HE THREE WITNESSES – THE SPIRIT, THE WATER AND THE BLOOD
By B.H. Carroll
This past week I received a communication from a prominent lawyer in Texas who had just been reading his Bible in his office. He asked me for an interpretation of the passage of Scripture upon which it is my purpose to preach today. He said he was puzzled by it. He did not understand what it meant. As preaching ought to be along practical lines, whenever you can find that one thoughtful person is engaged in the study of a passage of Scripture and wants information upon its import, it is quite probable that in the land there are others whose minds are perplexed upon the same point, and who would be gratified to have their difficulties removed.
This is the passage of Scripture, the first letter of John, fifth chapter, and from the sixth to the tenth verses: “This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth…. And there are three that bear witness…, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater : for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.”
After stating the passage of Scripture he asked me to expound two points :
(1) What is meant by His coming by water and blood?
(2) Who are the two witnesses whose testimony harmonizes with the testimony of the Spirit? “There are three that bear witness…, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood.”
It is quite a natural thing for a lawyer to be concerned upon a question of evidence, and upon the character of witnesses who give evidence, and upon the subject-matter of that testimony, and its value when given. He saw at once that if this conjoint and harmonious testimony of three witnesses is to be of particular value to us, we ought to know who the witnesses are, and their character. We ought to know to what point their testimony conspires, upon which it unites, and then the value of the testimony to us.
I replied to him that our knowledge of Jesus Christ is derived from testimony ; that there are many ways of obtaining knowledge, but upon certain subjects we have no way of obtaining information except upon evidence; in other words, that man, by searching, cannot find out God; and it is a fact that so far as our methods of investigation are concerned, God or any revelation of Him is unknown to us, and that if we obtain any information about Him it must be by testimony.
On this account, the Apostle Paul in writing to the Corinthians says, “I determined to know nothing among you but the testimony of God,” that is, “I lay aside all excellency of human speech or of human reason. I deal not with the philosophies of the world, nor with the inquiries which have been created by these philosophers. I confine my preaching to the testimony of God.” If we are to know anything about God, it is because He has borne witness. He has given us information.
This text, then, refers to One who came by water and blood, and not by water only, but by water and blood, and the first question to be answered is, What is meant by the expression, “He came by water”? That is one of the questions that puzzled this lawyer. “He came by water.”
I will not take up your time rehearsing the many interpretations that have been given by wild theorists upon this subject, but will at once call your attention to the scriptural answer to this question: How did Jesus “come by water”? The word “came” is equivalent in meaning to was manifested. Jesus Christ was manifested to be the Son of God by water, and He was manifested to be the Son of God by blood. How then was He manifested to be the Son of God by water?
In the first chapter of John’s Gospel, John the Baptist explains the whole matter. He says that he was sent to baptize for this specific purpose, that in his baptizing the Son of God might be manifested, might be made known. He says that when Jesus came to him to be baptized that he did not know that He was the Son of God, but that it had been revealed to him that the Son of God was to be manifested in his baptizing, and that he would know which one of the persons baptized was the Son of God by a certain event, namely: That the Holy Spirit of God, in the form of a dove, would descend upon one whom he baptized, and that that descent of the Spirit upon the person baptized was to be a manifestation to Israel, to John, and a manifestation to both of them that this was the Son of God. And in referring to it he says, “I saw the Spirit descend upon him, and I bare record, that this is the Son of God.”
So when our text says that He came by water, there is no reasonable question of the accuracy of this answer: that the water by which He came was the water of His own baptism. While there have been some wide differences of opinion as to the manner in which Jesus Christ came by water, the scholarship of the world, among the nations of the earth, with reasonable unanimity have settled upon this meaning, that when He came by water He came by His own baptism. His baptism was His manifestation, His baptism was the initiatory step into His public work.
On that occasion a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” On that occasion the Holy Spirit of God descended upon Him and abode on Him. On that occasion as He was emerging from the waters of baptism, He prayed; and we may be reasonably certain of the thing He prayed for by the answer which came to His prayer, and that it is not irreverent to assume that His prayer was on this fashion: “Father, in the sight of men, I take my place as the substitute for men, to obey that word, to be obedient unto death, and to make expiation for the sins of man, and who will believe my report? Oh, send me divine accrediting! Give me unmistakable credentials. Let my mission be authenticated in such a way that it cannot be questioned. Empower me to do what I have engaged to do.” And there on the banks of the Jordan, as He came up out of the water, praying, the answer came: the Spirit descended upon Him; the voice of God from heaven announced Him to be His Son; and John, who saw it, bore witness, “This is my beloved Son.” “This is the Son of God.”
