“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”— John v. 24.
“Verily, Verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”— John vi. 47.
THE words “Verily, verily,” as they were solemnly used by our divine Lord, indicate an utterance of special importance. If Jesus says, “Verily, verily,” there is something coming to which we should attend with all our hearts. The subject which he thus introduces is our possession of eternal life, and our being delivered from condemnation by faith in himself. Can any theme be more important? Many questions may be asked, but they can all afford to wait till we get the answer to that first enquiry, “What must I do to be saved?” What shall it profit a man if lie compass the whole world of knowledge and knows not the way of life? If he wins a world in this life, what will that avail him if he misses the life everlasting? It is very considerate on our Lord’s part to call us with such great solemnity to think about our souls and eternal life. Let us attend to his appeal. Come hither, dear hearer, and bend over the words which Jesus commends to you with a double NOTA BENE, saying, “Verily, verily.”
Our Lord used this “Verily, verily” to denote a clear and certain revelation. There must be an end to all doubt when Jesus says, “Verily, verily.” His ordinary word is true; for nothing but truth can come from him who is “the Truth but when he uses his strongest asseveration, “Verily, verily,” then we must regard the statement with special reverence if we be indeed his loyal subjects. When Jesus says, “Verily, verily,” we see two armies of verities gathered around his royal standard. His declaration is to be accepted as indisputable, immutable, infallible truth. Do you not agree to this?
Carefully notice where this certainty lies: it rests solely upon the word of Jesus— “I say unto you.” In the matter of our salvation carnal reason never arrives at certainty. Mere argument can never bring a troubled heart to a sure anchorage. The certainty which Christ sets before us rests upon his own solemn assertion. Instead of proof the incarnate Son of God gives ns— “Verily, verily, I say unto you.” If you are bis disciples indeed, and would enjoy the benefits of bis salvation, you must accept your Lord’s statement without question. Doubts and reasonings must lie down at bis feet, and it must be enough that Jesus says it. The ipse dixit of a mere man is not enough; but those of us who adore the Lord Jesus as the Son of God desire no better assurance than the word of his lips.’ Here is our ultimate ground of faith, our main argument with mankind, our final answer to Satan, and the eternal quietus of every misgiving:— Jesus says it. We shall never arrive at certainty as to the life everlasting except by a conviction that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is infallible in everything that he says. I had rather have one word from Jesus than volumes of human reasonings, however conclusive they may appear. Our judgment has often deceived us, even our senses play us false, and our emotions are no more to be depended on than the winds and waves; but here is a rocky foundation, firm as the pillars of heaven,— “Verily, verily, I say unto you.”
It is clear that the teaching of this present verse must be accepted by all Christians. They must either believe it or reject their Lord, for he does, as it were, stake his own character for truth upon this utterance by prefacing it with “I say unto you.” Jesus does not leave the way of life a moot point, but decides it with all authority, states it in plain terms, and sets it forth formally in a declaration for which he will be responsible for ever. If you reject this teaching, you must reject the Teacher himself. Nothing of authority remains to Jesus if you take liberty to question this point; for he does not put it as a matter of report, or inference, but as a truth to be accepted on his own authority: “Verily, verily, I say unto you.”
I have heard some who call themselves Christians talk about the doctrine of salvation through faith in Christ as if it were a mere theory of what they are pleased to call the Evangelical School: but is it so? Is it not our Lord’s own teaching? Our opponents have full liberty to canvass the peculiar tenets of a party, and the more they do so the better; but this teaching is none of ours, it is the teaching of him whom these critics call Master and Lord. Is this their reverence for the Son of God? Do they challenge him to his face, and question that which he asserts with a double verily, and certifies by the dignity of his person and the veracity of his character?
