24 “I assure you, anyone who hears what I say and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life. They will not be judged guilty. They have already left death and have entered into life. 25 Believe me, an important time is coming. That time is already here. People who are dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. 26 Life comes from the Father himself. So the Father has also allowed the Son to give life. 27 And the Father has given him the power to judge all people because he is the Son of Man.
28 “Don’t be surprised at this. A time is coming when all people who are dead and in their graves will hear his voice. 29 Then they will come out of their graves. Those who did good in this life will rise and have eternal life. But those who did evil will rise to be judged guilty.
30 “I can do nothing alone. I judge only the way I am told. And my judgment is right, because I am not trying to please myself. I want only to please the one who sent me.”
“Jesus is on top of my ship. We are going to go to heaven.” John, 5
“There is only one way to live with Jesus: believe in Him.” Emiliano, 9
“If you believe, He will always be with you. He will never leave you.” Bert, 8
“It says in the Bible if you believe that Jesus died for our sins, you will go live in heaven for eternity.” Romeo, 8
“Because of Jesus, I will go to heaven. He is the reason my sins are forgiven.” Keisha, 7
“I assure you, anyone who hears what I say and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life. They will not be judged guilty. They have already left death and have entered into life,” (John 5:24).
Study carefully what Jesus said in John 5:24. Notice the order of what happens in receiving eternal life. First, you hear. Second, you believe. Third, you leave spiritual death and enter into eternal life.
What do you hear? You hear what Jesus says about himself and his work. Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins and rose from the dead. He promises eternal life to all who believe in him.
What do you believe? You believe in Jesus as your savior. You depend on him alone to give you eternal life. Don’t let anyone confuse you by telling you that faith is something more than believing in Jesus. When you place your faith in Jesus as savior, you trust him alone to give you his everlasting life. You believe the good news—Jesus died, Jesus was buried, Jesus rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:3-4). You are born again into God’s family.
Some people are confused. They believe can lose their place in God’s family. If you stop believing your parents are your parents, does that mean you were not born into their family? No way! There are a lot of things you can do by your thinking and decisions. Undoing a birth is not one of them. There is not anything you can do to undo a spiritual birth or a physical birth. Once you believe in Jesus Christ as your savior, you’re in God’s family forever.
In John 5:24, Jesus said you must believe “in the one who sent me.” God the Father sent Jesus. The Father and Son are so united that if you believe in Jesus, then you believe in his Father. Jesus told his disciple Thomas, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father too” (John 14:9).
In John 5:22, we learn that God the Father has given Jesus the right to judge everyone. That, too, is a much greater work than healing a crippled man. When Jesus judges, he is always fair. He is the perfect judge. He never makes a mistake. We already know how Jesus will judge whether or not someone will live with him forever. Those who believe in him have his forever life. Those who reject Jesus refuse to accept his gift of eternal life. They will not live with Jesus forever.
When Christians disobey God, it does not mean they are not his children. It means that God is grieved. He wants to bless his children. When they disobey, he will not bless them. God is like a good parent. He disciplines his children when they disobey (Hebrews 12:6). Jesus knows how to judge perfectly in all situations.
When you sin, you will lose fellowship with God. He will not bless you as long as you continue to sin. If you confess your sin to God, you can start walking with God again and enjoying his blessings (I John 1:9).
By giving Jesus the right to judge everyone, God the Father has honored his son. The Father shares his glory and honor with his son. All honor and glory belong to God. When people honor themselves, they seek something that belongs to God. Only fools try to take something that belongs to God. Give God the honor and glory in everything.
“Believe me, an important time is coming. That time is already here. People who are dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. 26 Life comes from the Father himself. So the Father has also allowed the Son to give life. 27 And the Father has given him the power to judge all people because he is the Son of Man,” (John 5:25-27).
John 5:25 shows us how Jesus looks at people. The time when the dead would hear the voice of Jesus was right then. “That time is already here.” When you start looking at people the way Jesus viewed them, you will see that everyone is either spiritually alive or spiritually dead.
The most powerful force in this world is the gospel (Romans 1:16). By believing the gospel (the good news that Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose again), a spiritually dead person can be born again into God’s family and live forever. God has entrusted every Christian with the gospel. We have the privilege and responsibility to share the good news of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection with spiritually dead people.
“Don’t be surprised at this. A time is coming when all people who are dead and in their graves will hear his voice. Then they will come out of their graves. Those who did good in this life will rise and have eternal life. But those who did evil will rise to be judged guilty,” (John 5:28-29).
What Jesus said in John 5:28-29 can appear to mean that people are saved by good works, but we know from other Bible verses that salvation is “not of works” (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 4:5 & Titus 3:5). Here Jesus speaks of two physical resurrections. Christians and non-Christians will hear the voice of Jesus and come out of their graves.
Who are the ones “who did good in this life”? We have to get God’s view of goodness. When Jesus taught his disciples about doing good deeds, he warned them to be careful: “Be careful! When you do something good, don’t do it in front of others so that they will see you. If you do that, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to those who are poor, don’t announce that you are giving. Don’t be like the hypocrites. When they are in the synagogues and on the streets, they blow trumpets before they give so that people will see them. They want everyone to praise them. The truth is, that’s all the reward they will get,” (Matthew 6:1-2).
If Christians have to be careful to make sure they do good deeds to glorify God and not themselves, what about those who reject Jesus as their savior? Can they really do good deeds that please God when they refuse to accept the gift of eternal life? Those who are spiritually dead cannot please God until they trust Christ alone for their salvation.
Remember what the prophet Isaiah wrote about our goodness compared to God’s goodness: “We are all dirty with sin. Even our good works are not pure. They are like bloodstained rags. We are all like dead leaves. Our sins have carried us away like wind” (Isaiah 64:6).
Life must come first before there is the fruit of good works that please God. Notice the order in Ephesians 2:8-10. Spiritually dead people must accept salvation through Jesus Christ, which is not of works, before they can do the good works that God has planned for them.
Therefore, what John 5:28-29 means is that only Christians can do the kind of good works that delight God. At their resurrection, God calls them “those who did good in this life.” When God resurrects all non-Christians in order to judge them, why do you think Jesus calls them “those who did evil”? Those who reject Jesus Christ as their savior cannot please God by the good things they do.
Jesus Christ is God’s greatest good. When people reject God’s greatest good and offer him something that they think is good, they are proud. Remember the story of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:2-15)? Abel’s sacrifice was pleasing to God, but Cain’s was not. Cain had his own ideas about pleasing God, but he was wrong.
During Jesus’ ministry, God’s voice came from heaven and said, “This is my Son, the one I love. I am very pleased with him” (Matthew 3:17). We know that God the Father is pleased with this Son and the sacrifice he made on the cross for our sins. When religious leaders teach people that they can get to heaven by doing good works, this is very evil.
Think about this: There are two kinds of good works: human good works and divine good works. Human good works are done by non-Christians and Christians who are not walking in fellowship with the Lord. Divine good works are done by Christians who are filled with God’s Spirit. Their only desire is to please God. They are not looking for people to recognize them for the good deeds they have done.
Memorize this truth: “God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us new people so that we would spend our lives doing the good things he had already planned for us to do,” (Ephesians 2:10).
Ask this question: If you are a Christian, are you doing good works that glorify God, or do your good works glorify yourself?