3… That’s the magic number

/// Guest blog from David Anderson ///

Pithy Pearls Oct 10 2012
Study on 1 John 5:6-12

‘3… That’s the magic number’

The saying goes that ‘3 is the magic number’, and let’s be honest, a lot of awesome things come in threes (the Trinity, the three musketeers, and the blind mice to name a few). It just seems that idea of a triplet or 3 is somewhat special.

Well today we learnt of another triplet, one which would completely put the blind mice to shame. The water, the blood and the Spirit. #BOOM

1 John 5:6-12

6 This is he who came by water and blood-Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
7 For there are three that testify:
8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.
9 If 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.
10 Whoever 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.
11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Upon first read you end up thinking “what is this about?!” But in actual fact, if we can get a firm understanding and somehow catch hold of these verses, I assure you that your faith will go up a level. It’ll be as if your faith muscles have grown after a massive workout! #FaithBiceps
It will unleash an understanding within you that you’ve never even thought was a possibility, and the words ‘water, blood and Spirit’ will no longer be just a phrase made up of words.
In the passage, John is contextualising Jesus as the one who came by BOTH water AND blood. The fact it’s both is extremely important. They complement each other, and the third part, the Spirit, is the one who testifies the truth. (As stated in scripture, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” John 16:13)

The Spirit doesn’t just bring truth, He is the manifestation of truth. It’s like the way God doesn’t only bring an incomprehensible, undeniable love, but that God IS love.
It’s like this with the Spirit and truth. And though the spirit says ‘I testify this is the truth; Jesus is everything that He claims he is!’, it is not just the Spirit but ALL 3 things that testify this. It is as if each of the 3, the water, blood and Spirit, stand up in front of all creation and say ‘Aye!’ in agreement that Jesus is exactly who He says He is.
John is coming across in such a way that he is effectively saying. ‘I’ve seen it all, I had my head on His chest, I saw Him hanging there on the cross… Yet the testimony of God is even greater!’
God’s testimony is the 3 things mentioned. And these are even greater than any man’s firsthand account of events. There is a massive statement in the passage in v10 that whoever believes in the son of God holds these 3 things. How amazing is that! Has the light bulb gone off? Even though most of us would say that we agree that Jesus is who He says He is, and then give no reason why, John is saying that the reason we feel this way is because this is God in us, and God’s testimony.

In Jewish law (and what stood during John’s lifetime) it was stated that when 3 witnesses agreed on anything it was enough to establish truth (Deut 19:15). John is using these 3 things in this way, to state that God’s testimony being a three, and all agreeing with each other, is enough in itself to say its true.

John isn’t completely clear in what context he speaks of each; it’s as though he’s intentionally given us a mystery to draw us into the mystery.
What is the water? The spear to Jesus’ side which drew blood and water? Or his baptism? John the baptist: “I baptise you with water (alone), but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit”. Is this what John is referring to when he says, “not by the water only”? (v6).
In fact, John refers to water a lot throughout his gospel e.g. water into wine, Jesus walking on water, the woman at the well (Jesus: “whoever drinks the water I will give to you will never thirst again”).
It could refer to any of these, all of these, and/or another thing.
One important thing we can see though is the link with water and cleansing. ‘Baptism’ existed even before John the Baptist began to baptise people. Even though it wasn’t referred to as ‘baptism’, as this comes from the Greek ‘baptizo‘, but people did fully understand the importance of ritual cleansing in order to come before God, demonstrated by their going to the temple and entering pools of water to get ‘cleansed’.
Interestingly, even the water in the water jars which was miraculously turned into wine was water for ritual cleansing, and specifically ‘Jewish’ ritual cleansing (John 2:6).

