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. The love of God - Divine Promise

THE LOVE OF GOD (PART 4) THE DIVINE PROMISE

John 3:16 (ESV) 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Introduction

 

So far in John 3:16 we have looked at the divine gift which is God giving His Son for the sins of the world. We have looked at the divine plan which is a plan to save sinners. We saw the divine choice which tells us who has been invited to salvation and to whom salvation will be given. Then in the last sermon we saw the love of God demonstrated in the divine deliverance that is promised for all believers.

 

In this sermon we come to see something else about the love of God. The love of God is seen in the life that we have been given.

 

5. The divine promise of eternal life.

 

John 3:16 (ESV) 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Salvation is not just deliverance as we saw in the last sermon. It is not just a deliverance from one kind of life and the results of that life. It is not just a deliverance from one kind of destiny to another destiny. It is the giving of an entirely new kind of life. When the Lord saved us, He did not just deliver us, He gave us life, eternal life.

In this sermon I want us to think about, what that life is that we have been given.

 

If you are a believer, you claim to have eternal life. The question is. What is eternal life? There are nine truths about eternal life that I want to share with you:

 

5.1 Eternal life is new life.

 

The fact that God gives it says that men do not possess it naturally. We are not born with this thing called eternal life. By nature, we are dead in sin.  There was nothing that we could do to produce it. God must give it to us as a gift. Paul tells us this in Romans 6:23 (ESV) 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So, it is a gift, and a gift is always free.

 

5.2 Eternal life is a work of God

 

Ephesians 2:4-5 (ESV) 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—"

What did God do when He saved you? He made you alive together with His Son.  This was His gift to you, and all of it is His work alone.

5.3 Eternal life is a great change.

 

To say that you have been saved is to say that you have been changed in the most radical way possible. John 5:24 (ESV) 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life.

A believer has been taken from one realm and moved into another. He was taken from one condition to another. He was dead in His trespasses and sins, belonged to the realm of death but now he has passed from death into a new realm. He has been made alive.

 

Paul’s version of what happens we see in Acts 26:18 (ESV) 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’”

1 John 3:14 (ESV) 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.”

Notice that he is not talking here specifically about eternal death and eternal life, but life now and death now. Notice that anyone who does not love remains in death now. According to what we have just read anybody who is alive does not just love God, but he loves the children of God.

 

But all of this, to say that it is a gift, to say that it is God’s work, to say that it is a change, all of this says that men do not possess this life from birth. We do not have it naturally. We have been born spiritually dead according to the Scriptures. So, from the time of our birth to the time of our salvation we have had no experience with this life.

 

Which is why, if you try to talk to a lost man about the life you have in Christ, unless God saves him, unless God opens his eyes and his heart and gives him an understanding you do realise that that lost man has no way to understand what you are talking about? He is dead in his sins and cannot relate at all. That is why it is a tragedy for Christian people to talk to non-Christian people about the Christian life instead of talking about the Saviour. When we talk to lost people as if all they need is to live our lifestyle, we have missed the mark haven’t we? Their need is not to be moralised. Their need is not to be churched. Their need is not to be instructed with anything else but the gospel. Our aim is not to take unbelievers and teach them doctrinal statements. Their need is to be delivered. Their need is to be brought into life. And until they have been brought into life, they have no capacity to live the life that you live, and they have no understanding of it.

 

This is new life and it is a great change that has taken place.

 

5.4 Eternal life abides within us.

 

When we talk about this new life realise that it is not just a legal position. It is not on paper you belonged to the realm of death and now on paper you belong to the realm of life. No something has happened within you. You are not the man or woman you used to be. God has changed you in your very nature. You have the life of God within you if you are a Christian.

 

John says in 1 John 3:15 (ESV) 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”

Besides the fact that this talks about eternal life in us, does this not say something about making relationships right within the body of Christ? Think of the ramifications here. If someone claims he is a Christian but hates his brother and there is no motivation within him to make it right, what does the Bible say of such a person? The Bible says that he does not have eternal life within him. Saved people love their brothers and sisters’ warts and all. You are driven from the heart to love your brother and to make things right.

