Secure Forever in Christ

When a person believes in Jesus Christ for eternal life (John 3:16) he or she is secure forever in Him. Here are thirty-three reasons why this is true:

1. The Great Commitment. Matthew 28:20. In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus Christ gives His disciples the Great Commission, which is to make disciples of all the nations. Along with this Great Commission, Jesus also gives His disciples the Great Commitment, “…and lo, I am with you always (lit. “the whole of every day”), even to the end of the age.” In Matthew, the phrase, “the end of the age,” refers to the church age (cf. Matt. 13:39, 40, 49). Since Christ is guaranteeing His presence with believers until He returns at the end of the age, it is impossible for believers to lose their salvation.

2. Always Family. John 1:12-13; 3:3-8; 6:37; Galatians 3:26; I John 5:1. The moment a person believes in Christ, he becomes God’s child forever. He is born into God’s family and he cannot ever be born out of it. In John 6:37, Jesus declares that those who come to Him “will by no means be cast out.” In John’s Gospel “coming to Christ” is a metaphor for “believing” (John 6:35, 37). Just as an earthly father’s son will always be his son no matter what the son does, so too, a believer will always be God’s child because Christ will never cast him out of His family.

3. The Simple Look of Faith. John 3:14-15. Just as the afflicted Israelite could look in faith at the bronze serpent lifted up on the pole and “live” (Numbers 21:8-9), so too, the one who looks in faith to Christ who was “lifted up” on the cross will “live” eternally.

4. Secure from Perishing in Hell. John 3:15-16; 10:27-28. Faith alone in Christ alone secures the believer from ever perishing in the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:15). The moment an individual believes in Christ he has the assurance that he “shall never perish” (10:28).

5. The Eternal Gift. John 3:15-16, 36; 4:10-14; 5:24; 6:40, 47; 11:25-26; Romans 6:23. At the moment of faith in Christ, the believer can know that he or she possesses eternal life, “he who believes…has…” The gift of eternal life cannot be lost because that would be inconsistent with the nature (i.e. perpetual/eternal) of the gift. For if the gift can be lost, it would not be eternal, but temporal.

6. Permanent Thirst Quencher. John 4:10-14; 6:35; Revelation 22:17. Whoever drinks of the living water that Christ freely offers will “never thirst” again. The phrase “will never thirst” is highly emphatic in the Greek language (John 4:14a; 6:35b). The need which this water meets can never reoccur. Christ calls this “living water” eternal life in John 4:14b. Therefore, eternal life can never be lost because a believer can never thirst again for it.

7. Free from Judgment. John 5:24; Romans 8:33-34. When a person believes in Christ for eternal life, he or she possesses “eternal life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24). For the believer, assurance is available at the moment of faith because Christ guarantees that there is no judgment. That is to say, there is no judgment to determine whether a believer goes to heaven or hell because the believer already has eternal life. He has passed from death to life already. When an individual trusts Christ, he is translated from the sphere of death (where a non-believer has nothing in him which is acceptable to God – John 3:18; Rom. 3:9-20; 8:8) to the sphere of life (where the believer is totally acceptable to God – John 5:24; Heb. 10:10, 14). In the sphere of life, God has no charge against the believer (Romans 8:33-34). The believer is justified (declared totally righteous) of all things on the basis of his faith (Romans 3:21-26; 4:5, 8; 8:33-34). Therefore, no one is able to threaten a believer’s eternal destiny!

8. No More Hunger. John 6:35, 48-51. Whoever eats of the Bread of life shall never hunger again. The need which this bread meets can never reoccur. Christ identifies Himself as the Bread of life in John 6:33, 35; 6:48, 51. “Eating” and “believing” are synonymous in John’s Gospel because both are the means for obtaining eternal life (John 6:47, 50-51, 58). Hence, believing in Christ satisfies an individual’s spiritual hunger forever. Therefore, a believer cannot ever lose eternal life because he can never hunger for it again.

9. Guaranteed Resurrection. John 6:37-40. Every believer in Jesus not only has eternal life, but will still belong to Christ when he or she is resurrected on “the last day.” 

10. Johannine Metaphors or Figures of Speech. The Gospel of John uses metaphors to describe the instantaneousness of saving faith and conversion: to receive (John 1:12); to be born (John 1:13; 3:3-8); to take a look (John 3:14-15); to ask for a gift (John 4:10); to take a drink (John 4:10-14); to be raised from the dead (John 5:25-29); to come (John 6:35, 37); to eat bread (John 6:50-51); to eat Christ’s flesh and drink His blood (John 6:53-54, 56-58); to follow, as in a sheep committing his safety and well-being to His Good Shepherd (John 10:1-5, 25-29); and to be bathed once for all (John 13:10). Conversion takes place at a point in time. It is not a process. Therefore, a believer can know he is secure forever at the moment of faith in Christ alone for eternal life.

11. The Secure Grip. John 10:27-29. The believer is securely held by both God the Son’s and God the Father’s hands and they will never let him go. Nor is anyone, including the believer, strong enough to escape God’s grip. So the believer’s eternal security is not based upon his or her grip upon God, but upon God’s forever grip upon him or her.

12. Guaranteed Destiny. John 11:25-26. Christ guarantees the eternal destiny of every person who believes in Him. He promises a future resurrection and never-ending life to those who believe in Him.

13. The Eternal Comforter. John 14:16-17. Jesus promised that the “Comforter” (lit. “called to one’s side, called to one’s aid”), the Holy Spirit, would personally take up residence in the believer’s body “forever.” Therefore, there is never a time when a believer is without the God of the universe living in him or her.

14. Finished Work. John 19:30. Immediately prior to His death, Jesus referred to His finished work on the cross when He said “It is finished” (tetelestai). This verb is in the perfect tense, which denotes existing results to the present from a completed action. This means Christ made the full payment for our sin debt when He died on the cross and it remains paid in full to the present. Therefore, a believer’s salvation is just as complete and secure as the work upon which it rests.

15. The Promise of God. I John 2:25; 5:9-13. Believers can know they are saved forever because they have God’s promise of eternal life. Remember, God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:17-18).

16. God’s Love. I John 4:9-10. God manifested His love toward us when He sent His Son so that we may possess eternal life through Him. This love was not a response to man’s love, but was God’s initiative. God’s Son became the “propitiation” (lit. “satisfaction”) for our sins. Therefore, eternal life cannot be lost by the believer because Christ has satisfied God’s holy nature forever by taking the punishment for our sins. Because of Jesus’ death, God’s holy character is free to pour out His love (His best) on those who believe in His Son.

17. The Irrevocable Gift. Romans 11:29. The gifts of God, including eternal life, are irrevocable, i.e. incapable of being recalled or taken back by the Giver.

18. It is Logical. Romans 5:8-10, 15, 17, 20; 8:32. God did the most for us when we were His enemies and will do much more for us as His beloved child.

19. The Inseparable Love of God. Romans 8:35-39. No one and nothing and can separate a believer from God’s love in Christ. Remember, “any other created thing” includes “you.”

20. Fruitless Believers Are Secure for Eternity. I Corinthians 3:11-15. At the Judgment Seat of Christ, a believer’s works will be tested by fire to determine what, if any, rewards the believer will receive (I Cor. 3:11-15; Romans 14:9-12; 2 Cor. 5:10; I John 4:17; Revelation 22:12). A believer whose works (“hay, wood, straw”) are all burned up does not lose his salvation from hell, “but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (I Cor. 3:15).

21. The Body of Christ. I Corinthians 12:12-27. The Head of the body, Christ (Ephes. 1:22-23), cannot ever say to any member of His body (believer) He does not need him or her. He cannot reject His own body.

22. Unlimited Forgiveness. Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; 2:13; 3:13; Hebrews 10:17-18. Christ’s death provides unlimited forgiveness for the believer. All sins we have ever done or will do were future looking from the cross – everything is forgiven.

23. Sealed Until Delivered. Ephesians 1:13-14. When an individual believes the truth of the gospel, he or she is “sealed” by the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption. There is no power greater than God who can break the seal (not even Satan or the believer himself). Something that is sealed by God is as secure as God’s promise, and in the case of the believer His promise is to keep the believer until he is safely and securely delivered in to the presence of God forever.

24. Seated with Christ. Ephesians 2:6. Believers are described as being made (by God) to “sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” The aorist indicative of the verb sugkathizo, “to cause to sit down together,” portrays this event as taking place in past time. So from God’s viewpoint, believers are now seated with Christ in the heavenly places. Therefore, the certainty of a believer’s eternal destiny is underscored by the fact that they are already seated with Christ in the heavenly places.

25. Completed Salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9. The use of the perfect tense verb conveys existing results to the present from a completed action (“you have been saved”). Therefore, a believer’s salvation exists in a finished state which cannot be altered or taken away.

26. Citizens of Heaven. Philippians 3:20. The apostle Paul gives a positive reason why believers should follow his example of spiritual progress (3:12-17) and it is because their citizenship already exists in heaven. Since Philippi was a Roman colony, its residents were “citizens” of Rome who enjoyed the same rights and privileges as if they were living in Rome. So Paul is arguing that just as the believers were Roman citizens even though they were not living in Rome, so too, they were citizens of heaven even though they were living on earth. This citizenship is not future, but it already exists for the believer because the copula verb “is” (huparchei), stresses actual existence. The believer’s eternal destiny is so certain that their citizenship in heaven already exists.

