Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. Whoever rejects the Son will not see life. Instead, the wrath of God remains on him."
I. A CONTRAST IS HERE IMPLIED BETWEEN CHRIST AND THE PROPHETS,
1. The immediate suggestion seems to be the language in which John the Baptist acknowledged the superiority of the Messiah, whose herald and forerunner he was appointed to be. John was inspired in such measure as was requisite in order to the accomplishment of his mission. But the compass of his revelation was limited, and, powerful as was his preaching, it was of necessity human, and by its very aim one-sided. The inspiration of Christ was very different; for his ministry was Divine and perfect, and needed qualifications altogether transcending those which sufficed for his forerunner.
2. The same was the case with the earlier prophets of the older dispensation. They could, indeed, truly preface their prophecies with the declaration, "The Spirit of the Lord was upon me." But they were commissioned for a purpose, and they were inspired accordingly; and when they foretold the advent of the Messiah, they foretold that that advent should be accompanied by a Divine effusion of blessing - a very flood of spiritual energy and life. And they, as well as John, testified beforehand of the higher gifts of him who should come.
II. REASONS ARE APPARENT FOR THE BESTOWAL OF THE SPIRIT IN UNLIMITED MEASURE UPON THE CHRIST.
1. The Lord Jesus was, by virtue of his Divine nature, capable of receiving the Spirit in a larger degree than all who went before him, than all who followed him.
2. The Father's approval and love of the Son were unlimited; for Christ did always those things that pleased the Father, and the Father declared himself to be well pleased with him.
3. Inasmuch as the Father sent his Son upon a mission altogether unique, one requiring most peculiar qualifications, it was evidently necessary that there should be a corresponding impartation of spiritual power, that the work might be not only performed, but performed in a manner wanting in no respect. The greatest of all works needed the greatest of all gifts.
III. THERE WERE PROOFS IN OUR LORD'S CHARACTER AND MINISTRY THAT HE POSSESSED AN INEXHAUSTIBLE SUPPLY OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD. The whole of the Gospels might be quoted in support of this assertion. Upon Christ rested the Spirit, as the Spirit of wisdom, of power, and of love. His discourses, his mighty works, his demeanour under suffering and wrong, his willing death, his glorious exaltation, - all evinced the presence and indwelling of the immortal power that pervades and hallows to highest ends the spiritual universe of God.
IV. THE UNIQUE OUTPOURING OF THE DIVINE SPIRIT UPON OUR LORD ACCOUNTS FOR THE UNIQUE RESULTS WHICH FOLLOWED HIS MISSION TO EARTH. Thus:
1. Christ's ministry was perfectly acceptable to the Father, who both commissioned and qualified him to become the Mediator.
2. The perfect efficiency of this wonderful ministry was thus secured.
3. The glorious results of Christ's coming into the world were thus accounted for. Why did the Pentecostal effusion, and the subsequent dispensation of the Holy Ghost, follow the exaltation of the Mediator to the throne of dominion? Evidently because in Christ the Spirit overflowed from himself to his people, and to the race for whom he died; because he "received gifts for men." Himself participating in unlimited supply in the graces of the Holy Spirit, he became the glorious agent through whom copious blessings were conferred upon the Church and upon the world. He received, not for himself merely, but for us also. The gifts were unto him, but they were for us. - T.
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.
1. Temporal: the separation of soul from body, the approach of which is usually marked by failure of mental energy and increasing bodily debility.
2. Spiritual: the separation of both body and soul from the Divine favour in this life — the symptoms of which are ignorance of God, neglect of His Word, worldliness, and carelessness about salvation.
3. Eternal: the separation of the whole man from the Divine presence and glory in the world to come — the ills of which will be hope destroyed, despair, the awakening and disappointment of insatiable desire, tormenting sensibility of sin and irremediable woe. This state of things induced by the Fall, Christ has come to remedy. Note —
I. THE HAPPY CONSEQUENCE OF BELIEVING ON THE SON OF GOD. He that believeth on the Son hath —
1. Life in his Redeemer. God gave us life in Adam, which, with its attendant happiness, we lost, This is restored not directly to us, but in His Son.
2. Life in himself. Once he was unconcerned about spiritual things, buried in the cares, business, and pleasures of the world. Now the Spirit of life having breathed upon him, he is alive from the dead, and the life he now lives in the flesh he lives by the faith of the Son of God. He is a fruit-bearing branch of the living Vine, a lively stone of a living Temple. This life derived from Christ is maintained by communion with Him.
