Why Christians Can Have Confidence in the Gospel - Radical

Why Christians Can Have Confidence in the Gospel

Can we be confident in the gospel? Is the story of Jesus’s life in the gospels reliable? In this video, Pastor Mike Kelsey explains that God confirms the truth of the gospel through the signs of water, blood, and Spirit. It can be easy to think of the Bible as a myth created by humans. However, Pastor Kelsey makes a case that God himself authenticates the truth of the Bible through three events in the scriptures. First, God himself confirmed that Jesus was his son at his baptism. Second, Christ’s divinity was recognized through the blood in his death on the cross. Finally, Jesus authenticates the gospel publicly in his resurrection and his promise to send the Spirit after he leaves. When we are led by the Spirit, we can continue to be confident in the gospel.

  1. The Truth of the Gospel
  2. Water and Blood
  3. The Holy Spirit

Watch Full Message of Living with Gospel Confidence 

Confidence in the Gospel

Simply put, we can have confidence because the gospel is true. That’s the point of verses six through 11. And I know these verses are pretty confusing, but don’t miss the main point. John is reminding these believers that the gospel is true. Look at how many times he used the word testify or testimony. This idea of testimony is mentioned eight times between verses six and 11. And so before we even dive into all the confusing details, the overall gist of what John is saying is pretty easy to understand.

Who is the one giving the testimony? Well, from verse nine, it’s clear that God is the primary person giving the testimony, God the Father, and He testifies through these three confirming witnesses, the water, the blood, and the Spirit. I’ll explain that.

Trusting in the Gospel

But what is God giving testimony about? Well, verse 11 and verse 20 make that clear. God is testifying to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God and eternal life is found exclusively in Him. So we can at least understand the overall message.

But what in the world is this water and blood and Spirit stuff about? Now, this has been interpreted in so many different ways throughout church history, and I don’t have time to unpack all the different ways it’s interpreted. But the most common interpretation, and the one I think is the right interpretation, is that the water and blood refer to historical events in Jesus’ life. And his reference to the Spirit describes God’s ongoing work enabling people to understand those historical events. So in a sense, you can put them in two categories, the water and blood on one hand, and the Spirit on the other, these two kinds of corroborating testimony.

The Gospel is the Truth

And so God has confirmed the truth of the gospel historically. This isn’t a random list. Remember the context. There were false teachers that were denying the deity of Jesus, that claimed that Jesus was only human, that he wasn’t the Son of God, but that God used him during his ministry and then departed from him before he died. And John is strategically dismantling that view of Jesus by highlighting two key historical events in Jesus’ life.

Jesus’ Baptism

Historical event number one is Jesus’ baptism. That’s what John means when he says in verse six that Jesus came by water and the water testifies. You might remember at Jesus’ baptism, God the Father publicly confirmed who Jesus was. Matthew chapter three, verse 16, it says, “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately He went up from the water. And behold, the heavens were open to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on Him. And behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.'” God is testifying at Jesus’ baptism that Jesus is the Son of God.

Jesus’ Death

Historical event number two is Jesus’ death. That’s what John is referring to by his blood. In Matthew 27, you read about the miraculous events surrounding Jesus’ death, the crucifixion, all the signs and testimonies, that this wasn’t just a normal criminal execution. Jesus was accomplishing the work that the Father sent Him to accomplish. And what was that work? Well, John tells us in I John chapter four, verse 10, which we already studied, John writes, “God the Father sent His Son to be the propitiation, the atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

And this is exactly what Jesus Himself said His death would accomplish. Matthew chapter 26, verse 28, Jesus and His disciples were celebrating Passover, remembering how God had spared His people from death because of the blood sacrifice. Remember, they smeared the blood on their doorpost. And Jesus, in that context of the Passover celebration, He says this to His disciples, He says, “For this is the covenant, the blood of my covenant, which was poured out for for the forgiveness of sins.” He’s pointing forward to His impending death, and He’s claiming that His death was going to be the ultimate sacrifice, the only acceptable payment for our sins. And then He dies on the cross.

And it’s a little bit like how our bank accounts work. If you’ve never had any financial struggles, let me just explain how bank accounts work. There are pending transactions and there are cleared transactions. Now, that may not mean anything to some of you, but for some of us, that is a very significant distinction. We want to be very careful and we want to be very watchful because all transactions aren’t equal. There are some that are pending and there are some that are cleared. And when a transaction is pending, you want to be careful not to spend that money too fast because you want to make sure that that transaction is actually going to clear the bank. Pending means you claim to have money, but cleared means it’s true. And listen, there’s nothing more deflating, hypothetically speaking, there is nothing more deflating when you swipe that card and you get that insufficient funds message. You just, “I must have had used the wrong card.” No, no, no, no, no, no.

Why We Believe

Listen, when Jesus died, all of His claims and all of His promises were pending. And you can imagine what His disciples were thinking and feeling. Maybe they had been wrong to believe him. Maybe Jesus was crazy. But then three days later, the check cleared. That’s a good place to say amen. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, publicly demonstrating that He is God, publicly demonstrating that His sinless life and sacrificial death paid the debt for our sins. Amen.

And so listen, when Jesus appeared after He was resurrected, not only did the disciples get divine proof that He was God and that their sin debt had been paid, but they also then received the promised Holy Spirit, the one that the apostle Paul would later call a deposit, guaranteeing our future inheritance. They received the promised Holy Spirit. Jesus had promised to send the Spirit to dwell in them. And John in I John calls it the Spirit of Truth, which he’s borrowing from Jesus’s teaching recorded in John 14 and 16.

God has confirmed the truth of the gospel historically at Jesus’ baptism, in His death, in His resurrection, but through the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit, God continues to confirm the truth of the gospel presently. Not just historically, but He continues to confirm the truth of the gospel presently through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit and the Bible

The Holy Spirit reveals the truth of the gospel to us in the Bible. II Peter 1:21. The Holy Spirit enables us to truly comprehend and embrace the truth of the gospel. I Corinthians chapter two. The Holy Spirit reassures us of the truth of the gospel and makes it real to us in our daily lives. Romans chapter eight, verses 16 and 17.

This is the ongoing testimony of God in our hearts through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We have a faith that is rooted in actual historical events. This is not just mythology, this is real history, that there was a real man who entered a real place, lived the real life, died a real death, was risen from a real grave, and real people saw a real resurrected Lord and spent time with Him. Our faith is rooted in historical events, but God continues through the ministry of the Holy Spirit to help us understand and comprehend and embrace the significance of those events.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

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