27. Certainty of Future Not Based Upon Morality. I Thessalonians 5:9-11. Whether believers live watchfully (“we wake,” gregopeo is defined as moral watchfulness in 5:5-7) or unwatchfully (“we…sleep,” katheudo is defined as moral unwatchfulness in 5:5-7), their future with Christ is certain.

28. God’s Faithfulness. 2 Timothy 2:13. If we don’t believe in Christ any longer (“we are faithless”), God “remains faithful” to His promise of eternal life. He “cannot deny Himself” including believers who are members of His body.

29. Unfaithful Believers Are Still in God’s House. 2 Timothy 2:17-21. Although some believers’ faith may be overthrown by false teaching, their eternal destiny is not endangered, “the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His.’” God “knows” intimately all those who have a relationship with Him, including believers with faltering faith. For God’s house is composed of both faithful (“vessels of … honor”) and unfaithful believers (“vessels of … dishonor”).

30. Disobedient Believers Who Are Assured of Their Salvation. The apostles Peter and Thomas, who denied knowing the Lord or doubted His promise to rise from the dead (John 13:10-11). The Corinthians, who were factious, immoral and prone to drunkenness (I Cor. 1:2, 4-9; 6:11, 15, 19-20; 15:1-2, 11, 51-58). The Galatians, who were lapsing into the worst form of legalism (Galatians 1:2-5, 8-9; 3:1-5, 26-29; 4:1-9, 19; 5:1). The audience of James, who were arrogant, argumentative, slanderous, and temperamental (James 1:1-2, 16-18; 2:1; 5:7-9).

31. Unconditional Acceptance. Hebrews 10:10, 14. Christ’s completed work on the cross makes believers unconditionally and completely acceptable (“perfect”) to God forever. To be “sanctified” means to be “set apart” from our guilt and shame forever. Note the perfect tenses (“have been sanctified,” in verse 10 and “has perfected” in verse 14).

32. A Permanent Helper. Hebrews 13:5-6. Believers are to be content with what they have because they will always possess the permanent assistance of the Lord: “I will never leave (lit. “abandon or desert”) you nor forsake (lit. “to leave helpless”) you.” Since the Lord will never turn His back on the needs of believers, it is impossible for them to be without God’s security forever. 

33. Eternal Names. Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:15; 21:27; Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3; Hebrews 12:23. When the world was created, God wrote the names of those who would receive eternal life in the Book of Life in anticipation of Christ’s death (Rev. 13:8; 17:8). Every believer’s eternal identity rests on the fact that his name is written in heaven (Luke 10:20). Revelation 3:5 affirms that an overcoming (victorious) believer will not have his name erased from the Book of Life. Since this phrase is a figure of speech called a litotes (i.e. a positive affirmation expressed by negating its opposite), John is saying that an overcoming believer’s eternal name is supremely secure. It is not logical to conclude that a non-overcoming believer will have his name erased from the Book of Life because a litotes is not making a negative affirmation, but rather a positive one. The overcoming Christian’s honored name will never be erased. For the overcoming Christian, his reward is anything but the loss of his eternal name. This relates to his or her eternal reward as seen before and after this part of the verse: “they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (Rev. 3:4b-5). Revelation 3:5 is not commenting on whether some name will or may be erased, but rather that certain names shall in no way be erased, but confessed or recognized for faithful service before God the Father and His angels. Revelation 3:5 is not talking about salvation, but rewards for discipleship. This can be seen in Revelation 3:4 as only the worthy ones will walk with the Lord in white, and so in 3:5 only those who are worthy will have their name publicly recognized before God the Father and His angels.

Conclusion: The security which God provides believers forever is intended to motivate them to faithfully live for Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit until they go to be with Him (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Galatians 2:20; 5:16-26; I John 4:19).

Have you been rejected by religious groups?

“Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of God?’” John 9:35

The Jewish leaders “cast” out the former blind man from the synagogue because he demonstrated with his own testimony (9:25) and logic (9:30-33) that Jesus was from God. This is probably the best thing that could have happened to the man because now he would not have to listen to the works-salvation message of the Jewish religious leaders. He was now more prepared for his next encounter with Jesus. God can use the rejection of others to make non-Christians more open to hearing the gospel. 

Unfortunately, more and more churches are preaching a “faith plus” salvation message instead of a “faith alone” salvation message today which makes it more difficult for church goers to get saved. They teach that you are saved by what you do, not by what Jesus has already done (John 19:30). But all is not lost. Jesus seeks those who are disenchanted with churches today. When Christ heard that the Jewish leaders “cast” the former blind man out of the synagogue, He sought him out and asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of God” (9:35)? This is the purpose for John’s Gospel (cf. John 20:31). John recorded these miracles of Jesus, so people could believe in Him as the Christ, the Son of God. If the man believed that Jesus was the Son of God, the God-Man, he would have life in His name. This personal response is necessary for receiving the gift of eternal life (cf. John 3:15-16, 36; 5:24; 6:40, 47; 11:25-27). 

Many people today believe that Jesus exists and died for them on the Cross, but they are not trusting in Him alone for His free gift. The former blind man is willing and ready to believe, but he is ignorant. He wants the Son of God to be identified so he may believe in Him (9:36). After Jesus identifies Himself as God’s Son (9:37), the former blind man immediately responds in faith: “Lord, I believe”(9:38a)! Jesus used the physical healing of this blind man to prepare him for his spiritual healing. Out of gratitude for his physical healing, the man believed in Christ as the Messiah-God, which meant he now had eternal life (John 20:31). This is the climax for the man in a process that has been taking place throughout the whole chapter.

After believing in Jesus, the former blind man “worshiped Him”(9:38b). He honored Jesus as God (cf. 5:23). The former blind man could no longer worship God in the synagogue, but now he could worship Him to His face. And Jesus will never “cast” this man “out” of His family (John 1:12; 6:37). 

Have you been rejected by religious groups because you did not live up to their requirements for membership? Please understand that Jesus is not offering you religion. He is not giving you a long list of rules to follow to become a Christian. Jesus is freely offering you a personal relationship that can never be lost. All He asks is that you come to Him in faith, just as you are (Matthew 11:28). You don’t have to try to clean up your life. You do not have to give God your life to be saved. Salvation is not giving God your life, it is receiving His eternal life by faith alone (John 3:16). So simply believe in Jesus and He will give you everlasting life which can never be lost (John 3:16; 10:28-29). He will place you in God’s family forever and never reject you (John 1:12; 6:37). And you can worship or express your love for Him anytime and anywhere (cf. John 4:21-24).

How does the Light of the World effect those who refuse to believe?

“And Jesus said, ‘For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.’” John 9:39

Jesus came into this world to bring “judgment” based on how people respond to Him. “Those who do not see may see” (9:39a) refers to those who admit their spiritual blindness and sin and call out to Christ to heal them of their spiritual blindness so they might see and believe the gospel. Christ will give spiritual sight to those who admit their spiritual blindness and their need for God’s forgiving grace. He will forgive those who come to Him in faith. 

“Those who [think they] see may be made blind” (9:39b), refers to the self-righteous, like the Pharisees, who refused to admit they were spiritually blind. They thought they already could see spiritually. Jesus came to show unbelievers like these religious experts that they were spiritually blind. Their works-salvation was spiritual blindness. Christ does not forgive the self-righteous because they do not see their need to come to Him for forgiveness. Instead, they are deceived by their own sin into thinking that they can be saved by their own works.

The deceitfulness of sin often makes self-righteous people,who are in the greatest need of God’s help, think that they are the most spiritually enlightened people. Only God’s Spirit, using God’s Word, can break through that deep darkness, to bring conviction of spiritual blindness, and to create an openness to the gospel.

Christ says to these spiritually blind religious leaders, “If you recognized your spiritual blindness and acknowledged your sin and guilt, you would have come to Me for forgiveness. And I would have forgiven you so “you would have no sin” (9:41a). But because you claim to have spiritual sight and deny your own sin, and refuse to come to Me for forgiveness, “your sin remains” (9:41b). These leaders refused to admit their sinfulness and need for a Savior. Therefore, their sins remain. They were swollen with pride. They loved the darkness and hated the Light. 

Someone once said, “The same sun that melts butter, hardens clay.” Light gives sight to some and it blinds others. Jesus has the same effects as the Light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5). The physical and spiritual healing of the man born blind reveals the healing power of Jesus Christ toward those who respond in faith toward Him (John 3:36a). But it also reveals the condemning power of Jesus Christ toward those who refuse to believe in Him (John 3:36b).

Will King David be in Heaven?

“So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. But he did not inquire of the Lord; therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.” 1 Chronicles 10:13-14

The writer of Chronicles records detailed genealogies from Adam to the family of King Saul in the first ten chapters of I Chronicles to encourage his original readers to remain faithful to God following their Babylonian captivity. Instead of being like King Saul whose family dynasty experienced a tragic end due to his disobedience and unfaithfulness to God (10:13-14a), the Chronicler wants his readership to be the opposite of King Saul. He is admonishing his readers to be “committed” to the Lord and “keep the word of the Lord” more like King “David, the son of Jesse” (10:14b-29:30).