3. Life in promise. The "exceeding great and precious promises" bear upon this, and support the Christian amidst his conflicts and weakness.
4. Life in prospect. He shall dwell in a paradise fairer than Eden for ever, without care, pain, disease, sin, in unalloyed happiness. Because his Redeemer lives he shall live also.
II. THE UNHAPPY CONSEQUENCES OF NOT BELIEVING ON THE SON OF GOD. The unbeliever shall not see life. Of all that the believer enjoys he is deprived, and will be, if he persists, for ever. He may have a name to live, but he is dead, condemned already, bearing the eternal wrath of God. If these things be so, then see —
1. What is the great condemning sin of the world, the sin comprehending every other sin — Unbelief. For this makes God a liar, tramples on Christ's salvation, does despite to the Spirit of grace, shuts heaven and opens hell.
2. What is the faith of the gospel. Not a dead, inoperative belief, but a vigorous, influential principle, moved by the Holy Spirit, to serve and please God, to fear His displeasure, to obey His will out of love and not from dread of punishment or hope of reward.
3. Who alone are secure from Divine displeasure. Those only who are found in Christ (Acts 4:10-12).
4. How we may escape God's wrath. By taking shelter in Christ through faith.
(W. Mudge, B. A.)
I. THAT THE HIGHEST GOOD IS ETERNAL LIFE. No heathen needs to be informed that life is more than existence. We cannot feel for a stone as we do for a tree which possesses life in its lowest form. We have a mere community of feeling for animal life; but this is as nothing compared with our regard for human nature. For rational life is better than irrational. But this can be conceived without the capacity of moral distins-tions — which men have, however. But, alas! we know that this moral life, if it may be so called, is quite compatible with spiritual death. Men are alive to the perception of moral good, but dead to its enjoyment. Is it not plain that a resurrection from this exalts us into a higher life, spiritual, not merely the life of our spirits, for in a lower sense they were alive before, but a life produced by the Spirit of God and doing God's will and enjoying His favour. This is the highest life of which a creature is capable in kind; its purification from the evils that mar it, its endlessness, and the perfection of its blessedness for body and soul in heaven, make it the highest life in degree.
II. Let us suppose a serious heathen to have formed this conception of eternal life, and to be filled with admiration. He would soon compare it with his own experience and see that between him and it there was a great gulf fixed. That life presupposes a God holy in Himself and in His requisitions. The inquirer thus sees himself opposite to God and odious in proportion to His excellence. A fond hope arises. As sin has been his death, he will sin no more. Now comes a new revelation. He is the slave of sin, and his heart is dead in sin. Can he give it life? No. Here is a new despair. He turns to another method of escape. God will forgive him, and by a sovereign act make him a new creature. As he looks towards the inaccessible light he is completely undeceived on this point. He sees no shadow of connivance at sin. He withdraws his eyes, as he thinks, in eternal darkness. But on that darkness a new light begins to steal. His eye follows it to a point beyond himself, an intermediate object between God's inexorable justice and himself. Sin may be punished and the sinner saved. But a cloud passes over this celestial light. All men are alike, and if a man cannot make satisfaction for himself, how can he for another? But may not God? The thought seems impious till the lost veil is withdrawn and the astonished soul beholds the great mystery of godliness. God manifested in the flesh and becoming the propitiation for sin. But the work demanded of the sinner is hard because so easy: hard to do nothing when we think we must do all, to believe we have only to believe, when we expected to achieve our redemption. When once the soul is brought, however, to see that this is truly God's plan — that the Son of God is able and willing to save, and accepts this salvation, the work is done, and the man justified and safe for ever. By some such process we may suppose a heathen to arrive at the second proposition, viz., THAT ETERNAL LIFE MAY BE ATTAINED BY SIMPLY BELIEVING IN THE SON OF GOD.
III. From this He would infer THAT UNBELIEF INVOLVES THE LOSS OF ALL THAT PERFECT AND ENDURING BLESSEDNESS CALLED ETERNAL LIFE. But here he would be liable to error. The mere loss of heaven would not affect the hearts of those who know it not. Indeed, they refuse it, preferring the pleasures of sin. Deprivation, therefore, would be no punishment. The doctrine of the gospel is that he that loses heaven loses this world also. "The wrath of God abideth on him." Hell is the deprivation of all that makes a life of sin tolerable here.