The next question is, “How did Jesus come by blood ?” That answer was prefigured in His baptism. His baptism represented a burial, which implied a previous death. It was a forecast of what was at the terminus of His public life on earth. And so we are told that when it was written in the Book, “Lo, I am come to do thy will, O God,” that He came and through the Eternal Spirit He offered Himself unto God, without spot, without blemish as a lamb slain from the foundation of the world. The Spirit bore witness at His baptism. It was through the Spirit that He made an offering of Himself unto God. The connection here of the blood is evident. John the Baptist saw its meaning, for as soon as he saw the Spirit of God resting upon Him he was not only satisfied in his own mind, “This is the Son of God,” but he was satisfied as to the purpose of the manifestation of that Son of God, for he pointed to Jesus just after baptism and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!'”
And this leads us at once to understand the controversy between John and Christ as to the propriety of the baptism of Christ. John, not understanding the matter, but knowing the purity of Christ’s life – that much he knew – and knowing from what had been testified concerning Him that He was a marvelous person, said to Jesus, “I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest thou to me?” “I am sent to baptize sinners, men who need repentance. You need no repentance. You need no baptism. Why do you ask me to baptize you?” And Jesus said, “Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness,”
What is the meaning of it? The meaning of it is this, that while Christ in His own character and in His own life and in His own person needed no repentance and no baptism, yet if He came as a Lamb to take away the sin of the world; if He came as a substitute for sinners; if He came to be made sin, though He knew no sin, then there was a propriety in His baptism. That is the explanation of it. It shows that His coming by water referred to His baptism, and that baptism prefigured His manifestation by blood. So, to paraphrase the Scripture, suppose we read it this way: This is He that was manifested to be the Son of God through His baptism and His sacrificial death.”
He was manifested to be the Son of God, not through His baptism only, but through His sacrificial death. So that the one who holds that the divine Logos left Jesus Christ when He was betrayed by Judas, holds and teaches an error. He came especially by blood. That is to say, He not only came through His baptism, which prefigured His sacrifice, but He came through the sacrifice which fulfilled what His baptism prefigured.
The next question propounded by the lawyer was about the three witnesses. Granting that He came or was manifested through His baptism and through His sacrificial offering, yet there are three that bear witness to the fact that He is the Son of God. Then who are the three ? The first He had no question about the Holy Spirit. He is the great witness to Jesus Christ. Our Lord Himself announced that fact, that when the Holy Spirit was come He would bear witness to Jesus, that He was the divine witness, and that the point of His testimony would be this: Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God; He is the fountain and author of eternal life.
That is the value of the testimony. He cannot be the fountain of eternal life if He be not the Son of God. If He be the Son of God, he is the fountain of eternal life. And if He be the fountain of eternal life, my faith in Him is the victory by which I overcame the world.
So we get at the value now of the testimony. The three witnesses are to prove one proposition, that Jesus is the Son of God. He is the author of eternal life. If He be the author of eternal life, my faith in Him puts me in touch with that life and I possess that life.
Now let us look at the three witnesses whose several testimonies converge to one point, that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God. The first witness is the Holy Spirit, and we may examine the occasion upon which He bore convincing testimony to the divinity and the sonship of Jesus Christ, first of all, at His baptism. What was the import of that testimony of the Spirit at the baptism of Jesus? In the sixth chapter of John, it is said, “Him hath God the Father sealed.” When did He seal Him? He sealed Him when the Holy Spirit descended and rested upon Him. What is the object of sealing ? Sealing is a mark by which ownership is expressed, and by which consecration to a certain object is avowed.
What was the object avowed by that sealing ? He was sealed as a victim. When the lambs were presented, the priest must go among them and examine them, and if any one has a spot on him he is rejected, if any one has a blemish he is rejected; but all that are acceptable, being of the right age, being of the right color, being without blemish or spot, those the priest seals, and they are set apart for sacrifice. The seal on him indicates that this particular lamb is God’s peculiar property, and that he is a devoted lamb, and that he is to die upon the altar of sacrifice, and the object of that death is expiatory.
