Eternal Life (John 10:28)
Life: God's Gift to Man
It has been my intention over the last few weeks to concentrate our thoughts and attention on God's precious gift to us called life. To that end, we have looked at the original creation of life in the very beginning of time as God created man in His image and likeness and breathed into that body the breath of life.
We have looked at what did God in salvation to give us new life in Christ in a process He referred to as being "born again".
And we've looked at the value God gives to that life with every human being precious in His sight, so much so that He would give His only Son to redeem us and allow us the privilege of living forever with Him.
Now but what I have discovered as I've studied and prepared and presented these message to you is that it is impossible to talk about life without talking about death. In fact, any studied and reasonable discussion of life and its preciousness must include also a discussion of death.
In the beginning, when life was first created and placed on the earth, the consequences of sin brought death. When Jesus talked to Nicodemus about being born again, He also talked about those who didn't believe and how they were condemned and would perish.
The value of life is amplified and magnified as we think about the tragedy of millions of babies being killed and how much the sanctity of life is disregarded in today's culture.
So inherent in any reasoned and logical presentation regarding life, must be the inclusion of the reality and finality of death, both physical and spiritual.
I have been around death most of my life. When I was a student in middle and high school, I would get an excused absence when I would have to play the piano for funerals. From the time I was 23, I've been preaching funerals and attending funerals and assisting families when loved ones die. So it's not hard for me to accept the fact that death is just a part of life.
In fact, studying and collecting tombstone epitaphs has become a favorite hobby of mine. A couple of favorites:
On a tombstone in England:
The children of Israel wanted bread, And the Lord sent them manna, Old Bill Wallace wanted a wife, And the Devil sent him Anna.
Under the sod and under the trees, Lies the body of Jonathan Pease. He is not here, there's only the pod; Pease shelled out and went to God.
She always said her feet were killing her, but nobody believed her.
Several: "I told you I was sick!"
Then there's just the names that make tombstones unusual:
- waldo (just in case you're wondering where he is)
One of these days when you to
- time runs out
I also make it my habit to read obituaries. I do it to see if there are connections to church families, but I also enjoy reading the histories and information of people, whether I know them or not.
Recently I read the obituary of a man whose family I've known all my life, and while I will keep his name private, I'll read you what the obituary said:
"There is no past. There is no future. There is only now. The only truth is the moment. At this moment I am dead."
The illogic of much of that statement is obvious. The line that says, "At this moment I am dead" wasn't true when it was written, for the individual was very much alive at that time. SO there must be a "past" because that's when the thing was written!
And there must be a future because the statement that was written in the past is now being heard by you sometime after it was written.
But the most intriguing part of the statement, I found to the line about being dead at this moment.
Perhaps without knowing it, the person who penned that testimony spoke one of the greatest Scriptural truths found in the Bible. Because, in fact, Scripture marks one primary division between man.
The world divides men horizontally. We call peple lower, middle or upper class. Very often those distinctions are made based on social or economic factors.
But God divides vertically. He draws only one line of demarcation among humans and that line separates the saved from the lost. Or we could call them the "haves" and the have nots". Those who are saved have a relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and others do not have that relationship.
Or to the use the language from our friend's obituary, at this moment, some are alive; others are dead, and not just physically, but spiritually. Now those who have, those who are saved, are described as "having eternal life". Those who do not are said to be perishing or condemned.
We saw that earlier in our study of John 3:16 which reminds us that whoever believes in Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, has everlasting life. Those who don't are condemned and perishing because they have not believed.
So the issue is not whether or not you embrace the doctrine of a certain group or denomination. It is not whether or not you will become a Baptist. The issue is whether or not you will live or die.
And when you see it that way, it is not so easy to disregard the gospel or say "I'll get around to it someday" or "I don't believe what you're saying. After all, you have your beliefs and I have mine".
That is not the issue! At issue is whether or not you will live or die. At this moment are you alive or are you dead? That is the issue. And everyone in this building is going to walk out of here in a few moments either alive or dead.
The Gospel message is not primarily a message to be believed. Rather it is a life to be received. And what God is trying to do is get men to receive this eternal life that He offers.