1. Sinners here participate in the outward advantages of the believer, but the wrath of God will separate the lost from the saved for ever, and from all the advantages of order, comfort, and mutual constraint consequent.
2. Sinners have positive enjoyment in sin — those are sentenced to be only for a season, and its native tendency to misery to go on for ever.
3. Sinners are ignorant of anything better which could make the most dissatisfied wish sinful pleasure. The wrath of God will awaken conscience, which will have sufficient light to plant its daggers with unerring accuracy, and the sinner shall know What he has lost.
IV. WHAT THESE TRUTHS WOULD BE TO A HEATHEN THEY ARE TO US. If to him they involve the whole way of salvation, they involve no less to us. We have here —
1. The great end of existence, eternal life and Divine favour.
2. Its opposite, eternal death and Divine wrath.
3. The way of life by faith.
4. The object of this faith the Son of God, the one sacrifice for sin.In conclusion. On the unbeliever the wrath of God abides already. Let the procrastinating soul be undeceived. Distance of time and place works strange transformations. Tell one who violates the law of man that he will be condemned for it, and he may laugh the law and you to scorn. But bow few laugh when told that they are condemned already. Look at the convict at the bar, and see how different his aspect and demeanour from his aspect and demeanour when at large. Such is yon, case. You are not yet arrested, bat you are under sentence. You are condemned already, and reprieve or pardon is your only hope.
(J. A. Alexander, D. D.)
Sketches of Sermons.od: —
I. WHAT IS THIS BELIEVING ON THE SON?
1. This believing on the Son, as here mentioned, supposes a distinct knowledge of Him — of His person, natures, and offices.
2. It includes assent to the record that God the Father has given of Him.
3. It includes, in consequence of both the knowledge of Him, and assent to the testimony of God concerning Him, our hearty approbation of Him, as every way qualified, able, faithful, and willing, to save to the uttermost all that believe (Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 2:17; John 6:37).
4. Chiefly it includes a cordial acceptance of Christ, as offered in the gospel.
II. SHOW IN WHAT RESPECTS TRUE BELIEVERS IN CHRIST MAY BE SAID TO HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.
1. They have it in title and right of purchase.
2. They have the blessedness of the heavenly state in the promises of it; therefore it is called "eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, has promised" (Titus 1:2).
3. Believers have the eternal happiness of heaven in their glorified Head and forerunner. He, as their Forerunner, is entered into heaven for them (Hebrews 6:20); has taken, as it were, possession in their name.
4. They have everlasting life in the first-fruits of it. They have already received some part of their future blessedness in the graces and comforts of the Holy Spirit, which are therefore called the "first-fruits of the Spirit" (Romans 8:23), and the "earnest of the heavenly inheritance" (Ephesians 1:14).
(Sketches of Sermons.)
I. THE GUILTY ONES.
1. They are common. They abound in our sanctuaries, and are to be met by thousands in our streets.
2. They are not necessarily sceptics. Many of them are quite orthodox.
3. Not a few are blameless in morals, but like the young man lack the great thing.
4. Many are religious after a sort, attend worship, read the Bible, etc,, but alas! there is a worm at the centre of all this fair fruit.
5. If they were criminals no one would wonder, but many of them are highly respect. able.
II. THEIR OFFENCE. They have not believed on the Son of God.
1. They refuse to accept the mercy of God. Men rejected God's law, now they reject His gospel. To refuse such a blessing provided at such a cost, cannot be a small sin. It is the greatest, for when the Holy Ghost comes to convince the world of sin, that sin is unbelief.
2. In this rejection the unbeliever displays an intense venom against God. He must either accept mercy or condemnation. He chooses the latter. What has God done to deserve this?
3. The unbeliever touches God in a very tender place: slighting the greatest manifestation of His love.
4. He perpetrates an offence against every person in the blessed Trinity.
5. He insults every Divine attributes justice, wisdom, mercy.
III. THE SOURCES OF THIS UNBELIEF.
1. In many, careless ignorance of the way of salvation, and this in a land of churches and Bibles, is so far from being an excuse that it is an aggravation.
2. Indifference. Men are aware that they are not quite right, but hope to be at last; meanwhile it does not trouble them. What grosser impertinence can there be against the supreme Ruler?