Now the Holy Spirit of God at the baptism of Jesus sealed Him by that descent upon Him, as the accepted and approved and inspected and consecrated sacrificial and expiatory offering for the sin of the world, and John the Baptist saw it and understood it. He also, besides sealing Him, revealed Him to be the Son of God by that descent. John could not know that Jesus was the Messiah, that Jesus was to be the prophet, priest and king of Israel, as well as the sacrificial victim. John could not know it except the Holy Spirit would reveal it by that descent upon Him. So He bore witness by revealing that particular person to be the Messiah, and by sealing that particular person to be the expiatory victim.
Not only this, but He bore witness at that baptism by anointing Him to be the prophet and teacher of Israel, and therefore Jesus said Himself, referring to this matter, when He stood up in Nazareth, where He had been brought up, “The Holy Spirit is upon me because he hath anointed me.” He hath set me apart. He hath indued me with the qualification to teach authoritatively and finally the will of God concerning man. The Spirit bore witness by that anointing.
And not only that, but in the tenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, in referring to that same descent of the Spirit at the baptism of Jesus Christ, it is said that Spirit not only on that occasion anointed Him, but indued Him with power to do what the Messiah was here to do upon the earth. Power descended upon Him, and from that time, what He wrought He wrought by the authority of God.
So we see on what particular points the Spirit bore witness at that baptism. He bore sealing witness to the victim. He bore revealing witness to the person. He bore anointing witness, giving authority and credentials as the prophet of Israel. He bore induing or power-giving witness in qualification of the one selected to do the work to be performed by the selected one.
But that was at the beginning of His life. Now, how did the Spirit bear witness at the end of His life? Not only in that figure of death (for He came by water), but He came by water and blood. How did the Spirit bear witness when He manifested Himself to be the Son of God by blood ?
The answer is given to us in the letter to the Hebrews, that when an offering was to be made, that offering was to be made once for all; that it would take the place of the multitudinous and oft-repeated offerings made upon Jewish altars. This one offering was to be for the remission of sins, and the record is expressed that through the Eternal Spirit He made that offering.
So when Jesus died on the Cross, when His blood was poured out, that blood, through the Spirit bearing witness to its appropriateness and its efficacy, bearing witness to its intrinsic worth, bearing witness to its cleansing and saving power through the Spirit that offering was made.
But again, how does the Spirit bear witness? To die as His baptism prefigures, to be buried, and to stop there, meant a frustration of all His claims and purposes; but the Spirit bore witness again in His resurrection. The Apostle Paul says, “He who was put to death in the flesh was made alive by the Spirit,” and in the first chapter of the letter to the Romans, he says, “He was declared to be the Son of God, with power by his resurrection, through the Holy Spirit.” He was declared to be the Son of God through the Spirit. He was declared to be the Son of God through the Spirit at His resurrection.
What is the point upon which the testimony must converge?
The proposition is that Jesus is the Son of God.
What is the value of that proposition ?
If He be the Son of God He is the fountain of eternal life.
How, then, speaks the witness of the Spirit?
That when Jesus was cold in death, He demonstrated that this dead person was the Son of God by quickening Him, by making Him alive, by causing Him to emerge from the grave as triumphant over death in its own territory.
But I come to the last, and as I think the main point upon which the Spirit’s evidence is given concerning His Sonship; an evidence more marked than the descent of the dove; an evidence more marked than the offering up of the sacrifice through the Spirit; an evidence more marked than the display of the Spirit-power in making the dead victim live again. And what was that?
He had said, “I will rise again on the third day, and I go to my Father, and if I go to my Father, if I be exalted, if I take my seat on the throne, if I be crowned King of kings and Lord of lords, I will send you overwhelming proof that I am there, that I am empowered there, that all authority in heaven and on earth is given unto me there.”
And what was the witness ?
Why, it was the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, when the church which Jesus Christ had established and to which He had given His Commission this temple of God that had been completed, this temple that was yet without an occupant, as the tabernacle was without an occupant until the cloud descended, as the temple of Solomon was without an occupant until the cloud descended this finished church of Jesus Christ that stood empty on the day of Pentecost, the answer came in the outpouring of the Spirit, in filling that church and giving that church power to testify for Jesus Christ. And so now the Spirit bears witness that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God.
But there are three that bear witness. Let a thing be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses. Our text says that three bear witness, and there is no lack of harmony in their testimony. We are not concerned with the testimony of the Spirit except upon one point: Does it prove that Jesus is the Son of God? We are not concerned with the testimony of the water-witness except on one point: Does it agree with the Spirit’s testimony ? What is the bearing of the testimony of the water on the proposition that Jesus is the Son of God? That is all the use we have for that witness. And we put that witness on the stand and we want to know who the witness is.