It is as if John is writing in the hope that we will ‘join the dots’ from history’s pages and realise it relates to ‘cleansing’, and in turn to holiness. Even in John 3, Jesus says to Nicodemus, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” John 3:5
There is a clear reference here, between two Jewish Rabbis, to Ezekiel 36, right out of the pages of Jewish history and their prophets.
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses” v25
“I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.” v26

The blood is also extremely important, in fact no words can define how important Jesus’ blood is. In 1 John 1:7 it is written, “and the blood of Jesus…cleanses us of ALL sin.”
That isn’t not just some sin, or what we feel are our worst sins, or the ones we don’t want people to know about, but it boldly and clearly says “cleanses us of ALL sins.”
How precious is the blood! And though one of the purposes of the blood is, like water, to cleanse us of sin, this shows us that the importance placed upon the blood gives the impression very strongly that the water of baptism isn’t sufficient on its own to cleanse us of sin, but water AND the blood of Jesus are sufficient.

Now for the final part of the triplet, the Spirit. The Spirit could also be referred to as ‘the Sanctifier’. Sanctification refers to ‘making holy’, by separating ourselves from ourselves; the new self from the old self – like shedding old skin. We are made new and holy before God, free from past sin, as well as current and future sin. Wow!
Therefore, like the water and blood, the Spirit also points us to cleansing. Did I hear someone say ‘SNAP!’
All three are a vital combination of beauty, given to us for total sanctification before our sinless, all-Holy God. I also believe it is no coincidence that I wrote a song called ‘Sanctified by love‘ just two nights ago! God has obviously been working in my heart in the background.

So, do we really understand why we get baptised? Or do we do it to tick a box?
It is fitting for us to be baptised if we are Christians as it is something that’s very important. It is an act of cleansing of the flesh and the body by water. It is indeed symbolism as Jesus set the example, and even though he was sinless, he did it anyway to fulfil all righteousness before His father. Oh, and notice, soon after, the Spirit came down like a dove. Coincidence? I think not!
But it’s more than just symbolism.

The method we use to be cleansed before God may be as simple as a little prayer, such as ‘Lord please cleanse me’. In practise, that would be enough; I am sure God would see our hearts and we would be cleansed.
But, the amazing thing is seeing BOTH the symbolism of partaking in communion and being baptised, AND what goes on in the spiritual realms when we do so. Even that moment you become a Christian, there is something the eyes do not see. As well as a mass of angels in heaven dancing, our worldly eyes cannot see the amazing and unimaginable things happening to our spirit. The moment you commit yourself to God, as you live , there and then, outside of time and space you are nailed to the cross with Jesus and then you rise from the dead with Jesus! (Gal 2:20)
This is something that is continual like a beautiful blanket and presence over you, and around you, enfolding you. Even as you eat your Cheerios, spiritually you are connected to Jesus and the Father by the fact you are intertwined with Jesus into these historical events that saved humanity. It’s a mystery that our human minds cannot understand! The mystery has been revealed and Christ is in you! It is something we have to believe by faith, and have faith in, as our eyes are unable picture it. They are ‘unspeakable’ things. It’s a phenomenon, an amazing, mighty phenomenon!

In baptism you are uniting with Christ when he was baptised; His baptism, and like Jesus you are before God, you and Him alone. Through communion the blood and his body broken are what spiritually cleanse and sanctify you.
Isn’t that an amazing picture? It is as though you are at the feet of Jesus, and as He’s hanging on a cross looking down on you with grace, the blood that runs down the cross falls onto the ground and runs to grace the top of one of your fingers, just a speck on your finger tip, and this amazing precious blood washes away every unholy, disgusting sin that you have and will ever commit. You’re not just eating a piece of bread and drinking wine as you see with earthly eyes; it’s simultaneously a spiritual reality. THAT is how precious our Saviour’s blood is.

It doesn’t matter how we take part on earth in relation to denomination; the fact that we partake in these two things physically and spiritually is what’s important. And as we do, though our earthly eyes don’t see much going on, in the spiritual realm there’s an explosion of grace. We are cleansed and made holy, like Jesus, and we must have faith to know that this happens!

‘For by grace you have been saved through faith.’ Eph 2:8

So, don’t miss out on this amazing gift God has given us, to shake off the bits of grime and dirt that the world throws to cling to us.
It’s like Cilit Bang for our Godly white robes!

Cilit bang; Free (No cash needed)
Supplier: Jesus
Distributed by: John, through scripture
Ingredients: water, blood and the Spirit

Cilit bang; although you may not see immediate effects with your eyes, expect a BANG in the spiritual realms!

David Anderson