3. Pride. Salvation is all very well for harlots, drunkards, etc.
4. Love of sin.
IV. THE TERRIBLE RESULT. The wrath of God abideth now and always.
1. You will not escape by ceasing to exist. The Divine wrath cannot rest on a non-existent creature.
2. This must be so because you reject the only remedy. There is but one door, and you close it by unbelief.
3. The wrath will produce no saving or softening effect, but will go on to harden.
4. God has never taken an oath against any but unbelievers. "To whom sware He in His wrath that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not?" Continued unbelief God will never forgive, because His word binds Him not to do so. In conclusion. There is a blessed alternative: "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life."
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. LIFE ETERNAL IN THIS WORLD.
1. It has its origin here. It is not death, but regeneration — that is the entrance gate to it. He begins to live the same life as he will live in heaven — only that here he is in a state of childhood, and many are the childish things which he does.
2. It is nourished here. God has promised food for it; He has stewards to furnish it with nourishment in due season; and the cupboard and larder is open for it to help itself whenever it likes. The food contained in the Bible is the produce of its native country, and it will not look well unless it will feed often on this.
3. It is trained here for its home. It is away from home here, in an ungenial climate and a strange land. It is not to be wondered at if at times it appears to be weak and feeble; it must do so if it remain long in the unhealthy atmosphere of this world. There is something tender, yet strong, about it. It is too strong ever to die, but it is tender enough to appear sickly.
II. LIFE ETERNAL IN THE WORLD TO COME.
1. It will be of age there — "a perfect man unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." The believer is but an infant, in his minority, here. Parents do not allow very young children to enter their drawing-rooms and mingle with their distinguished guests; but they have to wait until they are of a fit age, and know how to conduct themselves in noble company. When they are infants they are not allowed to meddle with the papers and writings of their father; but as they approach maturity it is pleasant to see them take interest in the circumstances and movements of the household.
2. It will be in its own climate there. There are many impediments to its progress here. It is exposed to many diseases, and the believer has to take many a bitter drug, and has to undergo treatment oftentimes which is, for the present, not joyous, but grievous. But by such things is the inward man renewed day by day. The bitter things will not be needed in the world to come; there the climate will be genial, the atmosphere perfectly healthy; and none of the inhabitants shall say, "I am sick."
3. It will then be in its home. It is but a pilgrim here, travelling through the enemy's land; the god of this world and the children of this world are hostile to it, and do their best to kill it. The Christian has often feared that the "Divine nature" has received a death-blow, he felt so weak and faint.
4. It will be in its Father's house. The believer is away at school; and the only intercourse between him and the Father is by correspondence.Note —
1. Heaven or hell will be but a continuation of what man is here. The principle which is now in thy soul, having reached its climax, will constitute thy heaven or thy hell; and that in its native element.
2. All men begin in this world to live the " eternal life" or begin to die the "eternal death."
(David Roberts, D. D.)Spes unica in capitals over its head. Here was truth emblazoned on an idol. Yes, indeed, Jesus, our now exalted, but once crucified Lord, is the sole and only hope of man. Assuredly, O Lord Jesus, thou art spes unica to our soul. Other refuge have we none, Hangs our helpless soul on Thee." We found this diamond in the mire of superstition: does it sparkle any the less?
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. ALL MEN NEED SOME REFUGE FROM THESE APPREHENSIONS. Our ignorance prevents us from seeing into a future state, and our sinfulness damps what discoveries we may make by a sense of foreboding and an apprehension of punishment. Man needs light and peace.
II. MOST MEN FEEL THIS NEED MORE OR LESS, AND RESORT TO EXPEDIENTS AGAINST THE FEAR OF WHAT FOLLOWS DEATH. No man of ordinary culture is asleep on this point, and this leads to modes of thinking and action which only disappoint.
III. APART FROM REVELATION, ALL SYSTEMS IN WHICH MEN SEEK REFUGE ARE VAIN. Some, indeed, have been partially successful. Cf. the rites of Paganism and the delusions of Mohammed. But go where we will, if not to Christ, we have no rest.
1. Shall we go to atheism, the madness of human nature? This does not extinguish fear. It is certain we exist now. Howl By chance, says the atheist. But on the same principle of chance may not life be protracted after death?
2. Shall we go to Deism? Nothing can assure the Deist that the Bible is not the Word of God. All he can say is "probably" it is not. But suppose it should be true, what is his position then?