I am equally at issue with those who admit the doctrine of justification by faith and then add that it is to be guardedly stated and cautiously presented. Does Jesus teach dangerous doctrine? This truth is constantly assailed by the carnally wise; but is that a reason for mistrusting it when Jesus puts it forward in such a form? Understand clearly that if you reject the doctrine of life through believing you reject the authority of Jesus. It is useless to talk about being a Christian if you are not prepared to believe what Jesus Christ asserts; for one of the first requisites for a true disciple is faith in his Master. What kind of follower can he be who takes liberty to question when his Master stands erect in all the dignity of his glorious perfection and cries, “Verily, verily, I say unto you”? Are any of you such hypocrites as to call yourselves Christians and give Christ the lie? Dare you treat him as if he were one of yourselves, to be disputed with and criticized at pleasure? This is not reverence, but rejection— I might justly call it blasphemy.
Note well the verse which precedes the text: “That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” On the heels of that claim comes this assertion of everlasting life through hearing his word and believing on him that sent him: as much as to say, “Believe what I am now about to say, even as if the Father spake, for implicit faith is due to me. If you would honour me believe in me; but if you refuse what I say, you do me the greatest dishonour.” Jesus regards this point as being so vital that he pledges his own character for veracity as a guarantee for the doctrine. He does as good as say, “If you would honour me, believe this truth which I now declare upon my own authority.”
I feel this morning great restfulness of heart as to what I have to say. I shall not speak at haphazard upon a matter of opinion, speculation, or probability, nor shall I beg your consent and agreement thereto as a matter of favour; I stand fair and square before you, and I demand the assent of all who profess and call themselves Christians upon a point which Jesus has set at rest for ever by the solemn declaration, “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth in me hath everlasting life.” Such as are prepared to reject the authority of the Lord Jesus may do so, to them I have no word this morning; but to all such as own his Messiahship and Deity I present the doctrine of the text as worthy of all acceptation. May the Holy Spirit help me to set it out with clearness, and enable you to receive it into your inmost souls.
Our Saviour is speaking of a great blessing, and our first head is the person to whom this blessing comes,— “He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life.” We shall speak, secondly, upon the blessing itself,— “He hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life”; and thirdly, and this will be the point I shall lay most stress upon, the singular assurance with which it is stated, the wonderful firmness and distinctness with which it is asserted by the Master, and backed up with, “Verily, verily, I say unto you.”
I. First, then, THE PERSON TO WHOM THIS BLESSING COMES. Read the passage, and you notice, first, that the privileged individual is a hearer who is also a believer. “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life.” It does not appear from our text that everlasting life is communicated by drops of water, or in any other ceremonial manner; but the command is, “Hear, and your soul shall live.” Men are not expected to believe that which they have never heard; they are not to take the articles of the church rolled up, as it were, into a pill, silver-coated, and to swallow them, be they what they may, without instruction. We are to act towards saving truth as we do in reference to other information: we are to hear it with attention, and so receive it. Those who find everlasting life first hear of Jesus, his mission, his person, his work, his sufferings, his offices, his power, and the blessings he has come to communicate: listening to all this, they are grateful for being permitted to hear things which kings and prophets desired to hear but heard not. Do not expect that you can be saved if you shut your ears to the gospel. Do not reckon that the same blessing will come to you if you carelessly walk the streets on the Sabbath as might come to you if you were diligent in listening to the word of the Redeemer. Hear what the Lord saith, and let your whole heart yield itself to the truth.
But these people, while they, are hearers to begin with, do not stop there; they become believers. They believe that Jesus is the appointed Saviour, and they accept him as such for themselves. They believe that his blood cleanses men from sin, and therefore they trust in his blood to cleanse them, and are cleansed by it. Since his righteousness justifies, they are glad to accept that righteousness, and so to be justified. Theirs is not a dreamy, inactive hearing; but when they know the truth, they practise what they know. They not only know that the brazen serpent will heal, but they look to it and are healed. I am talking to some of the best hearers in the world, and yet I fear that many of you come short, because you are hearers only, and not doers of that word which saith, “Believe and live.”
