1 John 5:12
He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life.
He that hath the Son hath the life, etc. In our text the apostle expresses -
I. A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP TO THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. "He that hath the Son." What are we to understand by these words? What is involved in them?
1. Realizing faith in him.
(1) In his existence. Saving faith in Christ is faith, not in his historic reality only, but in his present existence - that he is. "He ever liveth."
(2) In his perfection. It will profit me nothing to believe in Jesus as an ordinary Man, having the imperfections, weaknesses, and sins of our human nature. Faith in such a being would not result in any accession of strength. Faith must be exercised m him as "holy, harmless, undefiled," etc. Thus believing in him we are, as it seems to us, necessarily led on to faith in his proper Divinity - "that Jesus is the Son of God" (verse 5).
(3) In his interest in us. Faith in his existence and perfection and Divinity will not benefit us unless we believe in his regard for us - that he cares for us, desires to bless and save us. Now, we need what I have called a realizing faith in him. The faith of which St. John and St. Paul wrote, and which our Lord required in himself, is a far greater and deeper thing than intellectual assent. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness." "When the soul in very truth responds to the message of God," says Canon Liddon, "the complete responsive act of faith is threefold. This act proceeds simultaneously from the intelligence, from the heart, and from the will of the believer. His intelligence recognizes the unseen object as a fact. His heart embraces the object thus present to the understanding; his heart opens instinctively and unhesitatingly to receive a ray of heavenly light. And his will, too, resigns itself to the truth before it; it places the soul at the disposal of the object which thus rivets its eye and conquers its affections." With a faith like this, the Christian apprehends Jesus Christ as a grand, living, spiritual, Divine Person; enshrines him in the heart's innermost and holiest temple; and offers to him humblest and deepest reverence. Thus the Christian "hath the Son."
2. Acceptance of his teaching. The Christian is intellectually and practically loyal to the teaching of Jesus Christ. In a very true and important sense Plato may be said to have had Socrates. He had so studied his utterances, so mastered his method, so thoroughly acquainted himself with his views and theories and principles; moreover, he held him in such high esteem, regarded him with such reverence, that we may, without exaggeration, say that he possessed Socrates. "We have the mind of Christ." By means of his teaching we have intellectual communion with him. His precious utterances, his glorious revelations, we believe; they are ours. All that he spake we receive as true; so his mind becomes ours; and in this sense we have him.
3. Supreme sympathy with him. He gave himself for us, and in return we give ourselves to him. "We love him, because he first loved us." By reciprocal affection we have him. This is the trust, completest, highest way in which one person can have another. He by whom I am truly loved, and whom I truly love, is mine indeed. Thus we have the Son. He dwells in us by his Spirit. His teaching, his presence, his love, his life, his Spirit, are ours; himself is ours, inalienably and for ever. St. John frequently represents this relationship to Christ as conditioned simply by faith in him (verse 13; John 3:14-16, 34). In his vocabulary "faith "is a comprehensive word. It "is not merely a perception of the understanding; it is a kindling of the heart, and a resolve of the will; it is, in short, an act of the whole soul, which, by one simultaneous complex movement, sees, feels, and obeys the truth presented to it." He who thus believes on the Lord Jesus Christ "hath the Son."
II. THEY WHO HOLD THIS RELATIONSHIP ARE POSSESSORS OF THE HIGHEST LIFE. "He that hath the Son hath the life." What are we to understand by "the life" τὴν ζωήν?
1. Not mere existence. The most wicked among men have this. Fallen angels have existed through thousands of years (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6). To argue for either the perpetuity or the non-perpetuity of existence from the teaching of the apostle concerning "the life" is a gross perversion of his teaching.
2. Not mere intellectual life. Voltaire, Byron, et al., possessed this in a high degree; but who would affirm that they had "the Son" and "the life"?
3. Not mere emotional life. There are many whose sympathies are abundant and active, who sincerely pity the wretched, who have often been moved to tears as they have contemplated the woes of the Man of sorrows, who yet have neither" the Son" nor "the life." The life of which St. John writes is "the new life of God in humanity." This new life may be viewed as a new reigning affection. By faith in Christ man is regenerated, his ruling love is changed. His deepest and strongest affection is no longer earthly, selfish, or sinful, but heavenly, self-abnegating, holy; he loves God supremely. He is thus brought into vital and blessed relationship with God. Holy love is life. "The mind of the Spirit is life" (Romans 8:6). He who has the Son has this life. He has it now, not in its most glorious development, but really and increasingly (Galatians 2:20). Under the influence of this supreme love to God all the faculties of the spiritual nature advance towards perfection in blessed harmony with his holy will.
III. THIS LIFE IS ATTAINABLE ONLY THROUGH CHRIST. "He that hath not the Son of God hath not the life." What is essential to this life? That man's strongest and deepest love shall be fixed on God. And we have no revelation of God adequate to inspire this affection save that which is given unto us in Jesus Christ. On viewing the life as consisting of the union of the soul of man with God, we affirm that it is only through the mediation of Jesus Christ that this union can be effected. Man is estranged from God by sin, "alienated from the life of God," and under condemnation because of sin. "The Son of man has power to forgive sins." "There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." By the manifestation of the love of God in his life, and especially in his death, he destroys the enmity of the sinful heart, and reconciles man unto God. "When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son." Christ reveals God as a Being possessing in infinite degree those attributes which are necessary to command the soul's supreme love. He manifests the perfect righteousness of God. The cross of Jesus Christ is the grand declaration of God's unappeasable hatred of sin, and his zeal for the maintenance of rectitude. It is the perfect revelation of religious truth for man's intellect and heart. He is "the Truth." In him truth was incarnate. In him the love of God is most perfectly expressed. Divine love toiling, sorrowing, suffering, dying, to save the unlovely, the unworthy, the ill deserving, is manifest in him. He shows us the ineffable mystery of God in self-sacrifice for us. He reveals, as fully as is possible to our dim vision, the transcendent beauty of the Divine character, for our admiration and reverence. In a word, taking holiness as expressing the summation of the Divine perfections, he reveals the infinite holiness of God. Hero in him we have such a revelation of the Supreme Being as is perfectly fitted to command the homage of conscience, to quicken and strengthen the intellect, to expel all enmity, and beget in the soul the purest, deepest, intensest love, and to call forth the reverent devotion of our being. Such a revelation believed in and brought home to our spirit by the Holy Spirit, is life-giving; and such a revelation we have in Christ alone. Only through him can we attain the highest life (cf. John 3:36; John 14:6; Acts 4:12).
1. This relationship may be attained by every one. (John 3:16.)
2. God seeks to bring all men into this relationship. He invites, exhorts, entreats, etc.
3. If any have not this life, it is because they refuse to comply with the condition of its bestowment. "Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life." - W.J.
Parallel VersesKJV: He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.