IV. CHRIST ONLY HAS THE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE.
1. He is the only effective teacher of it. The idea of immortality existed before; but He brought it down from the clouds into sober certainty (John 5:25). So with the apostles (2 Corinthians 5:1). Who dared to say "We know" but disciples of this Master?
2. He has revealed the only scheme of it consistent with the principles of the Divine government. By answering all the designs of justice in punishing, it has removed the necessity of punishment, and gives room for salvation.
3. The miracles of Jesus prove that He has eternal life
(1) (2) 4. Facts of every-day occurrence prove that Jesus has eternal life. We do not see Him call Lazarus from the grave, but daily He calls dead souls into life. Every true Christian has witness within himself of this.Conclusion. 1. Those who reject the Gospel Saviour reject their life. 2. Those who receive Him are eternally secure. (A. M'Clelland, D. D.) I. It is SURE TO FALL UPON HIM IN DUE TIME. 1. It is not a simple possibility. 2. Not a threat to terrify. 3. It is as sure as God Almighty's throne. (1) (2) (3) II. It is sure in due time TO FALL UPON THE SINNER IN ALL THE TERRIBLENESS OF ITS POWER AND SEVERITY. 1. Here mercy tempers justice. Wrath is restrained and grace works. 2. This is the world of probation, not of final award. 3. The day of reckoning is appointed after death. III. THIS WRATH IS JUSTLY DESERVED. 1. It might have been turned aside. 2. Voluntary sin and the persistent refusal of mercy and grace provoke it. (J. M. Sherwood, D. D.).
(2) 4. Facts of every-day occurrence prove that Jesus has eternal life. We do not see Him call Lazarus from the grave, but daily He calls dead souls into life. Every true Christian has witness within himself of this.Conclusion. 1. Those who reject the Gospel Saviour reject their life. 2. Those who receive Him are eternally secure. (A. M'Clelland, D. D.) I. It is SURE TO FALL UPON HIM IN DUE TIME. 1. It is not a simple possibility. 2. Not a threat to terrify. 3. It is as sure as God Almighty's throne. (1) (2) (3) II. It is sure in due time TO FALL UPON THE SINNER IN ALL THE TERRIBLENESS OF ITS POWER AND SEVERITY. 1. Here mercy tempers justice. Wrath is restrained and grace works. 2. This is the world of probation, not of final award. 3. The day of reckoning is appointed after death. III. THIS WRATH IS JUSTLY DESERVED. 1. It might have been turned aside. 2. Voluntary sin and the persistent refusal of mercy and grace provoke it. (J. M. Sherwood, D. D.).
4. Facts of every-day occurrence prove that Jesus has eternal life. We do not see Him call Lazarus from the grave, but daily He calls dead souls into life. Every true Christian has witness within himself of this.Conclusion.
1. Those who reject the Gospel Saviour reject their life.
2. Those who receive Him are eternally secure.
(A. M'Clelland, D. D.)— The wrath of man is fearful to view, and especially to feel. But the wrath of God — no pen can describe it, or imagination conceive it. What will the realization of it be? And this wrath impends over every impenitent sinner.
I. It is SURE TO FALL UPON HIM IN DUE TIME.
1. It is not a simple possibility.
2. Not a threat to terrify.
3. It is as sure as God Almighty's throne.
(1) (2) (3) II. It is sure in due time TO FALL UPON THE SINNER IN ALL THE TERRIBLENESS OF ITS POWER AND SEVERITY. 1. Here mercy tempers justice. Wrath is restrained and grace works. 2. This is the world of probation, not of final award. 3. The day of reckoning is appointed after death. III. THIS WRATH IS JUSTLY DESERVED. 1. It might have been turned aside. 2. Voluntary sin and the persistent refusal of mercy and grace provoke it. (J. M. Sherwood, D. D.).
1. Here mercy tempers justice. Wrath is restrained and grace works. 2. This is the world of probation, not of final award. 3. The day of reckoning is appointed after death. III. THIS WRATH IS JUSTLY DESERVED. 1. It might have been turned aside. 2. Voluntary sin and the persistent refusal of mercy and grace provoke it. (J. M. Sherwood, D. D.).
1. Here mercy tempers justice. Wrath is restrained and grace works.
2. This is the world of probation, not of final award.
3. The day of reckoning is appointed after death.
III. THIS WRATH IS JUSTLY DESERVED.
1. It might have been turned aside.
2. Voluntary sin and the persistent refusal of mercy and grace provoke it.
(J. M. Sherwood, D. D.).
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