Tuesday, May 18, 2010

When God Testifies – Guest Writer, Emilio Ramos

We have all seen the scenes from films depicting a powerful courtroom exchange usually climaxing on the testimony of some eyewitness who has been brought in to testify. But what happens when God gives His testimony? We would expect for miraculous and spectacular things to take place. We would expect for an inerrant witness that is totally free from error, in other words, there would be no flaws in the witness of God.

Scripture testifies that God has never left Himself without a witness (Acts 14.17). 1 John 5.6-9 concentrates on God’s testimony regarding His Son. According to John, God has given a threefold witness to the coming of the Son. “The Spirit and the water and the blood…” v.7. There is significant theological debate regarding the exact meaning of “the water and the blood” although most would accept “blood” to refer to the cross. The best interpretation regarding the significance of “water” seems to point in the direction of Jesus’ baptism. This view would make sense especially in light of the backdrop of incipient forms of Gnosticism which seems to be what John is grappling with the letter of first John.

If we accept this, i.e. the Spirit, the water [Jesus’ baptism], and the blood [Jesus’ crucifixion], we have a threefold witness which John says “are in agreement” v.8. The Spirit who is Biblically the Divine Revelator of God’s truth and word, especially in Johannine theology, is often seen testifying regarding the truth of Christ,

John 14:16–17 16 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”
John 15:26 26 “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,”
John 16:13 13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”

During Jesus’ baptism God certainly testified to His Son’s identity and ministry.
In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus appears on the scene to be baptized by John (Mt. 3.13); by proclaiming a baptism of repentance, John the Baptist was preparing Israel’s heart for its Messiah (Mt. 3.11; Mk. 1.4; Lk. 3.3; Acts 13.24; 19.4); and it was at John’s baptism that John deferred to Christ, called attention to Christ, handed over His disciples to follow Christ and thus gave Christ preeminence saying “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1.29) and again testified saying, “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” (v.34).

In addition to this God Himself spoke powerfully from heaven concerning His Son,
Matthew 3:15–17 15 “But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him. 16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

Yet it was at the cross where God gave further testimony regarding His Son’s “blood”. In Matthew’s gospel, Scripture records that during Jesus’ crucifixion “darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour” signifying God having forsaken the Son as sin was imputed to Him (Mt. 27.45). When Jesus shed His sovereign blood for the sin of His people the veil was torn granting all access to God’s presence - who would enter through that blood – then the earth shook, and the tombs of the saints where opened, and those who were raised went through the holy city and were amazingly seen by many (Mt. 27.51-53).

Immediately following these verses Matthew records the words of a Roman centurion,
Matthew 27:54 54 Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

To this verse John MacArthur adds this commentary,
“So overwhelming was God’s miraculous testimony to Jesus that a battle-hardened Roman centurion who witnessed it cried out in terror, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Mt. 27.54; cf. Mk. 15.39). (MacArthur; John MacArthur New Testament 1-3 John, p.194).

When God testifies, creation itself is altered, people come to life from among the dead, believers are assured, and the unbeliever is left awestruck and terrified. When the unbeliever sees all the evidence that God has furnished, he has only the option of suppressing the truth of God’s witness in unrighteousness (Rom. 1.18). He is left totally dependent on the Sovereign Spirit of God to illuminate his heart to these truths and embrace them by faith so as to be saved. The believer is left assured and the unbeliever is left without excuse!


Azou said...

So when is the next zombie horde via God? Shambling corpses would be proof of something supernatural at work, for sure.

A simple resurrection would also be good evidence. Need to pencil one in here shortly because that last one ain't working like it use to. Might have something to do with it being two thousand years ago. Might stick better this time, what with the Youtube and all.

Heath The Blogless said...

Thanks Emilio, Excellent Article.

Heath The Blogless said...

@ Azou
I think you are mistaken the fact that people still believe it 2 thousand years later is proof that it is working.
Even with Youtube people will still be sceptical, take for instance the moon landing less than 50 years ago and people still doubt video and all.
God has given us all we need to come to him but like Emilio pointed out some will always suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

Azou said...

Oh c'mon, Heath. There are six billion people on this planet and you can't even claim that a plurality believe in the Christian deity.

