John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”
Because Greek doesn’t use quotation marks, we don’t know if this statement was made by John the Baptist, as the NIV has it, or by John the Apostle, as the Japanese has it. Either way, it is certainly a statement God caused to be included in the Bible, and it leaves no wiggle room. It is in perfect agreement with Jesus’ famous statement in John 14:6. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” If that weren’t true, it would be incredible conceit! Most Japanese, and now many Americans, consider all religions more or less equal, and say that they “go to the same place.” The Bible will have none of that! People who hold to a genuinely Biblical world view are called narrow, bigoted, and worse, but Jesus also said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) It’s not that God wants people to be destroyed, it’s that He’s holy, and cannot compromise with sin. I like how the Japanese says, in today’s verse, “Those who will not listen to and obey the Son will not see life.” Salvation is all about obedience, not just repeating a formula. If we are to receive the eternal life God has for us, we have to submit all of our lives to Him.
My life is dedicated to communicating this truth, and I run into all sorts of roadblocks and excuses. Japanese are most likely to fail to understand the need for salvation in the first place, and Americans are most likely to think that if they say the right words, it doesn’t matter how they live. Neither attitude leads to life, as today’s verse makes very clear. I cannot force this truth into anyone’s heart and mind, but I can be available to the Holy Spirit to speak that truth in love so that people may be brought to repentance and true faith. I am not to give up on anyone, though I am tempted at times! I am to remember God’s incredible patience toward me, and exercise that same patience toward others. However, that doesn’t mean I should fail to speak the truth to them, to make the necessity of salvation through Christ very clear. Such failure would certainly not be love! I must be willing to risk their rejecting me for the chance that they might stop rejecting Christ.
Father, I keep coming back to the sometimes painful reality that I can’t do this in my own strength and wisdom. There are some people I want as brothers or sisters in Christ, to have them with me in heaven, so badly I can taste it, yet I cannot bring it to pass. Help me release them and myself into Your hands, so that I won’t get in the way of Your work in their hearts. I do pray Your grace and mercy on them, on us all. My Your name be hallowed and Your kingdom come as Your will is done, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!