When some of us read that God wants us to be more like King David, we may ask, “Why would God want us to be more like a man who committed adultery and murder (cf. 2 Samuel 11:1-27)!?! The Chronicler presents David as a strong model of a king by recording the crowning of David as king which reveals God’s choice of David (I Chron. 11:1-3); David’s capture of Jerusalem (I Chron. 11:4-9) and his desire to build a temple there (even though his son, Solomon, would eventually do that – I Chron. 17:1-27) which shows his heart for God (I Chron. 13:1-14; 15:1-17:27; 22:1-29:30); David’s mighty men which revealed the impact of David’s character on others and the power he had (I Chron. 11:10-12:40; 14:8-17; 18:1-21:30); and the gathering of the multitudes behind his leadership which showed his influence on the nation (I Chron. 14:1-7, 17; 16:36; 18:14-17; 29:30).

Some Christians would go so far as to say that King David will not be in heaven because he committed adultery and murdered Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah. They think that such sins are unforgiveable. But what does the Bible say about this?

Even though David had committed adultery and murder, the Bible refers to David as an example of those who are justified (declared totally righteous before God) by faith alone in Christ alone apart from any works. 5But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:7 ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin’ ” (Romans 4:5-8; cf. Psalms 32:1-2). Paul quotes David (Romans 4:7-8) who wrote in Psalm 32:1-2 of the blessedness of forgiveness as he looked ahead to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ which would pay the penalty for the sin of the world (John 1:29), including David’s adultery and murder (cf. Psalm 16:8-11; Acts 2:24-36; Colossians 2:13-14). 

Paul is saying that the righteousness of Jesus Christ was credited to David and all who believed in His coming death and resurrection in the Old Testament (Romans 4:5-8; cf. Genesis 15:6; Isaiah 61:10; John 8:56; Hebrews 11:26). So when a person in the Old Testament or in the New Testament believes in the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, he or she is covered with the righteousness of Jesus Christ so that God no longer sees their sin, He sees the perfect righteousness of His Son ( Genesis 15:6; Romans 3:21-4:25; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Henry Ironside shares a helpful illustration about what it means to be justified before God. One morning on his way to a sheep ranch, he noticed a very peculiar sight. He saw an old ewe loping across the road followed by the strangest looking lamb he had ever seen. It seemed to have six legs, and the last two were hanging helplessly as though paralyzed. When one of the sheep ranchers caught the lamb and brought it over to Ironside, the rancher explained that the lamb did not really belong to that ewe. She had a lamb that was bitten by a rattlesnake and died. This lamb that Ironside saw was an orphan and needed a mother’s care. But at first the ewe refused to have anything to do with it. She sniffed at it when it was brought to her, then pushed it away, saying as plainly as a sheep could say it, “That is not my lamb!” So the ranchers skinned the lamb that had died and covered the living lamb with the dead lamb’s skin. When the covered lamb was brought again to the ewe, she smelled it once more and accepted the lamb as her own as if to say, “That is Mine!”

Like that orphan lamb, all people are born as outcasts, separated from God because of their sin. But God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God (John 1:29), died in our place on the cross and rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:1-8), so that when we believe or trust in Him alone, we are clothed with His righteousness (Romans 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21).  God can accept us into His family now because He sees the righteousness of His Son instead of our sin. He can say, “That is Mine!” 

Knowing that King David was justified and forgiven because of his faith in the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, not only assures us that he will be in heaven, but it can also assure us that we will be in heaven if we have believed in Jesus for everlasting life no matter what we have done in this life before or after our faith in Christ (cf. John 6:35, 37-40; 10:28-29; 2 Timothy 2:13). 

But the Bible also tells us that even though King David was an adulterer and a murderer, God still assessed his life “as a man after My own heart” because he did the will of God (Acts 13:22). God did not let David’s moral failure blemish his entire life. For example, God showed patience toward evil King Abijam because of David’s godly life. We read, “4 for David’s sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, by setting up his son after him and by establishing Jerusalem; 5 because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite” (I Kings 15:4-5). God can say this about David because even though he did fail miserably, he confessed that sin and continued to do God’s will. He trusted and obeyed the Lord as he faced the severe consequences of his own sin. David was not defined by his failure. He was defined by God’s Word.

From God’s assessment of David we learn that if we do not give up, we cannot fail in God’s sight! David continued to trust and obey the Lord the remainder of his life after his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. Was it easy? Not at all. But David did not give up on God. He was not perfect, but he was honest with God as seen in his writings in the Psalms. David is very honest about his sin (cf. Psalms 32; 51) and his feelings of abandonment (Psalm 6; 13; 22), anger (Psalms 4; 13; 38), anxiety (Psalm 37; 119), awe (Psalm 8), betrayal (Psalm 10), despair (Psalm 3; 9), dismay (Psalm 30), distress (Psalm 6), exaltation (Psalm 18), fear (Psalm 3; 55), guilt (Psalm 32), hate (Psalm 31),  heaviness (Psalm 32), hopelessness (Psalm 12),  joy (Psalm 4), peace (Psalm 37), sadness (Psalm 6), and thanksgiving (Psalm 26; 100). And as a result, God could say that David was a man after his own heart. 

From this study of Saul, David, and Solomon, we see three types of believers:

King Saul represents an immature or carnal believer (I Sam. 10:9; 28:19; cf. I Corinthians 1:10-16:17; James 1:21-5:20) whose persistent disobedience invites God’s severe discipline now (Hebrews 12:5-11) and the loss of eternal rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ (I Corinthians 3:15; Revelation 2:25-27). Since Saul committed suicide he will forfeit rewards that require faithfulness to God to the end of one’s life (cf. Matthew 19:27-29; Romans 8:17b; I Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21b; Ephesians 5:3-5; Colossians 3:23-24; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:25-27), but it is possible that he will receive some rewards that cannot be lost once earned (Matthew 6:19-21). 

King Solomon represents a believer (I Chronicles 28:6; 2 Peter 1:21) who starts out well but finishes poorly (I Kings 11), and will experience God’s discipline on earth and forfeit rewards that require faithfulness to God until the end of one’s life on earth (cf. Matthew 19:27-29; Romans 8:17b; I Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21b; Ephesians 5:3-5; Colossians 3:23-24; 2 Timothy 2:12; James 1:12; Revelation 2:25-27). It’s likely, however, that Solomon will have some rewards that cannot be lost once they are earned (cf. Matthew 6:19-21). 

King David represents a believer (Psalm 32; Romans 4:5-8) who imperfectly (2 Samuel 11) perseveres in a life of faithfulness to God to the end of his life, and therefore will be richly rewarded in heaven (cf. Matthew 19:27-29; Romans 8:17b; I Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21b; Ephesians 5:3-5; Colossians 3:23-24; 2 Timothy 2:12; James 1:12; Revelation 2:25-27).

There is no guarantee that a believer will persevere in good works till the end of his life on earth. Otherwise, why would God warn believers of the consequences of failure (I Chron. 10:13-14; cf. John 15:6; I Cor. 10:1-12; Hebrews 4:11-13; 6:4-8; 10:26-39; 12:5-11) and the loss of rewards in the future (Matt. 10:32-42; 22:1-14; 25:24-30; I Cor. 3:14-15; 9:24-27; 2 Tim. 2:12; I John 2:28) if all “true” believers finished well for God? It makes no sense to conclude this. 

The truth is God is good to those who refuse to give up (Lamentations 3:25-26; Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 11:5-13; 18:1-8). He will richly reward believers who remain faithful to Him till the end of their lives (Matthew 25:20-23; 2 Timothy 2:12; Hebrews 3:6, 12-14; 4:1-13; James 1:12; I Peter 1:3-12; 2 Peter 1:5-11; Revelation 2:10-11, 25-27; 3:5, 11-12, 21-22). 

Have you asked God to bless you?

“And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed.’ ” I Chronicles 4:10a

In Hebrew, the name Jabez (יַ֠עְבֵּץ) means “Pain” or “Painful.” Why did his mother name him Jabez? Perhaps it was a difficult pregnancy or delivery; or due to emotional pain – maybe his father left during the pregnancy or died. Whatever her reason, this was not a good start for this boy. 

We don’t have to let our past determine the present or even our future. Maybe your parents told you you’d never amount to anything, you can’t do anything right, you’re nothing but a pain. Don’t listen to those lies. Jabez did not. He turned his pain into gain. How?

He handled his problems by handing them over to God. He chose to live a life that was honorable to God in spite of his painful beginning. He prayed to the God of the universe. It’s as if he was saying, “God you know me, you know my mom called me a pain, and at times I have been. But now I want to break out of that rut and I know the only way I can do that is if You will bless me. I want to live a life, God, that is more honorable to You.” 

To ask for God’s blessing means to ask for His supernatural favor, His kindness to be poured out into our lives. “Oh, God pour out Your goodness into my life.”  

The word “indeed” (תְּבָרֲכֵ֜נִי) is like adding five exclamation points. “Bless me not just a little, but a whole lot! Pour it on, God!!” He does not tell God how to bless him. He doesn’t ask for money or popularity or a new house. He lets God determine how to bless him. While all his friends were content with being average and mediocre, Jabez said, “God I want you to bless the sandals off of me! I want you to do something big with my life!” Jabez did not want to be average or ordinary. He deeply wanted God’s blessing on his life. 