 

That is why Paul can say in 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 (ESV) 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 16 From now on, (these words indicate change, don’t they?)  therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, (as an unsaved person you do not understand Christ. Your view of Him is worldly) we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

So eternal life is within us, but there is something else:

 

5.5 Eternal life is fellowship with God.

 

What is the essence of new life? What is central in it? What does it consist of? It consists of fellowship with God. There is only one clear definition of the ‘new life’ in the Word of God and you know it. In John 17:1-3 (NIV) we see the prayer of Jesus where He says; 1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”.

What is eternal life? It is to know God and it is to know God’s Son. This is what is so frightening with many a person who claims to be a Christian. If you were to ask them what it means to have eternal life, they think of it simply as a ticket to go to heaven.

 

Or if you ask them how they know that they are going to be in heaven one day they would say, ‘because I asked Jesus into my heart’. They focus on a prayer, some decision that they made, some baptism, some confirmation, some isle that they walked, some card that they filled out. So, for them that’s how they know that they have eternal life and eternal life for them is simply going to heaven.

Do we understand that eternal life is not just going to heaven? Eternal life is not just a length of life, but it is a quality of life, it is a new life which you receive the moment you are joined to the Son of God and the essence of it is that you know God. You have a love for God in your soul and you know of God’s love for you. You know of God’s love for you in Christ and you love God in Christ and now you love your brothers and sisters in the Lord in that realm. It is a realm of fellowship with God and fellowship with the Son. Is this not what John says in 1 John 1:3 (ESV) 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

 

This is what it means to have eternal life. It means you have fellowship with the Lord. You love Him. John 14:21 (ESV) 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” If you love the Son of God you are loved by the Father, and the Son of God manifests Himself to you. That means that there is a real relationship with Him, and He makes Himself known to you through the Word of God and the abiding presence by the Spirit of God, and you are aware of Him and His truth in all the realms of your life.  It is a relationship that is eternal life, a real relationship with God.

Is this not the story of Adam? God creates Adam from the dust of the earth, breathes life into his nostrils and now Adam is aware of God, aware of himself, aware of creation, aware of his purpose and he is aware of God’s gifts to him, like when God brings the woman to him. He is aware of all these things and then he sins.  And just as God promised, the moment he sinned, he died. He did not die physically but he died spiritually.

 

And what do you notice? Now that man has fallen. What changes occur? Well, he is aware of God, but he hides himself. He is aware of himself but now he is aware of guilt and shame. He is aware of creation, but he has misused creation. He has partaken of what was forbidden by God, and if God leaves him in the garden, he will partake in creation in the way he should not again, and God must drive him out. Man, no longer glorifies God and misses his purpose. When God saves someone, the life that He gives to them restores them, (which is why it is called reconciliation), to a right fellowship with God.

 

Now that we have been saved, there is a right awareness of God and so we worship Him. There is a right awareness of ourselves, sinners saved by grace. And there is a right awareness of creation as we take care of it. There is a right awareness of our purpose on this earth, we are made to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever. There is a right awareness of His word and we obey it. Our perspective has been made right again as men. We have been reconciled to the Lord, and that right awareness is given immediately and yet we know it is given progressively and one day it is going to be given perfectly.

 

This is eternal life. It is not just new life. At the centre of this new life is fellowship with God. Our whole thinking has been changed. Our whole orientation has been changed. God is at the centre.

5.6 Eternal life is found in the Son of God.

 

We see that in John 3:16 don’t we? God gave His Son so that we can have this life. Apart from the Son of God there is no restoration to life. You must believe in Christ to have this life. You must come to Christ to have this life which is eternal life and it is found only in God’s Son. John 5:39-40 (ESV) 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”

John 5:39-40 (NIV) 39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

 

Jesus said that you can read your Bible all you want to and you can try and obey it all you want to and if you don’t come to me as a result of all your study you won’t have life. The Bible does not give your life apart from the Son. The Bible only brings you to life when it brings you to the Son of God. The Bible testifies about Him. Listen what Jesus has to say about it in John 10:28 (ESV) 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand."

