Eternal Life is Available “Now!”
© 2022 C. O. Bishop
John 5:24 etc.
Last week we delved extensively into the fact that Jesus is the Judge of all the Earth: We camped out on the scriptural evidence that this statement is not “hyperbole,” nor a misunderstanding of Jesus’s words. He really is the Judge!
But we also pointed out what had gone before: in John 3:14-19, we saw that He is also the only Savior offered: and that faith in Him was the only requirement for salvation.
There is a persistent pattern of human thought, however, suggesting that the “eternality” of “eternal life” is somehow dependent upon me, rather than depending on the Eternal truth of the Eternal Word of the Eternal Judge of all the Earth. Do you see the flaw in that reasoning?
There is nothing eternal or even reliably “long-lasting” about my works, my attitude, my thoughts, or my “Aptitude for Good.” If my eternal destiny is in any way dependent upon my persistence, my faithfulness, or any other human attribute, then I literally have no hope.
What Does Jesus Say?
Ultimately, I want to depend upon what Jesus says, in this and any other concern. Even in the Old Testament, we are instructed to set aside “self-help”, and our “do-it-yourself” plans and schemes, because “All of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” We are told to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
So, it was no great surprise to hear Jesus tell Nicodemus (who was a good man and a righteous man, by all human standards, and specifically by Orthodox Jewish standards) that he could not hope to enter heaven without being born again. But it was quite a shock to Nicodemus! He needed some explanation: and that explanation is what we read in John 3:14-19.
We saw Jesus standing as God’s only solution for the Sin of the Human Race, just as in Numbers 21, the bronze serpent on the pole stood as God’s only salvation from the deadly snake-bites.
We saw that whoever places their faith in His sacrifice at the Cross will not perish, but have eternal life. Finally, we saw that the faith was not only the requirement for eternal life, it was the only hope for eternal life: that those who do not believe in Him are already condemned: but they still have the option to change their minds (that is what “repent” means) and believe in Him.
What else does Jesus Say?
In John 6:29, Jesus says the only “work” God is looking for in regard to salvation, is to believe in Him. And He said this in answer to people who were definitely looking for something They could do to please God. They were not looking for what seems to us an “easy way.”
But Jesus completely “leveled the playing field” for all people, by making faith the only requirement: You see, Faith is a choice! Faith is a choice that anyone can make, and it is always by the person’s own free will. I cannot force anyone to believe anything: they have to choose. Nor can I prevent anyone from making the choice to believe something. This is the ultimate in “Human Rights and Freedom:” The right to believe.
Who draws us to believe?
In John 6:44, we read that “No man can come unto me except the Father draw him.” That is what Jesus said, and I believe it without question. But I join with it what He said in John 12:32, regarding His own agency for faith: “And, I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.”
This passage, along with a variety of verses in both Old and New Testaments, teaching that the Father and Son are at least on the same team, and evidently so nearly the same person that we can’t tell the difference, collectively assure me that every single human is being “drawn” to believe.
Does Jesus “Reject” Anyone?
Well, there are plenty of human commentators who adamantly insist that “if we sin enough or if we sin badly enough” (or some other such failing) then, in spite of His ‘gift of eternal life,’ God will definitely kick us out!” Odd…that does not seem to reflect well on the nature of either a gift, or the integrity of the One who gave it, since He describes it as “eternal.” (Last time I looked, the word, “eternal” meant, “It will last forever!”) But what does Jesus say about this idea?
John 6:37 says, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” “In NO WISE…” If you have come to Him in faith that His blood is the full payment for your sins, then under no circumstances will He cast you out!
I had a long-running conversation with an elderly woman who absolutely believed that if she failed to “hold up her end of the bargain,” then God would renege on all His promises and condemn her. I knew she had a number of children, some adopted, so I asked her under what circumstances would she quit caring for and renounce her children. She was adamant that her love for all of them was unconditional, and that under no circumstances would she disinherit or disown her children. So, I asked “Why do you think that you are a better parent than God is?”
She was shocked, and insisted that she had said no such thing. I reminded her that she had said that if she wasn’t “Good” enough, or if she “Sinned” too much, then God would deny her a position in His family. That seemed to silence her for a while…she had to reconsider what she believed. Sometime later, she affirmed that God’s promises were solid…and that her salvation was secure. She died in peace, knowing that Her Savior was with her.
In John 10:27-30 Jesus says, “27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and my Father are one.”
That is quite a statement!
