- Proverbs 8:22-36
- John 17:1-5
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Over time words can loose its meaning. Some time ago the word “awesome” was reserved to describe the actions or person of God; these days a hamburger can be awesome! Some time ago the words “ever” and “forever” described something which no one at any point has seen or experienced and will not see again anytime soon; but according to modern day TV “ever” describes something which has not happened since last week. We hear phrases like, “It was the hottest day ever!” Or, “This program is the best you will ever see!”—yet, they are already working on the next series, which in all honesty then, must be worse.
When words like “ever” and “forever” are used without any real meaning, not only does the past loose it meaning, but the future does not offer much hope either.
Reading the Gospel about Jesus Christ we must make sure that we truely understand references to time: “Eternity” and “eternal life” are not words we should not read over as if they refer to something with a use-by date, or will only be of significance till the next new thing on the market presents itself.
Christ’s eternal mission accomplished in time (John 17:1,4)
Right in the beginning of the Gospel of John we read these words:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. (John 1:1–2, NIV)
This beginning refers to eternity, and what happened when the eternal God created time and space. This is also the opening statement of the Bible:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1, NIV)
John 1:3 continues to explain how God created in the beginning:
Through Him [Christ] all things were made; without Him [Christ] nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:3, NIV)
Then, just a bit further into the Gospel John writes:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, NIV)
When John the Baptist introduced Him to the people—and keep in mind John said that the reason he was baptising was that Christ might be revealed to Israel—he said:
“This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.’ ”) (John 1:15, NIV)
Christ was from the beginning, from eternity, equal with God, God Himself, one in the Godhead together with the Father and the Holy Spirit. But there was a space of time—about thirty three years—in which Jesus Christ lived on the face of the earth.
The reason why He came from eternity into time and space was to bring light into a dark world. John the Baptist puts it this way:
“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29, NIV)
The prayer of Christ recorded in John 17, the first five verses we read this morning, marks the beginning of the end of his earthly ministry. Only hours from this prayer they arrested Him, charged Him, nailed Him to a cross and He died to take away the sin of the world. He prays: “Father, the time has come.” In verse 4 He prays:
I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. (John 17:4, NIV)
By completing the mission of salvation his glory would be restored. It was the glory Paul writes about in Philippians 2:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:6,9–11, NIV)
Christ came from eternity, He ministered in time to sinners who had no hope and no eternity apart from eternal condemnation, so that those who believe in Him will have eternal life, that is, they will live for ever. Jesus declared at the grave of Lazarus:
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25–26, NIV)
Christ’s authority to grant eternal life (John 17: 2,5)
Keep in mind, Christ was God from all eternity. As the Son of God He came into this world. As Son of man He completed God’s mission of salvation. He has all authority in heaven and on earth, because He is God. While on earth the Father granted, or gave, Him authority over all people. Satan wanted to stand in his way by killing all boys under the age of two; he then tempted Christ in the desert, but in all attempts he failed. The Jews tried to kill Him their way, but they couldn’t; Judas tried to have Him killed his way, but He couldn’t. Who his hour came, Jesus willingly stepped in to do the will of the Father. He once declared:
The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:17–18, NIV)
Because of his eternal authority, and because He completed the eternal plan of salvation for which the Father gave Him to this world, He gave eternal life to those his Father gave Him.
My dear friends in the Lord, let’s get this right: we don’t let Christ into our hearts, because we feel the need of a Saviour. We have no authority—we are dead in our sins, and true to our sinful nature, we can’t seek our Christ and make Him our Saviour. It is He who seek and save the lost. He is not the powerless Saviour who eventually loses the battle for our hearts if we decide to let Him go. No, the Bible says He has authority to give eternal life to those the Father has given Him.
Yes, some indeed hear the invitation to receive Him as Saviour, but continue in their sins to eventually enter eternal hell. Why? Our Lord said of those who did not believe:
… but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. (John 10:26, NIV)
But whom He wants as his own, hears the voice and to them it is life. He said:
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:27–29, NIV)
If you do not worship Christ as sovereign God, you will not fully trust Him; your faith will be troubled in difficult times, and when Satan causes you to doubt, you will probably fall back on your deceitful emotions. If you had any part in your salvation you have reason to doubt.
Further, if you rightly understand that the eternal Saviour, who is God with all authority, claimed your life because He shows his grace to you by saving your life, you will want to give Him everything, please Him in everything, and only live to please Him. Do you remember what Peter did when he was sinking in the waves and only Jesus could save him? He cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus reached out and took hold of him. Then those in the boat worshipped Him: “Truely, You are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:22-33)
Surely, if you know Christ as sovereign Saviour in salvation, who is eternal God, who calls with authority and even the devils cringe in his presence, you will fall before Him in adoration and worship. When difficult times come you will hold on to his words: “No one can snatch you from my hand” (10:29); and, “Take heart, I have overcome the world.” (16:33)
Eternal life: To know the Father through the Son (John 17:3)
Jesus came from eternity, He came into time, into space, and lived with us. Why? To complete the mission of the Father. What was it? That He might give eternal life to those whom God had given Him.
Now, you may ask, “What is eternal life?” and, “How can I receive eternal life?”
Right in the first chapter of John we learned this:
Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in his name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12–13, NIV)
All people born after Adam and Eve are born with the need to be saved from sin. The Bible is clear about this. The Holy Spirit needs to give us a new birth for us to become children of God, because birth by natural descent will never get us into heaven. The decision to be saved rests with God. But He revealed his decision in Christ, who is our only connection with the Father. The salvation He offers is complete—not only is it done, it’s complete in the sense that nothing needs to be added to it.
So what did Jesus do to connect us with God? He made the Father known to us. To “know”, to “see”, to “believe” in John describes the ministry of Christ to the sinner. Through Him we know, through Him we see, believe, move out of darkness into the light, and live—and as a result we receive Him as Saviour (which is the opposite to not recognise and therefore not receive Him as Saviour).
Now, in John 17:3 our Lord says:
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3, NIV)
Eternal life is to know the only true God and and receive life through Jesus Christ whom the Father sent. Or put in other words:
For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NIV)
My dear friend, what you have heard today is the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. The eternal, sovereign God, who is rich in mercy, gave his only Son—who is equally eternal and sovereign—that whoever believes in—or knows—Him will not perish but have eternal life.
This is the best news ever! It’s good forever! It’s awesome! If you shut your ears to this gospel you’ll regret it forever! So, come to Christ—now! Amen.
Sermon preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on 26 March 2017