A lot of Christians just drift through life today. They have no goals and no ambition. As a result, they never accomplish much for the Lord. They are merely existing. Every one of us needs a dream from God. If we are not dreaming, we are drifting. When we stop dreaming, we start dying. When we stop setting goals, we stop growing. God made you for growth. He wants you to stretch and develop. God never created you to go through life with a halfhearted attitude, wondering what you are doing and where you are going. God wants you to have great ambition. He dares you to ask for big requests. 

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). Paul says that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). This means you cannot out-ask God. You cannot out-dream God. If you could stretch your imagination to the greatest limits of what you think could possibly happen, God can go far beyond even that. He can go beyond your imagination. God says, “Trust Me. Ask for things. Get a big dream.”

How can we overcome condemnation?

Are you living under condemnation? Are you weighed down by guilt and anxiety about your past? Maybe you have done things which would embarrass you if they became public knowledge. You may have a criminal record or a moral charge or a domestic conflict that, to this moment, is private information. You may wrestle with a past that has been fractured and wounded by a mental or emotional breakdown. Futile attempts at suicide may add to the previous scar tissue and increase your fear of being labeled “sick” or “nervous.” It’s possible you live with memories of an immoral relationship, a financial failure, a terrible habit, a divorce or a scandalous involvement. You may be your worst critic of your past.

From John 7:53-8:11, we can learn how to overcome condemnation.

1. REST UNDER CHRIST’S GRACIOUS TEACHINGS (7:53-8:2). The day after the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus went into the temple and “all the people came to Him” (8:2). Why did all the people come to sit under Jesus’ teaching? Was it because He beat them up spiritually and emotionally? No. I believe these people were tired of the demands of the religious leaders, and they were drawn to the gentle and forgiving grace of Christ (cf. Matthew 11:28-30; 12:20). 

As they sat under His teaching and discovered the magnificence of His grace, they were healed from the malignancy of their guilt! How precious and broad is Christ’s love they found, yet how petty and narrow is man’s legalism (trying to keep the Law to gain God’s acceptance). How refreshing is the Lord’s grace! Yet how rigid is the legalist’s guilt! Christ’s grace was setting them free from their guilt and shame. And He wants to do the same for you. “For God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). Christ did not come into the world to condemn you, but to cleanse you.

2. REDIRCT THOSE WHO CONDEMN US TO THEIR OWN SIN (8:3-9). Jesus’ gracious teaching was rudely interrupted by the religious leaders who caught a woman in the act of adultery during the Feast of Tabernacles when people were living in close quarters (8:3-4). For this woman to have been caught in adultery, the leaders must have set it up. They now set her in the middle of a crowd where everyone could see her and what Jesus would do with such a case. This was unlawful because they had a court to try such cases. But where was the man? The leaders set this whole thing up so the man could escape. They seemed to have a personal vendetta against this woman.

The law of Moses said to stone an adulteress and adulterer (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22-24)). But the leaders weren’t concerned with justice, but with trapping Jesus (8:5-6a). If Jesus says not to stone her, He is in conflict with the Mosaic law. If He says to stone her, He is in conflict with the Roman Law – for only the Romans had the right of capital punishment, not the Jews. Christ responded to the religious leaders’ attempt to condemn Him by stooping down and writing “on the ground with His finger” (8:6b). Much speculation has centered around what Jesus wrote. But the Bible is silent on this point! The act of writing – not what was written – is what is most important. 

The leaders thought Christ was stalling so they persistently questioned Him (8:7a). Jesus was more than a Teacher of the Law (8:4). He was also the Giver of the Law. He was the Son of God (20:31), God in human flesh (1:1, 14), the Creator of all things (1:3). The same finger that wrote the Law in the tablet of stone on Mt Sinai (Exodus 31:18), is the same finger that wrote on the ground. If Jesus was the Law-Giver (and He is), then He could forgive this woman like He had forgiven Israel at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 33:12-34:9).

Then Jesus says, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” 8:7b). Christ is not referring to sinlessness here because in the original language it literally says, “He who is without the sin [of adultery]…” Christ is referring to a specific area of sin. Then  Jesus “stooped down and wrote on the ground” a second time (8:8). Perhaps Jesus wrote down the names of the women the Pharisees slept with. The Law required the man and woman be stoned. Where was the man? Was he one of the leaders or a friend of the leaders? There would have been ample opportunities for the leaders to commit adultery during the feast.

As the truth began to sink in, “those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last” (8:9). The older ones left first because they had more guilt since they had been committing adultery longer. Instead of focusing on the woman’s sin or on trapping Jesus, the leaders were now forced to look at their own sin. 

When people are quick to condemn us or criticize us, set a boundary with them. Ask them, “Have you ever committed a similar sin? How did you feel? Would you have wanted them to remind you of that or put you down in front of others?” When you are being attacked, it’s better to take the offensive than be defensive.

3. REPLACE OUR GUILT WITH CHRIST’S FORGIVING GRACE (8:10-11a). The woman could have slipped away with the rest, but she remained with Jesus (8:9b). The leaders had felt the merciless exposure by the Son of God, but the woman had felt His warmth. Jesus asks her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you” (8:10b). She said, “No one Lord” (8:11a).  The leaders condemned themselves now instead of the woman. Now that the jury is gone, so the woman awaits her verdict. And the One who can condemn, does not. Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you” (8:11b). Jesus wants to replace our guilt with His forgiving grace. It’s a gift. God doesn’t give us what we deserve, but He does give us what we need. We deserve to be condemned, but we need His cleansing forgiveness.

We have such a difficult time understanding this as humans because this is not how we treat one another. This is not how we live in society. You mess up, you pay for it. In the States where you deserve death, you will be put to death in many states where they still have the death penalty.

But not in the state of Gods’ grace. In the state of grace, it’s already been paid for you. The courtroom was a wooden cross and the debt that was paid was suffered by Jesus Christ. When He hung on the cross it was if He was saying, “Jeff, you deserve to be here because of your sin but I’m going to die in your place because I love you and I don’t want you to die eternally. I want you to have a relationship with Me so I’m going to pay for it so I can look at you and say, ‘Not guilty.’” That’s grace. And He wants to take our guilt and give us grace. All He asks is that we believe in Him alone for His gift of eternal life and forgiveness (John 3:16; Acts 10:43). 

If you have already done that, but are still struggling with guilt, ask the Lord to show you if you have any unconfessed sin in your Christian life. If you do, confess it to Him, and the Bible says God “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse of from all unrighteouness” (I John 1:9). If you still have guilt, then you are probably being accused by Satan who wants to plague you with false guilt. Dismiss his lies and claim God’s truth to have completely forgiven you!

4. RELY ON CHRIST TO OVERCOME SIN (8:11c). After forgiving the woman’s adultery, Jesus said to her, “Go and sin no more” (8:11c). Is Jesus talking about sinless perfection here? No, because that would contradict other Scriptures (cf. I John 1:8, 10). He is not referring to sin in general or to sinless perfection, but He is referring specifically to the sin of adultery. Jesus forgives and forbids in the same breath. Christ did not condone, rationalize, or excuse her sin. He forgave her so she could live the way she was created to live…for God’s glory. This was probably the first man who was more interested in saving her than exploiting her, and in forgiving her than condemning her. Jesus provided the assurance and motivation she needed to live for Him now. 

And He does the same with us. Christ did not forgive you so you could continue in your sin. He forgave you so you could live for Him now (2 Corinthians 5:15). You must rely on His Spirit and Word to resist temptation and obey His commands (Matthew 4:1-11; 26:41; John 8:31-32; 16:13-14; Romans 8:11; I Corinthians 10:13; Galatians 5:16-17).

You know, none of us deserve to be forgiven. We haven’t earned it. Nor have we paid the price ourselves. Yet, in His grace, when Jesus forgives our sin, He forgets (Hebrews 10:17). Our past ended one second ago. Once you have experienced grace, it is now time to show it to others. We are to be gracious with others as Christ has been gracious with us (EpheFsians 4:32).

Invitations to avoid in Evangelism

When the apostle Paul instructed the Colossian believers to pray for his preaching of the gospel, he said, “that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak” (Colossians 4:4; NASB). God wants Christians to be clear in the way they communicate the gospel of Christ to non-Christians.

God uses the words “believe” and “faith” more than any other words as conditions for salvation from hell in the New Testament (e.g. Matthew 9:22; Mark 1:15; 5:34; 10:52; Luke 8:12, 48; 17:19; 18:42; John 1:12; 3:15, 16, 18, 36; 4:10-14, 25-28; 5:24, 39-40; 6:35, 37, 39-40, 47; 7:38-39; 10:24-30; 11:25, 26; 12:36, 46-47; 20:31; Acts 10:43; 11:14; 11:17; 13:39; 15:9, 11; 16:31; 26:18. Romans 3:22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 30; 4:3, 5, 9, 11, 13, 16, 22, 24; 5:1; 9:30, 33; 10:4, 10; I Corinthians 1:21;2 Corinthians 5:1-5, 8; Galatians 3:2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 14, 22, 24, 26; Ephesians 1:13; 2:8-9; Philippians 3:9; I Timothy 1:16; 2 Timothy 1:12; 3:15; 1 John 5:1, 13; et. al). But instead of using the words that God uses the most in the New Testament to tell non-Christians how to respond to the gospel, many Christians have inserted other words or clichés to communicate the most important message given to humanity. 

