John 5:24-29 The motive we employ to read the word will turn on or turn off the flow of eternal life

John 5:24-29 The motive we employ to read the word will turn on or turn off the flow of eternal life

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment (condemnation), but has passed out of death into life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” John 5:24-29

Background

The Jews were considered as “not of God” even though they know the word and were steep in religious practices. Because the motive that the Jews employed to read the word is self-serving and corrupt, the word cannot bring them eternal life. Eternal life is the Christ-kind of life that bears His virtues (fruit of the Spirit) and His abilities (the gifts of the Spirit). And it is through the Christ-kind of life (the eternal life) that believers experience success in all their endeavours. Jesus make known the judgment to come… some to the resurrection of life and some to the resurrection of judgment. Jesus judges by assessing the nature of the heart within each person and the works that flow from it. “Good deeds” are works that flow from love and good will. “Evil deeds” are works that flow from the lust of the flesh, envy and the desire to dominate. In order to receive eternal life, the motive in which we read the word is of paramount importance. Today’s devotion teaches us: The motive we employ to read the word will turn on or turn off the flow of eternal life.

Observation

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life…

The word “hears” connotes the quality of absolute trust and allegiance. Therefore, the one who hears the words spoken by Jesus exercises absolute trust and obedience towards His directives. Here, “hearing” my word is paired with “believing” the Father who sent Jesus. Thus, Jesus speaks unequivocally of His union and equality with the Father; the one who believes in the Father will in the same breath recognise Jesus as the Saviour and Lord.

Jesus makes a direct correlation between hearing His word and recognising His Messiahship to eternal life. The Jews have been searching the scriptures for the way to eternal life but refused to submit themselves in repentance to the words of Jesus. Here, it is not an intellectual issue of forensically proving Jesus’s deity and divine origin… But rather, it is because their hearts are set on rebellion. The Jews’ rebellion against God and His truth is the cause of their unbelief! Therefore, by rejecting Jesus as Lord, the Jews sealed their own judgment. But, those who trust and obey Jesus’s words while recognising Him as Son of God are granted eternal life.

What is eternal life? The word eternal (New Testament), everlasting (Old Testament) is a divine quality attributed to God. In short, eternal life is the God-kind of life. Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3. By knowing Jesus and His manner of living, we come to know eternal life… the Christ-kind of life. Eternal life comprises Christ’s virtues: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, wisdom (see fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22). As well as Christ’s abilities: word of wisdom through the Spirit, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, distinguishing of spirits, various kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues (see gifts of the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10).

The only way to pass out of judgment and to the resurrection of life, is to receive the eternal life of Christ. Eternal life comes through hearing/obeying Christ’s word while receiving Him as Lord and Saviour.

Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

“An hour is coming and now is…” simply means “from now onwards…” sets the precedence of Christ being the Judge of all mankind. This relates to the future when Jesus will return as Judge when He calls out with His voice. Although all the dead will hear the voice of Christ, but only those who hear (trust and obey) will live.

For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.

The Father has life in Himself, for He is self-existent, and His very essence is life, goodness and truth. Human beings are derived creatures, and believers have life, but not life in Himself which only God and Christ have. With life in Himself, the Father not only resurrected the Son, but also imparted to the Son life in Himself. With thisthe Son also receives absolute authority to judge all humanity; to give life or to condemn. Thus, Jesus, the Son of Man who possesses life in Himself is set apart from the rest of humanity who are mere recipients of life.

Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

“All who are in the tombs” is a metaphorical expression referring to those who are dead, whose spirits reside either in paradise or in hades. When Jesus returns as Judge and calls out with His voice, all mankind will assemble before Christ’s judgment seat where Christ will assess the nature of every human heart and the works that flow from it. “Good deeds” are works that flow from love and good will. “Evil deeds” are works that flow from the lust of the flesh, envy and the desire to dominate. Even though the works themselves may appear beneficial to the world, but God primarily looks at the motives of men. In the eyes of God, works that are done on the pretext of charity to preserve oneself, to put oneself in a favourable light are considered as “evil deeds”. Paul says,

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

When Jesus returns as Judge, men will primarily be judged by their motives, not by their achievements. And all will be resurrected from their state of dormancy to face their judgment leading to everlasting life or condemnation.

Truth

The motive we employ to read the word will turn on or turn off the flow of eternal life

Jesus says, “He who hears my word… and believes… has eternal life.” “My word” refers primarily to the words spoken by Jesus in the gospels and in a fuller sense the entire scripture. One who reads the word with the intent to understand the manner in which Christ lived will receive eternal life to prosper in all his endeavours. But one who reads the word searching for promises and “secret formulas” to fulfil his selfish desires misses out on eternal life and the abundance that comes through it. When the word of Christ is internalised, it becomes eternal life causing everything he does to bear fruit.

The reason many find the word dull and dry is because their focus (in reading the word) is to fulfil their personal desires as they attempt to apply the word to solve their problems. Thus, they search out popular verses that assures them of God’s goodness in fulfilling their desires. The word primes our minds so that we may emulate Christ. In the process of emulating Christ, we bear His righteousness: fruit of the Spirit as well as the gifts. The psalmist says concerning the righteous man,

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season; and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:2-3.

The motive we employ to read the word will either turn on or turn off the flow of eternal life. One who reads to realise their selfish agenda turns off the flow of eternal life. But the one who reads to emulate Christ gains Christ’s virtues, and abilities to prosper. Many gave up on reading the word because it is tiresome and not worth the effort. They gave up on living out the truth because their focus in not on eternal life, but rather blessings.

Christ judges man by the motives of his heart, and the works that flow from it

Jesus says, “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit… Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Matthew 7:16-17, 21).

Jesus speaks to the church calling them to repent and bear good fruit. The Jews of that time were knowledgeable and steep in religious practices. They put on an appearance of holiness but practice lawlessness and were hypocrites. They supposed by being descendants of Abraham, they were guaranteed salvation without having to repent and bear good fruit (see John 8:33). Jesus said to them, “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” (John 8:47). The Jews were considered as “not of God” even though they know the word and were descendants of Abraham.

The church today is not that different from the Jews in the days of the gospels. Many know the doctrine of salvation, thinking by having the right knowledge they will be given the resurrection of life. However, their hearts are fiercely focused on fulfilling their selfish desires, and not on obtaining Christ’s life; the eternal life. They pursue the lust of the flesh in unnatural relationships and extramarital affairs. They pursue material possessions thinking that is eternal life itself. In wanting to become the greatest, they dominate, politick and oppress. Such despite their frequent appearances in church services and offerings will come forth to a resurrection of judgment.

Application

When reading the word, endeavour to understand the truths that undergirds the will of God. Free yourself from the complexities of the bible text and connect with Christ, the source of eternal life. Let God speak into your heart revealing the mysteries of His wisdom and power. You will experience the eternal life of peace, love, joy, knowledge, wisdom, confidence and power to overcome your immediate challenges.

Are you assured of your salvation? God assesses the state of our sanctification and rewards us accordingly. Those who did evil all their lives will be saved if they repent by doing what is right. The thief who was crucified, even though a sinner having no good deeds to show for received forgiveness when he repented of his sins. Therefore, repentance is what God desires in a person. The psalmist says,

For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:16-17

Dear Lord, I commit myself to read your word daily, with the purpose to become more like you. Impart to me your eternal life and cause me to live like you. Help me to translate my eternal life into good works so that the world may experience your salvation. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


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