,2. What this witness of the Spirit is, you can only learn by experience. If you have it, you will know and feel it. If, as still seems to be the case, you have it not, it cannot be explained in advance. This is one motive for believing; it appeals to your hopes; but in the last clause of the verse there is another motive, and one that appeals very strongly to your fears. Read on.
"He that believeth not God hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son."
Up to this moment, probably, you have never learned that the greatest of all your sins is unbelief. Think of it in reference to God. "It makes him a liar!" It insults him on the throne, and would bring him down to a level with Satan! Think of it in reference to yourself. While it lasts, it binds the guilt of all other sins upon you! For every drop of sin in the life, what an ocean of sin in the heart does this expression reveal, "He that believeth not God hath made him a liar!" Is it not the first of your sins of which to be convinced, for which to be sorry, the very first to be confessed and forsaken? John xvi,9; 1John iii,23.
Hoping that such is your determination, let me ask you now to read the 11th verse.
"And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son."
There are few verses in the Bible on which more souls have anchored their hopes for eternity than this. God grant that you may do the same! Every thought that it contains is infinitely precious. Let us take them, therefore, one by one.
What has God given?
Life, life eternal!
To whom has he given it?
Who are meant by "us?" Every one but you and I?
No, it means us both. 1John ii,3; 1Cor.xv,1-4.
Suppose I draw a pencil-mark around the word, us, and you substitute, me, or your own name if you will, how would it then read?
"And this is the record, that God hath given to (me) eternal life."
There is such a thing, then, as eternal life; eternal life for you, already given, or provided for you by God? 1John ii,25. Where is it to be found?
And this life is in his Son.
"He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."
Christ is God's first gift, with or for the sake of whom he bestows all others. Accept Christ as he is offered, and with him you will freely receive all that is in him!
Yes, my dear friend, when God's Lamb was offered on Calvary as the one great sacrifice for sin, [John i,29,] when God's own and only Son hung dying upon the cross, our sins upon him, our guilt between him and his Father in heaven, he felt as deep a pang for you, as for any other sinner. It is not too much to suppose that his omniscient eye looked even to you, and that so to speak, he said within himself, "I die for him; my blood is shed for him; his sins are laid upon me; and by my stripes, if he will, he may be healed!" O, how near, how very near, does such a thought bring the cross to our souls! and the Crucified One almost within sight and hearing! Even while I speak, are you turning your back upon this sinful world? Leaving earthly things behind? Yielding as you are drawn by the Holy Spirit? Even now, do you cast yourself at the foot of that cross, beneath those out-stretched hands, those bleeding feet, that wounded side, and thank the Saviour that he died, and died for you? Do you say, just as really as though he were visibly present, and you addressed him personally, Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief! I accept the atonement thou hast provided, I take thee as the only Mediator between me and my offended Father! I call thee my Saviour, mine!
"Here, Lord, I give myself away,
'Tis all that I can do."
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