When inviting a non-Christian to respond to the gospel (I Corinthians 15:1-6), avoid  invitations that do more to confuse a lost person than clarify what he or she must do to get to heaven. We will evaluate some common gospel invitations according to what the Bible teaches. 

1. Accept Christ.     

a. The one verse that alludes to this possible invitation is John 1:12: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” This verse makes it clear that the way to receive or accept Christ is to “believe in His name.” Receiving Christ is the result of believing in Him. 

b. The danger in asking people to accept Christ is that they may accept Christ as a Person (just as we may accept one another as a person) and still depend on their good works to get them to heaven without ever trusting in Jesus alone as their only hope of heaven.

c. This invitation can be very confusing especially for Roman Catholics who are more inclined to think of accepting or receiving Christ by partaking of the Eucharist. If you invite a Roman Catholic to receive Christ, he or she may think you are referring to receiving His body (bread) and blood (cup) in the Eucharist instead of believing in Jesus. In their minds, receiving or accepting Christ is done repeatedly.

2. Turn from or be sorry for your sins. 

a. No human being, Christian or non-Christian, can stop sinning (I John 1:8, 10). 

b. The word “repent” (μετανοέω) refers to a change of mind about whatever is keeping an unbeliever from believing in Jesus, and then believing in Him for everlasting life (Mark 1:15). The non-Christian may need to change his mind about the Person of Christ (Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38), God (Acts 20:21), idols (Revelation 9:20), sin (Revelation 9:21), or his works (Hebrews 6:1; Revelation 16:11) before he can believe in Christ alone for the gift of salvation.

c. Repentance cannot refer to sorrow for sin or turning from sin because in the Old Testament God repents (e.g. Genesis 6:6-7; Exodus 32:14; Jeremiah 26:19; Jonah 3:9-10; et. al.). If repentance meant turning from sin or sorrow for sin, then God would be a sinner.

d. The gospel of John which was written to tell non-Christians how to get to heaven (John 20:31), never uses the words “repent” or “repentance” as a condition for everlasting life because when one changes from unbelief to belief, he or she has repented. Another possible reason for the absence of these words is they are easily misunderstood to mean something like “turning from sins” or “penance” which involve works. The word “believe,” however, communicates such simplicity that it is less likely to be misconstrued to include a works-oriented response.

e. The issue is not how you feel about sin; it is how God feels about sin. God is completely holy and perfect (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8; 15:4). The Lord hates sin and demands that it be punished (Genesis 6:5-7;  Deuteronomy 25:16; Proverbs 6:16-19; Romans 6:23; Hebrews 1:9). Are you willing to agree with God that you are a sinner in His sight, who deserves to be separated from Him forever in a terrible place of  suffering called the Lake of Fire (Romans 3:23; 6:23; Revelation 20:15)?

f. This invitation can confuse people into trusting in their own efforts (turning from sin) or feelings (sorrow for sin) instead of the finished work of Christ on the cross (John 19:30).

3. Confess your sins. 

a. Jesus never invited an unbeliever to do this (cf. John 3:15-16; 4:10-14; 6:35-40; 11:25-27).  

b. This is what we do after we believe in Christ to restore fellowship or closeness with God after we sin (I John 1:3, 9).

c. The reference to people “confessing their sins” when they were baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River (Matthew 3:6) is referring to the self-righteous people of Israel recognizing their sin so they would see their need to believe in Christ. Acts 19:4 says, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus” (cf. John 1:6-7; 3:23, 36). 

4. Pray the sinner’s prayer.

a. Nowhere in the Bible is anyone told to pray a prayer to be saved from eternal condemnation. Jesus never invited an unbeliever to do this nor did the apostles. For example, when the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas what he must do to be saved from sin’s penalty, they did not say, “Pray this prayer” or “Pray after me.” They simply said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

b. The danger of using this invitation is that people may end up trusting in a prayer instead of trusting in the Person of Christ alone.  

c. Often times, people get saved before they ever pray the sinner’s prayer because they have already trusted in Christ’s promise of eternal life.

d. Before leading someone in a prayer, explain to them that praying this prayer does not get them to heaven; only trusting in Christ alone will get them to heaven. This prayer is a way of telling God they are now trusting in His Son. 

5. Give your life or your heart to Jesus.

a. This is not what the Bible teaches.

b. The issue in salvation is not what we give to God, but what God gives to us. “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (I John 5:11).

c. If we give God our life or heart to get to heaven, we will be very disappointed because our life stops at the grave. We need life that lasts beyond the grave. We need God’s everlasting life which we receive by believing in Jesus alone (John 11:25-26). 

d. This invitation is disturbing to children who think in more literal terms. 

6. Ask Jesus into your heart. 

a. Nowhere does Jesus or the apostles tell non-Christians to ask Christ into their hearts to possess eternal life.

b. When a person believes in Christ alone for eternal life, Christ comes to live inside of him as a result (John 1:12; Romans 8:9; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 1:13-14; Colossians 1:27), so there is no need to ask Christ into his or her heart

c. Some will use Revelation 3:20 to invite unbelievers to “open the door of their heart.” But in the context of this passage we see that the Lord is speaking to believers who are in need of fellowship with Christ (Revelation 3:14-22). 

 – The word “heart” is not mentioned in Revelation 3:14-22. 

– The word “church” in Revelation is always used of believers (1:4, 11, 20; 2:1, 7-8, 11-12, 17-18, 23, 29; 3:1, 6-7, 13-14, 22; 22:16). 

    – Jesus is standing outside of the “church”at Laodicea which had grown lukewarm or half-hearted in their service to Christ due to self-sufficiency and deceit (Revelation 3:14-18). Christ spoke of “chastening” (paideuō) them (Revelation 3:19a). The word “chasten” literally means “child-training” and is therefore an activity of God toward His children (cf. Hebrews 12:5-11). 

   – Jesus also called them to repentance (3:19b). Then He says in verse 20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in [eiserchomai] to [pros]  him and dine with him, and he with Me.” The Greek verb (eiserchomai) accompanied by the preposition translated “to” (pros) means “to come or go to someone.”The verse is speaking of entrance into a building toward a person, not entrance into a person. Jesus is saying that He will come in the church toward the person who repents (hears His voice and opens the door of the church) and eat dinner with him  i.e. have intimate fellowship with him. 

d. Why would Christians turn to the book of Revelation which was written to Christians to help them prepare for future events, when God has given us so many evangelistic verses in the gospel of John which was written to tell non-Christians how to get to heaven (John 20:31)? 

e. This invitation can be very confusing for children who tend to think in more literal terms and are easily confused or disturbed by the prospect of asking a literal Jesus to take up residence in their blood-pumping organ.

f. This invitation also gives people a false sense of security. They have sincerely asked Jesus into their heart, but they do not have assurance from the Holy Spirit that they have eternal life because they have missed the only requirement for it which is believe in Christ (I John 5:9-13).

7. Confess Jesus is Lord. 

a. One passage that alludes to this possible invitation is Romans 10:9-10, 9 That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will besaved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” But these verses are talking about being delivered from God’s present-day wrath (displeasure) which is expressed in sinners being given over to the downward spiral of their own sinfulness (1:16-32; 5:9-10). To be delivered from God’s present-day wrath requires both believing in Christ resulting in justification (10:9b, 10a; cf. 1:20-5:9a) followed by confessing Jesus as Lord or “calling on the name of the Lord” (10:13) resulting in victorious Christian living (10:9a, 10b; cf. 5:9b-8:39). This sequence is confirmed by Romans 10:14-15a when the verbs in these verses are reversed – “sent …preach…hear…believe…call on Him.” We see that calling on the name of the Lord is done after believing in Christ and is therefore something Christians do after their conversion to obtain divine assistance in living the victorious Christian life (Romans 5:9-8:39; cf. Acts 9:21; I Cor. 1:2).

b. Confession involves effort and possible persecution (cf. Matthew 10:32).

c. When false prophets (Matthew 7:15) stand before Christ on Judgment Day (Matthew 7:21-23), they will confess the Lordship of Jesus and appeal to the good works they have done in Jesus’ name for His glory (“Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?”) as the basis of their entrance into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:22). But Jesus will say to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew  7:23). Why does He say this? Because they had failed to do “the will of the Father in heaven” as it relates to entering the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21b). Jesus said, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40;cf. 3:5, 15-16). Until a person is rightly related to Jesus by believing in Him for everlasting life, all their good works and words, including confessing Jesus is Lord, are “lawlessness” before  a holy God (Matthew 7:23; cf. Isaiah 64:6).  

d. The Scriptures give examples of secret believers who refuse to confess Christ openly with their words and lifestyle for fear of persecution (John 7:13; 9:22; 12:42; 19:38). They still have eternal life, but they will lose rewards for not identifying with Christ openly because of their fear of persecution (cf. Matthew 10:32-42). 

