John's Theme - The Testimony of Jesus
Now the theme of John throughout, not only his gospel but his epistles and the book of the Revelation, is the testimony of Jesus: "These are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God." The letters of John are all upon that note; and then we know the Apocalypse contains that very sentence repeatedly used - "The testimony of Jesus." John's theme is the Testimony of Jesus.
What is the testimony of Jesus? Well, what does John say the testimony of Jesus is? Jesus Himself! He is Himself the testimony. There are things said, and there are things done, there are great facts presented, but you never get anything in John as something apart from the Person. I do want you to notice how everything is related to the Person in John. He introduces the Person, and keeps to the Person all the way through.
Take one or two illustrations. Chapter four. The question of the water; the incident of the woman at the Sychar well. The water there is vitally and inseparably linked with the Person of the Lord Jesus. Take the bread of chapter six. It is not "something" that He gives, it is giving Himself: "I AM the bread"; giving Himself. Take the raising of Lazarus. He says: "I AM the resurrection." It is not that He performs an act of raising the dead. The testimony of Jesus is not that He gives you life, but that HE IS the life. It is not that He gives you bread, HE IS the Bread. It is like that all the way through. The testimony of Jesus is what He is Himself. And when we have said that we have got right up close to the whole matter. "Full of grace and truth." The testimony, beloved, is carried on not by teaching, it is carried on by living union. Oh, that is where the breakdown has come about. The Lord has had in some life, or lives, such a union and such a fellowship with Him as to be able to make Himself known there in a very rich, wonderful and blessed way with some tremendous spiritual results in that life, or those lives, which has meant that there has gone out from them a revelation of Him, a living revelation of Him; and in that day many have been brought into a living revelation of Him, have come into that living touch with the Lord and rejoiced, not in a doctrine, not in a teaching, but in some real, new experience of the Lord. The next generation has taken it up in its teaching and sought to carry that thing on in the terms of its doctrine; and generation has succeeded generation with the doctrine of that thing, and they have called it "carrying on the Testimony." You cannot enter in the way those first entered into it. It is not only full of truth, it is full of grace as well as truth. Truth may be light; grace is love.
Some Great Words of John
Take John's three great words: life, light, love. There are the great words of John, all as in the Lord Jesus, bound up in His own Person. They are the great strong notes that run through this gospel. Now you can have light, but if you have not got love and life you are unbalanced and you have not got the testimony. You cannot have the life without the light. The Lord Jesus combining all three means that in spiritual fellowship with Him, and possessing of Him, you should have these things in equal measure, in balance; life, light, love. The testimony of Jesus is not only carrying on the light, it is just as much carrying on the life and the love. It is possible to take up a system of truth that is undoubtedly New Testament doctrine to the full, but being without the life and the love you have not the Testimony of Jesus. The Testimony of Jesus is Himself. Life, Light, Love, that is the Testimony of Jesus.
To bring that all back to one application, the answer to everything is our possessing of the Lord, or in other words, our vital union with Him. We can explain everything of failure and breakdown by the absence of that, whether in ourselves or in others. We may have the tradition, and we may have the doctrine; we may have the truth and yet there may be the most appalling inconsistencies, contradictions and breakdown because we have not got the life and the love in the same proportions. What we need is not more light; it is life commensurate with the light, and love in equal proportion to the light. So many who have a lot of light are so loveless, as it is true that many have a lot of light without much life. "Full of grace and truth." He was manifested thus; the Church is elected eternally to be in union with Him for the purpose of carrying on His testimony, and the testimony the Church has to carry on is not something about Christ, but to carry Christ on. Our business in this world as the Lord's people is to carry on Christ, full of grace and truth.
All that has to be seen through this gospel in its own respective connection. That is a basic statement for our thought. Our need is more of the Lord Jesus. That is a very simple statement, but it goes to the root of everything. You say: "I want more light." No, you need more of the Lord. You say: "I want more love." You need more of the Lord. It is not things, it is Himself; that is the testimony with which we are entrusted.
(continued with # 4)