What truths can we find in this short passage? Here are seven to consider:
- My sheep hear my voice (faith? Romans 10:17)
- I know them (regardless of what other people think of them. Romans 14:4)
- They follow me. (This is what should characterize all believers. There have been and will continue to be exceptions.)
- I give unto them eternal life and They shall never perish.
- Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
- No man can pluck them out of My Father’s hand.
- The Father and I are One.
Possibly someone might see this differently, but, let’s have a look at those seven statements:
- Jesus counts His sheep as those who hear His voice…those who believe Him…take Him at His Word. I can see this in Genesis, where it says that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. And, in the New Testament, we find that his nephew, Lot, was also counted righteous: Why? Surely not for his works: he was such a mess that even his sons-in-law didn’t believe him. Evidently it was also by faith.
- Jesus knows His sheep, even when others do not. Lot, again, is a prime example; but there is a whole list in Hebrews 11, which, taken one by one, turn out to be a fairly rough bunch of people.
- As a rule, these people follow Jesus. To one degree or another, they see Him as their true Lord. There are so many counterexamples, that it is actually hard to find one which really fulfills this. The best two I can come up with are Daniel and Joshua. But, in Romans 7:17 and in Ephesians 4:22-24, we get a hint of how God may see this: In Romans seven, Paul points out the sharp distinction between the old and new nature… and that God no longer sees your old nature as “you.” He is only working with the new nature, making no attempt to straighten out the old nature: it is incorrigible, irreparable and unredeemable. God says so.
In Ephesians 4:22-24, we see how God sees your new nature: It is created in His likeness, in righteousness and true holiness. From that viewpoint, every single one of His sheep “follow” Him! It is just that every single one of them also has an old sin nature, and that old sin nature will never follow Jesus!
- Jesus gave us eternal life, and He says that means we will never perish. Whatever “ifs, ands, or buts” people try to add to this promise, it all adds up to “I don’t believe Jesus!” If I try to add, “so long as you keep walking with Him.” then I am negating His promise. If I even add “So long as I keep believing.” I am negating His clear promise. Think carefully before you try to change His words. This is a serious issue.
- No man can pluck them out of my hand. (That includes you, my friend: I have heard people say, “They can’t ‘pluck you out,’ and He won’t ‘cast you out,’ but you can surely ‘jump out!’” (Sorry: Romans 8:39 says “no created thing can separate me from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus.” I’m a created thing. I can’t do it, either!)
- No man can pluck them out of my Father’s hand. This sounds redundant, until you consider the mental image of two hands, enclosing the otherwise helpless soul. We are completely enclosed in the Grace and the Faithfulness of God!
- The Father and I are One. There’s the bottom line: Jesus, as God the Son, is so completely in unity with God the Father, that their purpose is completely united…and both of them insist that we are safe in Christ!
What relief and what peace, I can feel, knowing that my security in Christ is not dependent upon my feeble attempts to walk with Him!
When is it available? NOW!
So, here in John 5:24, Jesus makes an amazing promise which covers my past, my present, and my future. The question may still arise as to when that promise will be fulfilled. I have actually had people read this promise out loud and (whether consciously or unconsciously,) add a word, changing the tense: They read it, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my voice and believeth on him that sent me, will have everlasting life and will not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.”
How very different that is from what the promise actually says! Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my voice and believeth on him that sent me, has everlasting life and will not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.”
Do you see the difference? One idea promises “pie in the sky when we die.” That leaves open to the imagination all the possible restrictions and caveats and possible failures on our side. The actual promise offers eternal life now. It goes on to guarantee that that person will never be condemned by God. And it concludes that this person, through that single act of faith has permanently been transferred from death into life! And the person who is making the promise is the Eternal Judge of all the Universe! He just got done explaining that one, in the last verse!
Just in case you think I am “stretching the scriptures,” here in John 5, let’s turn to the back of our Bible and read 1st John 5:11-13.
“11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
Not only did He make the promise that you can have eternal life now, but He states that He wants you to know you have it! We have frequently heard it taught that “you can ‘hope,’ but you cannot ‘know‘.”
Jesus says you can know that you have eternal life and that He wants you to know it!
Believe His Promise and Rest in Him!
Lord Jesus, teach us to rest in You, knowing that Your righteousness has been imputed to us, and that Your Grace is what saves us, and that our faith, regardless of how weak and faltering, was all you required in order to begin walking with You. Give us the faith to rest in your promise and to follow you more faithfully.