Life or Judgment?

535073_10153827963698630_9010444508728389184_nSermon Notes and Audio

Scripture Focus- John 5:24-30

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Prince Nelson Rogers, known by the world simply as “Prince” and for a time, The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, died on Thursday at the age of 57 in Minneapolis, the city of his birth. He had an eclectic and flamboyant style and released 39 albums in 37 years, a prolific musician. He was one of the best-selling artists of all time with over 100 million albums sold. He won 7 Grammys, 1 Golden Globe, and an Academy Award. There is some mystery around his death, but what I want us to consider is the fact that he died. It is interesting to watch the media interact with the fact of his death, and how they talk about death and communicate it.

Spiritually, Prince was raised as a Seventh Day Adventist and about a dozen years ago took up with the Jehovah’s Witness cult. I do not pretend to know the man’s spiritual condition, but from all signs and outward appearances he was not a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 9:27 It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.

Whether famous or not, each of our lives will end at some point. When we die, what will lie ahead of each of us, is life or judgment.

It is eternally important that each of us be prepared. If you know Jesus in this life, you possess eternal life now, and will live forever with God in Heaven. If you do not know Jesus in this life, you are already under the judgment of God, and will live forever separated from God in Hell.

In this passage of Scripture, Jesus is replying to the Jews. They had accused Him of violating the Sabbath, and also claiming to be equal with God. Jesus does not minimize these claims, He magnifies His claim to be God. Jesus is equal with God in His nature, His works, His love and knowledge, His sovereign power, His judgment, and in worship (vv17-23). He clearly claimed to be God.

v24 I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.

There are two groups of people in view-

A)  People who have eternal life.

B)  People who are under judgment.

1. Everyone who is physically alive, either has eternal life in Jesus, or is subject to judgment.

What is the difference? Whether or not a person has believed in Jesus for salvation. You need to make sure you are right with God through faith in Jesus.

Jesus’ Word= Who He is (Living Word), what He taught (His life message).

When you hear the Word of Jesus, you are hearing the Word of God.

John 8:38 I speak what I have seen in the presence of the Father, therefore, you do what you have heard from your father.

Clearly, there is more to this than simply “hearing” audibly. The Jewish leaders could hear what He said, but they did not take His words to heart. Amazingly, they saw miracles Jesus performed first hand, and still opposed Him and rejected who He said He was as God in the flesh.

They came to Jesus and said, “how long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus said, “I did tell you and you don’t believe. . .The works I do in My Father’s name testify about Me. But you don’t believe because you are not My sheep. My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—never!”

The one who hears Jesus, and believes in the One who sent Him, “has eternal life.”

Do you believe in Jesus as your Savior? Jesus gives great hope and assurance to everyone who does. Everyone who believes HAS eternal life, DOES NOT come under judgment, and HAS passed from death to life.

Judaism did not believe that eternal life could be a present possession, they saw it only in terms of a future possibility. Jesus emphasizes that eternal life is the present possession of everyone who believes. This speaks to the assurance of the believer- if you could lose it, it wouldn’t be eternal, it would be temporary life. Assurance of eternal life is based on the truth of the Word of God, and the testimony of Jesus.

V24 is truth, and it is also an invitation- to believe in Jesus! Everyone who is physically alive, has eternal life, or is subject to judgment.

2. Jesus is life, and has the power to give life.

V25 I assure you: an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

I assure you- truly, truly- Jesus emphasizes the significance of what He communicates.

There was a present reality from Jesus’ perspective, but also more coming in the future. As Jesus looked ahead He was anticipating the cross, resurrection, ascension, and the sending of the Holy Spirit.

A foreshadowing of this was Lazarus. (John 11) Lazarus was sick. He was the brother of Mary and Martha. The sisters sent a message to Jesus about it. Jesus intentionally waited before going to them, because of the miracle He was going to bring to pass. Lazarus had been dead and in the tomb for four days when Jesus arrived.

Martha comes out to Jesus and says, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Yet she believed that Jesus could still do something but she was thinking about the resurrection in the future. Jesus said- I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die- ever. Do you believe this? Martha said, yes Lord I believe You are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world.

Jesus went on into the village and talked to Mary. He was moved and angry over the situation, and broken- so much so that He wept. Jesus came to the tomb and said remove the stone. Martha says, uh, Jesus, he’s been in there four days, he stinks, he’s decaying. Jesus said, didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God? Jesus has the power to speak and the dead will hear and live.