8. Follow or obey Jesus.

a. Some use John 10:27-28 to defend this invitation for salvation: 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” But in this passage the word “follow” is a figure of speech referring to belief. In the context, Jesus addresses the unbelief of His Jewish audience, who questioned if He was the Messiah (10: 24). Jesus replied to them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you” (10:25- 26). People who are not of His sheep do not believe (10:26). What then do His sheep do? They believe He is the Christ – the One who gives eternal life to those who believe in Him. They hear His voice and respond in faith like sheep follow a shepherd. They trust Him. 

b. Throughout the Gospel of John, figures of speech are used to illustrate saving faith: receiving (1:12), looking (3:14-15), asking (4:10), drinking (4:14), hearing (5:24; 10:16, 27), coming (6:35, 37), eating bread (6:54), entering (10:9) and following (10:27).

c. Following Christ through obedience is necessary to be a disciple of Christ (Mark 1:17-18; Luke 5:10-11; 9:23), not a possessor of Christ. For example, when you examine all four gospels, it becomes clear that the disciples whom Jesus called to follow Him in Mark 1:14-18 had already believed in Christ for about a year (John 1:35-4:35). 

9. Commit your life to Christ. 

a. Jesus never invited non-Christians to commit their life to Him to obtain the free gift of everlasting life.  Many people have pledged to serve God in the hope that their commitment would persuade God to take them to heaven. 

b. Promising to commit your life to Christ can actually become a stumbling block, for to be saved from the Lake of Fire one must believe in Christ alone, not Christ plus your commitment (Acts 16:31). Making promises is a form of works-salvation and is foreign to God’s way of salvation (Titus 3:5). 

c. This cliché may be an appropriate challenge for Christians to follow Christ and to serve and suffer for Him as His disciple (Matthew 16:24- 27; Luke 9:23).

10. Submit to Jesus as your Lord and Master.

a. Submitting to the Lordship of Christ does not take anyone to heaven because it misses the object of saving faith – believing in Jesus alone for eternal life.

b. The term “Lord” in the name “Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31) refers to Christ’s deity and unique role in our salvation, not His control over every area of an individual’s life. Only Christ has the ability and authority to punish sin or pardon sinners. 

c. Submitting to Christ’s Lordship is a challenge that Jesus gives to people after they are saved, who then have the supernatural resources to enable them to surrender to Christ’s control as a part of the life-long process of discipleship (cf. Luke 14:25-35). Failure to submit to Jesus’ Lordship results in the loss of rewards (cf. Colossians 3:23-24), not salvation.

Conclusion: We are not suggesting that no one has been born again when these clichés are included in a gospel presentation. Evangelist Larry Moyer has said, “God can still use a crooked arrow to hit a target.” God can still use our unclear gospel presentations to help people come to Christ by believing in Him. But why use an unclear phrase or cliché which will do more to confuse a lost person than clarify what he must do to obtain eternal life? Would it not be better to use the clearest presentation possible so that the unsaved person has the best opportunity to respond to the gospel the way God wants him to respond? Let’s keep the gospel clear by using the words God uses the most – “believe” and “faith” – when inviting non-Christians to respond to the gospel!

Will Judas Iscariot be in heaven?

Judas Iscariot is thought by many to be saved because he was a disciple of Jesus Christ. But what does the Bible say? The gospel of John provides evidence that Judas Iscariot was an unbeliever, and therefore, will not be in heaven:

I. “‘ 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him…70 Jesus answered them, ‘Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?’  7He  spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.” John 6:64, 70-71

Near the end of His bread of life discourse (John 6:26-71), Jesus acknowledged that “some” of the people who had been following Him and listening to His instruction “did not believe” in Him (6:64a). They were “disciples” (6:66) – those who were sitting under His teaching – but they were unsaved. “Many of His disciples” found His words difficult (6:60, 66) and “some” of them “did not believe” (6:64a). So this multitude of people listening to Jesus’ teaching was comprised of believing and unbelieving disciples or learners of Jesus. The unbelieving people in Jesus audience included those “who would betray Him” (6:64b). 

The phrase “who would betray Him” connects to Judas Iscariot in verses 70-71: “Jesus answered them, ‘Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?’ He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.” Christ admits that He chose Judas as He did the others. Christ’s selection of His twelve disciples was for service and fruit-bearing (cf. John 15:16), not for salvation. Out of the hundreds who were following Him, Jesus chose one who would refuse to believe in Him and would eventually betray Him. What an amazing picture of God’s grace. He desires all people to be saved – even those who will betray Him.

Judas had every opportunity to know and serve Jesus like the other Eleven. Yet in the spirit of “a devil,” he actively opposed Christ (6:70b). Eventually Judas would betray Christ and hand Him over to His enemies (7:71). This was all a part of God’s plan and purpose for His Son. Judas stayed with the group; he lived with them, ate and slept with them, performed miracles with them, and yet he did not believe in Jesus for everlasting life.

Outwardly Judas was a disciple (“one of the twelve”) who enjoyed the privilege to be in Jesus’ inner circle of friends (7:71a). He was given a prominent position as treasurer (12:6) and kept stealing from the money box. No doubt he felt important being associated with Christ who brought hope and healing to so many. Even Judas had deceived the eleven other disciples! They did not know that he was a fake, but Jesus knew. Inwardly, Judas was a traitor, an enemy opposed to all that God wants.

Nothing in John 6:64, 70-71, suggests that Judas Iscariot was a believer in Jesus. In fact, these verses refer to Judas as one of those in the crowd who did “not believe” (6:64) and “would betray” Christ (6:64b; 71). Christ is not just talking about the disciples who would withdraw from Him (cf. 6:66) when He says, “some of you who do not believe” (6:64a), He was also talking about the one disciple (Judas) who “would betray Him” (6:64b, 70-71; cf. 12:4; 13:2, 21-30; 18:2, 5).

The other disciples did not know about Judas’ unbelieving heart, but “Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him” (6:64b). When Peter told Jesus, “We have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (6:69), this does not mean Judas had believed in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Peter was not aware of Judas’ unbelieving heart at the time he said this. But Jesus new of Judas’ unbelief (6:64b, 70-71; 13:10-11; 17:12).   

Another argument in favor of Judas being an unbeliever is seen in John 13:27 where we are told, “Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him.” Judas’ persistent unbelief toward Christ allowed Satan to enter his body and take control of him so he could do his evil work “quickly” (13:27). The fact that “Satan entered Judas” also lends support that Judas was an unbeliever because only unbelievers can be possessed by Satan or demons. Believers have Jesus indwelling them through His Holy Spirit and He promises never to leave them nor forsake them (cf. Romans 8:11; I Corinthians 6:19; Galatians 2:20; Hebrews 13:5; I John 4:4). 

II. “10 Jesus  said to him, ‘He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.’11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, ‘You are not all clean.’ ” John 13:10-11

When Jesus got up from the Last Supper to wash His disciples’ feet (13:1-7), Simon Peter refused to let Jesus wash his feet (13:8a) perhaps because he did not want Jesus to degrade Himself by performing such a lowly task reserved for slaves. Christ responds to Peter by telling him, “If I don’t cleanse you from the effects of sin (dirt on your feet), you can have no part (fellowship) with Me” (13:8b). Peter responds, “If fellowship with You, Lord, depends on cleansing, then wash not only my feet but my hands and head, too” (13:9)! 

In the first century, there were no bathing facilities in small houses. So a person had to go to a public bathhouse to bathe. When invited to a meal, a person would first go to the public bathhouse and bathe, and then put on clean clothing, anoint himself with fresh oil, and proceed to the home where he would be served a meal. On the way from the bathhouse to the home, the guest’s feet got dirty. Hence, the host provided a basin of water so that the one who already had a bath and cleansed his entire body could sponge the dirt off his feet.

Jesus is referring to two types of cleansing when He says, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you” (13:10). The first type of cleansing refers to the complete cleansing of regeneration which takes place at the moment of faith in Jesus (cf. Titus 3:5; Revelation 1:5). This is seen in the word “bathed” (λούω) which refers to bathing the entire body. This verb is in the perfect tense which conveys the idea of a permanent cleansing that has continuing results to the present. A person only needs one complete bath spiritually. This is a one-time experience. The Holy Spirit performs this complete cleansing at the moment of faith in Jesus for eternal life. Some believers think they need to be totally bathed over and over again. They fail to understand that God’s water or soap is guaranteed for eternity. Once you believe in Christ, you will need the second type of cleansing that He speaks of next. 

This second type of cleansing refers to daily forgiveness in order to have fellowship or closeness with God. This cleansing is represented by the word “wash” (νίπτω) which means to wash parts of the body. This fellowship forgiveness (cf. Matthew 6:14-15; Luke 11:4) is based upon the confession of sin (I John 1:9). So Christ is saying in verse 10, “He who is bathed [regeneration] needs only to wash his feet [fellowship] but is completely clean.” Every bathed person (Christian) needs daily cleansing of his dirty feet to have fellowship with Christ. 

