1 Corinthians 1:6
Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
There are two kinds of testimony - the external and the internal; the revelation without and the revelation within; the written historical testimony that God has given us of his Son, and that which consists in the facts of Christian consciousness, the consciousness of one in whom he dwells. These are not to be regarded as separate and independent. The external record is vain until graven on the living heart; while there could be no such inward realization apart from the outward record, with all that helps to attest and substantiate it. The one is to the other as the river is to the bed in which it flows, as the echo to the voice that awakens it, as the musical harmony to the instrument by which it is produced. The revealed truth is made the instrument and channel of a hidden life. The written record becomes a vital experience. The testimony finds its answer in the living heart. Thus was the gospel word "confirmed" in the Corinthians, as in all who savingly receive it. Consider -
(1) The testimony;
(2) the confirmation.
I. THE TESTIMONY. It is the truth about Christ which formed the sum and substance of the apostolic message. The truth "as it is in Jesus."
1. The message contains two elements - the historical and the doctrinal. An unwarrantable separation is sometimes made between these. The attempt to sever the historic fact from some form of dogmatic teaching by which that fact is linked with the spiritual interests and needs of men, as the Divine answer to them, is irrational and vain. The fact contains within itself the doctrine. It is not a meaningless incident. What is the doctrine but just the articulate expression of its meaning? Take any of the recorded apostolic discourses - Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2.), Paul's sermon in the synagogue at Antioch (Acts 13.), or his summary of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) - they are none of them bare statements of historic fact. They glow with the living force of words that carry the historic fact home to the consciences and hearts of men as God's condemnation of sin and pledge of forgiveness and promise of the life everlasting.
2. The authority of this message of mingled fact and doctrine lies in its divinity. It is the testimony that "God has given us of his Son." The reason men disregard the appeals of the gospel is that they do not believe or feel this. Their diviner sensibility is so deadened by other than Divine influences, that they fail to recognize the approach of God to their souls. If they know that God is speaking to them how can they resist? "If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater." We readily receive the witness of men. Our whole social existence proceeds on the principle of faith in the general veracity of those with whom we have to do. Why can we not carry up into the higher region a principle of action that in the lower we feel to be so salutary and necessary? Habitual distrust of one's fellow creatures would be a dishonour done to our common nature, would poison the very springs of human life, and turn some of our purest joys to bitterness. And yet men cherish on the heavenward side of their being a cold, repellent spirit of unbelief that gives the lie to a God of infinite truth and righteousness and love. "He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true" (John 3:33); "He that believeth not God hath made him a liar," etc. (1 John 5:10).
II. THE CONFIRMATION For the testimony to assert its authority in a way that cannot be gainsaid is one thing; for it to be practically and savingly efficacious is another, No man to whom the message has intelligibly come can escape the special responsibility under which it places him. His whole position as an accountable being is henceforth changed. He may affect to disown the claim, but the sovereign authority of that claim is over him still, and he must answer for his neglect (John 12:47). The testimony accomplishes its end only when the Spirit of God writes it in living characters on the "fleshy table of the heart." How important a transition of thought to pass from the region of words, ideas, outward revelations, to that of the perceptions, affections, and energies of a personal life! Consider the confirmation:
1. As regards its effect on the believer himself. "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself" (1 John 5:10). It has become emphatically his own. The Christ revealed to him is now "in him," a quickening, sanctifying power, "the hope of glory," "a well of water springing up unto everlasting life." All life is self asserting, self assuring. It proves and verifies itself. We don't question the reality of our physical life. We know that we live in living. We think, feel, breathe, move, act - therefore we live. So spiritually; in the sensibilities and energies that accompany Christian faith we have sufficient proof of the power of Christ "to give eternal life to as many as believe in him." And as no external evidence can supply the place of this, so no outward assault of the forces of unbelief can have any real power against it. "We know that the Son of God is come," etc. (1 John 5:20). This is what is wanted to give firmness to men in these days of restless thought and unsettled opinion; not mere doctrinal safeguards, not theological rigidity, but the deep inward consciousness of the life giving power of Christ.
2. As regards its effect on others. The testimony of Christ wins its victories in the world on the strength, not so much of historic or miraculous or argumentative proof, but of what it is and what it can do. The fruits of Christian character and deed are the mightiest of all arguments. Saintly, consecrated lives; - it is these that give convincing force to the doctrine. "Ye are our epistle," etc. (2 Corinthians 2:2, 3). - W.
Parallel VersesKJV: Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: