The Uniqueness of Christ's Testimony of Himself
Dr. Domenic Marbaniang
Jesus didn’t just make claims like “I am the Bread of Life” (Jn.6:48), “I am the Light of the world”(Jn.8:12), “I am the Gate” (Jn.10:9), “I am the Good Shepherd” (Jn.10:11), “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (Jn.11:25), and “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (Jn.14:6); Jesus also invited examination of His claims. He called upon men to examine the logic of His teaching and to evaluate what He said by what He did (Jn.10:38). There are a few characteristics of the testimony of Christ that we need to note:
1. The Testimony of Christ is Not Dependent upon the Testimony of Man. When Jesus was at Jerusalem and many people believed in Him because of the miraculous signs that He did, we are told that He would not entrust Himself to them for He knew all men and He did not need the testimony of man about man as well, for He knew what was in a man (Jn.2:25). Regarding the testimony of John the Baptist, Jesus said, “I do not receive testimony from man” (Jn.5:34). The reason, of course, was because it was impossible for any human being to testify of God; humans didn’t qualify for that.
2. The Testimony of Christ is Self-Authenticating. In John 4:39, we are told that people believed in Jesus because of what the Samaritan woman said about Him; however, when they heard Jesus Himself they said, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world." (Jn. 4:42 NKJ) Were these people too credulous? How could they just believe in Christ because of the words He spoke, for anyone could say anything? The fact, however, is that the words of Jesus are unlike the words of any other human. Christ’s testimony is unique. His testimony is self-authenticating. It is impossible to encounter Christ and remain the same, for anyone who encounters Christ has to make the choice to either reject or accept Him.
3. The Testimony of Christ is Authoritative and is Spiritually Recognized.The Gospel attests that Jesus spoke as one who had authority and not as the scribes (Matt.7:29). Several times He began His statements with the words “Truly, truly, I say unto you…” or simply “But, I say unto you,” even when those statements seemed to oppose the Old Testament Law; however, He wasn’t contradicting the Law but was establishing its real intent. Therefore, it is said that as long as the Jews read the Law a veil was over their face, but when anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is removed (2Cor.3:15,16). Authority and Testimony go together. For instance, when we see an ISI mark on a product sold in India, we understand that the product was examined by a standard authority and that authority bears testimony of the product by its ISI seal. Similarly, it is only the testimony of an authority on a driving license that establishes it as valid or invalid. Just anybody cannot issue licenses and degrees. A police officer who examines a driving license can tell if that license is acceptable or not. Jesus used the parable of the sheep to teach us that the sheep can recognize the voice of the Shepherd from that of the thief. Similarly, when God’s Spirit works in the heart of man then the eyes of spirit can recognize spiritual truths as our physical eyes can distinguish colors; our spiritual ears can distinguish the voice of the Lord. Of course, this seems too subjective; but, this also proves that the attester is internal.
“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For "who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ” (1Co 2:14-16 NKJ).
“If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (Jn.7:17 NIV).
“…no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1Co 12:3 NKJ).
But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him” (1Jn. 2:27 NKJ).
4. The Testimony of Christ is Triune. This is an unbeatably unique characteristic of the testimony of Christ. He made it clear that a testimony cannot just be self-declarative. It must be supported by the testimony of persons equal to the declarer (or say, be examinable by an equivalent or higher authority). Therefore, He said, “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid” (Jn.5:31 NIV). Also, since man is not equal to God nor qualifies to validate the kind of claims that Jesus made (because His claims were explicitly divine), Jesus refused the testimony of man. As we saw, He said, “I do not receive testimony from man” (Jn.5:34). But again, when the Pharisees objected that Jesus was testifying about Himself and so His testimony could not be valid, Jesus replied, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. (Jn. 8:14 NIV). Evidently, here again, He was pointing to the fact that there could be no earthly testimony about Him. No earthly academic or political or religious authority was qualified to testify of Him (neither did they testify of Him), and He was the only one who knew where He came from and where He was going. Therefore, it is very wrong headed for preachers today to seek testimony about Christ in anything other than the proclamation and work of Christ.
But, Jesus didn’t stop at that. He explained to the people that He didn’t mean that His testimony was alone. This is where the intensity of the doctrine of Trinity comes in. No man or angel could testify of the claims of Christ, for their authority could only come from someone who is qualified to validate them; and since His claims were divine, only God could validate divine claims, and, there can be none greater than God. However, since God is Triune, the requirement of the Law to have more than two witnesses is fulfilled in Christ. He said, “In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me." (Jn. 8:17-18 NIV) Again, He said, “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, He will testify about me. (Jn. 15:26 NIV). Thus, it is Christ, the Father, and the Spirit that together testify of Christ, and their testimony is valid for their testimony is divine. The Father Himself testified of Jesus at His baptism and on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the Holy Spirit was sent to remind the disciples of Christ’s words and to write the Scriptures:
“And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Mat 3:17 NKJ).
“While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid” (Mat 17:5-6 NKJ).
“For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain” (2Pe 1:17-18 NKJ).
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (Jn. 14:26 NKJ).
“…the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow”(1Pe 1:11 NKJ).
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2Ti 3:16 NKJ).
5. The Testimony of Christ is Dynamic. The Triune testimony of Christ is not only verbal but also dynamic, i.e. it is validated by works. The Son does the work of the Father and the works testify of Him; similarly, the Spirit confirms the word today in the world through works that only God can do.
“…the works which the Father has given Me to finish-- the very works that I do-- bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me” (Jn. 5:36 NKJ).
“…though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (Jn.10:38 NKJ).
"Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father” (Jn.14:10-12 NKJ).
“If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father” (Jn. 15:24 NKJ).
“And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (Mar 16:20 NKJ).
“And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover" (Mar 16:17-18 NKJ).
“God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will” (Heb 2:4 NKJ).
“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…” (Heb 3:7-8 NKJ).
Remember that the testimony by supernatural works that we see today in the world is not the testimony of man; it is the testimony of the Triune God (the Father, the Son, and the Spirit) in the world bearing testimony of Christ.He is not far from any of us (Acts 17:27). He is in the world testifying of Himself. He has not left the Church alone to bear testimony of Him (Jn.14:18; Acts 1:8). In fact, it is impossible to testify of Christ without the Spirit of Christ, and without Him we can do nothing (Jn.15:5; Col.1:29; 1Cor.15:10). It is He Himself who testifies and His testimony is true. And, “as He is, so are we in this world” (1Jn. 4:17 NKJ).