Note again, these favoured persons are believers who remain hearers in the fullest sense. These persons believe in God who hath sent the Lord Jesus into the world, and consequently they believe that what Jesus says must be true, and then they hear his voice with a discerning, spiritual ear. Our Lord uses the word “hear” in a special sense when he says, “My sheep hear my voice.” They hear their Shepherd, but they know not the voice of strangers. “Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound. They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance.” Believers are taught of the Lord to perceive the difference between truth and error, between the teachings of mere legalists and the voice of the gospel of grace. Of others it is said, “their ears are dull of hearing”; but upon these a miracle of grace has been wrought, so that they hear the voice of the Son of God. Dear friend, is this your case? Is the name of Jesus sweet to you? Is a promise pronounced by his voice most comforting to your soul? Then be of good cheer, for you have everlasting life and come not under condemnation. You are resting upon the faithful promise of the Father, brought to you by the word of his own Son, and because of this you are quickened and justified. Jesus declares it is so. Do not doubt him, lest you do despite to that blessed “Verily, verily” with which he prefaces the word.
The quickened ones are described in our second text as believers in the Lord Jesus. “He that believeth in me hath everlasting life.” They have a personal faith in a personal Saviour. They believe that God must punish sin, that God has punished sin in the person of Jesus, and that he has therefore set forth his Son Jesus Christ to be a propitiation for sin, that “whosoever believeth in him might not perish, but have everlasting life.” This they believe, and on this they lean the full weight of their souls. Jesus says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”; and they come to him for rest, and receive rest. This is the main point in the character of those who have everlasting life: they are not here said to do anything, or achieve anything, but they believe in Jesus the Christ.
The saved are also described as believers in Jesus because of the witness of the Father. “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me.” Why do I believe that Jesus Christ is my Saviour? Because the Father hath sent him, and borne witness to him. I am sure that lie can save me, for he is divinely commissioned, divinely furnished, and the pleasure of the Lord must prosper in his hand. I believe to-day that he who came to the waters of Jordan to be baptized was the Son of God, for the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” I believe that he who went up to the mountain, and was transfigured in the presence of his three disciples, was the Son of God; for once again the Father said in an audible voice, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye him.” I believe that Jesus Christ can save me; for when he prayed a voice was heard from heaven bearing witness that he was heard of the Father. The people that stood by knew not the meaning, but said that it thundered: yet there were some that heard that voice, and knew it to be the witness of the Lord. Those who have everlasting life believe in Jesus as the Christ of God, because the Father has given witness to him in many ways— by an audible voice, by miracles, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, and by constantly fulfilling in the ministry of Christ’s word the promises which he made unto us in connection therewith. This faith in God our Father and in our Lord Jesus Christ saves the soul.
But notice, that our Lord has spoken these words of every such believer: “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life.” Whatever else he may have or may not have, this is the vital point. “But, Lord, he is full of fault and imperfection.” There is no exception made on that ground; for “by him all that believe are justified from all things.” “But the believing man makes many mistakes in points of theology.” Nothing is said in the text as to errors upon other points; but the text positively saith, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life.” If there be genuine faith in Jesus, there will be a sincere desire to understand all his teachings, and a readiness to believe them; but as for ignorances and mistakes, they are covered with all our other sins by the great atonement which is received by faith. “But, Lord, he is himself afraid that he has not attained to everlasting life. He trembles lest he should be found wanting when put into the balances.” No exception is made on account of timidity and diffidence. If any man believeth in Christ Jesus, the statement is made absolutely of him and of everyone like him, that he “hath everlasting life.” Old or young, rich or poor, learned or illiterate, talented or obscure, there is no difference: all believers have everlasting life.
But, mark you, there is no statement made as to the salvation of any other sort of person. Nothing is said about the baptized person who is not a believer. He has been made a member of Christ, an heir of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven in baptism, according to the Prayer-book; but is it true? Our text says nothing about the baptized, confirmed, and sacramented unbeliever having everlasting life: there is not a word like it from Genesis to Revelation. Other books may say what they will; but this Book of God makes no account of any man who is devoid of faith. Did you tell me that such a one has been a professor of religion for many years, and his outward life has been most commendable? So far, so good; but that is not all. Indeed, it is beside the mark as to the teaching now before us; for the text saith absolutely nothing about outward morality and correctness of conduct. These things are sure to be found where faith is found; but alone and by themselves they answer not to the qualification laid down by our Lord. If a man believe not on Christ there is no cheering word for him, be he what he may. No one is left without eternal life that believes in Jesus, and no unbeliever is blessed with that life. What saith the Scriptures? “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
We now know the persons to whom the blessings of salvation have come; I hope that many of us are numbered with them.