All but one of the disciples were “completely clean” in their position before God and could have fellowship with the Lord (13:10c). John explains that the one who had not experienced the cleansing bath of salvation was the one “who would betray” Jesus, i.e. Judas (13:11; cf. 13:21-30). Judas had not experienced the cleansing bath of salvation because of his refusal to believe in Christ (cf. John 6:64, 70-71; 17:12). It was not Judas’ betrayal of Jesus that made him unsaved. It was his unbelief toward Jesus that caused him not to be completely clean in his position before God.

III. “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” John 17:12

As Jesus was praying for His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion and Judas’ death, He refers to keeping His disciples from being spiritually “lost except the son of perdition” who is Judas (17:12). The reason Judas is spiritually “lost” is because he never believed in Jesus (6:64, 70-71; 13:10-11). He is the “son of perdition” or “one doomed to destruction” because of his refusal to believe in Christ alone for everlasting life. Judas “destroyed” himself by refusing to believe in Christ and thus fulfilled Scripture (Psalm 41:9) and God’s purpose.

Before Judas hung himself (Matt. 27:3-5; Acts. 1:18), the Bible never says he believed in Jesus for everlasting life.  Therefore, I believe it is a strong argument for Judas being an unbeliever and confined to the Lake of Fire in the future.

For the sake of illustration, let’s say Judas did believe in Christ for everlasting life before he betrayed the Lord by turning Him over to His enemies and then committed suicide by hanging himself. Would Judas be in heaven? Absolutely, because he would “have everlasting life” (John 3:16) which by definition cannot be lost because it has no end. Judas would be in heaven because no one can snatch him out of God the Son’s and God the Father’s hands (John 10:28-29). He would be in heaven because Christ died for all Judas’ sins including his betrayal and suicide (Colossians 2:13-14). But Judas would not have eternal rewards in heaven which require faithfulness to Christ to the end of one’s life (cf. I Corinthians 9:24-27; 2 Timothy 2:12; James 1:12; Revelation 2:10, 25-27; 3:11-12).

On the other hand, let’s say Judas did not believe in Christ for everlasting and betrayed the Lord. But instead of hanging himself, he looked to Jesus in faith to forgive all his sins and give him everlasting (John 3:16; Acts 10:43). Would he be in heaven? Absolutely. But nothing in the Bible suggests that Judas did believe in Christ for everlasting life before he hung himself.

Conclusion: The gospel of John makes it clear that Judas Iscariot, the one “who would betray” Christ, did “not believe” in Jesus (6:64, 70-71) and therefore was not “completely clean” in his position before God (13:10-11). Therefore, Jesus describes him as being spiritually “lost” and a “son of perdition” (17:12). 

Why would Jesus allow an unbeliever to have such a close association with Him for three and a half years? Perhaps it was because He loved Judas and wanted to give Him ample time to believe in Him for everlasting life (cf. John 13:1). This also magnifies the grace of Jesus Christ which gives great blessing to those who do not deserve it. 

We are also reminded from this study about Judas Iscariot that what determines a person’s eternal destiny is not their works. Judas did many works for Jesus Christ as His disciple (Matthew 10:1ff; Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:1-6), but his unbelief toward Jesus condemned him to an eternity in the Lake of Fire (John 3:18; 6:64, 70-71; 13:10-11; 16:7-11; 17:12). The Bible tells us that it is not our works that determine whether we go to heaven or hell (Romans 4:5; Ephesians 2:8-9), but our response to Jesus Christ. “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). 

On Judgment Day there will be many false prophets (Matthew 7:15) who stand before Jesus and appeal to their words (“Lord, Lord”)  and to their good works (“prophesied…cast out demons…done many wonders”) that they have done “in His name” for His glory as the basis of their entrance into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21-22). And Jesus will say to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23). Why does He say this? Because they had failed to do “the will of the Father in heaven” as it relates to entering the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21b). Jesus said, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40; cf. 3:5, 15-16). Until a person is rightly related to Jesus by believing in Him for everlasting life, all their good works, words, and thoughts are “lawlessness” before a holy God (Matthew 7:23; cf. Isaiah 64:6). 

Do you “believe in the Son,” Jesus Christ, for “everlasting life”? If so, then God promises that you now have “everlasting life” and your name is written in the Book of Life so that you will enjoy a home in heaven (John 3:36a; Revelation 21:27). But if you reject Jesus Christ or “do not believe the Son,” you “shall not see life” in heaven, “but the wrath of God abides”on you both now and forever in the Lake of Fire (John 3:36b; Revelation 20:15). It does not matter how many good works you have done for Jesus, if you do not believe in Him alone for His gift of everlasting life, you will still suffer torment forever in the Lake of Fire (Romans 4:5; Ephesians 2:8-9).

How can I believe Jesus is God?

In the first part of John chapter 5, Jesus had healed a man on the Sabbath and the Jews sought to kill Him all the more because He not only broke their Sabbath traditions, but He also claimed to be equal with God (5:1-18). When people heard Jesus’ claims, many of them asked, “How do we know He is telling the truth? What evidence does He give?” Knowing the hearts and minds of the religious leaders, Jesus proceeds to call upon five witnesses to back up His claim to be equal with God the Father (5:31-47).

According to Jewish law, self-testimony was not accepted in the court of law (Deut. 19:15). There must be witnesses who will confirm another’s testimony. This is why Jesus said His Self-testimony was not valid (5:31). So He calls upon five witnesses to back up His claim to be equal with God:

1. THE WITNESS OF GOD THE FATHER (5:32, 37-38). The word “another” (5:32) means “of the same kind as Myself.” Jesus is referring to God the Father. The reason Jesus is so bold about His equality with God is because He is conscious of His Father’s continual confidence and support. God the Father’s witness of Jesus (5:37) is seen when He spoke from heaven at Jesus’ baptism“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). These religious leaders are ignorant of God the Father’s testimony of Jesus because of their unbelief. So Jesus’ claim to be God is valid because there is no higher court of appeal than God the Father Himself.

2. THE WITNESS OF JOHN THE BAPTIST (5:33-35). When John the Baptist was preaching in the wilderness, he said three specific things about Jesus: He is “the Lamb of God”(1:29), He is the One “who baptizes with the Holy Spirit”(1:33), and that Jesus is “the Son of God” (1:34), or God Himself.  

3. THE WITNESS OF JESUS’ MIRACULOUS WORKS (5:36) which included changing water into wine (2:1-11), healing both the nobleman’s son in Capernaum (4:46-54), and now the lame man at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem (5:1-15). In fact, the people listening to Jesus saw this lame man rise out of paralysis into strength and walking again. He was standing before them so that they could not deny the miracle. Christ’s works were superior to John’s words. Only a supernatural Person could perform supernatural works. 

“But,” you say, “that was 2,000 years ago. If God would only witness like that again today I could believe in Him.” Well, God does witness like that today. Jesus still performs miracles today. We have seen Him heal people of cancer…broken relationships. We have watched Christ liberate people from drugs and alcohol. He has transformed sinners into forgiven saints!

4. THE WITNESS OF THE SCRIPTURES THEMSELVES (5:39). The Jewish religious leaders devoted their whole lives studying and memorizing the Old Testament because they thought the knowledge of Scripture would give them eternal life (5:39a). There are people like this today, students and scholars who search the Bible, but never find Jesus. Yet Jesus Himself declares, “They [the Scriptures]…testify of Me”(5:39b). Jesus is the main subject of the Old Testament! You will find Him on every page appearing as a type or shadow of things to come. For example, the animal sacrifices pictured Jesus’ death. What an amazing claim this is, “They testify of Me.” 

Muhammed, the prophet of Islam, who studied the Old Testament, never claimed that the Old Testament witnessed to him. Buddha knew some of the Old Testament, yet he never claimed it was a witness to him. Gandhi, a modern-day Buddha, never claimed that Scripture talked about him. But when Jesus makes that claim no one calls Him crazy. There is an acknowledgment of the justice of His claim, there is evidence in support of it.

It’s possible to study the Bible, to even give your whole life to it, and never see Jesus. Like many people today, these people thought that knowledge is power, education is life, and if you get knowledge of what God does you will have eternal life. What is the problem? How can people hear and see the truth, study the truth all their lives, yet never come to Christ?

Jesus tells us: “But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (5:40). The problem is the will. The reason they don’t find Christ in their study of the Bible is because they choose not to do so.

Jesus goes on to tell us why someone can read the truth, know it to be truth, know that it speaks of Jesus, know Him to be who He claims to be, and still refuse to come to Him in faith. It is because they are looking for their own advancement. They are out to please themselves and to please other people (5:41-44). 

 There are two ways to study the Bible: (like the Pharisees) you can study it with your mind made up or (like Jesus’ disciples) you can study it to let it make up your mind. The choice is yours.

5. THE WITNESS OF MOSES (5:45-47). It is amazing that the very one the religious leaders of Israel are using as their excuse to persecute Jesus, will instead become their accuser. Moses will finally tell them they have ignored his words about Christ. 

 Many people are like this today. They say, “When I stand before God I will have a lot of things to say to Him. I don’t think He has treated me very fairly. I’ve had a bad deal in life and I’m going to tell Him so.” But on that day, they will stand absolutely silent before God, their own memories will testify that He is right, and they are wrong.