It is true that Jesus came by water ; that is, the water of His baptism; but there are three that bear witness, and one of the witnesses is the water. Now, what water is referred to? Again I answer that the consensus of intelligent construction and interpretation of the Word of God is that primarily the water there means the water of Christ’s own baptism. I will refer you to a secondary and scripturally permissive meaning directly, but primarily it refers to His own baptism. His own baptism was not only a means by which He was manifested to be the Son of God, but His own baptism was constituting a witness to establish the proposition that He was the Son of God.
And do look at that baptism of Jesus and see how it bears upon the point: That He is the Son of God; He is the Author of Eternal Life; He is the object of faith by which we receive eternal life.
How does the baptism of Jesus bear witness upon that point? It does not bear witness upon any other point. There is no other way to account for His baptism.
There could be no other reason assigned why a perfectly sinless one, in His own person without spot or blemish, should be baptized at all.
We would have to support John’s objection and protest. We would have to say, “You have no need of prayers. You have no sins to be forgiven. You have no need of repentance. Why comest Thou here?” And yet, that baptism says, “Jesus of Nazareth, you must go beneath the yielding waters. Jesus of Nazareth, as marked unto death, you must go through this symbol of peril, and here on the threshold of your public work there must be a commission that can never be forgotten, that from the start you know what is ahead of you. You know the terminus of your public life. You know why you are here upon the earth. You know what must be the outcome of your life here upon the earth. Your baptism bears witness to your Sonship in this: die for sinners.” That as the Divine Substitute for sinful men you are to And His sacrifice on the Cross bears witness to that.
Let us see how that bears witness to that. We stand and look at the death of Jesus Christ and ask for an explanation of it. A good man dies not in horror. A good man dies not in shame. A good man dies not in impenetrable darkness. A good man dies not in his spirit, for spiritual death is separation from the Father. And this man cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
No martyr died that way. The drops of blood as sweat rolled not from Paul’s brow when he was beheaded. Peter gave no such symptoms of unutterable woe when he came to die. Stephen’s face was heaven-lit and glory-crowned and full of rejoicing in his martyrdom.
But this Man did not die that way. He died as a sinner dies. He died in darkness. He died under condemnation. He died separated from the Father.
There is no testimony that can be wrung from the death of Jesus Christ that does not center upon this point: He is the Son of God, as the Substitute of sinners dying.
That is the testimony of His death. And so the Spirit and the water and the blood united without any dissension of testimony, with perfect congruity of evidence, to establish the proposition that Jesus is the Son of God.
Now comes a refection of the Apostle John. He says, “If we receive the witness of men the witness of God is greater,” That is to say, You know you do receive the witness of men. You know that you count that human testimony is capable of establishing facts, and the text here furnishes us an example. Now listen to it. In King James Version it reads thus: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood.”
Now we receive the testimony of men that all that part of verses seven and eight, commencing, “There are three that bear record in heaven,” and concluding, “There are three that bear record in earth” – upon the testimony of man we reject every particle of that, as not a part of the text. It appears in the King James Version. It does not appear in the revision, and no scholar of the present time would call that a part of the Bible.
If there is one single passage in the whole Bible, according to the accepted or King James Version, upon which there is a unanimity of judgment among scholarship that it is spurious, this is the one, and upon this testimony of men we threw that out. Why do we throw it out? Well, it does not appear in the old and reliable Greek versions of the text. We bring the manuscripts into court. Scholarship introduces these witnesses, and this testimony, submitted by the power of human reason and according to the acuteness of human research and scholarship is accepted, and we reject that.
The text says: “If you receive the witness of men, now the testimony of God is greater.” So far we have spoken of objective evidence only, to the one proposition that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and we have introduced three witnesses. First, the ordinance of baptism, or rather, so far, the baptism of Jesus Christ Himself, the reason why He was baptized, and then the otherwise unaccountable death of Jesus Christ.
There stands the Cross. There flows the water. The Spirit, and the water, and the blood! By the mouth of two or three witnesses shall everything be established. They say that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, is the Son of God, and one of these witnesses is a divine one – God Himself. Now, if you receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. How can you reject the proposition that Jesus is the Son of God?
