How does the blood bear witness?
Some very special features were present at the crucifixion of Christ. For one thing, there was darkness over all the land (Matt. 27:45). For another, the Jews wanted to get the bodies off the cross before the upcoming great Sabbath (John 19:31). Thus they got permission for the soldiers to break the legs of the three who were being crucified in order to hasten their death. This the soldiers did to the two robbers. When they came to Jesus, however, they could see that He had already died. Instead of breaking His legs, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear; from that wound there came out blood and water.
These and the other things which happened caused fear in the heart of the centurion and those with him guarding Jesus, and they cried out, “Truly this was God’s Son!” (Matt. 27:54). No doubt the centurion was thus saved. He believed that the crucified Nazarene was the Son of God.
Jesus, then, was manifested as the Son of God in an open way by the water of baptism, by the blood He shed on the cross, and by the Spirit. By these three means God introduced His Son to mankind that they might believe and have eternal life.
Notice that the water referred to in 1 John is not life-giving, but terminating. The message that the baptism of Jesus testifies to is the termination of the old creation. We all need to be terminated. Do not argue about the form of immersion; the Bible has little to say about the method. What matters is to be buried! God does not want the old creation. Whether we consider ourselves good or bad, of high caliber or worthless, God says all we are deserving of is burial. The water of baptism means judgment. God’s judgment is that we and all the rest of the old creation need to be terminated. This is what the water testifies to us.
Why do we need the blood? The blood is for redemption. From the old creation, which needs to be terminated, a part has been predestinated by God to be His vessel. This part needs to be redeemed back to Him. God has taken care of both our termination and our redemption. When Jesus died on the cross, His all-inclusive death terminated all the old creation, including the old man and the flesh. At the same time, He shed His blood to redeem back what God had chosen.
Why do we need the witness of the Spirit? The Spirit germinates. We have been terminated, but we were also marked out before the foundation of the world. Because God chose us, He redeemed us. However, we were lifeless because of being terminated. When the Spirit came, He caused the seed to germinate. The seed is the Son of God. Today we are living, moving, and behaving in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit today is the Spirit of life. This life is the germinating seed within.
We have been terminated, redeemed, and germinated. This life germ within is to be the source of our life and all our actions, even our breathing. This is the message of the Apostle John. Yes, this Epistle does tell us to love one another, but there are not as many exhortations here as there are in most other Epistles. It touches the basic germ, not the outward doing. The Lord Jesus has come to us in water, terminating us; in the blood, redeeming us; and in the Spirit, germinating us. Once we see that we have been terminated, that God has chosen and redeemed us, and that He wants to bring to fruitfulness the life He has germinated in us, we shall cease from our doing. As He lives, we shall live with Him. As He moves, we move with Him. As He works, we work with Him. This is life, that which was from the beginning.
This central concept will save us from culture, religion, doctrines, and practices. All these are distractions from the life which was in the beginning. This life is the Son of God, who today is the all-inclusive Spirit, living within us as the life germ. He is working in us to fulfill God’s eternal purpose that we may all reach that glorious goal. There is no need for us to be concerned about this and that. We can focus all our attention on the seed. Then our growth in life will be assured.
How different this is from religion! When I was a child, I went to Sunday school and heard the Old Testament stories and the stories of Jesus. I also heard the doctrines, like the husbands being told to love their wives and the wives being told to submit to their husbands. I saw that such exhortations did not avail. I was baptized in a denomination, but that act had no significance. I could not see any sign of spiritual growth in those who were members, even after many years. We were all in the practice of religion, and our condition was pitiful.
In the proper church life there must be a germination. We cannot remain the same. Even after two weeks, there is a difference. After two months there will be a bigger difference. There will be a steady growth in life. The church practice is to terminate people, to get them redeemed, and to germinate them!
After one of our ten-day trainings is over, I can sleep well. I am able to sleep long hours, because within me there is the conviction that a good work of germination has been done. If we come together three months later, I see all the sprouts coming forth! The church life is not a matter of teachings, practices, and regulations. It is a matter of terminating, redeeming, and germinating—the water, the blood, and the Spirit. This is the way the Son of God has come to us.
(Seven Mysteries in the First Epistle of John, Chapter 8, by Witness Lee)