1 John 5:9 “We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God which he has given about his Son.”
A number of years ago a friend of mine wanted me to buy into an investment that promised to multiply your money by seven to ten times in just five years. He couldn’t tell me exactly how the investment worked. Part of it involved bank accounts in the Cayman Islands. I even went with him to a presentation by one of the creators of this investment. The place was packed. Many of the people accepted the testimony of the man selling the investment and gave him their money. I kept mine. They lost theirs. Greed is a powerful influence to get people to believe something.
It has become common to hear about some person falsely convicted being released from prison. At their trials experts testified about the evidence from the crime scene, and juries believed them. Witnesses testified about things they had heard or seen, and juries believed them. Lawyers led the jury along carefully guided logical paths. We accept man’s testimony. Now, however, DNA evidence often shows that all the experts and all the witnesses were mistaken.
Even science doesn’t offer the certainty people often believe it does. I have nothing against science. Often it is the best information we have to go on. But it doesn’t always get things right. Scientists were once convinced that heat passed from warmer things to cooler things in some mysterious vapor called caloric fluid. That theory has been discredited. Good medical science once believed that you could cure a fever by letting blood out of a person. Our nation’s first president died that way. In the 1800’s the American Medical Association forbad doctors to wash their hands before surgery. They said there was no evidence that anything so small it was invisible could make a person sick. “But science is better today,” we may believe. I wouldn’t be too sure. It’s still done by fallible humans.
For all their faults, we tend to accept man’s testimony, John says. It doesn’t take a great deal of thought or faith to reach John’s next conclusion, then. “But God’s testimony is greater, because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.” Ironically, some people want to discount God’s testimony altogether in favor of human ideas about some subject or another. This makes no sense. Many years ago my friend dad disassembled an old mechanical adding machine just to satisfy his curiosity about how it worked. I looked into his workshop. Spread all across the workbench and the floor were the parts of this machine. Who do you suppose would be in a better position to tell you how that machine worked: the inventor, who imagined it and built the prototype, or my friend’s dad, who tried to figure it out by taking it apart? Wouldn’t you go to the inventor?
God is the Inventor of everything. As the Inventor he knows more on every subject than fallible humans who try to figure his creations out by studying them and taking them apart. His testimony is always to be preferred. On no topic is that more true than the testimony he has given us about his Son. This is the subject nearest and dearest to his heart. He may have created the world, but he did not give us a science book to explain it all. God invented social institutions like family and government. He provided no detailed instruction manual for their operation. These things receive passing references in the testimony he gives us. It would be foolish to ignore that. But the theme, the focus, the point of the testimony he has given us is his Son, the one he sent to save us.
This is the topic God spoke about for thousands of years to patriarchs, deliverers, kings, and prophets. It wasn’t all dumped on one man at once, so you need not wonder if it was all just one man’s personal fantasy. As generations rolled along he revealed a little bit more, then a little bit more, expanding the knowledge base, building on what had already been revealed, always supporting, never contradicting, what had come before.
Finally, God’s Son arrived to save us, and God sent angels to announce his birth. He sent his Spirit to empower his ministry. On at least two occasions his own voice announced from heaven that Jesus was his Son. He confirmed Jesus’ ministry with an outbreak of miracles unlike anything the world has seen before or since. In the end he let his Son be captured, convicted, and crucified, so that by his blood he could fulfill all of the old promises, satisfy the demands of justice for the whole world’s crimes, free us all from debt we owed for our sins, and redeem us as God’s own sons and daughters, reconciled and restored to a dear place in God’s own family. By raising Jesus from the dead God has given us proof of this and placed his approval on all that Jesus said and did.
So important is the testimony God has given about his Son, he had it written down in four separate accounts for you and me–four separate accounts! He had those further explained in twenty-three books and letters. We call them the New Testament, the last quarter of our Bible. “Jesus love me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so,” our children sing. “We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater, because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son,” is the way that John says it here.
We have God’s testimony, his word. It has been spoken from heaven, sent by his Spirit, embodied in Jesus’ life and death, and recorded on the pages of Scripture. It convinces me of his grace and love.