John 5:24
Notice -


1. It is the spiritual life of the soul. It is called "eternal life," not merely as distinguished from temporal and fading, but also from material and carnal. The soul by sin has lost its spiritual life, its primitive purity, harmony and happiness arising from the peace and friendship of God. The soul left God like an erratic star from its central sun, and is truly described as being dead - dead to God and its highest interest. This life is the life of God within. His Law written in the heart, and his image restored in the soul. A life having its roots in God, its vitality from him, germinating and budding in the genial soil of his peace and friendship, growing and blooming in the sunshine of his love, and under the reviving dew of his presence and influence. This is the highest life of which the soul is capable. It is its true life - real, and not a mere form.

2. This life is in and through Christ. Having lost our spiritual life by sin, it is evident that we must have it from a Divine source, and through a Divine medium, and under a new and Divine arrangement. Christ is this Source and Medium. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. "I am come that they might have life," etc. As we derive our natural life from Adam, we derive our spiritual life from Christ, the second Adam.

3. This life is a blessing to be attainted. It comes not with us into the world. We have many things in consequence of birth. We are here with all the privileges of manhood; but not with eternal life. This we must attain, and to attain it is the chief end of life. If we had eternal life simply as men, we would not be urged to get it, seek it, and make every effort to lay hold of it.

4. It is to be had on certain conditions. These conditions are as set forth here - knowledge of and faith in the Divine Father and the Son: "He that heareth my word," etc. Every life from the lowest to the highest has its conditions, and these must be complied with ere that life can be enjoyed. Eternal life has its conditions. To know and believe the Author, the Source, and the Giver of this life is essential to its enjoyment. This natural, reasonable, and gracious as the conditions are suitable, easy, and within the reach of all.

5. It is to be had on these condition,'s now. As soon as its conditions are complied with, eternal life is begun in the soul. "Hath eternal life." Some speak of it as if it were entirely future, whereas it must be had in the present or never. This world is the only birthplace, and the season of salvation is the only birthday of eternal life. All those who enjoy it in heaven found it on earth.

6. It can only be fully enjoyed in the future. Being eternal, it must have eternity to develop itself fully. What is eternal in duration cannot reach maturity in time; what is spiritual in nature cannot be fully enjoyed under material conditions. All terrestrial life reaches a climax under terrestrial laws and circumstances; but spiritual life requires spiritual conditions, and naturally demands eternity in its full length to expand and develop its beauty, fruition, and happiness.

7. It is a life without end. "Eternal life." Every life here has an end, but one - spiritual life - Christ-life in the soul. This is eternal, and worthy of being so. The life of the body has an end: and when we consider its vanity, emptiness, privations, and sufferings, we are glad that it has. There is nothing in it, as a whole, to make endlessness desirable. There is no life, but that of God in the soul, worthy of being qualified by the word "eternal;" this has all the elements to make it worthy of eternal continuance. Eternity in the possession of this life will make up the sum of all the happiness man is capable of.


1. There is a wonderful immunity. "Shall not come into judgment." Much of the blessings of redemption consist, not in what we shall enjoy, but in what we shall evade; and this will be a great evasion. "Shall not come," etc. And why? Because it is passed. Eternal life and judgment are opposed to each other, and are respectively the results of faith and no faith in Christ. Judgment is in the region of death, but the believer has come out of that. There can be no real judgment for the possessor of life. "Who can lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" in this case the final examination is in the preliminary. Pass this, and you pass all.

2. There is a wonderful transition. "From death unto life."

(1) This transition is wonderfully great. Death and life are diametrically opposed. The moral distance between them is immeasurable; the change involved is, therefore, great. There is a change of nature, of condition, of sphere, of character, of prospects, of world. The passage from death unto life is morally long, and the transition wonderful.

(2) The transition is Divine. Every one who undergoes this transition must undergo a Divine process. The voice of God alone can make the dead in trespasses and sins hear. His power alone can bring them back to life. His infinite love can warm and quicken the soul into spiritual vitality; cause the heart to beat, and the blood to course so as to result in a new and Divine life. What is human in the process is lost when compared with the Divine, and God is all in all.

(3) The transition is real. It is not a passing dream, but a glorious reality; a genuine passage of the soul from a state of spiritual death to that of spiritual life. That it is real is evidenced:

(a) By the believer's experience and consciousness; He does not feel the same man. And he is right; for he is a new man. "I live, but not I," etc. His experience is quite different. "Who was before a blasphemer," etc.

(b) There are the ordinary proofs of life. It is not very difficult to distinguish between a dead and a living body, and not much more difficult is it to distinguish between a dead and a living soul. Mark the difference in the man - in his habits, his temper, his character, his language; they are unmistakable evidence of the transition.

(c) The emphatic testimony of Christ. "Verily, verily," etc.