If one thing these blogs display, it's that one convert makes all the difference, so I'm sorry if I find your excuse that not EVERYONE will be convinced a bit lame.

Again, maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps God is very powerful but not all-powerful. I won't try to strawman him, but from what I've heard he's omnipotent and does not want us to go to Hell. So why did the miracles dry up? Why can't we just get God to come down here and settle things?

He can't even get a plurality, much less a majority, to even believe he exists. Or are you of the belief that we all know God exists but just lie about it? That's a pretty convenient line, ain't it?

Heath The Blogless said...

For one thing you really don't want God to come down here and settle, He said He will but is holding off. His reasons are His. I would not be so arrogant to claim to know exactly why and how he does what he does. But we do have all that we need. You claim to want more but why would God do what you want, your or my will does not influence God in his decisions, If they did God would not be God.
Read Romans 1 it explains Gods position pretty well on this issue. At the end of the day it does not mater what I think and I will not be able make you believe in God. If I could convince you someone could convince you otherwise. You are wasting your time if you are trying to talk people out of Christianity. Because if they are truly born again Christians God is in control of there lives shaping them and transforming them how he wants them, and like I said before God is not moved by the will of man.

Azou said...

Heath, I am going off two assumptions. Correct me if I'm wrong, as I claim no expertise in theology of any kind. Yet this is what I commonly hear:

1. God is omnipotent. He created the universe and thus must be all-powerful.

2. God does not want us to go to Hell. This is shown, to some degree, by the sacrifice of Jesus.

This is not a request: I don't God exists. But, logically, if God really didn't want us to burn forever and coming to talk to humanity is a trifle...He should have done it by now.

It's clear the current methodology is not working, as you can only claim at most a fifth of the population (and then there's false converts to weed out!).

I'm not making a demand, I am asking a question: why doesn't an all-powerful being that claims to be the epitome and essence of morality take the path of least resistance to save creation from eternal torment?

Beyond the lack of evidence, your religion has a literally perfect character as the head honcho. This makes all obstacles very meaningless unless we consider your God to be amoral, uncaring antagonistic towards us. None of which are worth glorifying.

If your God does, in fact, have limitations it'd make the whole thing a bit easier to swallow.

Heath The Blogless said...

I see your problem now, you have a misconception of the nature of God. Your two statements are true but it does not show the full character of God. You are right he is all powerful, and yes he does not want people to go to hell. But he also wants justice to be done. Jesus did not come to save us just from hell but also from the very wrath of God himself. God has made it clear that while he has perfect Love, part of that Love is perfect wrath towards all those that do wrong. These are not easy topics to explain in short blog posts, but the more you get to know about the character and nature of God the more it makes sense. As people we have this notion that we deserve rights and good things to happen to us, this tends to warp our view of God. We tend to focus on attributes of God that make us feel all warm and fuzzy and minimize the attributes that make us fear him and hold him in absolute awe. As the Psalmists say the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
God does everything he does for his good pleasure, but he has been gracious enough to give us some of that pleasure, he owes us nothing and gives us what we need to know that he exists. He does not always give us what we would like, and the Bible teaches that everyone will turn away from God and go his own way, but yet God in his grace will save those who receive the gift of life through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
There is a great book that goes into the attributes of God by A.W Tozer called the attributes of God. You can download it for free from the web or if you go to sermon audio I think they have it as an mp3.
If you would really like to know what the God of the Bible is like then read that or better still read through the Bible, but the first book might be a bit easier.

As for you point about the gospel not working, the bible tells us that the gospel will have two main effects the first is that people will come to Christ in repentance and faith. The second that people will see it as foolishness and it will harden their hearts against God.

Nohm said...

"When God testifies, creation itself is altered, people come to life from among the dead, believers are assured, and the unbeliever is left awestruck and terrified. When the unbeliever sees all the evidence that God has furnished..."

Yep, still waiting to see "all the evidence that God has furnished".

Any ideas, anyone?

Waiting to be left awestruck and terrified,


Fish with Trish said...

Heath, thanks for insightful comments and glad you enjoyed Emilio's article.