To Give us Eternal Life - "Sunnyhill" Herne Bay Evangelical Free Church

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To Give us Eternal Life

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Text:

Jn.3:16 ""For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."



To Give us Eternal Life




Introduction
I currently have a subscription to a weekly magazine – it’s is called Garden News. When this week’s edition arrived I was offended by some of the publicity which arrived with the magazine and about which I have complained to the publisher. What was it that provoked such a reaction at the Manse you are all wondering – well, let me tell you. It was publicity designed to promote assisted suicide or, as they prefer to talk about it, dying in dignity. The very choice of their words is emotive isn’t it?

Life is something that most of us cherish and we believe rightly that it ought to be protected. Sadly as our society moves ever further away from Biblical norms the life of the most vulnerable becomes ever more at risk.

Generally speaking, however, when things are going well and life is happy no-one wants to die. Even when things take a turn for the worse and suffering whether physical, emotional or mental seems unbearable the desire to end it all and to die is not so much a positive desire to die as it is a desire to find some relief from the pain.

I remember my mother saying that when my father ran up the stairs for the last time and breathed his last breath as he sat down on the bed that she wished at that moment that she too could have died. What she really meant of course was she wanted her husband back again as the pain of separation was so great.

Humans naturally want to live and it seems as though we are hard-wired to cling on to life – just try to stop yourself breathing by holding your breath and you’ll soon see what I mean.

The Bible has an explanation for this: man was created in the image of God .The Creator is himself alive: he is the author of life, the very source and fountainhead of life. Jesus spoke to his disciples about this and said:

Jn.5:26 "For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself."


So because God lives he created men and women to live too. God chose to do this because he intended mankind to enjoy a relationship with his Creator.

This God who so loves life is not merely the source of life he is life itself – as Jesus the One who most clearly shows us in his own person what God is like said as you well know:

Jn.14:6 "I am the way, and the truth, and the life."


Thus when God created man he created him to live forever. Life, never-ending life was an integral part of the original blueprint for humankind – as the Preacher puts in the Book of Ecclesiastes:

Ec.3:11 "(God) has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart,"


And I think this goes a long to explaining why, in normal circumstances, humans cling so to tenaciously to life; it explains why we feel that death is all wrong as we stand at the graveside of a loved-one. It is wrong because death was never intended to be – it is an unwanted and unwelcome intruder in God’s world. It has entered not as being an integral part of the original design but as a consequence of that human failure we call sin.

Death entered our world because of the sin of the first man Adam. But death didn’t stop with him it spread to become universal in its scope – the most reliable of all statistics we know is that one in one person dies! But man’s sin and failure with its dreadful consequences is not the final word.


Life is bound up with Jesus Christ
At one stage in his ministry Jesus was speaking to a mixed crowd – some were already numbered amongst his followers but others were hostile towards him and critical of what he had to say. To this crowd he described his coming into the world in terms of life:

Jn.10:10 "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."


The implication of these words is that if you don’t have Jesus you don’t have life at all let alone abundant life. Without Jesus men and women may exist but not at all how as they have been designed to function.

Jesus went on at the same time to talk about the purpose of his mission and explained that he had come to die – he spoke of his death and subsequent resurrection as the laying down of his life for his sheep, that is his disciples. He annoyed some of his hearers when he spoke like this especially when he affirmed that his dying and rising from the dead were in accordance with his Father’s will. But Jesus didn’t back off: he understood that if he was to secure this abundant life for his followers he had to lay down his life for them.

This truth had already been made plain in the words of our text:

Jn.3:16 ""For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."


Just what the words "he gave his only Son" actually mean is clarified for us in the immediately preceding verses where we find that Jesus was speaking about his death:

Jn.3:14 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,"


(When later Jesus used the same language of being "lifted up" the gospel writer added by way of explanation:

Jn.12:33 "He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die."


So we can be sure that the love of the Father in giving his Son referred to in Jn.3:16 refers specifically to him giving the Son up to death.)

Jesus died that we might live and not just live any old life but that we might have and enjoy eternal life.

Towards the end of his life and ministry on earth as we observe Jesus in prayer we discover just what this eternal life is like:

Jn.17:3 "And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."


We shouldn’t think about eternal life as though it were just a prolongation of the life we are used to experiencing day after day. We’re not to think of it as simply going on and on as if it were more of the same old thing – how boring might that be! Eternal life is a whole new quality of life that doesn’t start once this life ends but which breaks into our existence even in this life. It is also about knowing God the Father and Jesus Christ in an intimate and personal way. And because our God is so wonderful great and glorious it will be an absolute delight to be in a position to get to know him better and better. Because he is infinite in every aspect of his glorious being we’ll never even begin to come to an end of his splendours. This knowledge will never for an instant begin to go stale for us and our delight in him will be forever fresh and exciting and satisfying and praise-inducing.

All that is good from this life will be preserved, cleansed and intensified while nothing that is bad or destructive from this life will find even the smallest place there. Centuries before Jesus came into the world the psalmist already knew how wonderful it would be to be able to dwell endlessly with the Lord God.

Ps.16:11 "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."


Indeed these blessings that constitute eternal life are so unimaginably great that the apostle Paul, who had himself been extraordinarily privileged to be taken up to the third heaven, the very dwelling place of God, had to write that:

1Cor.2:9 "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."



If Eternal life is such an extraordinary blessing how may come to enjoy it?
It is right and normal for us to ask such a question, indeed it is important that we do ask the question and with a strong personal interest. It is vital because Jesus also tells us that not all will enjoy eternal life, some will suffer eternal punishment, eternal fire.

While it is yet a day of grace let us make sure we know how to receive eternal life – but let us also be careful to ask the question the right way.

Some come asking what they must do as though gaining eternal life will be the result of performing do this accomplishing that. One man came to Jesus like that asking:

Mt.19:16 "And behold, a man came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?""


His emphasis was all wrong, completely wrong – the gaining of eternal life is not at all dependent upon our good deeds but upon Jesus and what he has done for sinners like you and me!

Eternal life is promised to us not as a recompense for our good works but as gift as a result of promise and it is all and always bound up in Jesus Christ the Son of God.

1Jn.5:11 "And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son."


Jesus has secured eternal life for the sinners he died for and those he died for all respond in exactly the same way. They don’t set about trying to do great exploits, trying desperately to force God’s hand, but they do believe what they hear about Jesus and his work. Again and again the consistent message of the NT is that eternal life is given to those who believe in the Lord Jesus – does that include you?

We must know and the writers of the NT under the inspiration of the Spirit of God want us to know too!

1Jn.5:13 "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life."


Listen to the following verses on this theme:

Jn.3:15 "whoever believes in (the Son of Man) may have eternal life."

Jn.3:16 ""For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."

Jn.3:36 "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life;"

Jn.5:24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life."

Jn.6:40 "For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."

Jn.6:47 "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life."

Having eternal life is all about having Jesus. We must hear about him and listen to him and we must understand and receive and believe what we hear and that is the gospel!

Once we have heard, understood and believed our lives will never ever be the same again because we will have been born again, a new heart will have been given to us to go along with this new quality of life, a life adapted for an eternity of knowing God. And the way we live will of necessity undergo changes – it is not that these changes are the reason for us inheriting eternal life but are the inevitable fruit of him having giving it to us.

Rom.2:6-7 "He will repay each one according to his works: eternal life to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory, honour, and immortality"


May God grant us all this wonderful and undeserved gift of eternal life in union with Christ Jesus.

Amen.



 
 
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