So that raises an intriguing question: What is this eternal or everlasting life that we have? Turn to 1 John 5 with me and let's see if we can discover some answers.
1 John 5:6-13
Now the "He" that is being discussed in verse 6 is none other than Jesus Christ. And the setting is that of a courtroom. And there are three witnesses being called to testify to the authenticity of the Son of God.
Notice, there is water, which is a reference to His baptism, there is blood, which refers to the cross, and there is the Holy Spirit Who is making the application of all the things that are written in the Word to our hearts.
And John pictures this scene in which Jesus is on trial and God Himself is taking the witness stand in an attempt to get you and me to receive eternal life. ANd one by one these witnesses are called to corroborate His testimony.
When Jesus was baptized, the heavens opened and this voice from heaven was heard that said, "This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well-pleased."
So the water, if you will, verifies that He was, in fact, the Son of God.
Then the blood makes its entrance and that calls to mind what happened at the cross. When Jesus died, there were so many supernatural events that transpired that it caused a pagan Roman solider to say, "Truly this was the Son of God."
Then the Holy Spirit takes the stand. This is the same Holy Spirit that
- gave us the Word of God
- established the church
- brings man into a saving relationship with God
And all of it ties together as God takes the witness stand in the courtroom of your life to say, "I have given unto you eternal life. It is in My Son. Now what will you do with that offer? Will you believe?"
And in verse 9 he makes the point that we have no probelm accepting the tesimony of man and the testimony of God is even greater. In fact, to not accept God's Word is to call God a liar!
So what will you do with God's testimony?
And pay particular attention to
So what is this "eternal life" that He has given to man? Let me suggest four answers. First,
1. Eternal Life is God's Own Life
Look again at verse 11
Now I am convinced if we ever really get a good understanding of this verse, it will settle most of the issues surrounding our salvation.
At issue is eternal life. We throw those words around a lot and say amen and talk and sing about it. But I think it would interesting to pin folks down and see how they define eternal life. Most would say it means living forever because eternity is something that goes on and on.
And that is true. But it's not all that is meant by eternal life.
In fact, living forever is really only incidental when you're talking about eternal life. As a matter of fact, living forever under the wrong circumstances is not a very good deal!
Why do you think suicide is so rampant? It is because people don't want to live right now, much less forever! So there has to be something more to eternal life than just living forever.
Think about it this way: There is only One Person you can legitimately refer to as eternal and that is God. He is the only one that description fits. Nothing else is eternal. God and God alone is uniquely eternal.
So when the Bible tells us that God has given us eternal life that means God has given to us His own life. That means eternal life is God's life deposited into a human being. It is a brand new life lived in a brand new way. It is life characterized by the quality, character and nature of God.
Eternal life is everything that God originally intended man to be. That means God does such a work of regeneration that it lifts us above the pettiness of human life so that we now enjoy an existence, a life that transcends everything human and live in a new world. We have eternal life.
And don't miss the fact that it is a present possession. We have eternal life. It is not something I get when I die, I have it right now. Is that not what we read in verse 11? God has given us eternal life. That means right now, I have eternal life!
That means I am not bound by this worlds problems, tears, anxiety or sickness. I am involved in them, no doubt. But I am not bound by them because I have eternal life.
Let me see if I can illustrate that for you. When Lisa and I married, I was driving a new Dodge 400 convertible. She was driving a 1972 Buick Skylark, white over gold. We affectionately referred to it as "the Rod".
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who got to drive what after the wedding took place! One day I was coming into town on Lake Murray Drive. I had just come under the railroad bridge heading north when the transmission failed. I shouldn't say it failed because I discovered I still had reverse, so it wasn't a complete failure.
I called Lisa's dad and he told about a transmission shop down on Moore and that I should see if I could get it there. Well, I had reverse, so I backed it to the transmission shop. Let me just give you a word of counsel. If you encounter someone backing their car on a public street like that, they don't need you to honk and let them know you're going in reverse. I promise, if they are sober, they know it!
Well, a few days later, we picked up the car. I got in it, shifted down to "D" and took off and that old Buick worked just like it was supposed to. Do you know why? Because they put a new transmission in it.
Now it didn't look a bit different on the outside, but I was able to drive it as it was intended to be driven because something new had been added.