Do we ever stand still and listen to the astounding statements that Jesus was making when He was on this earth? Remember for them He was just a man, and here is this Jewish man standing and saying, ‘I give them eternal life’. What a claim. 1 John 5:11-13 (ESV) 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”

 

How do you know if you have eternal life? If you have the Son, you have life. This life is found in Him alone, that is why we sing ‘In Christ alone, my hope is found’.

 

Now remember this. Coming to the Son is not just found in belief. You do not agree to a doctrinal statement and now you have life. You do not stand in front of a congregation and answer a few simple questions regarding your belief and now you have life. To come to the Son of God is to come to Him personally. It is for the Son of God to take up residence in you in the person of the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit of God is not in you, you do not have life. If He has not taken up residence in you, if He does not abide in you, you do not have life. God made us alive in union with His Son.

 

His Son had to win our deliverance through His death, burial, and resurrection. And now He is all our righteousness and we stand complete in Him alone. We had to be made alive with Christ. This we see in Ephesians 2:5, which we looked at before but we also see it Colossians 2:13 (ESV) 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,”

God does not make any man alive apart from Jesus. He makes someone alive, together with His Son, joins them with His Son. 1 Corinthians 6:17 (ESV) 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.”

Do we realise the implications of this statement? There is a vital union between us and Christ that the world cannot understand. One of the most dynamic verses that explains this great spiritual truth is John 17:21-23 (ESV) 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me."

Think of the implications of this. How does the Father love the children of God?  In exactly the same way He loves His Son.

 

So, what does it mean to be a child of God? You are one with the Father and the Son. We are in Him and He is in us. It is a positional truth, but it is also a truth concerning a vital union, a living union. Romans 8:8-11 (ESV) 8 Those who are in the flesh (that is someone, just as they were from birth, born into sin) cannot please God. 9 You, however, (Paul wants you to know what has happened to you) are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, (there is still indwelling sin in this unredeemed body. This is a body of death. One day we will be rid of it) the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Though you are in an unredeemed body, you will be sanctified now.

 

If Christ dwells in you, if the Spirit of God tabernacles in you, if God lives in you all of this is true of you. That is why Paul can say in Galatians 2:20 (ESV) 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Where is Jesus Christ in your life if you are a believer? He is in you. Therefore belief in the Lord Jesus is described in such radical and personal terms by Jesus Himself.

What does it mean to believe in Him? It means you receive Him in the most personal way possible.   It means you love Him and enjoy Him as your supreme desire. John 6:51 (ESV) 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

John 6:53 (ESV) 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”

It is not just an agreement to some doctrinal statement. It is a personal commitment of one’s life to Christ Jesus. It is having the Son of God take up residence in you. That is what it means to have eternal life. Nothing less. John 6:54-55 (ESV) 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. John 6:56 (ESV) 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.

You did not just eat once and drink once. You must go on living out of this relationship with the Son of God. He is your life. For you to live is Jesus and only then can you say, that to die is gain.

You cannot say that death is gain until you can say that living is Jesus. Is this you? Is this what you believe? Is this what you call faith? Is it a relationship with the Son of God that is the most important relationship of your whole life?

 

5.7 Eternal life is the realization of man’s true purpose.

 

Why did God make us? What does the shorter catechism say? What is the chief duty of man? It is to glorify Him and to enjoy Him forever’”.