II. Very briefly let ns notice THE BLESSINGS WHICH BELONG TO BELIEVING.
First, our Lord asserts that the believer “hath everlasting life.” He was condemned to die, and reckoned as a dead man; but he is now acquitted, and his life is granted him. He was spiritually dead; but the fact that he believes in Jesus is sufficient evidence that he has received spiritual life. John tells us in his epistle, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” This spiritual life is not a thing of time only, it is expressly called “everlasting.” Those who in these days make out that “everlasting” does not mean unending, will, I dare say, squeeze the life-blood out of our text; but the most of us take the word to mean what it says, and to signify life which will never end. If I have received life in Jesus Christ I have received a life which will endure as long as the everlasting covenant, as long as everlasting love, as long as the everlasting God. According to a certain theology a man may have life in Christ one day and lose it the next: how, then, is it everlasting life? If a man has lost his life that life could not have been everlasting: that is clear. That which comes to an end could not have been everlasting. But we teach with the authority of Christ that the man that believeth on Christ has at this moment within him a life that can never expire. The man may die after the flesh, but he can never die after the Spirit, There is for him no second death possible, unless the Bible expression be a mere trifling with language. The believer has within him a life which is derived from Christ himself,— “I in them”; and this life depends upon the life of Christ, even as he has put it, “Because I live ye shall live also.” The believer has this everlasting life now; for it is not said, “shall have,” but “hath everlasting life.” What a boon is this! To be born in the image of God; to be a partaker of his nature; to be placed beyond all reach of the second death. Glory be to God for this!
Notice, next, that the believer is in a condition of non-condemnation. He “shall not come into condemnation.” The translation would be more accurate if it were put, “and cometh not into judgment”: that is to say, as soon as a man has believed in Christ he receives the benefit of Christ’s substitution, and is no longer under judgment, much less condemnation. In Christ the believer has been judged, condemned, and punished, and the believer is therefore clear of the law and all its penalties. If we have by our Surety answered all the demands of justice, what has the law to do with us? How can it
bring us into judgment? How can it cause us to know condemnation? But will not the righteous be present in the judgment of the last day? Undoubtedly we shall all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; but the judgment of that day will not be a judgment to us in the dreadful sense of the term. When a man is perfectly clear, and called into court on purpose to be publicly acquitted, it is no judgment to him. “The Lord shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people”; and this is our joy, that “our God shall come, and shall not keep silence.” It will be no penalty,, but a great delight, to stand before the great King and hear him say, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
Our text has another sentence of privilege,— he “has passed from death unto life” Notice where judgment is. See, here is death! Yonder is life and resurrection! Judgment, as it were, stands between the two. We have passed from death to life, and so we have passed by the judgment. There is a doctrinal error which cannot be too much condemned, that the resurrection is past already: but there is a blessed spiritual truth that cannot be too firmly grasped, that believers are already the children of the resurrection by having received quickening as to their spirits. In regeneration lies the essence and major portion of resurrection. We have already passed from the kingdom of death into the kingdom of life, and so have passed by the judgment, since Jesus was judged for us, condemned for us, and made to die in our stead. Abraham was called a Hebrew, or passer-over, and we, too, are Hebrews, having passed from one kingdom to another, being delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of God’s, dear Son. Christ our passover is sacrificed for us, and through him we live. If Christ has suffered in our stead we cannot suffer for sin; justice demands that we go free. What a miracle of mercy is this, that every one that has believed in Jesus has left death behind him, never to return to it; has entered the realm of life, never to be banished from it; and has on the road passed under the rod of judgment and the sword of condemnation, so that neither of these can further afflict him in time or in eternity.