Now stay with me: Without the addition of God's life, man does not operate as God intended him to operate. He goes in reverse when he should be going forward. He gets off the road and has wrecks and encounters all kinds of issues.
But when God saves a man, he goes in the right direction! He wills till have some problems. He still looks the same on the outside. He may have a fender bender or two.
But after a person is saved they can hear God say, "Now you are living like I intended you to live."
Why is that true? Because something new has been added on the inside. God Himself has taken up residence within that body. God's own nature, God's own life has been added. That's what eternal life is.
Not only is it God's life, eternal life is
2. God's Gift
So let's think about what we read there and just approach it logically. It says God has "given" us eternal life. So it was something that God had and he gave it to us. That's the same thing Paul wrote to the Romans when he said, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life."
Again, just thinking logically, if eternal life is God's own life becoming ours, then for us to receive it, it has to be a gift.
Is that right? Shaking your head up and down indicates "yes".
So let's take it a step farther, again, just approaching it logically.
If eternal life is God's own life and if, for a human to receive it, God must give it to him, then for you to save yourself, you would have to become God. And obviously, that's not going to happen!
That means, if salvation is God giving us His life, then it must be a gift. There is no human way possible to earn it. In fact, it is would be just as easy for you to turn yourself into God as it would be for you to earn salvation.
It is God's gift.
And I want to hurry, because I can't wait to share #3 with you! But before we get there, think about this:
Eternal life is God's own life, it is God's gift, and
3. It is in His Son
Now this is very important. Notice again what we read in
That is word for word what I just said. It says, "This life is in His Son."
In other words, it dwells or resides or lives in God's Son.
That means eternal life is not in
- church membership
- doing good deeds
- Christian works
- Scripture memorization
- giving offerings and tithes
It is in Jesus, God's Son.
So verse 11 tells us this life is in God's Son. Then notice what follows that statement in
If a person has Jesus, possesses Jesus, he has, he possesses eternal life.
If he does not have Jesus, he does not possess eternal life.
You say, "Well preacher, why are you stressing that?" Only because God stresses it!
Let me remind you of something:
This letter from which we are reading and studying called 1 John was written to saved folk, yet it sounds and reads like it was written to lost folk.
Why? One of the primary themes or targets of 1 john is those who profess salvation but do not possess salvation.
For many, being a Christian is nothing more than words of description, much like referring to America as a Christian nation.
Everybody know that is not true of the majority of its population or practices. It's just a way to differentiate us from Muslim or pagan countries.
A lot of people go to church, they read their Bibles, they are familiar with Jesus and His teachings, their grandma was a godly lady and charter member of the church, but they have never had a genuine salvation experience with the Lord Jesus Christ.
In fact, I'm convinced there are a great many who believe eternal life is found in their realtionship with their church.
let me illustrate that. Let's just suppose I'm out on I-35 going south out of town, and as I'm traveling along, I see Bro. Jimmy sitting on top of a sign out beside the highway that tells how many miles it is to Dallas/Ft. Worth.
So I pull over and say, "Hey Bro. Jimmy, what are you doing?" He says, "I'm going to Ft. Worth." I say, "What do you mean you're going to Ft. Worth?"
He says, "Don't you see this sign I'm sitting on? It says, 'Ft, Worth. That's where I want to go and Brutha, I'm going!'"
Do you know what I would say to Bro. Jimmy? I would say, "But Jimmy, the sign won't take you to Ft. Worth. It just points the way."
Do you know the tragedy that surrounds us? There are far too many people sitting on the sign of religion. They've got a church membership and a Bible under their arm. They've been baptized. But they are doing nothing more than sitting on the signs that are designed to point them to Jesus.
Talk to them about their relationship with God and they'll tell you when they were baptized or what church they joined. Don't you see my sign? It says "this way to heaven", and brother, I'm going!
But I am here to tell you: The sign won't take you to heaven. It just points the way.
There is only one way to heaven. God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son and he who has the Son has life and he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
On last thing:
4. Eternal Life is God-Assured
You ought to underline that phrase, "that you may know". And by the way, the word know carries the idea of knowing with absolute certainty. John says, "I am writing these things so you can know with absolute certainty that you have eternal life."
