This is he who came by water and blood–Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.
Ok, what in the world is this passage talking about?! Well, let’s see if we can break it down a bit. Blood is clearly referring to the Crucifixtion, and water is referring to baptism. But how does Jesus come (literally “is the coming” in the Greek) through crucifixion and baptism? Is it referring to our redemption and baptism, or His death and baptism? There can be much discussion of this, but for now we will simply go with my opinion.
The passage is talking about how Christ comes into our hearts, through the redemption in Christ, and through our baptism. However, it is the Spirit that bears witness that Jesus does redeem us, and that our baptism is true.
The point is to give us confidence in our place in Christ. I don’t know whether or not you have noticed this yet or not, but this is a constant theme in I John: how can we be sure who is saved and who isn’t? In this case, that question is a little different: how can I know that I am saved? Answer: Christ’s redeeming death, your baptism by the Chruch, and the Holy Spirit inside of you. These things bear witness to your eternal statis, and bears witness for every Christian.
A Christian is not someone who has all of the right doctrine, or someone who does all the right things. A Christian is someone who has Jesus Christ in their hearts, someone for whom Christ has come. If you feel unsure of your salvation, if you feel unsure of where you are with Christ, remember three things: the blood, the water, and the Spirit.
The blood was for you. How do I know this? Because I’m Arminian; the blood is for everyone. If you think about it, it is the only way to have confidence in this. You know what Christ has done, and you know that He has done it for you, and that He loves you. This isn’t a matter of being confident that you are one who was elected from eternity past. Instead, it is being confident in the character and person of Jesus Christ, and being confident that what He has done is sufficient for your redemption.
We do not believe that baptism saves you. Indeed, the blood is what saves you. But baptism is something that you find confidence in, because it was through the baptism that you came into the church. Now there are many different understandings on how baptism works, and I don’t want to get into that. But regardless, you can be confident that God will honor your baptism, and count you amoung His church.
Jesus Christ sent the Comforter after he ascended to heaven. Through the presence of the Spirit, we can be sure that Jesus is in us, for the Spirit comforts us when we doubt. If you have recieved the Spirit, then you have recieved Christ, for they are the same being. They are inseperable. That inner sense of the present of the Spirit tells you that you are saved, and bears witness to the validity of the blood and the water.
Therefore, don’t go up to the alter again. Don’t pray another’s sinner’s prayer. Instead, be confident in the work already done in you, and live out of that confidence.