YOU WILL DIE IN YOUR SINS
"Once more Jesus said to them, 'I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.'
"This made the Jews ask, 'Will He kill Himself? Is that why He says, "Where I go you cannot come"?"
"But He continued, 'You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.
"'I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am He, you will indeed die in your sins.'" John 8:21-24 (NIV)
'And go to hell when you die!' Is that what Jesus meant?
How differently we non-Hebrew-speaking people interpret the Word! Is it not true that we automatically assume that that is what He meant? Unfortunately, we have come to use "heaven" and "hell" as the measure of salvation. "Saved" people are going to heaven; "unsaved" people are going to hell.
We have already discussed the meaning of "light" and "darkness" in Scripture. Now we need to examine two other contrasting concepts that Jesus frequently used; "life" and "death". Although it is impossible to treat this subject fully in a short article like this, I will attempt to give pointers to a better understanding of what He meant by "eternal life".
In His night-time encounter with Nicodemus, Jesus uttered the words of the most well-known verse in the Bible -- "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16. Three things stand out clearly in this statement: Eternal life is a gift; it comes through faith in Jesus; and it rescues the one who believes in Him from perishing.
We have to ask the questions: When does this "life" begin? Is it only for the future or is it a present reality? What is eternal life?
According to Jesus, 'Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.' John 5:24 (NIV). Eternal life, then, is not living forever in heaven when a person dies. It is a dimension of being he enters into as a gift from God the instant he believes and receives the truth that Jesus is the Son of God.
Eternal life is a present reality. The other three gospels focus on "the kingdom of God"; John speaks of eternal life. These are inseparable truths about the life Jesus came to model and to give to those who believe in Him. Eternal life is living in the kingdom of God, in the realm of God's rule, under His authority and in submission to Him, modelling Jesus's attitude and behaviour in the way we live.
This life is a free gift (John 3:16); it comes to us through Jesus (John 14:6b); it is about reconnection to the Father through Him (John 14:6a); it is sustained by intimate fellowship with Jesus (John 6:35); following Him enables us to understand and live this life (John 8:12); it is about self-forgetful and self-sacrificial love for others (John 15:13).
But what is this life? God is love. Although His love is immeasurable and beyond the limits of our understanding (Ephesians 3:16-19), Jesus came to model the Father's love so that we catch glimpses of the enormity of a love that gave His only Son to free us from self-destructive lives of self-will and alienation from God; and that we can follow that way through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The more we follow Jesus, the more we move towards the essence of salvation; becoming whole people again; "being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator" (Colossian 3:10 - NIV).
Because the Jewish leaders had rejected Jesus and refused to believe that He was the Son of God, they were perishing in their chosen path of self-destruction. This was not Jesus' judgment on them. It was the inevitable result of their selfish and greedy lifestyle. They were destined for the trash heap because they were wasting their potential as sons of God and were living worthless and useless lives.
To everyone who believes in Jesus He offers the opportunity to escape the destruction of self-indulgence and return to the way of life that enables us to become truly human as God intended. Real life is living in loving interconnection with God and with all of creation and is only possible through faith in Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Do you have this kind of life?
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