Jesus said:“Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live” - John 5:25.
We all need eternal life. The gospel assures us that we can have it as the free gift of God – undeserved, unearned but free to everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. Free, not because it’s cheap or common, but because the only one who could pay for it did so on the Cross in order to offer it to us as the free gift of God! It is the Son of God who assures us of life from and in Him both now and forever. We can have eternal life because of who He is and because of what He has done for sinners. Let’s think about three things concerning this LIFE assured to all who truly hear the voice of the Son of God. 1. The Offer of Life – to those in need 2. The Giver of Life – the one and only Saviour 3. The Promise of Life – to all who believe 1. The Offer of Life –to those in need This offer of life is to a dead and dying world. The Lord Jesus said: “the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God”. What did He mean? We are all dying men and women. This is simply to state an undeniable fact no matter what we believe. But, while we will die physically, the truth is that we are already dead spiritually. We have been cut off from relationship with God because of sin. While God has given to us the gift of physical life, we stand in need of the gift of eternal life and the renewal of relationship with Him. It is to eternal life and reconciliation the Son of God calls us and despite our spiritual deadness, His life giving voice can reach us and cause us to live. But the plight of humanity is both serious and urgent. Death not only brings separation, it also causes corruption. Just as physical decay will disintegrate our bodies back into the dust out of which they originally came when we die (Gen 2:7; 3:19), so the ongoing moral decay of spiritual death degrades human dignity and corrupts our thoughts and behaviour while we live. Moral corruption proceeds from the human heart and is demonstrated in lifestyles that not only break, but wilfully defy both the natural and moral law of God. It was the Lord Jesus Himself who said: “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man” (Matt 15:18-20). Straight words indeed, but words that diagnose the problem with man. He is inwardly dead as the Bible says elsewhere, ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ (Eph 2:1) and the defilement of death emanates from his heart. By God’s grace and in His mercy we’re not all as bad as we could be by any means, but as the ‘salt’ of moral truth that subdues and slows the spread of moral decay is discarded and trampled underfoot by society the stench of death becomes more and more apparent. Before God judged Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighbouring cities He actually came down to investigate what was going on. He said: “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know” (Gen 18:20-21). It’s not that the LORD didn’t know what was going on for He did, but things were so bad and so wicked that He had to come down to earth to see for Himself if the ‘outcry’ from their sin which He was hearing was actually happening because it was so shocking. So it is with the world today. Its sin ‘cries’ down the judgment of God. This world is headed at full speed straight toward a collision with the Almighty and the outcome for it won’t be pretty. As men ‘sow the wind, they will ‘reap the whirlwind’. (Hosea 8:7). Back on September 21st 1956, pilot, Thomas W. Attridge Jr, was performing a test flight of the new Navy fighter jet, the F11F-1 Tiger, off the coast of New York state. During the flight he began a shallow dive and at 13000 feet fired off a four second burst from the aircraft’s four Colt 20mm cannons. Entering a steeper descent at maximum power he was now flying at supersonic speed. But, seconds later his aircraft shook and something suddenly hit his windshield while he noticed a gash in the intake of the right engine. The aircraft began to lose power only to eventually cut out as he tried to return to the Long Island airfield. The pilot had in fact shot himself down in the short space of about 11 seconds. Firing the cannons and then flying at supersonic speed – the pilot ran into his own cannon fire. He escaped with injuries from the blazing plane after bringing the aircraft down into a forest just half a mile from the airfield. The world is moving at break neck speed having fired the cannons of defiance to blast through the natural and moral order of God, but it won’t be too long until those same shells of rebellion against God will prove to be its undoing. Yet, while the hour is late and situation perilous there is still time for ‘repentance unto life’ (Acts 11:18). Jesus said “the hour is coming and now is”. It is still the ‘hour’ in which He is speaking to the ‘dead’; yes, the physically alive, but spiritually dead. We can still hear His voice and know His life giving power, but we’ve got to listen to His word and let Him speak to us. The choice for us is between life and death. When Israel’s great leader, Moses, addressed them on the plains of Moab before he left this world for glory and they entered the Promised Land under Joshua, he said: “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deut 30:19). The gospel calls us to “choose life”. But, we need to ask ourselves this question: “Do I really want to live?” I hope you do. Jesus said just prior to the text we are considering: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24). 2. The Giver of Life –the one and only Saviour Yes, the gospel declares that life is found alone in Jesus. He promises eternal life to all who believe in Him because He is its very source; it’s His to give. This is why there is a gospel and this is why He is the author of it. It is His message of good news offering life and hope to a dead and dying world. The apostle John wrote concerning the Lord Jesus: ‘That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us’ (1 John 1:1-2). He is eternal life. He is of course, the source of all life as Creator and as Saviour He is the giver of eternal life. The great wonder in it all is that He who is the very author of life, the very reason for life and the very sustainer of life Himself died upon the Cross. As God He could not die. He became man in order to die and in so doing give His life for our sins. Unlike you and me, death had no right over Him nor claim upon Him. The Bible teaches that we are sinners under the sentence of death (Rom 5:12), but the Lord Jesus is without sin and therefore went into death not as a helpless victim, but as a conquering volunteer. When He said at the end of the Cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30) and entered the realm of death, reverent hands soon laid His body in a new tomb, but it was not put there to stay or decay for on the third day God raised Him from the dead. The apostle Peter preached in Jerusalem some 50 days later: “Whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it” (Acts 2:24). 3. The Promise of Life –to all who believe When the Lord Jesus said: “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live”, it was before the Cross. His resurrection from the dead at the other side of the Cross simply demonstrated and confirmed the truth of His word as well as the identity of His person – He is ‘the Son of God with power’ (Rom 1:4). When we respond to Him we receive the gift of eternal life now as well as the assurance that He lives in the believer through the power of the Holy Spirit, but it’s even more. Just as Jesus conquered the grave so will everyone who believes in Him. The Lord Jesus said to a woman called Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). He is here speaking about two things concerning a believer, physical death and the body and eternal life and the soul. The first part of His statement anticipates the glory of bodily resurrection in a future time and the second part is the assurance that a believer possesses eternal life and therefore can ‘never die’. When someone dies in their sins death will be the entrance of their soul into hell and eternal death which is separation from God and all that is good forever (John 8:21) – don’t let that happen to you – but for the believer, the moment of death actually means the fullness of eternal life and the joy of God’s presence (John 8:51). The body dies, the soul doesn’t. In that moment the soul of the believer, the real person, realizes the dimensions of that life already possessed. Physical death cannot destroy eternal life. We have Christ’s word for it: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Himshould not [shall not] perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). This is the sure and certain hope of every believer in the Lord Jesus. Should they die, it will be but the entrance into eternal life, while their bodies will be buried in the sure and certain hope of a glorious resurrection. But, a day of resurrection is coming both for the saved and the unsaved. There is a day of ultimate glory and there will be a day of ultimate justice when that same voice of power will be irresistibly heard: “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29). Choose life. Choose hope. Choose Christ. The Bible says: ‘God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life’ (1 John 5:11-12). "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36). Life! life! Eternal life! Jesus alone is the Giver: Life! life! Abundant life! Glory to Jesus forever! William Leslie (1862-1950) AJC