Posted December 04, 2012
36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Just a quick note: as we approach the end of 2012, we wanted to thank you all for joining us on this journey of seeking to memorize & meditate on Scripture in a sustainable way. We couldn't be more excited about 2013 and all God wants to do with The Verses Project! If you are interested in supporting or donating toward The Verses Project, please shoot us an email and we can give you more info. Everything we've done has been through generous donors who believe in what we're doing. For those looking for Christmas gifts, we've put all the songs & artwork for The Verses Project on a wooden flash drive with our logo on it for a $20 (that goes toward funding 2013). It's a great gift for yourself or giving the entire year (including 68 songs) to friends & family who may not have heard of the project. You can see photos of it on our Facebook page or Twitter. To order or donate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this week's verse from the gospel of John, we find three short but incredibly rich statements:
1) Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life
This verse starts by saying "whoever believes"... From the most holy to the most lowly, from the most upstanding citizen to the most grievous criminal, none is too far removed from God's saving power and loving reach! Whoever believes in the Son really means whoever. The verb "believes" isn't merely an acknowledgment that a man named Jesus existed. Even demons "believe" in Jesus. This belief is an active trust placed in Christ. If you were drowning and you saw a hand reaching out toward you, belief wouldn't be just believing that this hand could technically pull you out of the waters you're drowning in; rather belief is believing that it can rescue you and actually reaching out and grasping that hand, trusting it to pull you from the cold waters. Belief is not just having "positive thoughts" but it's belief (or trust) in a person: namely God's Son, Jesus.
Wayne Grudem says, "Faith cannot be defined in subjective terms, as a confident and optimistic mind-set, or in passive terms, as acquiescent orthodoxy or confidence in God without commitment to God. Faith is an object-oriented response, shaped by that which is trusted, namely God himself, God's promises, and Jesus Christ, all as set forth in the Scriptures. And faith is a whole-souled response, involving mind, heart, will, and affections."
2) Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life
This verse draws a parallel between belief and obedience. The obedience here isn't a perfect obedience, for only Christ obeyed perfectly). However, if someone claims to believe and yet there are no signs of change or obedience to Christ, there should be some warning signs. Belief & obedience, you see, are 2 sides of the same coin. If you believe, then you will obey! If you truly put your faith in Jesus, there will be works that follow it. It will not be a perfect obedience, but obedience will be present none-the-less. Change takes time, and God is working in the hearts of his people to sanctify them and mature them into Christlikeness. This change takes place through God giving believers a new heart and God's Spirit empowering us to obey and repent quickly when we don't.
3) But the wrath of God remains on him
Not only shall they not see life, but the wrath of God remains on those who are disobedient. Most people want to skip over phrases like "the wrath of God", but it's essential that we don't! God's wrath is real, righteous, and biblical. The claim that the Old Testament shows God's wrath while the New Testament embodies love and grace is a lie. The Bible through and through shows the unmerited kindness of God toward those who put their faith in Him, while at the same time punishment for those who don't.
An amazingly insightful chapter that speaks to this subject is from JI Packer's book "Knowing God" entitled "The Wrath of God". He says, "God's wrath in the Bible is never capricious, self-indulgent, irritable, morally ignoble thing that human anger so often is. It is, instead, a right and necessary reaction to objective moral evil. God is only angry where anger is called for." He proceeds to teach that God's wrath is always judicial (the wrath of the Judge, administering justice) and that it is something which people choose for themselves. Wrath is merely God giving people what they choose. How do you escape this wrath? By believing in Jesus! What removes the wrath? The cross. How? Jesus absorbed the wrath & took our punishment. If you want to explore this verse more, check out this blog: http://fighterverses.com/blog-post/how-supremacy-simplifies/
This week's music & artwork is brought to you from the other side of the pond. Samuel Lane, who wrote the music, is a worship leader out of St. Albans, England who's been regularly featured on the Vineyard UK records . He's about to release a new album called "The Fire", so stay updated through his website (http://www.samuellane.co.uk/) or follow him on Twitter (@samuellane). Darren Hudson, who created the artwork, is a graphic designer out of north London. You can check out his amazing work here http://instagram.com/thehudson.