Did I hear some one object, “You make too much of so small a matter as believing. You make out that simply by trusting in Jesus. Christ there is a difference made between one man and another of a most extraordinary kind, and that it is made at once”? Yes, I do say that, exactly that, and so far as I am concerned I do not care how much you quarrel with it, I shall not tone down the statement: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
I hear you mutter, “I think you are very uncharitable.” Say so, if you please; I shall prove my charitableness by bearing it. But see! Here is a person standing right in the middle of a railway track, and I say to him, “My dear fellow, if you do not come out of that you will be smashed to atoms within the next five minutes, for an express train is thundering along the line.” He laughs and answers, “Do you mean to say that my shilling the position of my body a couple of feet will make all that difference? Do you tell me that if I move I shall be safe, and that if I stand here I shall be cut to pieces?” “Yes, I do say it; and say it -with tears; begging you to believe me, and come out of the track.” “Then,” he says, “you are very uncharitable.” “Yes,” I reply, “and you are very insane.” What more can I say? It is never uncharitable to speak the truth for the good of the person concerned. A small matter may suffice to shape the destiny of an immortal soul. In those ill times, when there were slaves across the Atlantic, a lady went down to one of our ships, accompanied by her negro servant. The lady remarked to the captain that if she were to go to England and take this black woman with her, she would become free as soon as she landed. The captain replied, “Madam, she is free already. The moment she came on board a British vessel she was free.” When the negro woman knew this, do you think she went on shore with her mistress? By no means; she chose to keep her liberty. But what made her rise from a slave to a free woman? Why, only a few inches of separation from the shore. I do not know how far the ship was from land; the distance may have been very little; still it made all the difference; she was free on board, and a slave on land. How slight the change of place; but how great the difference involved; marvel not that faith involves such great things.
I heard a grumbler say, “We do not want this doctrine. What we want is more morality and honesty.” Just so. You remind me of a poor little child. His father planted bulbs to come up in the spring, and make the garden gay with golden flowers; but the boy said, “We don’t want bulbs; we want crocus cups and daffodils.” The child forgot that flowers never grow without roots. You, too, good sir, forget that holy lives cannot grow without a cause, and faith is the root of virtue. Flowers stuck into the ground without roots are babes’ follies, and good works without faith are childish vanities. We preach faith in order that good works may follow, and they do follow, and are the fruits of that eternal life which men receive by faith. Are you not willing to get the flowers through the roots? Go, silly children, and grow wiser.
III. I close with my last head, which is, THE ASSURANCE WITH WHICH THIS DOCTRINE IS STATED in my text. It was that which attracted me to it.
First, the doctrine of this text is certified to us by the terms in which our Lord utters it. I have already told you this, but I mean to go over it again. Our Lord Jesus, whose name is Faithful and True, here pledges his honour as God, his veracity as man, upon the certainty of this doctrine. He says, “Verily, verily.” These two words sound to me like great guns levelled against unbelief. Like the two brazen pillars called Jachin and Boaz, these two verities stand in the porch of mercy’s temple, and show us where there is establishment and strength in the word of the Son of man.
Our Lord then adds, “I say unto you.” Then it must be so, or else the Lord speaks in error, and none think that for a moment, for he is Wisdom itself. Is he not the only wise God, our Saviour? Do you dream that these words may mean less then they say? That were to charge the Lord with insincerity, mocking poor souls with great words and small meanings? No, you would count it profane to imagine such a thing. “He that believeth in me hath everlasting life” must, then, mean what it says. Christ knows what is everlasting life and who has it; for there is no eye like his that can discern life wherever it may be, and discriminate between the false and the true. Others might be mistaken and deceived; but Christ knows what is the true life, being himself the living and true God. Jesus also knows whether we shall be judged and condemned or not; for he is himself the Judge. The Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son, and if the Judge himself says that we shall never come into condemnation we can have no cause for fear. Who is he that condemneth? Christ that died, who sitteth at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us? Impossible.