The Holy Spirit at baptism induing Him with power to work miracles, foreshadowing His expiatory death, that Divine Witness through whom the sacrifice was offered when on the altar of His divinity His humanity was slain; that Witness that made Him live after death; that Witness that came down in power on the day of Pentecost and filled and accredited His church. Where on this earth has there been a witness of such veracity, of such competency ? And that witness says Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
You accept the testimony of men on matters of property, on matters of title to your land. You accept it on everything. Your whole life is based upon your acceptance of evidence, that this witness shall be veracious, that this witness shall be competent, and on their testimony you act in everything in this life. If you accept the testimony of men, how can you reject the testimony of God?
I said that while this is the primary unquestionable meaning of this passage of Scripture, there is a secondary meaning, and scripturally true. There are two witnesses, the water and the blood, that are with us now. They bear witness now. One is our own baptism. When we were baptized we were baptized into Christ’s death. We were “buried with Christ by baptism into death,” and your baptism is a secondary witness on the same line as the witness of the baptism of Christ.
Here stands, then, a venerable institution. It was instituted nearly two thousand years ago. It partakes of the nature of a monumental evidence. It is not a monument built of wasting wood or crumbling stone. It is not a monument that is confined to a single locality and must be approached from distant parts of the earth, at great sacrifice of time and toil and expense; but it is a witness that is always speaking, always visible.
Wherever water flows, wherever water gathers into pools, or lakes, or seas; wherever the stars mirror themselves in any placid pool of water, that water disturbed with the baptism of the believer in Jesus Christ carries back to the stars this testimony: Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Jesus is the author of life. By faith in Jesus Christ I live. The life which I now live, I live by faith in Him. Planted together in the likeness of His death we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.”
Men have tried to silence this witness, and men have tried to obscure the clearness of the testimony of this witness by changing a burial to an effusion, by substituting a sprinkling for an immersion, and by putting the water upon one who knows not Jesus Christ, who does not believe in Jesus Christ, and this witness has in a measure been slain. In places, for hundreds of years, murderous and felonious hands have been upon this witness, but its deathless testimony still survives. And your baptism testifies on that point.
Well, what is the testimony of the blood? There it is. Why are you here today? What means these emblems? What signifies the shroud? What lies beneath it? The emblems of a body, slain, broken; the emblem of blood outpoured. There are three that bear witness, the Spirit, the water and the blood. And men have tried to mar the testimony of this witness. They have taken away the cup, and that is the main thing, for it represents the blood. They have contented themselves with putting a wafer on the tongue of the communicant, and saying, “This witness hath testified, but no blood.” And they have destroyed the value of this evidence by allowing men on whom the blood of Christ hath never been sprinkled, who have never been born of God, who do not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, to come up and take of these elements. And thus they have sought to destroy the value of the testimony.
I had an intelligent man only week before last come to me and say, “There is one thing in connection with religion that I cannot understand. I cannot understand the persistency of the controversies about baptism and the Lord’s Supper. At the best they are only external symbols: Why on earth have they been battle grounds?” I said to him, “Ask the Devil. Ask him why he would put out of court two witnesses, and what he secures by obscuring their testimony, or by silencing their evidence, and that will explain it to you.”
Now if they meant nothing; if they came with babbling words into court; if there was no cogency in their evidence; if there was no veracity in their testimony, who would have a controversy about it? But if while water flows and grapes express their juice – the fruit of the vine – to fill the cup of the communion with the Lord’s blood – then you would expect all manner of controversies concerning baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
There will be those controversies until Christ comes. But I have this to say to you : The blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross demonstrated that He was the Son of God, and the author of Eternal Life, and this ordinance which holds forth that fact is the secondary witness -that witness that is to abide until Jesus comes – and if all demonstrations on the face of the earth were to gather in some unscriptural conclave, and ecumenical and synodical enactment declare, “There shall be no more baptism, there shall be no more observances of the Lord’s Supper,” it would still be true that they would have no power to exelude the witness from court.
When Jesus said, “This do until I come; as often as ye drink this cup ye do shew forth the Lord’s death until He come” – until He comes that voice will speak and cannot be silenced. And I doubt not there will be congregations of faithful Christians gathered around the Lord’s Supper, partaking of the emblems of His death, and while these symbols are being handed around a shout will interrupt the services, a proclamation will startle the worshipers, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh!” This witness now goes out of court forever. His mission is ended. There is no need of his testimony any further. Their Master Himself is here.