(4) The transition is free. It cost infinitely to God. Before a single soul could be transmitted from death unto life, God's only begotten Son bad to suffer the most ignominious death. But what we have to do in the transition is only to believe and submit; only to jump on board the ship of life, and the passage is free.

(5) The transition, though great, is quickly made. We hear of quick passages made across the oceans, but they are all physical distance. To the moral distance between death and life, they are the moral poles of the universe; but the passage is quickly made. Only believe in Christ. The quickest passage, perhaps, on record is that of the thief on the cross. In the morning and even at midday he was in the empire of death and one of its extreme regions; but by an act of faith in Christ he was, before the close of that day, with Christ in one of the regions of life - in Paradise.

(6) The transition is a most happy one. "From death," etc.

(a) The happiness of the greatest deliverance.

(b) The happiness of the highest promotion.

(c) The happiness of perfect safety.

(d) The happiness of an ever-increasing enjoyment - the enjoyment of a holy, spiritual, and ever-young and growing life.

(e) The happiness of a never-ending gratitude. - B.T.

). Verily, verily.
We are here taught —

I. THE NEED OF HEARING THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST; and that not with the ears of the body only, but with the heart, the will, the affections of man. "He that heareth My word."

II. BELIEF IN THE EVER-BLESSED TRINITY, in the Father and the Son, which is the gift of the Holy Spirit. "He that... believeth on Him that sent Me."

III. THE SINFUL ESTATE OF MANKIND, the fall through sin into spiritual death, and the consequent condemnation of the whole race of Adam, who through the sin of the first man have come into condemnation.

IV. THE NEED WHICH WE ALL HAVE OF A REDEEMER AND MEDIATOR, through whose passion, death, and resurrection we pass from death unto life.

V. THE HAPPINESS WHICH IS GIVEN TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN AND WHO OBEY GOD IN THIS LIFE, and in obeying Him possess Him who is everlasting life.

VI. THAT ETERNAL LIFE which after the death of the body IS THE HOPE AND THE REWARD OF THE RIGHTEOUS, and which is assured to those who in resisting temptation and in overcoming sin here have passed from death unto life.

(W. Denton, M. A.)


1. The dignity of His Person.

(1)The Son of God,

(2)The ambassador of the Father.

(3)The faithful witness.

2. The solemnity of His manner. As became one who spoke with

(1)Full knowledge.

(2)Absolute authority.

(3)Tender sympathy.

(4)Personal directness.


1. The meaning of salvation.

(1)Eternal life.

(2)No condemnation.

(3)Fulness of existence.

2. The way of salvation.

(1)Hearing Christ's word.

(2)Believing Christ's Father.


1. Their persons — men.

2. Their characters — dead.

3. Their numbers — whosoever.

4. Their responsibilities — involved in their ability to hear and believe. Lesson: Take heed how ye hear.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

Life is of many degrees — lowest in the sponge, then in the oyster, and higher still in the worm. Through a long and beautifully graduated series we come to man, partly material, partly spiritual; the link between earth and heaven. Life is absolutely perfect in God only; the great source of life to all created beings. "This is life eternal," etc. (John 17:3). This life in its fulness implies —


1. Its guilt.

2. Its pollution.

3. Its attendant evils.


1. Perfect love.

2. Perfect purity.

3. Perfect youth.

4. Perfect activity.

5. Perfect blessedness.

(W. H. Van Doren, D. D.)

You will observe here that everlasting life is a thing which a man is declared, on certain conditions, to have in this world, that the death which is its contradictory is said to be escaped in this world, and in the very act of passing over into life; and that the condition of escaping the one and having the other is faith in God through Jesus. Now what I wish to do, is to point out the dignity and the joy of this true life of the soul, this everlasting life of faith; and if we can know the secret of its blessedness here, we shall know what its blessedness shall be hereafter.

I. And first, TO THE JUSTIFIED SOUL THERE IS THE JOY OF LIVING ITS TRUE LIFE. In all life there is joy; much more in the soul's true life. In the free exercise of its noblest faculties; in the free use of its noblest powers; in the free apprehension of Divine truth, the free choosing of the right, the unselfish loving of the beautiful and the good; it is a joy even now and here so to live the true life of the soul. And when we come to analyze this joy, we find that in all its details it is a life of blessedness.

1. For, first, there is the joy of triumph, the guadiam certaminis that courts and enjoys the well-won victory. Worldly and carnal pleasures woo the soul's affections from their true and worthy objects. To resist these is conflict worthy of heroic souls; to stand steadfast, to be true to truth, to goodness, to righteousness, this is victory, and the joy of it is bliss to the struggling, conquering soul. And when the soul's victorious inner life is translated into worthy outward action, that outward life becomes heroic too, the life of a knightly soul that proves its knighthood and receives its reward in scattering error, in righting wrong, in helping the weak, in relieving the oppressed, and in doing his duty to God and all the world.