Our Lord Jesus also knows the future; it is before him as if it were present. He foresees everything that can possibly happen; and so if he testifies of the believer “he shall never come into condemnation,” then depend upon it the fact is sure. If a prophet speaks ye believe him,— shall ye not much more believe the Son of God? The believer has everlasting life: it is true, it is most surely true.
The question maybe raised, Why does our Lord need to put it so very, very positively? Did I hear anyone of you grumbling in your hearts just now at my going over the same ground? I did it on purpose, because it is with such great difficulty that you can get men to accept this humbling truth. Human nature revolts against it. As for the unconverted, even when they begin to feel their need of a Saviour they cannot think it true that by believing in Jesus Christ they will pass from death to life. Salvation must be by faith that it may be of grace, and it must be of grace or not at all; but proud souls will not have it so. A man must be driven to self-despair before he will agree to be saved by faith in Christ. You who deal much with souls know how they try to escape their own mercy and avoid the lovingkindness of the Lord. Even you that have believed and are saved are not half as sure as you ought to be. Are there not times with you when you say, “I do not feel as I wish, and therefore I am not saved”? What argument is there in that? Can your feelings make Christ untrue? Recollect the evidence of your being saved as a believer lies wholly in that “I say unto you.” Perhaps you are not sure that you have everlasting life, and yet you are sure that you are a believer in Jesus. How is this? This is a questioning of Christ’s veracity. His strongest affirmation is, “Verily, verily.” Is he not to be believed on this? You, as his dear disciple, lover, and friend, would be very indignant if anyone cast a suspicion upon his truthfulness— why will you do it yourself? Accept the truth heartily. Never doubt it, but let it stand as a fact most sure and steadfast that your faith has saved you.
It is, then, if you are a believer, absolutely certain that you shall never be condemned, but have passed from death unto life: the Lord puts it so positively that we may be right positive about it. Why are you not, as a believer, absolutely certain of your possession of eternal life? The Master, who knew our unbelief, has put the matter so straight and plain that nobody can get over it without rejecting his word. It is certain that he that believeth in him hath everlasting life: certain, then, that we are saved if believers. We need not be afraid to believe this with great confidence, and to rejoice because of it. Someone says, “Ah, but it might be presumption.” Presumption to believe that Jesus speaks the truth! I will tell you what is presumption, and that is, to question anything that our Lord has said. Is he your Master and Lord? If he be not, say so; but if he be so, will you venture to sit upon the throne and judge the sayings of your own Lord, and say, “This may be true, and that may be false”?
Another objector cries, “But I think a person may be too certain.” A person may be a great deal too certain if the argument be based upon inference; but if a statement be based upon the personal testimony of the Lord Jesus, we cannot be too certain of it. Circumstantial evidence is often very powerful, and to some minds irresistible; yet the inference drawn from it may be false; but the witness of a person who cannot err is worth all the circumstantial evidence in the world. Jesus Christ cannot be suspected of falsehood or error, either in his divine character or in his perfect human character, and therefore the basis of our confidence cannot be shaken. Our rest must be found entirely in that grand word, “I say unto you.” The weight of your doubt, if you have any, must fall upon his personal character, and there also the stress of your faith must be fixed. If Jesus speak the truth, then the believer has everlasting life; if the believer questions whether he has life or not, he questions the veracity of Christ. We are bound by our discipleship to be at rest. Happiness becomes a duty, and peace a matter of obligation. Happy men, who are under bonds to be joyful! We are partakers of life eternal, we come not into condemnation. What delight, what peace flows through our spirits. If it be indeed so that we have commenced the selfsame life which is to be developed in eternal glory, then what gratitude ought to fill us, and how that gratitude should urge us to holiness, and to perfect obedience to him who has given us this inestimable blessing! Come, let us not play with these things, but act as it behoves us to act, seeing that these things are indeed so. If they were mere myths or dreams we might treat them carelessly; but accepting them as true, let us feel the force of their truth, and let us rejoice this day in him who hath called us with so high a calling.
