- Sermon Notes
From Death to Eternal Life
In these verses of John chapter 5, we find Jesus in Jerusalem answering the Jewish leaders who were offended because He had called God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.
But the relationship between God the Father and Jesus the Son is absolutely critical for us to understand because it is only through His Son that we have eternal life. In fact, here in John chapter 5, Jesus gives one of the most thorough messages on the relationship between God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
As we saw last week, the key verse in this message is verse 24 when Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”
The three words that stand out there are judgment, death, and life. Those are things we absolutely need to understand because it has everything to do with our eternal future. We should all be concerned about judgment, about death, and about life.
The truth of the matter is that we will all die. We don’t like to think about it necessarily, but it’s true. Death is no respecter of persons, everyone has to die sometime, unless of course, the rapture happens in our lifetime; which, as you see world events unfolding before our eyes, could well happen.
When it comes to dying, you often hear that you should get your affairs in order. Generally speaking, that means you should draw up a will. What is a will about? It’s really about preparing for what happens to your stuff when you die. Unfortunately, some people put more thought into what happens to their stuff than what happens to their soul.
But when you think about dying, it should also cause you to think about how you lived. How would you be remembered? What would people say about you; more importantly, what would God say about you?
What would you want written on your tombstone? In a way, that’s a reflection of your life. There are some famous examples that give some insight into how people lived. Mel Blanc has written, “That’s All Folks!” A Man of a Thousand Voices. For “Billy the Kid” they wrote, Truth in History. 21 Men. The Boy Bandit King – He Died As He Lived. For Bette Davis they wrote, She did it the hard way.
Of course, some epitaphs and tombstones are humorous. In Maryland there’s a tombstone that reads, “Here lies an atheist, all dressed up and no place to go.” In Georgia, there is one that reads, “I told you I was sick.” In Colorado there’s one that reads, “I would rather be here than in Texas.” (That’s where her husband was buried.) In Nevada there is one that reads, “Here lies a man named Zeke; second-fastest draw in Cripple Creek.”
Jesus spoke of judgment, death and life. We need to unpack these verses and apply them to our lives. We need the insight of God’s Word because these are things that apply to every one of us.
I. Death is not the End
- The scripture tells us that these bodies of ours are just a temporary tent to dwell in. Our soul, our spirit, lives forever; the question is, where?
- In other words, the Bible teaches us about the reality of both heaven and hell. Jesus spoke on this often.
- For more than 2,000 years, from theologians to children, people have been asking questions about what happens after we die.
- Do we keep our bodies? What will they be like? Will we be reunited with our loved ones? Do our actions in this life make a difference in heaven?
Illus - Newsweek did an article some years ago about a survey they took called Visions of Heaven. 76% said they believe in heaven, but only 60% believe there is a hell. Some believe heaven is a garden, some a city, some don’t know. 47% believe we will enjoy eating food in heaven. Amazingly, they forgot to ask people if they believe there is golf in heaven.
- Many of the questions people have are answered in God’s Word.
A. Why do we die at all?
- As we mentioned last week, the human body was not originally made to die. Sickness, aging, and death all came because of the sin of Adam.
Genesis 2:17, “From that tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
- Of course we don’t like any of those things, sickness, aging, or death and many people try to avoid all of them.
- The legendary Fountain of Youth has been sought across the world for thousands of years. Ponce de Leon, first governor or Puerto Rico, was searching for the Fountain of Youth when he traveled to what is now Florida and 1513.
- Today, the elusive Fountain of Youth is sought after with supplements, anti-aging creams and exercise.
- But the scripture tells us that it cannot be put off, that there is a time to be born, and a time to die.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven; a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot was planted.
- But the most important definition of death is what people experience because they’re missing out on the life that comes from God.
Ephesians 2:12, Therefore remember that you were at that time separate from Christ… having no hope and without God in the world.
B. There is a day of final judgment
- In verse 28 Jesus said, “An hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice.” In other words, there is a day of final judgment for everyone.
- This is a truth many people don’t like to hear. It’s interesting that people used to say they avoided church because they couldn’t stand hearing a hell, fire and brimstone message.
- That’s not true anymore, because pastors hardly speak on the reality of the final judgment anymore.
Illus - In that Newsweek article I mentioned, there is also this commentary, “If the modern pulpit is any index, hell has disappeared from the modern religious imagination. It is a doctrine most Christians cheerfully ignore.”
- But as we see from the words of Jesus, these truths are given with words of hope and words of life. Verse 24 is a key example, “He who hears My word and believe Him who sent Me, has eternal life and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”
- There are other key verses that speak to this as well.
Acts 17:30-31, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.
- The fact that there is a day of judgment is something we understand deep in our soul. The concept of justice is attached to judgment. Do not our souls demand judgment when we see some of the tragedies in our modern world?
- When people fly planes into buildings and thousands of innocent people die, is there not something in the soul that demands justice? This is a deep wickedness. They do this believing there will be virgins waiting for them on the other side, but they are mistaken, there will be the flames of judgment.
- But did you know that if the vilest offender repents and asks God to forgive him, even in the closing moments of his life, he would have life?
- Every wrong in the universe will ultimately be paid for. It will either be paid at the final judgment for those who do not trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, or it will be paid for by Jesus when he died on the cross for the one who repents of their sins and places their faith in Jesus.
1 Peter 1:18-19, You were not redeemed with perishable things… but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
II. Things We Need to Know About Heaven
- Jesus said in verse 29 that some shall come forth to a resurrection of life and some to a resurrection of judgment.
- We’ve looked at the fact that there is a final judgment; it would be good to also understand a bit more about the resurrection to life.
- There are many questions about what that resurrection to life looks like. Though we don’t have a complete picture of heaven, the scriptures to give us some important insight into what heaven is like.
- All of these things being said, the most important aspect of the resurrection to life is that we will see Him as He is and will know even as we are known.
A. There are things you take with you
- Of course we know that there are things you can’t take with you to heaven; your earthly stuff, for one thing. That’s why you need a will, so they don’t fight over it after you’re gone.
- But there are other things you do take with you. For example, your body. You take it with you. Not your earthly body as it is now, but your body glorified, without the limitations of sin.
1 Corinthians 15:42-43, It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power…
Illus - As Jesus had a glorified body, we will be given the same. All the effects of living in a sin sick world where there is aging and death will be done away.
Think of all the effects of aging alone that we’ll leave behind; like losing our memory.
- Another thing we take with us is our relationships. When a baby of King David’s died he said, “He cannot come to me, but I will go to him.”
- We will reunite with our loved ones who share our faith in heaven and there we will share the fullness of joy together.
- This should make us homesick because it will be truly home, with those we love, and seeing our God and Savior face-to-face.
Illus - It might be compared to a homing instinct. There are many stories of pets that travel for hundreds of miles, over many months to find their way home. What a picture of a heart set on heaven.
B. How we live now affects heaven
- Jesus said that we can lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. In other words, how we live now matters in heaven.
Matthew 6:20-21, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
- Paul wrote that there is going to be a judgment for believers. It will not be like the judgment for nonbelievers; it will be about the rewards of living for God.
2 Corinthians 5:10, We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
- But Paul explained that our lives will be tested by fire so that the things which are eternal will remain and the things of earth will be burned up.
- In other words, there will come a time when Jesus asks, “What did you do with your life.” When you come before Jesus, you don’t want to come empty-handed.
Illus - At a memorial service we always give a eulogy. You never say things like, “Do you know how much money John has in his account?” Or, “Do you know how much success John achieved?” No, make your life count by having faith and living for God’s glory.
John 5:24-29 NASB