Eternal Life; June 18, 2019

1 John 5:12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

It is interesting to me that John, the “Apostle of Love,” is the one who wrote some of the most black-and-white statements about faith, Christ, and salvation. On the one hand he wrote, “Whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) That is totally inclusive, with no exceptions. On the other hand he recorded Jesus’ words, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) And then we have this statement. There’s no escaping the truth that God’s door of salvation is open to everyone, but you’ve got to go through it to receive eternal life. Sadly large numbers of people “play around the door” without ever going in. This is true in countries like America, where “cultural Christianity” deceives many people into thinking they are saved when they have no personal commitment, and Japan, where people think you “study to join a religion.” Genuine Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a Lord. (In Japanese that can be expressed as a pun, but not in English.) As John says here, if you have Jesus as your Lord, you have eternal life. If not, then tough luck (though luck has nothing to do with it).

This has been my message for as long as I’ve been in ministry, but the reception has been spotty. I have used the pun I mentioned in explaining to people why I was in Omura. I have said that I didn’t come to teach a religion, (宗教 (shukyo) is religion) but to introduce the Lord Jesus (主 (shu) is lord). I know that God loves everyone equally and “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) However, I’m up against the mystery of human free will. People have to choose to repent and believe. Sunday we will be baptizing a man who has been very stubborn, but who has finally repented of his unbelief. As verse 10 of this chapter says, anyone who refuses to believe is calling God a liar, and that calls for repentance! I am to be encouraged at this person being added to the family of God, but I am not to let up in my prayers for more and more to be brought in. There are many people in this city with whom I have a personal relationship and with whom I have shared Christ in various ways, but who have never “entered the door.” I am not to water the Gospel down in any way, but keep speaking the truth in love, praying for God’s will to be done in each heart and life.

Father, this isn’t so much a reminder as a confirmation. Thank You for keeping me aware of this truth all the time. I pray that Sunday’s baptismal service would draw others close to You, either in first-time commitment for salvation or in renewed commitment for service, for the sake of the Body of Christ and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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