Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. – 1 John 5:10 ESV
1 John 5:6-12
The problem with many of us as Christians is that we live in the past. We can recall the place, date and time when we accepted Jesus as our Savior. We can give our “testimony” as if it happened yesterday. But sadly, for more than a few believers, it makes little difference in the way they live their lives today. It is interesting that, as John attempts to assure us of the truth of Jesus’ role as the Son of God, he uses present-tense language when talking about our belief. He writes, “whoever believes” – present tense. When he speaks of “whoever does not believe God,” he also uses the present tense again, along with the active voice. John’s emphasis seems to be on a progressive, ongoing and active belief that is taking place in the present, not just the past. Having had a past belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God is all well and good, but that belief should be continuous, having an impact on our lives in the here-and-now. Saving faith is present-tense faith. It doesn’t live in the past, as some distant memory, but is an ever-present, always growing reality in the life of the believer. Peter tells us, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2 ESV). Paul told the believers in Ephesus they were to move from immaturity to maturity, “growing in every way more and more like Christ” (Ephesians 4:15 NLT). Neither Peter or Paul were suggesting that we can become any more saved than we already are, but we can continue to increase in our faith and grow in confidence that what we believed in at a given point in time was really true and continues to be true.
The real question we need to consider is what is the nature of our belief today? Has our faith increased? Are we still placing our trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord? I am not suggesting that you can lose your salvation. And neither was John. But our belief in Jesus Christ should be active and ongoing. The idea that I prayed a prayer, walked the aisle, gave my life to Christ or got “born again” is all well and good, but is my faith alive and well? Is my belief present tense? Is it active and growing? I have often wondered what our testimony really should be. Many of us have been trained to see our testimony as a past event. In other words, we think of it in terms of a point in time where we “accepted” Jesus. For me, that event took place nearly 53 years ago. I was seven years old and walked down the aisle of the church during what our denomination called the “invitation.” It was at that moment I “gave my life to Jesus.” That became my testimony. When someone asked me to share my testimony, it was to that point in time I would refer. But the older I get the more I realize that my testimony is a living thing. It is ongoing and alive. When a lost person wants to know what Jesus means to me, they are looking for present tense implications, not some past experience to which they can’t relate. They want to know what Jesus is doing in my life right now. My testimony should be an evolving, ever-growing thing, as I continue to live out my life in faith and trust in God and His Son.
It is faith that is active and alive that gives us assurance. John writes, “ I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13 ESV). Once again, John uses the present tense. My ongoing belief in Jesus provides me with an ongoing assurance of eternal life. I have eternal life right now. It is not just a future promise, but a present reality. The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised” (Hebrews 10:35-36 NLT). The apostle Paul encourages us to keep on keeping on. He wants us to have an active, ongoing, present-tense faith. “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT). Keep on believing. Keep on trusting. Live in the present tense. Let your testimony be a living, vibrant, ever-changing witness to the goodness of God, the reality of your salvation, and the life-transforming power of the Spirit of God in your life.