“The one having faith in the Son of God has the witness within himself….” (1 John 5:10).
One of the characteristics of the modern Church is the absence of true witness of the Son of God; there is a witness all right, but it is external, not internal, and it is one of worldliness and carnality. Becoming a Christian and joining a Church is a bit like joining a political party; you find yourself in a new social environment with like minded people, all talking about the same thing and sharing a common view concerning the world; but the essential “you” has not really changed at all; your external environment has, but you remain the same person on the inside.
God demands an internal revolution in which the old “you” is no longer in charge or even evident; it is not so much a change of “you”; it is the death of “you”. In today’s Christianity, we are allowed to believe that we can repair the old person; this is a lie; God demands that he be replaced altogether.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus spoke of the different soils into which the seed of the word was sown; these soils are metaphors for the heart of man. The third seed is where modern Christianity resides; those people who have at least come through the early stages of doubt and difficulty, for their faith to endure thus far.
“But the seed being sown among the thorns, these are the ones hearing and going forth, but the anxieties of the world, the deception of wealth the pleasures of this life and a longing for other things, choke the Word and they become barren and fruitless” (Luke 8:14; Mark 4:19; Matthew 13:22).
The thorns in modern Christianity are its worldliness and carnality; these are what robs it of any true witness of an inner life that is in any fundamental way different to the world; sadly, there is the same desire for material wealth, status and position; the same pleasure seeking; the same anxieties about the things taking place in the world; the same envying, lusts and passions. Narcissism is the zeitgeist of the 21st century and the Church follows faithfully after the world.
What then, should be the witness of which John says the true Christian should have in himself?
Forsaking the world; Victory over Satan; Desire to please God (Colossians 1); Radiance from the Light within; Hearing and believing (John 5:24); and, importantly, Sonship – the power and victory are only to be found in sonship, firstly in His, and then, in ours. The disciples were firstly, servants, then friends, and after Pentecost, sons. So it must be for every generation.
Paul prays that the Colossians would be “being empowered with every power” (Colossians 1:11). Power is not seen in Christianity in Australia and it begs the question; “where is the power?”
There are many reasons why there is no power seen in western Christianity today. Firstly, we must understand where the power comes from; power is only in the resurrected life of Christ Jesus; He alone has “the power of an endless life” (Hebrews 7:16). And His power came to Him from the Father and equipped Him for the Father’s work at the age of thirty; His power was the power of Sonship and His Sonship was that He heard what the Father said, and did it. So it must be for us.
It is the one hearing and believing who passes from death to life and avoids judgement (John 5:24); sonship is where the victory over Satan is; sonship is where eternal life is; hearing and believing is not a once done thing; every day we must hear and believe; and believing means obeying. Hearing and believing are present continuous participles in Greek, so this does not mean having heard once upon a time; you can only hear if you are in the presence of Christ.
But hearing and believing must lead to something else; experience. We can’t truly believe what we don’t experience and we can’t experience what we don’t believe; faith must be lived and exercised; we don’t ever arrive. This life is a journey in which we hear, believe and experience the truth and this is our preparation for life eternal and for this, the Father calls, Jesus gives life (John 5:21) and the Holy Spirit guides and teaches.