2. And then there is the joy of progress. For the soul s true life is a progress from the less to the greater, from the partial to the more perfect good. There is growth in humility, and so there is no more galling and fretting of pride. There is growth in meekness, and so the burden of resentment is laid aside. There is growth in faith, and so the unseen things are seen with more and more distinctness to be the great thing. There is growth in hope, and so the soul grows glad and young as it lays hold on the hope of eternal life. There is growth in love — in the blissful love that never faileth, that suffereth long and is kind, etc.

3. And then there is the joy of self-sacrifice. Man had forgotten the great truth, that self-sacrifice for duty and for love is the very joy of the soul's true life. But God revealed it in Jesus. And revealing it He showed not only the Divine wisdom and power, but also the Divine blessedness. Who does not understand something of this! Who are the great and happy souls of earth? Not those, assuredly, who look for base ease, or sordid gain, or selfish advantage, or guilty pleasure; but the pure and strong and lofty souls, who in loving the unseen and following lofty ideals gladly sacrifice themselves for what they love. The patriot who goes at his country's summons to battle; the father and husband who scorns delight and lives laborious days for wife and children; the mother who turns away from all delights to bend in yearning tenderness above the couch of her sick or afflicted child; the Christian man or woman who in loving, dutiful deeds of brotherly love and goodwill, delight to help the unfortunate and make the wretched happy — these are the great and happy, souls, and in their self-sacrifice they find the highest joy of their soul's true life. In a word, then, the soul's true life in this world is the life of faith, of hope, and of love. In the victory of its faith, the progress of its hope, the glad self-sacrifice of its love, its joy consists. And this brings me to my concluding thought. We have seen what the soul's true life in this world is.

II. WHAT SHALL IT BE IN THE NEXT WORLD BUT THE SAME IN KIND, THOUGH IN FULLER, LARGER MEASURE? The only difference shall be that the limitations of sin, the hindrances of earthliness, shall be removed. Unfettered and free, the soul shall expand in the perpetual delight of life and love and peace — the delight of growing knowledge, the delight of more and more adequate utterance, the security and pea-e of more perfect self-consecration, the deep and tender joy of more entire self-sacrifice. How this shall be, I cannot tell. It is enough for me to know this one thing — that the soul's true life, the eternal life, begun here, shall continue after death substantially the same, and that its joys shall be the same, only fuller, larger, richer. Oh, then, let me ask myself this question: Am I living now the soul's true life — the everlasting life of faith and hope and love — and am I finding now and here the joy and the blessedness of that life? If not, then even heaven itself would be a hell to my untutored soul. But if I do know the joy and peace of believing, then eternal life is mine already.

(Bishop S. S. Harris.)

Notice the smallness of the conditions, and the magnificence of the offer. The salvation of a man's soul is simply a matter of capitulation, and the terms of the capitulation are, "Hear the messenger and believe the mission."


1. Look a moment at our position. We have provoked God and attacked His rights, and therefore have separated ourselves from God. Therefore we do not deserve to die, nor sure to die, but we are dead. For death is not annihilation. Separation of soul from body is physical death: separation of soul and body from God is physical death. People abhor the thought of eternal punishment or eternal death; but what if that means separation prolonged through eternity. Is there anything in that inconsistent with God? But that would be hell enough.

2. Christ comes and offers union with Himself, that is, nearness to God which is life.(1) The nature of this life.(a) Physical life of a higher order because consecrated.(b) Intellectual life — a life of latent thoughts, energies and affections which, but for this, would sleep on for ever.(c) A life of true satisfying service.(2) Its characteristics.(a) A present possession. The moment you believe in Christ you live; you have done with death for ever. What is coming and is called death will not be death to you, because no separation.(b) A lasting life. In the old life nothing was very lasting; either the thing passed away, or the power to enjoy it. The new life has its hidden springs in God, and will last for ever.(c) A life free from condemnation. There is nothing now behind, and no future to be afraid of. Your sins were condemned and punished in Christ, and there shall be no resurrection of forgiven sin.


1. "Hear My word."(1) Do not you all hear it? Not with the inward ear.(2) But what word. If you receive any word, you will receive all. Take this one, "Come unto Me," etc.

2. "Believe on Him that sent Me." Not in Me. Some object to vicarious atonement on the ground that it does not put the Father in His right place. But Christ here, as elsewhere, traces it all to the Father and His love. It is part of your salvation to take worthy views of the Father.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)


1. Its nature. A threefold death has befallen man. The body dies, everlasting death is threatened, spiritual death is inflicted. This latter is the death here, and is not simply the absence of what constituted life, but the presence also of the opposite.(1) Man's knowledge was a part of his life, but it has gone and he is ignorant and misrepresents the truth.(2) This flow of holiness is staunched, and he is defiled.(3) His innocency is blotted out, and he is guilty.(4) His title to heaven is gone, and he is exposed to hell.

