1 John 5:9-10
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he has testified of his Son.…
A Christian minister should often press upon his hearers the difference between historical and saving faith, and entreat them to take heed lest, to the ruin of the soul, they confound things which are so essentially distinct. The historical faith requires nothing but what are popularly called the evidences of Christianity; and a volume from Paley or Chalmers gathering to a point the scattered testimonies to the Divine origin of our religion, suffices, with every inquiring mind, to produce a conviction that the Bible is no "cunningly devised fable." But saving faith, whilst it does not discard the evidences which serve as outworks to Christianity, possesses others which are peculiar to itself; and just as historical faith being seated in the head, the proofs on which it rests address themselves to the head, so saving faith being seated in the heart, in the heart dwell the evidences to which it makes its appeal. The character to which the apostle refers here is unquestionably that of a true believer in Christ, one who believes to the saving of the soul, and not merely with the assent of the understanding. The Messiahship of Jesus is a kind of centre whence emanate those various truths through belief in which we become raised from the ruins of the Fall; and no man can have faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Anointed of God, except so far as he has faith in the life-giving doctrines which He was anointed to proclaim. No correct estimate can be formed of sin unless we measure its enormity by the greatness of the satisfaction which was required for its pardon. And only so far as the heinousness of sin is discovered can the fearfulness be felt of our condition by nature; and therefore we may justly maintain that he alone understands rightly the fall of man who understands rightly the evil of transgression. But external testimony will never satisfy us of this evil; whereas he who "believes on the Son of God hath the witness in himself" to the immensity of sin, for he has in himself a vigorous perception of the mysterious and awful things of the atonement. Sin is beheld through the wounds of the Saviour; and, thus beheld, its lightest acting is discerned to be infinitely dishonouring to God and infinitely destructive to man. But it is "in himself" that the believer finds the witness. Faith brings Christ into his heart; and then the mysteries of Calvary are developed; and the man feels his own share in the crucifixion; feels, as we have already described, that his own sins alone were of guilt enough to make his salvation impossible with out that crucifixion. And if such internal feeling be the necessary accompaniment, or rather a constituent part, of saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, is it not undeniable that "he who believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself" to the heinousness of sin; in other words, "hath the witness in himself" to the ruin consequent on transgression? We hasten to the second and perhaps more obvious truth — namely, that "he that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in him self" to the rescue perfected by redemption. We enter not now on any proof of this indissoluble connection between simple faith and active zeal. We refer to believing experience; we appeal to its records. Has it not always been found that the strongest faith is accompanied by the warmest love; and that in the very proportion in which the notion has been discarded of works availing to justification, have works been wrought as evidences and effects of justification? The believer feels and finds the truth of this "in himself." His whole soul is drawn out towards God.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.