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“His Commandment is Life Everlasting”
“Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.”(John 12:44-50)
He who is God is the King, your King, the King of the universe. His message is not a suggestion, or an offer, or even an opportunity. His message, God’s word to you, is a command. — “And”, the Lord Jesus declares, “I know that his commandment is life everlasting!” I call your attention to seven things in our Savior’s declaration in this portion of Holy Scripture.
1. Faith in Christ is faith in God (. 44). — “Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.”
Faith in Christ is faith in God; and there is no faith in God except faith in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Any other pretended faith in God is a damning delusion. He has no faith in God, who does not trust the Lord Jesus Christ as his only Lord and Savior. Righteousness, atonement, salvation, and life are found only in Christ.
In this passage our Lord Jesus is describing, for the very last time, to the Jewish nation who he is and what he came into this world to do as the God-man Mediator. He is not talking about himself as God the Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Neither is he talking about himself merely as a man. Rather, he here speaks of himself as the God-man, Immanuel, our Mediator, Jehovah’s righteous Servant.
“Jesus cried with a loud voice,” speaking distinctly and clearly, that he might be heard, leaving the Jewish nation and people (the Pharisees, Sadducees, priests, and religious lawyers), without excuse. He cried with a loud voice, expressing both the bold earnestness and openness with which our Savior preached to men. He spoke to be heard and understood. His words were so plain that they could not be mistaken.
“He that believeth on me, believeth not on me.” — Obviously, these words are not to be understood in an absolute sense, for that would be a contradiction in terms. We who believe in Christ do believe in him personally; and it is right for us to believe in him. Christ is the object of all true faith. It is Christ who is set before us in the Gospel. It is the Father’s will and counsel that we believe in his Son. We believe on the Lord Jesus Chris as the sent one of the Triune God. Thus, believing him, we believe God; and our faith in him is our assurance that we are born of God and taught of God (John 6:45; 1 John 2:22-23; 1 John 4:2, 15; 5:1;).
“He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.” — If an ambassador is sent by an earthly ruler to a foreign court, anything done to him is done to the one he represents. An affront to the ambassador of a king is an affront to the king. So it is with the Lord Jesus, the God-man, as Jehovah’s Servant. If we despise Christ, we despise God. If we receive Christ, we receive God. If we refuse to believe Christ, we make the Triune God a liar. If you believe Christ, you believe the Triune Jehovah.
2. The Lord Jesus Christ is the invisible God made visible (v. 45). — “And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.”
What a wonderful statement! We may never fully realize it. Christ is the seeable God. God is not visible; but when we see the Christ, we see all of God. The invisible God made himself visible in Christ. — “For God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself!” — “In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9-10).
But our Savior is not talking about seeing him with the natural eye. Multitudes saw him physically, who never saw and never knew God. They saw nothing divine in him. When our Savior talks about people seeing him, he is talking about seeing him with the God given eyes of the soul, the eyes of faith. To see him is to believe him. All who truly see Christ with an eye of faith, see his glory, as “the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,” “as the brightness of his Father’s glory,” having the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in him. Therefore, he declares, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:1, 6-10).
Faith in Christ is faith in the Triune God. To see Christ is to see God; for Christ is God incarnate, God made visible and knowable to man, God in our nature.
3. Faith in Christ, true, saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ sheds light upon everything (v. 46). — “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.”
Faith in Christ sheds light on everything concerning which light is desirable. We are made to understand things when we believe in Christ. Until we believe, we understand nothing. It is no surprise to me that those who believe not doubt everything and question everything. They have no light. They walk in darkness. I do not expect them to see. But believers walk in the Light. And the Light in which we walk is Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, the Light of faith. If you have no light, you cannot see. Faith in Christ sheds light on everything. — “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). Believers understand all things (Proverbs 28:5).
Other people are vexed and confused by the Word of God, the ways of God, and the works of God; but God’s saints understand all things. This is not a matter of supposition, but the plainest possible declaration of inspiration. — “They that seek the Lord understand all things.” The wise man tells us that, “Evil men understand not judgment.” Then he asserts, “but they that seek the Lord understand all things.” I do not suggest that religious people understand all things; but the Lord God himself asserts that his people, all who know him by the saving operations of his grace, all who are born of God and taught of God, understand all things (1 Corinthians 2:12-16; 2 Corinthians 4:6).
Darkness to Light
Like all others, God’s elect, while in a state of unregeneracy and unbelief, are in darkness. When Christ shines in upon them and infuses the light of faith into them, they are no longer in darkness. The darkness is past and the true Light shines. In that true Light we see the light of the glory and grace of the Triune God in Christ. In and by Christ we see the invisible realities of the world to come. Walking in the light of his grace, we no longer walk in the darkness of sin, ignorance, and unbelief; but walk in the light of truth, faith, and holiness, until the perfect day comes, when all the shadows of remaining darkness will flee away.