One thing I want you to notice, and that is that our Lord does not desire us to keep this doctrine in the background. This doctrine that “whosoever believeth in him hath everlasting life,” is not for our own private comfort alone, it is to be proclaimed upon the housetops. Those Jews in Christ’s day were a company of cross-grained faultfinders, who picked holes in him about everything and nothing. Very harpies were they, full of spite at his excellence. They had just been finding fault with his healing a man on the Sabbath-day, and he had answered them out straight without reserve; and when he had their car, he told them a truth which would cut them to the quick. It was not a wanton casting of pearls before swine, and yet the men were not worthy to hear so divine a truth. Jesus tells it to them that we may tell it to all. Never let us conceal what Jesus thus unveiled. There stands the precious Master, and he says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, you quarrelsome Jews, whose grovelling minds cannot comprehend me, that he that believeth in me hath everlasting life. Your hands even now are near the ground seeking for stones to hurl at me; but I say it to you, as a thing I mean you to know, even if you gnash your teeth over it, that he that believeth in me hath everlasting life.” Oh, brothers, let that be our answer to the present critical age: let us turn the bull’s eye of our lantern full in its face. Let us cry again and again, “Believe in Jesus and live.” They will reply to you with philosophical deduction and learned quibble, and they will dig all sorts of pits for you, hoping to entrap you. Never mind their pits, or their quibbles, or their deductions, but just go on telling out the truth that “whosoever believeth in Jesus hath everlasting life.”
But why tell it to these Jews that were so wroth with him? Perhaps some of them would be converted by it. Tell it to all men with this view; for the gospel often begets faith in violent opposers. But if they were not converted they would be left without excuse, and this is something. Whatever may come of it, this truth is meant to be written across the brow of heaven; it is to be published throughout all nations, that all may know it. One of our ministers years ago, travelling by coach, asked an erroneous preacher who was on the same coach this question— “How is a sinner justified in the sight of God?” This gentleman replied, “Ah, I know you: if I were to let you know my views, you would put them in your sermon and spread them all over England.” “Ah,” cried our friend, “you are ashamed of your notions, are you? Well, I will give you the answer, and I will be glad if you will put it in all your lectures and publish it all the world over— a man is justified in the sight of God by faith in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ.” Our doctrine is not special truth for the elite and initiated, to be dubiously taught in a back-room among a handful of students; it is the everlasting gospel, and we wish to have it proclaimed in market and street, before learned Brahmins and ignorant Hottentots: we would have it told out in the back slums of London, and preached before lords and ladies and royalty itself. It does not matter where: salvation by faith is never out of place. This is a doctrine never to be covered up, nor veiled, nor qualified. “He that believeth in him hath everlasting life,”— out with it and hesitate not.
It is a pretty thing which is told of the father of Mr. Newman Hall, and the author of “The Sinner’s Friend,” that his common seal that he always delighted to use was a crown with an anchor fixed into it, with just these words, “Other refuge have I none.” Well, if you do not use that seal, if you do not write the words over the door of your house, yet take care that you bear their meaning in your hearts. Have my text written in your hearts by the Spirit, so that you are sure and certain of it beyond all doubt upon the matter, and also do so glory over it that you never hesitate on any occasion to confess that you are saved by faith in Christ Jesus.
Dear hearers, do you really know this truth in your own souls, “Have you believed in Jesus, or have you not?” Are any of you trying to establish a righteousness of your own? Are you labouring as in the very fire to get peace where you will never find it? Oh, come away from your ceremonies and your sacraments; come away from your feelings, come away even from your prayers and your almsgivings; come away from everything upon which you rely, and believe in Jesus, the appointed Saviour. Come away even from your own faith, for you must not rely upon it. Come and trust alone in Jesus, who, being very God of very God, made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and in that servant form bled even to the death in the sinner’s room and place, that whosoever will trust him may be justified in the sight of God. Rest there, one and all of you. Oh may God help you at this very moment so to do, and then we will meet in heaven all of us; if there be no exception to the believing there shall be no exception in the salvation, for “He that believeth in him hath everlasting life.”