We Are Alive from the Dead (John 5:24)

For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. … Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. … For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself. (John 5:21–26)

The Father has life in Himself and has granted the Son to have life in Himself (John 5:26). The Son has life in Himself and gives it to whomever He wishes (John 5:21). People pass from death into life when Jesus gives them the life that He and the Father have always shared. Everyone who hears Jesus and believes in Him has life in himself and has passed from death into life (John 5:24).

The formula for passing from death to life is found in John 6:57–58:

As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever. (John 6:57–58)

This proves the axiom, “You are what you eat.” If you eat Jesus then you have eternal life. If you don’t eat Jesus, then you don’t have life in you at all (John 6:53–54). The reason that consuming Jesus causes a person to have eternal life is that the “nutrient”, eternal life, is found only in Jesus Christ (John 5:26; 6:57). If you consume Jesus, then you also consume eternal life. Furthermore, since eternal life is not metabolized, it remains in us forever; hence it is called “eternal” life.

When Jesus first gave this metaphor, many disciples were offended and stopped following Him (John 6:66). They took His words literally instead of understanding the spiritual truths His metaphor represented (John 6:60–63). In plain English, it is this: We are wholly dependent on Jesus Christ for the saving of our souls because He is the only one who possesses and distributes eternal life. Peter understood the metaphor, as evidenced by his answer to Jesus’ question on the subject:

Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”

But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:67–69)

When a person “consumes” Jesus, Jesus comes to live in him, and from that point forward, that person has spiritual life. The life that is in Jesus is the same life that is in the Father (John 5:26). When a person gets new life in Christ, he gets the exact same life that Jesus has and the exact same life that the Father has. It is the life that if a person has it, “though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25–26). Concerning this life, the apostle John testifies, “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11–12).

Concerning the passing from death into life, the apostle Paul wrote:

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:1–7)

Until a person is born spiritually, he is dead spiritually. This is more than lacking spiritual life, for that may be considered equivalent to not existing. Spiritual death is more akin to spiritual corruption that is analogous to the putrid smell of rotting flesh. Spiritually dead people exude spiritually corrupt acts from out of spiritually corrupt souls. Granted, they may look good on the outside, but inside they are rotten (Matt. 23:27).

Because of their spiritual corruption, they are by nature children of God’s wrath (Eph. 2:3). And we should not be critical of them or judgmental towards them because we were just like them before Jesus saved us. And we still possess the same corrupt flesh they have. Yet we have been spared God’s wrath, not because we are good people or because we deserve it, but because God had mercy on us. He poured out His mercy on us and raised us up with Christ from spiritual death by giving us His life (Eph. 2:5–6).

Therefore, it is not our deeds, but our possession of His life that differentiates us from those who will suffer God’s wrath. This is evidenced in the Book of Revelation’s brief description of the Day of Judgment:

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:11–15)

The wording in verse 12 that both “small and great” were standing before God, and the fact that some apparently among them were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (verse 15), strongly suggests that everyone, regardless of their spiritual status, will stand before God and be “judged according to their works” (verse 12), which are all recorded in “books.” Yet there is no indication whatsoever that anyone standing before God would pass judgment (be justified) because of his or her works. In fact, what’s indicated is that those who survive judgment will be crying because of their sins, and afterward, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 21:4).

And though every person who has ever been born (except Jesus) deserves “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thess. 1:9), some will be condemned, and some will not. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will survive judgment (Rev. 20:15). But those whose names are not in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire to be tormented forever. The only difference between the two is whether their names are in the Book of Life.

Those of us who now possess Jesus’ life have our names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life because the Book of Life is where the record that we have eternal life is kept. And just because our names are written in the Book of Life, we will enter the gates of the new heaven and the new earth, and we will receive our inheritance. And our inheritance will include, most notably, that we will be in God’s presence forever (Rev. 21:3). This future is possible for us only because we have new life in Christ.

Jesus said:

And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. (John 10:28–29)

Our eternal security depends wholly on the commitment of God to shield us from His wrath and on His strength to shield us from all enemies who would otherwise wrest us from His protection. On both counts, we are safe. God will never change His mind or take away the gift of life that He has given us in Christ, and there are no enemies or combination of enemies in all of creation that are strong enough to take us away from Him.

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