Listen to Jesus’ wordsFor if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words” (5:47-48)? If the Jews believed Moses (and they didn’t), they would believe Jesus because Moses wrote about Him. Moses was highly respected by the Jewish nation and Jesus was saying Moses would condemn them because they rejected the Person he wrote about. Jesus is telling us if we don’t believe the truth we know now, we won’t believe when we hear even more truth. 

Where does that leave us? We have the witness of the Father, of John the Baptist, twenty centuries of testimony about the power of Jesus to heal people, to turn them around and make them whole, the witness of the Bible, and the witness of Moses. Five witnesses were sufficient to condemn the Jews for their unbelief. The Jews were claiming a legal ground for unbelief (5:31) and Jesus shows them there is no legal basis. Where does that leave us, if we continue to pursue the empty voices of the world and seek for positions of power and influence apart from the will and the glory of God?

If you are a Christian, will you submit to Jesus Christ as God and let Him direct your life even if it means being led up onto a hill to be crucified or serving Him in another part of the world? Are you willing to live for Him and not yourself? 

If you are not a Christian, is there anything keeping you from trusting Christ right now to get you to heaven? Because He is God, He is the only One who can give you eternal life. Take Him at His Word when He says, “He who believes in Me has everlasting life.” John 6:47

Prayer: For years I have rejected You my Lord Jesus as a mere prophet or good moral teacher. But now I have been convicted that You are truly God and can give me everlasting life. Please forgive me for the terrible things I have done and said. I come to You now as a sinner who deserves eternal condemnation. I believe You died for me and rose from the dead. I am now trusting in You, Jesus (not my religion, my good life, or prayers) to give me everlasting life and forgive all my sins. Thank You for the everlasting life and forgiveness I now have. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

How do I share the gospel with those who are religious?

Have you ever talked to someone about the Lord and have him tell you how religious he is? Or did you ever witness to someone and have the person inform you that he felt he had to work his way to heaven by being good? How do you respond to that? Or did you ever present the gospel to someone only to have them say, “I believe all of that,” even though you sensed he didn’t really understand?

How are we to reach a religious person who thinks he is already saved when he is not? Jesus teaches us by example in John 3:1-15 when He talks to a prominent religious leader who thinks the way to heaven is by doing good works. His name was Nicodemus and he had a difficult time realizing the difference between religion and relationship.

The first way to approach a religious person about Christ is to… 

1. CONFRONT HIM WITH THE TRUTH ABOUT HIS NEED FOR SPIRITUAL BIRTH (3:1-12). After Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night expressing his admiration of Jesus by affirming that Jesus’ ministry is blessed by God, Jesus says to him: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (3:3). When Nicodemus misunderstands Jesus to be talking about physical birth, Christ confronts him with the need for both physical birth (“born of water…that which is born of the flesh is flesh,” 3:5a, 6a) and spiritual birth (“born of… the Spirit…that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” 3:5b, 6b). Some people teach that because God loves everyone, all people will go to heaven. But this is contrary to what Jesus is saying. Christ makes it clear that you must have two births to enter the Kingdom of God: physical birth and spiritual birth. 

From Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, we learn the following truths:

Being born again is not about human efforts. If anyone “deserved” eternal life, it would appear that Nicodemus had all of the right qualifications. He seems worthy of eternal life. But this conversation reminds us that salvation is not about human effort or merit. 

Position does not get you to heaven. Nicodemus was “a man of the Pharisees” (3:1), one of the seventy-one who comprised the Sanhedrin – the Jewish Supreme Court. He was a part of the religious elite. He had a distinguished religious position. But a certain position does not get you to heaven. Being a pastor, a Sunday School teacher, a member of the board at a non-profit organization does not save you. Being born again is not about human efforts. It is not about positions.

Popularity does not get you to heaven. The name “Nicodemus” means “a conqueror or victor of the people.” Nicodemus was well known and respected in the community. He was popular. He was recognized as a spiritual leader. Mothers pointed to Nicodemus and told their children, “There is a good man. You grow up to be like Nicodemus.” He was extremely popular. But popularity does not save you. Being recognized as a “Christian” person or as a spiritual leader does not save you. Being born again is not about popularity.

Prestige does not get you to heaven. Jesus identified Nicodemus as “the teacher of Israel” (3:10).  He was the one to whom people turned for spiritual answers. He was recognized as the spiritual adviser, the religious guru, the one who spent his life studying the Scriptures, but he did not possess eternal life. He knew the Scriptures, but he did not know the Author of the Bible. He was not born from above because prestige does not save you.

Piety does not get you to heaven. Nicodemus possessed great religious knowledge. As a member of the Pharisees, he knew and lived what was considered right and wrong. His first words to Jesus, “we know” (3:2) express a certain level of spiritual knowledge. Yet the reality is that Nicodemus did not know. He was ignorant of spiritual truth. He was religious to the core. The Pharisees went to drastic measures to make sure they obeyed the letter of the law. They fasted and prayed and studied the Scriptures. They lived spiritually disciplined lives, but they were lost. He was religious and lost. Do you know why? Piety does not save. You can come to church, tithe, go to Sunday School, lead a class, be a deacon or trustee, read your Bible, pray, witness, and practice spiritual disciplines and yet still be lost. You can do all the things that pious people do and be without Christ. Piety does not save. I have heard so many people say, “I live a good life. I try to do what is right. I go to church, etc.,” but pious living, good living does not get you to heaven. Why? 

Because you are still a sinner who deserves to die forever in hell. The Bible tells us,“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”(Romans 3:23). Regardless of how good we are, we have stilled sinned. We may have sinned one time or a hundred times, but we have still sinned! And sin demands a penalty. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death.”A just God cannot overlook sin any more than a just judge can overlook a violation of the law. No matter how good you are, you are facing eternal separation from God in a place called hell.     

After we have confronted the religious person with the truth, we then 2. CONFRONT HIM WITH GRACE (3:13-15). Jesus had authority to teach about heavenly things because He lived in heaven (3:13). No one has ascended to God. Instead, God has come down to us in the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus knows best how to get to heaven because He lived there. No one knows better how to get to your home than you. To find out how to get to heaven ask the One who lives there, Jesus Christ. What does He say? 

14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (3:14-15). Why do you suppose Jesus used Moses and the serpent illustration from the Old Testament? Perhaps Nicodemus had just finished teaching the passage in the synagogue? Whatever the reason, Jesus turns Nicodemus’ attention to Numbers 21. The people of Israel were on the way to the Promised Land. They were complaining against God and were dissatisfied with the manna He sent them. To discipline them, God sent poisonous snakes among the people, resulting in many physical deaths (Numbers 21:4-6). Moses then asked God to remove the snakes. God told Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten when he looks at it, shall live” (Numbers 21:8). 

In a similar fashion, all of mankind has been struck down by sin. Sin has sunk its fangs in our spiritual souls and the venom has made its way to our hearts and we are dying in our sins. But God saw our hopelessness and lifted up His Son on the cross to die for our sins. To be born again and experience eternal life, Nicodemus needed simply to “look and live,” just as in Numbers 21 one had to “look and live.” Jesus explained their “look”as simply believing in Him: “That whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (3:15).

To Nicodemus, the admonition to look and live would have been both personal and effective. Having fasted, prayed, faithfully attended the synagogue, observed the feasts, and honored the Sabbaths, he was tempted to look at what he had done to give a him a right standing with God. Instead, now he discovered he must look to Christ alone for eternal life. He must believe in Him. Being born again is all about a personal relationship between a holy God and a sinful people. 

How can a holy God have a relationship with a sinful people? Because God came down to earth (3:13). And why did He come down? That He might be lifted up on the cross (3:14) to die for our sins so that those who look up or believe in Him, should not perish but have eternal life (3:15). Faith alone in Christ alone gets you to heaven. 

Have you been born again? Is there anything keeping you from trusting in Christ now as your only hope of heaven? There are four obstacles that can prevent any religious person from coming to Christ:

1. PRIDE. A religious man was told he must be born again. Religious people don’t like to be told this because they want to look to what they have done, not what someone else has done to get them to heaven. When I tell a religious man all he must do to get to heaven is believe in Jesus, he says, “But I’ve lived a good life.” 

2. TRADITION. We often hear a religious person say, “What will my family and friends think” if I go against what we have been taught and trust Christ for eternal life?” Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews, a teacher, a religious leader. He couldn’t trust in this miracle-worker. His colleagues would reject him. 

3. IGNORANCE. “No one ever told me this before.” Many religious people have not been told that all they must do is look to Christ in faith to get them to heaven. 

4. MISUNDERSTANDING. Many religious people have said, “Don’t you think I’ll get to heaven if I believe in Christ plus my good life?” The only condition for eternal life is belief or trust in Christ (period), not plus something else. 

Nicodemus reminds us that the best of people are not so good they can earn their way to heaven. God takes us to heaven on the basis of His Son’s performance, not ours. He offers eternal life only on the basis of grace – favor we do not deserve. Grace with anything added to it ceases to be grace (Romans 11:6). If we trust in anything in addition to Christ for salvation, then we’ve fallen victim to Satan’s deception. Christ and Christ alone saves. When presenting the gospel to the religious, confront them with the truth of their need for a Savior – they are sinners who deserve eternal separation from God. Then share God’s grace with them – that Christ died for them and rose again, and they can have eternal life simply by believing in Christ for it.