Now, I want to tell you something:
If the issue of the gospel is not simply choosing to believe a certain doctrinal statement or creed and if it is a matter of life and death, then the most important thing you can ever know is whether or not you are alive or dead.
In fact, the greatest fool in this building this morning is the one is who willing to walk out the door without knowing where he stands with God.
And God says through His servant John, "There is something I want you to know. I want you to be certain that you have eternal life." I realize there are a lot of voices out there that say you can't be sure, that you can never be for certain, but God says otherwise. We just read it!
In fact, assurance is the birthright that God gives to every believer. So how can we know? John gives us three ways we can be sure.
First we can know because of the
- Eternal Word (Bible)
How can we be sure we have eternal life? The best and most accurate way is through what the Bible tells us. Your primary basis for assurance is what God has given you in His Word.
Many people doubt their salvation because they do not understand the basis for their salvation. Have you ever an experience where someone who thought they were saved wasn't and they make a public profession of their faith, and you go home and think, "Man if they weren't saved, what in the world makes you think you are? "
Did something like that ever cause any of you to doubt? And compounding the confusion, you can't remember all the details of your salvation experience.
And then some preacher tells you if you don't remember the time on the clock and the date on the calendar and the color of the carpet and what kind of after shave the preacher was wearing then you can't be saved!
And the assumption is the only way to get saved is to come to the front and pray certain words and have much tears and emotion and if you haven't done that, then you must be on your way to hell.
If any of that describes you, then let me share a verse of scripture with you that will help, and by the way, this is Jesus speaking:
John 6:47 - "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life."
Now listen: if you have doubts and you struggle with the details and you've been confused about what did and didn't happen and whether or not you were supposed to talk to a preacher and go forward and all of that, let me ask you something:
Do you, at this moment, believe in Jesus? Are you trusting Him and not you to get you to heaven? Are you convinced that what He did on the cross is sufficient to satisfy God?
Yes, but I don't remember all the details. I say to you, forget about the details! Forget about the experience at Falls Creek or during VBS or what the preacher said and didn't say, and just deal with one simple verse of Scripture spoken by Jesus Christ to you:
Are you believing in Jesus? Listen to that verse again: "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in me has everlasting life."
Notice, it is present tense. It doesn't say "he who prayed when he was 9 years old or went forward at a camp meeting or shed tears or said certain words.
Can you say right now, at this moment, you are believing, trusting, depending on Jesus for salvation?
Then upon the authority of the Word of God you have everlasting, eternal life, end of discussion.
That will let you rest at night! That will help you when you face temptations and struggles! That will help you when you don't measure up to your expectations as a Christian! That will help you when the testimony of others seems more dramatic and dynamic than yours!
But preacher, you have to name the day and remember the details! I've preacher that, but the problem is, I can't find it in Scripture anywhere!
Just make sure there was a day and a time and moment that you do business with God, but don't depend on that for your assurance. You assurance comes from right now, at this moment, trusting Jesus.
Did you realize that every time the Bible speaks about assurance it always uses present tense language? Our text is a great example of that. He writes to those "who believe in the name of the Son of God", not those who have believed or once upon a time believe.
Are you believing right now? Then Jesus says," You have everlasting life!"
I know I have eternal life because of God's eternal Word. Second, I know I have eternal life because of the
- Internal Witness (Spirit)
In verse 10 John talks about a man having the witness in Himself. That is a follow up on what we read in
1 John 3:24
1 John 4:13
In so many ways, the Holy Spirit of God gives us this inner realization that we belong to God. There is given to every believer this internal witness of the Spirit. By the way, to explore that subject more fully, be here on Sunday evenings as we study Romans 8 dealing specifically with the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Quickly, we know we are saved through the eternal word, the internal witness and thirdly,
- Our External Walk
Read the book of 1 John and you will discover that a man who has eternal life is a changed man. He may sin and he will sin but sin is no longer the rule of his life. It is the exception.
Now understand what that means: A man who lives after his conversion like he did before his conversion didn't have a conversion. We give evidence that we know Jesus and love God by the way we live our lives.
The man's testimony said, "At this moment, I am dead". How about you? At this moment are you dead in trespasses and sins or do you have eternal life?