Cut to the chase!
The expression came from Hollywood. When films became bloated with too much dialogue causing the audience to lose interest, the operative command was to “cut to the chase”! Use that car chase footage to pull people’s interest back.
Of course “cut to the chase” means much more than that now. The expression has developed a wide-reaching figurative meaning. “Cut to the chase” now means get to the point.
In 1 John 5:6-12 (delineated as one paragraph by the ESV translators), the word “testimony” is used no less than eight times. We looked at some of those uses in our last post. We saw that the Spirit, the water, and the blood testify. In this post we’re going read a bit more about the testimony before John finally cuts to the chase and lays out the contents of that testimony.
Can I get a witness?
Fun fact. The Greek word translated “testimony” or “witness” is marturia. Sound familiar? It’s the same word from which we derive the English term, “martyr.” This trilogy of English words—testimony, witness, martyr—describe the various ways people express their devotion to God. In 1 John 5, however, the word is predicated of God. Neither John nor his church, but God is the witness.
The argument from lesser to greater is fairly common in scripture. It takes this form: if (something lesser) then how much more (something greater). John uses this argument here to describe the testimony of God. Remember, false teachers were testifying to false doctrine in the church, pulling some of the church members away from sound doctrine. John argues that if we receive the testimony of humans, how much more should we receive the testimony of God? It’s far superior. As for the content of that testimony, we have to wait for a few more verses.
God doesn’t keep his testimony to himself. Testimonies are made for sharing which God does in a unique way. Do you remember what the prophet Jeremiah foresaw?
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31:33 ESV)
This is precisely what God accomplished when he sent his Spirit at Pentecost. We now have the testimony of God in ourselves. This sort of knowledge only comes through radical commitment. You can’t truly know the testimony of God from the outside any more than you can know what it’s like to be married before vows are spoken and one flesh is created out of two. What is this testimony, you might ask? Just hold on a bit longer.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus described himself using three nouns: way, truth, life (John 14:6). Consider the term “truth”. For John, it meant alignment with ultimate reality—living with the grain. Jesus is the truth because he is the perfect image of God—the perfect expression of ultimate reality. To contradict this reality, whether by word or deed, would be a step away from truth toward falsehood. John was concerned that his church was being tempted to pull away from the truth and follow the false teachers. To do this would entail disbelieving God’s testimony about Jesus which would mean one of two things:
- God’s a liar
- You are deceived
I think it’s clear which option is true.
So we now know that God has offered a true testimony about the Son which is internally conveyed by the Spirit to those who have committed themselves to Jesus. It’s time to …
Cut to the Chase
After all the preliminary statements about God’s testimony, enjoy the straightforwardness of 1 John 5:11-12:
And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
It’s direct and to the point! The testimony is about the eternal life that we find in Jesus. John Stott listed three truths about eternal life that we find in God’s testimony about the Son (186).
- Eternal life is a gift. It is something that God has given to us, not something we found a way to buy or earn. The Creator of life generously bestows life eternal on those who believe in the Son.
- Eternal life is found in Christ. This is a challenging statement in a pluralistic world. It’s much easier to believe that any path is good if you’re sincere enough. John believed that Jesus, who died and was the firstborn from the dead, is the one place where we find eternal life. This is why he wrote 1 John 5:12 in such blunt language.
- Eternal life is a present possession. John doesn’t say that those who believe in Jesus will have eternal life some day after they die. No, eternal life is a qualitative description as much as it is a quantitative description. Quality and quantity. Those who believe in the Son have eternal life now.
What a testimony!
1 John 5:13-15 | He Hears Us >