Sweet Sunday Sermon – Eternal Life Through Believing
Submitted by Dr. GP
In John’s gospel, everything subserves the developing of certain RECURRENT IDEAS. These recurrent ideas are assembled in the prologue, and the first chapter, and then developed right through to the end. These recurrent ideas are not mere abstractions of John’s own producing, but are spiritual truths outgrowing from fertile facts.
From a large store of available data John selects just those which demonstrate and develop the central truths of his treatise; of which the central one is, ETERNAL LIFE BY BELIEVING ON JESUS AS SON OF GOD AND SAVIOUR OF MEN, (John 20:30-31).
Let us trace John’s recurrent idea of life by believing, because among the recurrent ideas which run through the book of John, this one carries John’s main purpose as given in his practical purpose in 20:31.
“That ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life” (20:31).
That word “believe” occurs in its several forms ninety-eight times; the words “life” (zoe) and “live (zao) fifty-five times.
When we pick out the principal references to eternal life (1:4, 3:14-16, 3:36, 4:10-14, 5:24-29, 6:35-55, 8:12, 10:28,29, 11:25,26, 17:3, etc.), we discover an unmistakable progress of doctrine, as each new reference reveals a further truth in such a way, that to transpose any would spoil the order.
Here we see the guidance of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostle John in the writing of this Gospel according to the principle found in Isaiah 28:10, that “precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.
We start with chapter 1:4, 5, 9 –where the first thing that we learn is that eternal life is in the Son, who is also the true Light of men which gives light to every man coming into the world. Jesus, the light
and that its first action upon the soul is to give light. This light which reveals spiritual realities, by “shining in the darkness,”to reveal human sin and Divine truth.
Second, in chapter 3:14-16, we learn that eternal life is imparted to us through faith in the Calvary work of the Savior-Son, and that it is eternal.
Next, in chapter 3:36, the word “hath” leaps to the eye, telling us that eternal life is the present possession of the believer. There is nothing doubtful; it does not say “may have.” Nor is it only future; for the word is “hath,” meaning here and now.
In chapter 4:14,we note that eternal life is not only a present possession but an inward satisfaction. We drink, and the life-giving drought becomes a very fountain within the soul, ever springing, ever satisfying.
Chapter 5:24 reveals that the possession of eternal life through faith in the Savior gives exemption from judgment.The word “condemnation” here is krisis (judgment) and refers to the final judgment of Mankind, as shown in verse 29..
Possessors of eternal life is a pass-over from “death” in sin, to “life” in Christ. Once for all, Jesus bore the penalty due to the believer’s sin; and once for all, therefore, eternal life in Him delivers from penal judgment.
In His great discourse in chapter 6:35-55 we see that our Lord is the Bread of Life to the believer. He became thus by giving His flesh and blood (verses 51,53) on the cross. He also indicates that feeding upon Him is believing, and that the sustenance thereby derived is spiritual (verses 35,56,63), and on going. Furthermore, Jesus promised that he will raise such believers up at the last day” (verses 39,40,44,54).
Next, in chapter 8:12, we are taught that the Christian walk is to be a walk of confident assurance, because the believer has Jesus the “light of life.”
Chapter 10:27-29 pictures the believer as being held secure in the interlocked grasp of both the Son and the Father is the strongest possible assurance that eternal life means eternal preservation.
Then in chapter 11:25& 26 Jesus said “He that believeth in Me, though he may have died, at “the last day” (i.e the rapture), yet shall he live [for I am the resurrection]; and whosoever is [then] living and believing in Me shall never die [for I am the life].” So all the possessors of eternal life in Christ are to share in the promised age-end transfiguration of Philippians 3.20-21 & I John 3:2 & 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians15.
Finally, chapter 17: Verse 2 says that the Son imparts eternal life to “as many as” the Father has “given Him”, i.e those who through faith have responded to the Father’s gift of the Son. Note that in this chapter seven times Jesus speaks of those who the Father has “given Him.”
In verse 3, Jesus taught that life eternal, is to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom God sent.
He said in verse 8” For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.”
We know from John 6:37, that all who accept Christ are drawn to Him by the Father.
So the eternal life which believers possess through the Saviour is to be consummated in a heavenly glorification. Verse 24 says “ Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me”
Thus we see a progression of disclosure:
First we see that this life is in the Son, and is an exposure-light on sin and darkness.
Next we see that the life is received by faith on the Sin-bearer who died at Calvary. Then, successively, it is a present possession, an inward satisfaction, an exemption from judgment, an assurance and preservation, it awaits age-end transfiguration, and is to be consummated in heavenly glorification.
John has all this in mind when he writes at the end of his Gospel:
“These are written that ye night believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His Name.”
Oh, how simple is the way into eternal life.
Just “BELIEVE” in the INCARNATE WORD, and ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON.