Last time we talked of the Testimony in the days of the Old Covenant. God’s testimony in the Old Covenant was the Law.
For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel… (Ps. 78.5).
Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples (Isa. 8.16).
Under the Old Covenant the law and the testimony were equated, were one—and God bore witness to this with His Presence over the tabernacle.
Now let’s look at certain New Testament scriptures that talk of the Testimony.
Paul, writing to the Corinthians:
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
For I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2.1,2).
What an astonishing thing to say. This man, a Jew steeped in the law and the prophets, comes to Gentiles with “the testimony of God.” Which is? The Old Covenant Law, the Torah? No. Not any longer. Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. The New Covenant testimony of God is all bound up in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The scribes and Pharisees, Jesus told His disciples, sat “in Moses’ seat” (Mt. 23.2). They felt confident they were the custodians of the testimony—the word of God, the Torah, the Scriptures. And yes, it’s true: to them God had committed the oracles of God. But when the True Oracle came into their midst—the living Word of God, this Man born of the Spirit, baptized in the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, and thereby witnessing faithfully of His Father, doing only what He saw His Father doing, speaking only what He heard His Father speaking—this One became the faithful and true Witness—the testimony of God.
He was crucified for that testimony.
In The Revelation we find in a number of places the phrase, “the testimony of Jesus Christ.” And we find it coupled with “the word of God.”
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw (Rev. 1.1,2).
I, John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1.9).
John is not talking of two different things for which he was banished to Patmos—expounding the word of God, and then going out and testifying, witnessing, about Jesus Christ. What he is saying is that the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ are one and the same thing. Someone may say they have the word of God, pointing to the Bible. And indeed, Jesus the Son of God said the Scriptures were those that testified of Him (Jn. 5.39). But it is He Himself who is the Word of God. Merely having the words of Scripture or of doctrine is not the kind of testimony that got John in trouble. Just as Jesus Christ the Word of God was crucified for the testimony He bore, it was “the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ” that landed John in Patmos.
Now we come to the thing that is of the utmost importance. How was it possible for John to say he had the testimony of Jesus Christ? Jesus was in Heaven when John wrote about being in Patmos for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. If Jesus was in Heaven, how could He give His testimony here on earth? And how could John have this testimony? It was because John had the Witness in himself.
He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness (the Testimony) in himself (1 Jn. 5.10).
The Witness? What is this speaking of?
And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth” (1 Jn. 5.6).
This, really, is the greatest of wonders. What can be more wonderful than to have Jesus Christ the Son of God Himself in us? John had this! He had the Spirit of Christ—the Witness—in Himself. He had been born again, and had been baptized in the Holy Spirit and fire. The Spirit of God, the Spirit of the living Word, dwelt in him. No doubt John knew much of the letter of the word by memory—the Old Testament scriptures. But beyond that, the living word of God was dwelling in John, abiding in him, as he taught in one of his letters. “…The word of God abideth in you…” (1 Jn. 2.14). He is speaking of the Testimony—the Witness—the Spirit of Jesus Christ the word of God.
It is the Spirit of God who has the Testimony of Jesus Christ the Word of God. The Spirit of God here in the earth is the faithful witness of Jesus Christ the Word of God at the right hand of God in the heavens. John had this Spirit—this Testimony. And so John’s own testimony, because of the Spirit of Christ that dwelt in Him, was nothing less than the Testimony of Jesus Christ.
What about you and me, then? Do we have the Spirit of Christ? We are to bear that same Testimony, then, that same expression of the word of God that manifests the living Christ in and through our lives.
What was the testimony of Jesus Christ the Son of God when He was here? He did what He saw the Father doing. He spoke what He heard Him speaking. He revealed the Father. He was the faithful and true Witness. He bore witness of the Father. He said:
He that hath seen me hath seen the Father (Jn. 14.9).
That was His testimony. And correspondingly, He said:
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me, and ye also shall bear witness… (Jn. 15.26,27).
What a wonder. The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, testifies of Jesus Christ. And because of the Holy Spirit we too are to bear this same precious testimony—which is nothing less than the shining forth of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself—as we too are faithful to do only what the Holy Spirit is doing, and speak only what He is speaking.
…So that—I tremble at this word—you and I by the empowering grace of God are ultimately able to say, “He that has seen me has seen Jesus Christ.”
Do you see why I am held in thrall by this phrase—the testimony of Jesus Christ?
Beloved, this ought to provoke us to a deeper seeking. This is our greatest need—the testimony of Jesus Christ. Because oh, how men need to see Him! Many of us claim to have the baptism of the Holy Spirit. No doubt we do—in measure. But to what extent do we have this beautiful pure testimony of Jesus Christ among men? Can we say yet that, “He that has seen me has seen Jesus?” You say that’s blasphemy? But that is the whole purpose of the Holy Spirit. It’s only blasphemy if the Holy Spirit is not capable of fully and faithfully bearing witness to the Son of God. Let me ask. Does the Holy Spirit bear a pure and full and faithful witness to Christ? It’s blasphemy to say He cannot.
But if the Holy Spirit bears this faithful testimony, so too shall those who are baptized—immersed—in the Holy Spirit. We who have the Spirit of Christ—He is given to enable us to have the Testimony of Jesus Christ, to shine forth the Testimony of Jesus Christ—nothing less.
Why, then, do we so readily settle for less? Oh, how men need to see Him!
Remember, though. The Greek word for testimony is marturion—from which we get our English martyr.
There is a price tag on this Testimony. Jesus was crucified for this Testimony. John was in exile in Patmos for this Testimony. We who have this Testimony will also pay that price—even here in our so-called free Christian nations.
This is great reading Allan. Everything is in Jesus. He truly is the centre and on whom we are to fix our eyes. I am reminded of Revelation 19:10 and Johns exchange here with the angel. Verse 10 it uses the word testimony. John hears the words like loud peel of thunder “Hellelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad….” and then the angel says “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb”. At this point he falls to the feet of the angel to worship him. But the angle forbids him saying that he is a fellow-servant with him and his brothers who “hold to the testimony of Jesus”. In this he is pointing Him to the Lord and that He is the only one who is worthy. Therefore the whole angelic host and the courts of heaven know the authority of the Lord Jesus. They recognise Him and His supremacy. They have looked on as he grew in stature and wisdom before God and man and completed His task. The very living embodiment of the Father and the one who was sent to be the fulfillment of the new covenant. By His blood shed on the cross and His sacrifice alone is the new covenant complete. Hallelujah ! The angel is saying “Look, we marvel too at Him and the testimony He carries and His unique place”. Even the angels testify to His testimony and point us towards Jesus. And yet more. The angel goes on to say, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”. His life and the declaration of His life as the fullness of God made manifest, all that Jesus IS; this is the spirit of prophecy. This is what all prophecy should do. It should edify us by pointing us towards Jesus. It should provoke us towards a greater revelation of who He is. His life is a declaration of Gods future intent for us as His people. It’s the greatest prophetic statement. That we are now able through the cross and through His Spirit in us to come into His fullness. This is our aim; our goal. To be the mirror of Him so that when He sees His Bride He sees a refection of Himself in us. Not a reflection of just Himself but of US as His people. For the joy set before Him he endured the cross. We are to become that joy ! Hallelujah indeed !
This is just what I intend to talk about next! Thanks for the witness!
…But perhaps this angel was actually a man. Stay tuned.