To have eternal life is to be taken out of a realm of death and to be brought into the realm of life and to be made alive means that now I have it in my soul, this desire to live for His name. What is important to me in terms of my existence is that I might know Him and follow Him and please Him and enjoy Him forever. If that is true in you, I know something about you. You are not thirsty anymore; you are not hungry anymore. Before we knew Christ, we were an empty people. Empty people are always dissatisfied, always grasping for something more. They feel like Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastics, ‘meaningless, meaningless’, everything under the sun is meaningless. But I have good news for you today and that is that everything under the Son has meaning. I try learning and that does not satisfy me, I try money and that does not satisfy me, I try drink and that does not satisfy me, I try women and that does not satisfy me, I have position and power, influence and reputation and I am still empty. That is man’s story, but that is not what he was made for. Man was made for God, to know God and love God and to glorify God and to enjoy God and till you have experienced that, until He is at the centre of your life you are one empty person.

 

John 4:14 (ESV) 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Isn’t that a wonderful verse? That is why the song ‘Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up Lord’ is not a song for believers. Today you might say that at times you do feel unfulfilled, but let us face it people, that is our struggle with sin when we are not living what we were made for.

 

But praise God, we saw in the last sermon that He will not leave us there. We will not perish because He will bring us back to what He has made us for.

 

5.8 Eternal life is living forever.

 

We have so far mostly talked about the quality of life that we are enjoying, but do you realise that this quality of life will be our joy forever. I have been made alive, but now the life that I have been given in the Son of God will never go away. I will never go back to being spiritually dead, I will never go back to being spiritually blind, I will never go back to being in bondage to sin, Satan, and self. I will never go back to being under the wrath and condemnation of God, I will never perish. I will have this life that comes from God’s Son for ever and ever and ever and it will go on if there is a God. John 11:26 (ESV) 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

 

5.9 Eternal life is living forever in another world.

 

The Scriptures do not only speak of eternal life as something we are given but something we will be given. We already have the life of God, we have new life, but it is in an unredeemed world, and in an unredeemed body. Praise the Lord that one day we will have this same life but in a new body where there is no struggle with sin and no competition with the flesh. And guess what, we will have those new bodies in a new world. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. That is why eternal life is something we will inherit.

 

There is a sense in which we have already experienced the most radical change we will ever experience in our lives. You cannot get any more radical than going from death to life. But there is still a great change that awaits us. We wait for the new heaven and the new earth; we wait to see our Saviour face to face. Do you realise that we love someone we have never seen, but one day we will see Him face to face? Matthew 19:29 (ESV) 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”

Matthew 25:46 (ESV) “46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Romans 6:22 (ESV) 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”


That is Glory now and Glory hereafter.

 

So, we already have it. But one day it is going to be a new life in a new world in a new physical condition and it is going to go on forever and ever and ever. Do you believe this?

 

Implications:

 

Let me ask you some questions as I did over the past few weeks with the devotions. When does someone receive this life? The moment you believe on the Son of God. Remember, ‘whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.Who receives this life? Whoever believes on the Son of God.

What happens to those who do not have this life? If they die without Jesus, they perish forever. John 3:18 tells us that they are already judged, why? Because they chose darkness over the light. What a judgment that will be when men had to face the truth. They have light set before them, but they chose darkness. They have Christ presented to them, but they chose their friends. They had Christ presented to them, but they chose money. They had Christ presented to them, but they chose the deeds of the flesh, worldly pleasure, and the like. Do you realise that if you walk out here this morning without knowing Jesus that you have no excuse? You have heard the gospel, loud and clear. Why will you not come to Jesus? He takes no pleasure in the perishing of wicked people. Why will you perish?

 

My prayer for you today is that you will turn from your sins and be saved. What can ever take away this life? Nothing, nothing now and nothing that will ever be. Then there is another critical question. Have you received this life?

 

If your answer is no, I have one more question for you. Will you come to Jesus today?

 

I mean right now. Will you turn from you sins now and trust in the Son of God? Will you eat of His flesh and drink of His blood? Will you receive Him for yourself? Will you throw away every confidence you have ever had in yourself? Will you disavow anything that stands between you and God right now? Do you realise if your answer is not yes, the only person to blame is you? God has made a promise that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.

 

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria
Logos Community Church - 11 October 2020