He that comes from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaks of the earth…
I. THE TRUE NOTION OF CHRIST'S DOCTRINE — IT IS A TESTIMONY.
1. The nature of it. A testimony is a sort of proof necessary in matters that cannot otherwise be decided by rational discourse.
(1) In matters that depend upon the arbitrary will of another. The gospel cannot be found out by the light of nature, but Christ, who was in the bosom of the Father, knew His heart and hath given testimony how it stands affected to the salvation of men (Matthew 11:27, cf. John 3:16). Salvation proceedeth from the free motion of God's will.
(2) In matters of fact. Matters of law are argued by reason, but matters of fact is only proved by credible witnesses. In this sense the gospel is a testimony that Christ came into the world, taught the way of salvation, died for our sins, and rose again to confirm all. The apostles were witnesses of these things (Acts 1:21-22; Acts 2:32; Acts 10:39).
2. The value of Christ's testimony which will appear if we consider —
(1) The person witnessing. He who was promised in paradise (Genesis 3:15), shadowed in the sacrifices of the law, and foretold by the prophets (John 5:39); He who was owned of God by a voice from heaven (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5; John 12:28); it is His testimony whom God the Father hath sealed (John 6:27), and to whom He has given the Spirit without measure (ver. 34).
(2) The testimony itself.
(a) It is such a testimony as men need. Men need a religion that will allay their fears and satisfy their desires. The gospel provides pardon for sin and eternal peace and happiness.
(b) It has a fair correspondency with the principles of reason. That there is a wise, good, and powerful God; that men have sinned and become liable to punishment; that there are not hopes of freedom from this punishment but by satisfaction; that the universal soul must have higher and more abiding satisfactions than those afforded by the world.
(c) It has a convincing evidence in itself (2 Corinthians 4:2-4).
3. The use of it as a testimony.
(1) To bless God that the way of enjoying Him is not left to our uncertain guesses, but is made known in an authentic way by Christ.
(2) To show us with what success we may build upon the hopes of the gospel; it is God's testimony (1 John 5:9).
(3) Our danger is great if we disbelieve and reject this testimony (Matthew 24:14; cf. Mark 13:9). First, to them, then against them.
II. THE RESPECT THAT IS DUE TO THIS TESTIMONY.
1. Hear it or regard it we must. For us to disregard it is the greatest affront that we can offer God (Matthew 22:5).
2. Understand it we must, or we do not receive it. A man must have it (John 14:21) in his judgment before he can keep it in his memory, heart, and conscience.
3. We must firmly consent to and acquiesce in this testimony (1 Timothy 1:15; John 6:69; John 17:8).
4. To embrace it with all affection (Acts 2:41).
5. To build our hope and confidence thereupon while we continue with patience in well-doing (Psalm 119:166; Luke 18:15).
III. HE THAT THUS RECEIVETH DOTH RATIFY THE TRUTH OF GOD and solemnly bear witness to it.
1. The manner of confirming. Doubtful things we do not confirm, but those things of which we are assured (1 Kings 21:8; Nehemiah 9:38; Esther 8:8; Jeremiah 32:18). But how can we confirm the truth of God? God's truth is the same, and needeth not our confirmation, but He will put this honour upon us that we should honour His truth by our subscription (Romans 3:4). Our sealing is of great use(1) To ourselves. To bind us more firmly to believe that doctrine and life according to it which we have owned by our consent (Isaiah 44:5; Psalm 87:6).
(2) To others (Isaiah 43:10). God's people that have such proofs of His power and providence are able to give sufficient testimony for Him, and others are confirmed in the faith of that which we attest when we live in holiness, patient and joyful under the cross (1 Thessalonians 1.5-7).
2. The matter confirmed — that God is true.
(1) God's truth is a great prop of faith (Hebrews 11:11). God can do anything, but cannot lie.
(2) The honour of His veracity is most pleasing to God (Psalm 138:2), just as men cannot endure the imputation of falsehood.
(3) The setting to one's seal that God is true supposeth some precedent obligation. God is engaged by promise to Christ that He will justify, sanctify, and glorify all those who believe in Him (Isaiah 53:10, 11). The soul that receiveth this testimony giveth it under hand and seal that God is as good as His word.
3. The use is to persuade us to so receive Christ's testimony that we put to our seal that God is true.
(1) From the honour done to God.
(2) The honour put upon us that we should confirm God's promises.
(3) The dishonour to God done by discrediting His word (1 John 5:10).Conclusion: In this scaling there are many things implied that most people want.
1. Spiritual evidence (1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 1:17, 18).
2. Some experience of the truth in comforting and changing the heart (1 John 1:1, 2).
3. Confidence in temptations (Job 13:15).
4. Holiness (1 Thessalonians 1:5-7).
(T. Manton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.