Believers understand that the origin of all things is God. We understand that the end of all things is the salvation of God’s elect and the glory of his great name. God’s people understand that the nature of all things here is temporal. Everything here in this sin-cursed earth is temporal and vanishing. Every relationship in this world is just temporal.
Most importantly, those who are taught of God understand all things spiritual. This is what the Apostle John tells us. — “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things” (1 John 2:20). All who are born of God and taught of God have the mind of Christ and understand all things vital and necessary to the saving of their souls.
All Things in Salvation
All upon whom the Lord God shines the Light of his grace understand how God saves sinners in, by, and through the Lord Jesus Christ. We rejoice to know that salvation is and only can be by the purpose of God in unconditional election, the effectual accomplished redemption of God’s elect by Christ’s precious blood, and the irresistible power and grace of God the Holy Ghost in regeneration and effectual calling.
Thanks for All Things
We understand that it is both the responsibility and the joy of believers to give thanks to God for all things. We are taught to give “thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). In the context Paul is talking about walking in the Spirit and being filled with the Spirit. The Spirit filled life is the life of a believer giving thanks to God. — “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). It is both our duty and our great privilege to give thanks to God always, and for all things. It glorifies God for us to praise him and give thanks to him. It breeds joy and peace in our own hearts and among our brethren for us to ever give thanks to God for all things.
Restitution of All Things
We also understand that there is a day coming called “the restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21). It is written, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” In that great and glorious day, when all things are brought to their final end, when time shall be no more, all things will glorify our God! Everything that has been, is now, or shall hereafter be, all things, all events, all creatures, and all the actions of all creatures, whether good or evil, will praise him, and will prove to have been good. Everything, even you and I, will glorify the triune God, one way or another. We will either glorify his grace in Christ in our everlasting salvation; or, like Pharaoh, we will glorify his power and wrath in our everlasting destruction; but we will all glorify God.
Inherit All Things
In Revelation 21:7 we read, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” All true believers may rightfully sing, “We shall overcome some day!” We shall at last, by the grace of God, completely overcome sin and all its consequences. We shall in the end overcome this world, all its lusts, and all its charms, by the power and grace of our God. By God’s free grace in Christ, we shall overcome Satan, too.
Many years ago, when my doctors thought I was about to die, and I was fairly certain that they were right, I got a card from a friend that lifted my spirit to heaven itself. It was totally blank, except for a Scripture reference. On the inside, my friend simply wrote the reference Romans 16:20. When I turned to it and read the text, my soul melted within me and leaped with joy in the realization of the promise contained in that text. If you are a believer, this is God’s word to you. — “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly!” Then, we shall inherit all things, by the grace of God. We shall inherit all things with Christ, in Christ, and for Christ’s sake.
End of All Things
We who are taught of God also understand that “the end of all things is at hand” (1 Peter 4:7). — “Behold, he cometh!” When our great and glorious Christ appears the second time, without sin, unto salvation, then the end of all things will come: the end of all our troubles, the end of all our struggles, the end of all our toils, the end of all our trials, the end of all our temptations, the end of all our sorrows, the end of all our sins!
Done All Things Well
God’s saints all understand this, too. — The Lord our God has done all things well! When the end of my days on this earth comes, when I look over my life’s finished story, I am confident this will be my final word then. And when the end of all things has come, and time shall be no more, this will be the final word of all history (His-Story), and of all rational creatures: — “He hath done all things well” (Mark 7:37). This I declare now; and this I will declare in that great day, when time shall be no more. “He hath done all things well” with me and mine. “He hath done all things well” with his church. “He hath done all things well” with his world. “He hath done all things well” with you and yours.
4. This is not the Day of Judgment, but the Day of Grace (v. 47). — “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.”
“If any man hear my words and believe not” — Men may hear the Gospel of Christ, and not understand it. They may understand it literally and grammatically, but understand nothing spiritually and experimentally. If that is the case, they do not believe, but rather reject and deny the Gospel. — Though faith comes by hearing, not all who hear are given faith (Hebrews 2:1-3).
“If any man hear my words and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” — At his first coming, the Lord Jesus did not appear as a judge, but as a Savior. He did not accuse, condemn, or judge men, but would leave them to another day, when righteous judgment shall take place.
This present dispensation is not the time of judgment. The Lord leaves the reprobate to themselves. He has not yet come to judge them. There is a second coming, a Day of Judgment, when he will be both Judge and Witness, and Condemner, of those who have rejected him; but this present Gospel Age is the Day of Grace (Ezekiel 33:11; Micah 7:18). — “Behold, now is the accepted time! Behold, now is the Day of Salvation!”
5. There is a Day of Judgment appointed by God (v. 48). — “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”
The Gospel itself will judge the wicked at the last day. We know that the Lord Jesus Christ shall judge the world, as the Apostle Paul said, “according to my Gospel.” — Those who are against the Gospel involve themselves in the most solemn condemnation. The greatest guilt is theirs; and the greatest punishment shall be theirs! The heathen, who perish without the Gospel, shall be damned by the witnesses of creation and nature, by the witness of the law written upon their own hearts and consciences. Those who had only the revelation of the Mosaic law shall be judged and damned by the witness of creation, conscience, and the law written upon tables of stone. But those who perish under the sound of the Gospel shall have the greater condemnation, being damned by the witness of creation, conscience, law, and the Gospel they choose to despise!