2. Its forms. It does not always take the same shape.(1) A man's circumstances will do something to curb the tendencies of his nature. Your life may be chaste and outwardly religious, but with all this there is a defiled nature seen by the eye of God.(2) In other cases there is a complete contrast, and depravity knows no shame.

3. Its extent; total(1) as regards the individual.(a) The human form once so noble and symmetrical and undying has become enervated by disease, and falls into the grave.(b) The mind has not escaped its blight. Go to the lunatic asylum where the mind is gone, and to the cultured atheist whose vast intellectual powers are perverted.(c) The soul is dead, not that it has ceased to be immortal, but lives on in death.(2) As regards the race. However employed and wherever found man is the impersonation, of death.

4. Its cause. Not God. Look at the proofs of Divine benevolence in the beauties of nature, and ask, Is God the cause of death? Look at the monstrosities of nature — the drunkard, e.g., and ask, Is that God's handiworks?


1. What is this life?(1) Life is a series of relationships. In vegetable life there is a relationship of dependence; in animal life of the senses: in rational life of consciousness; in spiritual life to God in Christ.(2) Life has its developments. This could not be predicated of a stone. In vegetables you see it at its lowest, in reptiles higher, in beasts higher still, in man highest; and in rational life you have the babe, the child, and the man, and so in spiritual.(3) Spiritual life is knowledge. Mark the contrast between men of large intellectual powers and a man half-witted, who knows God is his Father and Christ his Saviour. They are dead; he lives.(4) It is purity.(5) It is love.

2. Whence comes it?(1) Not from self; a corpse cannot raise itself.(2) Not from another; a corpse cannot raise others.(3) From God the fountain of life, through Christ, the resurrection and the life.


1. Its character a purely spiritual process, illustrated by the transformation of the caterpillar into the butterfly; the change from winter to spring; the resurrection of the dead.

2. Its means. The gospel embraced by faith.

3. Its Agent, the Holy Spirit.

(Gervase Smith, D. D.)

I.From a death of UNBELIEF to a life of FAITH.

II.From a death of FALSEHOOD to a life of TRUTH.

III.From a death of SIN to a life of RIGHTEOUSNESS.

IV.From a death of MISERY to a life of BLESSEDNESS.

(W. H. Van Doren, D. D.)

A small matter may suffice to shape the destiny of an immortal soul. In those ill times when there were slaves across the Atlantic, a lady went down to one of our ships accompanied by a servant. The lady remarked to the captain that if she were to go to England and take this black woman with her, she would become free as soon as she landed. The captain replied, "Madam, she is free already! The moment she came on board a British vessel she was free." When the woman knew this do you think she went on shore with her mistress? By no means; she chose to keep her liberty. How slight the change of place, but how great the difference involved: marvel not that faith involves such great things.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

If a man will not do that which is necessary to a certain end, I do not see how he can expect to gain that end. You have taken poison, and the physician brings an antidote, and says, "Take it quickly, or you will die. If you take it quickly I will guarantee that the poison will be neutralized." But you say, "No, doctor, I do not believe it; let everything take its course; let every tub stand on its own bottom; I will have nothing to do with you, doctor." "Well, sir, you will die, and when the coroner's inquest is held on your body the verdict will be, 'Served him right.'" So it will be with you, if, having heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you say, "Pooh-pooh! I am too much of a common-sense man to have anything to do with that, and I shall not attend to it." Then, when you perish, the verdict given by your conscience, which will set upon the King's quest at last, will be a verdict of felo-de-se. He destroyed himself.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

One night, when preaching in Philadelphia, right down by the side of the pulpit, there was a young lady whose eyes were riveted on me, as if she were drink- ing in every word. I got interested in her, and after I had done talking I went and spoke to her. "Are you a Christian?" "No; I wish I was. I have been seeking Jesus for three years." I said, "There must be some mistake." She looked strangely at me, and said, "Don't you believe me?" "Well, no doubt you thought you were seeking Jesus; but it don't take an anxious sinner three years to meet a willing Saviour." "What am I to do, then?" "The matter is, you are trying to do something; you must just believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." "Oh, I am sick and tired of the word, 'Believe, believe, believe! I don't know what it is." "Well," I said, "we'll change the word; take 'trust.'" "If I say, 'I'll trust Him,' will He save me?" "No; I don't say that. You may say a thousand things, but He will if you do trust Him." "Well," she said, "I do trust Him; but," she added in the same breath, "I don't feel any better." "Ah, I've got it now! You've been looking for feelings for three years, instead of for Jesus."

(D. L. Moody.)

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