This passage declares a double testimony of our relationship to God:
Verse 16 is added without a connective, and the Greek language loves to tie all its sentences together with connectives.
This lack of one acts like a finger that stops us and directs our attention to what is now added.
It is saying, "Get this!"
This very verse is the declaration of a personal function: the Spirit's witness.
In all the great experiences of life we need a voice other than our own to complete the degree of satisfaction,
which begins in our own conscious awareness.
In common affairs we may be strong enough without external encouragement;
but when life lunges into a crisis, we need something more.
There are times when we need to hear our own convictions reiterated by the voice of another.
Let that second witness be greater than ourselves, and His testimony will bring with it the strength and comfort that we need.
He is wiser than men and at once we are filled with peace and joy unspeakable.
The importance of having the Spirit as the chief witness will appear
from the nature of the facts to be witnessed to - namely, " that we are the children of God."
I could not receive this testimony on the authority of a mere human.
Though that person may be wise and holy, the subject is beyond that person's knowing and ability.
But the Holy Spirit was there when I was born again.
He knows when the act of grace became a reality for me.
He knows when Jesus came into my heart.
These are things that are known by the Holy Spirit because it was because of Him and through Him
that all these experiences were made to happen.
A witness is simply one who has witnessed a transaction, and who bears witness of that transaction
to another who did not witness it.
"The Holy Spirit bears witness with..."
A witness bears testimony to a particular fact:
The witness of the Spirit varies as we do individually.
It is terribly wrong to set up one sole exclusive standard of spiritual evidence and spiritual life.
It is precisely here that a great many people make a mistake.
They compare their experience with a Christian they believe is living closer to Christ
and assume that they must not have been saved.
They observe the life of one who seems to be a super Christian and decide that they are not saved.
They are ready to give up in despair.
The only real religion is the work of the Holy Spirit in our souls.
By all means, make sure that your worship stands true with the Word of God,
and the forms of worship which enable you to stay close to God.
But, be sure of this!
Creeds and forms of worship, however solemn and impressive, and all the religious activity you can stuff
into all the years of your life, can never give you a Christian life.
You must be born of the Spirit!
The manner of this new creation may differ in a thousand ways.
With some, it may be soft and gentle or as gradual as the dawning of a new day.
With others, it may be like the blasting of cannons or like the roar of the ocean.
But, how do we know this?
We know, when we feel conscious not so much of possessing a life, as of a life possessing us.
The witness of the Spirit is not to our spirits that we are the children of God.
It is with our spirits that God is our Father.
He takes the things of Christ and makes them known unto us.
There is in Christ a sight of our sin that humbles and shames us, yet, there is a sight of His love that overwhelms us.
The Spirit puts us in possession of that love as our own;
and in loving tenderness the Father bends over us so lovingly that our hearts cry, "Abba, Father."
A blessed consciousness is wrought within us, which has some room for pride,
but only for assurance, self-forgetfulness, wonder, gratitude, and happy obedience in love to our heavenly Father.
So, as the Spirit witnesses with us, not only by way of assurance, but by way of assistance,
His testimony has an influence upon ours. He helps us to witness to ourselves.
So, the "Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit:"
So, the witness of the Spirit:
But, the highest honor of all is to be the "children of God."
Such a stupendous relationship staggers our belief.
To be fully assured of our Divine adoption demands more than our testimony
or that of our own feelings or the opinion of others like us.
Our feelings may mislead us, and the opinion of others may deceive us, but the "Spirit Himself beareth witness..."
Now we have the greatest privilege, the greatest honor that man could have, and that is to say, "Abba, Father."
I can dare to call the God of all creation, Father.
That is incredible!
There are and will be moments of dullness and of coldness in our Christian life,
and there will be dangerous and perilous times.
A true remedy is to abide in Christ, and then our spiritual nature will quickly improve.
Instead of looking for artificial tests of the vitality of our spiritual life:
No one should be content until that glorious certainty is theirs!
Sermon is by Dr. Harold L. White
You can email Dr. White at firstname.lastname@example.org