They have been favored with the revelation of the Gospel, but have rejected and denied it. That Gospel they despise will judge them at the last day. The Judge will act by its declaration, and according to that proceed, as it stands in Mark 16:16. — “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” The Gospel they have heard and despised will rise up in judgment against them. It will be their souls’ relentless tormenter in hell forever!
For those who hear the Gospel, neutrality is impossible. Either we believe on Christ, trusting him for all righteousness, grace, atonement, salvation, sanctification, acceptance with God, and everlasting life, or we reject him. — There is no middle ground. We either receive his words and trust him, or we trust in ourselves and despise him. We either enter in by Christ the Door, or we are still trying to come to God another way. Only the blood of Christ can satisfy Divine justice. Only the obedience of Christ can meet the demands of God for righteousness. Only the holy Christ can make sinners holy before God.
But if any do not believe, Christ is not the reason they are under condemnation. — He said, “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 3:17-18). Every sinner was already condemned when Christ came. Those who believe not were condemned before they ever began to hear the word of truth. Man’s wilful rejection of the Gospel and of Christ is but the outward display of his inward heart enmity toward God (John 3: 19-20).
All men do what their nature determines they will do. The natural man is conceived with an evil nature. Therefore, he does evil. He hates Christ the Light and will not come to Christ the Light, because he does not want his deeds, his very being, reproved as being evil. Confusion and shame will not allow him to admit that he is a sinner. The same confusion and shame convinces him that he has made himself righteous, or at least something God will accept and receive. Yet, deep down inside he knows, even in his abominable self-righteousness, that that refuge is all fig leaves and a refuge of lies. His bed is too short; he cannot rest. His covering is too narrow; he cannot cover himself. He has no ease in his soul, no comfort in his heart, no peace with God.
Still, he works to make himself better. But that is his condemnation: — He loves darkness and hates light. He loves evil and hates Christ the Light. What an awful condition to be in!
“But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:21). — Be sure you understand our Lord’s words. The heaven born soul is regenerated, given a new nature, born from Christ the incorruptible Seed, by God the Holy Spirit. That newborn soul is one with Christ the Truth. Indeed, that new man created in you is “Christ in you,…the new Man, created in righteousness and true holiness!” Those born of God do truth by coming to Christ the Light. The chosen, redeemed sinner is given faith in Christ and repentance toward God. The conscience is purged. The prisoner is set free. The adopted child is made to rejoice in Christ. The forgiven soul is made to be ashamed of fig-leaf righteousness. The believing soul is confidently assured that all that God requires of him Christ is for him and he is in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:19-21; Galatians 2:20; Romans 8:1-4).
6. In that great and terrible Day of Judgment the Lord Jesus Christ, the God-man Mediator, will be either your everlasting Executioner or your everlasting Savior (v. 49). — “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.”
Here is the Divine authority of the Gospel. Our Lord Jesus, as the God-man Mediator, did only that which he was commanded to do and spoke only that which he was commanded to speak as our Covenant Surety, as Jehovah’s own Fellow, and the Servant of the Lord. Christ, as a man, as our Mediator, had his mission and commission, his instructions and commandments from his Father to preach the Gospel unto men and gather his sheep into the fold of grace (John 10:16-18). He was appointed to the work from eternity. He agreed to accomplish all the work as our Surety. He was anointed for it by the Holy Ghost. He was prepared for the work in the incarnation. He finished the work at Calvary. And he was accepted into heaven as our Forerunner, and rewarded for his obedience, when he ascended on high.
7. In the light of these things, I urge you to obey God’s commandment, I urge you to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, because God’s commandment is life everlasting (v. 50). — “And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.”
God’s commandment is that we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 3:23-24; John 6:28-29; Romans 3:31; Ezekiel 33:14-16, 19). The only way any sinner can do that which is “lawful and right” is by offering God that which he requires, that which he only can give — Christ. The only way we can restore the pledge, give back what we took away, the only way a sinner can make restitution to God is by faith in Christ, by bringing Christ to God in the hands of faith.
God’s commandment is the Gospel; and the Gospel of Christ is life. It is the ministration of life, the means by which God gives life to dead sinners (1 Peter 1:23-25), the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18). When the Gospel comes home to the chosen, redeemed sinner in the mighty power of God the Holy Spirit, it gives life.
“How will my heart endure
The terrors of that day
When earth and Heav’n before His face
Astonished shrink away?
But ere that trumpet shakes
The mansions of the dead,
Hark from the Gospel’s cheering sound
What joyful tidings spread:
Ye sinners, seek His grace
Whose wrath ye cannot bear;
Fly to the shelter of His cross
And find salvation there.”