Briefly and finally, you see the object of this letter is to show that the proposition is established by external testimony, objective testimony : three witnesses, the Spirit, the water and the blood. But I want something more than that, and the witness tells us that we have it: “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in him.” In him!
Now, here is the subjective ratification of the external evidence. The baptism of Jesus Christ was nearly two thousand years ago, a traditional witness. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was nearly two thousand years ago, a traditional witness. The outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost was nearly two thousand years ago, a traditional witness. What can I have new?
If I accept that evidence by faith, can I not have a confirmation in me that will be perfectly and forever assuring that this evidence is true? That is exactly what you can have. Now mark the object of the testimony is to prove that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The value of that proposition is that if He is the Son of God He is the author of eternal life and that we get in touch with that eternal life by faith in Him.
Now comes the concluding thought, that if I exercise that faith in Him on this external evidence, that proves His Sonship, and hence, His being the Author of Eternal Life, then I have that witness in me. And when they talk about cold testimony – testimony two thousand years old – I say, “Yes, it does not make any difference to me how old it is, if I can in my own heart have that testimony confirmed, if I can have it in me.”
Well, the man who rejects Jesus Christ never gets to that internal evidence. No man has that who rejects the external evidence. “But whosoever believeth in Jesus Christ hath the witness in him.” And if he be a poor man, if he be an ignorant man, if he be a slave, if he be a white-headed and trembling old Negro, he can stand up before the universities and kings and courts and emperors, and say, “I am not able to compete with you in your logic, but Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I have the witness in me. I feel it. I know it. He is my Saviour. One thing I do know, that I was blind, and now I see; that I was a sinner and burdened with sin and God, tor Christs sake, when I believed in Him, has forgiven my sins. And while this evidence in me is not to convınce you, it satisfied me. It was given for my satisfaction and I have it, and you cannot take it away from me.”
You might confront me with logicians. You might bring up your higher critics and experts. You might bombard me with these learned theses and scholastic dissertations, yet, I, poor, ignorant, unlearned, have the witness in me that Jesus Christ is my Saviour, and you cannot take that evidence from me. God gave it to me. He hath compassion on my infirmity. He knows how to have compassion on the ignorant, and He descended to my low estate, and He kindled a fire in my soul that all the powers of the earth cannot put out. It shines there and it does me good. I feel the shining when it is night. I feel the power of it when I am sick. I feel it when I go to die, and like the dying Methodist bishop, I look in the face of the grim and spectral monster and say, “Is this death this light, this joy, this buoyancy, thıs soaring, this chariot, this welcoming of angels? Is this death ? Welcome death; O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
I have the witness in me, and if you are a Christian you can have that eternal ratification. You can go out before the world without any fear. That is the hope of the church. And the Holy Spirit beareth witness by convicting, by converting, by sanctifying. The Holy Spirit beareth witness throughout. the whole earth. And hence, said Paul, “When I come to discuss God, when I speak of what God is to man, and how man is to be reconciled to God, I lay aside philosophy, I waste no time in trying to find out God by that method, but I confine myself to the testimony of God. My way of knowing Jesus is by evidence.” I look at the witnesses and they speak to me. The Spirit says, “He is the Son of God.” The water says, “He is the Son of God.” And the blood says, “He is the Son of God.” And one of these witnesses is here in these emblems – the testimony of His blood.
If you are a Christian and you stay away from the observances of the Lord’s Supper, you lend your aid to the Devil just that much to darken the clearness of His testimony. You are not called on to partake because you are good, not because you are consistent, nor because your life has been holy in the sight of God, but you are called on because miserable sinner and unworthy sinner as you have been, you yet have faith in Jesus Christ. By faith in the blood you come up and allow this witness to show forth Christ’s death.
Show it, Brother, oh! show it! For the world needs to see it! Unmuzzle the witness! Unmuffle the voice! Let him speak. Let him tell to the dark and lost world, Jesus the Christ is the Son of God and the Saviour of the world. I have the witness in me. My soul tells me that it is true – He is my Saviour. Oh! how precious that internal evidence!
Have you been sick? Have the shadows been upon you? Have you felt that you were parted from your scattered loved ones ? Have you felt that earthly help was gone? Oh! in that hour has it not been an unspeakably precious thought that you had a witness in you that Jesus the Christ is the Son of God and your Saviour? Now we want to show forth the Lord’s death. Let us pray.