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.”
This is pretty definitive! It is the absolute litmus test for eternal life, and there’s no getting around it. I am reminded of the fictional parable, written not so long ago, of the estate sale of an extremely wealthy man that was stipulated to start with a portrait of the man’s son. Only one person was interested and so was able to purchase it for very little money, at which point the auctioneer announced that the sale was over. To the abundant protests, he replied that the owner had stipulated that whoever got the son got it all. That is indeed how it is in God’s kingdom, except that we aren’t limited to one recipient, because God is infinite. However, as this verse states so clearly, with faith in Jesus we receive eternal life, which is in a way shorthand for “the whole ball of wax.” Without the Savior, we are under the wrath of God for our sins. Just yesterday I got a response to a birthday message I sent to a non-Christian friend, and he mentioned my “mythology” that he couldn’t accept. He is pathetic indeed, because he is rejecting the only source of eternal life with our Creator. (John 14:6) I am totally convinced of the truth of the Gospel, but even someone without my advantages should be able to figure out that even if I’m wrong, I’m not worse off than someone who doesn’t believe, and if I’m right, I’m infinitely better off than someone who doesn’t believe. I think it probably comes down to the devil’s lies about the “restrictions” involved in listening obediently to God (which is how the Japanese expresses it in this verse). People enjoy the sins of the flesh and the illusion that they are independent, not needing God. That is such a tragic delusion! That is why evangelism starts with getting people to admit, at least to themselves, that they need salvation, or else the cross means nothing to them. Until we understand that we deserve the cross but Jesus took it for us, we haven’t believed in Him as our Savior and Lord.
This is the story of my life. I have receive God’s incredible grace and mercy, but I feel like I’m butting my head against a wall trying to get other people to believe that they need it as well, and it’s just as available to them as to me. Since coming to Omura I have had several friends die without ever confessing Jesus as their Lord, and it breaks my heart. All I can do is keep speaking the truth in love, demonstrating Christ, as it were, through my life. I am painfully aware that I can’t save anyone by my personal powers of persuasion, but I can keep presenting God’s truth so that the Holy Spirit may work it into people’s hearts and minds to generate faith.
Father, thank You for those who have accepted Your offer of salvation. Thank You for the man who plans to be baptized before long. I pray that You would anoint him to be effecting in bringing his brother along with him. Strengthen his faith as he shares it with his brother, so that they may be disciples of Christ indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!