They removed the stone and Jesus raised His eyes to Heaven and prayed- Father, I thank You that You heard Me. I know that You always hear Me, but I am praying this so this crowd standing here may believe you sent Me. Lazarus, come out! The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said- Loose him and let him go!

Only God has this kind of power. We would have been overwhelmed and amazed had we witnessed Lazarus’ resurrection from the dead. We should be just as amazed when someone who is spiritually dead is given eternal life by Jesus.

V26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, so also He has granted to the Son to have life in Himself.

Life is from God, He called it into existence. He granted to the Son to have life in Himself. He certainly had human life in His incarnation, but there is more here.

John 1:4 In Him was life. . .Before God became man and dwelt among men in Jesus, He had life from eternity past. It is inherently a part of who He is in the eternal Father/Son relationship.

Jesus is life, and has the power to give life. The resurrection of Jesus confirms the reality of our resurrection, and then judgment to follow.

1 Corinthians 15:20 Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. V21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.

For a believer, there are two parts of the resurrection- Spiritual and physical

Spiritually, followers of Jesus are resurrected when God causes a person to be born again and brings life to a dead soul. Physically, even though our earthly bodies will age, wear out, and eventually die, we will in the future receive resurrection bodies that will live forever, and be judged based on our service to God. For the non-believer, who is spiritually dead, there will simply be a resurrection of the body in the future to face the judgment of God.


3. Jesus will raise all people from the dead, and will pronounce judgment.


The Judgment of Believers- Judgment Seat of Christ

2 Corinthians 5:9-10 Whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the tribunal of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or worthless.

The Judgment of Unbelievers- Great White Throne Judgment

Revelation 20:11-12 Then I saw a great white throne and One seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence and no place was found for them. I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books.

Just as the resurrection is assured, so is judgment.

V27 And He has granted Him the right to pass judgment, because He is the Son of Man.

God the Father has entrusted judgment to God the Son.

The reference to the Son of Man takes us back to Daniel 7:13- 14. The prophet saw one like a Son of Man coming up to the Ancient of Days. He was given dominion, glory, and a kingdom so that all peoples and nations would serve Him. Jesus is the Son of Man, God in human flesh.

Jesus is perfectly qualified to be the judge, because He is God and at the same time man, who understands the human experience.

Vv28-29 Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come out.

People who heard Jesus probably were denying and maybe even mocking His claim to have life and to judge all people. Jesus tells them not to be amazed!

In the future, Jesus will raise all people up to be judged. He will speak the Word and every dead person will rise to face judgment. Nobody will escape judgment before King Jesus.

V29. . .those who have done good things, to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked things, to the resurrection of judgment.

There are only two possible outcomes of the judgment of Jesus- Reward or Rejection.

Life is not the end, it is not all there is! Those who have done good things will be raised. Those who have done wicked things will be raised.

Is this verse teaching salvation by works? John 1:12 Believe, 3:16 Believe, John 3:36 Believe, John 5:24 Believe

Judgment reveals works, but this does not mean that. The point is this- the lives we live, reveal what we believe. Without the grace of God, none of us can perform good works.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For we are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift- not from works, so that no one can boast.

V30 I can do nothing on My own. I judge only as I hear, and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

The judgment of Jesus will be righteous/just. Jesus said He does not seek His own will. This takes us to the theme of this entire section of Scripture, the unity of God the Son with God the Father.

Jesus will be completely fair in His judgment. There will be no hint of impartiality. Nobody will be able to say that God was not fair in judgment.

Jesus will raise all people from the dead, and will pronounce judgment.

Life or judgment, which will it be for you?

There was much space given for eulogies of the celebrated atheist writer, Christopher Hitchens. Even those who disagreed strongly with Hitchens enjoyed his writings and praised his independence and courage. Nevertheless, Hitchens was not just an atheist; he was an anti-theist, as well as anti-religion, believing it spoils everything. He said so in his book, God Is Not Great. In his suffering and death through cancer, he did not change

his mind about God and the possibility of a life to come, although he did appreciate the good wishes from everyone, including Christians who were praying for him.

In a debate before his death, Hitchens spoke of death and said, “It will happen to all of us that at some point, you get tapped on the shoulder and told not just that the party’s over, but slightly worse: The party’s going on, but you have to leave.”

As Christians we have a different point of view. However much we enjoy this life, we believe that when we leave this earth, we actually are going to the party and that party will never end. (J. Shannon)