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Eternal Life and the Forgiveness of Sin (John 3:1-21)
Sermon Notes
Sunday, 03 February 2013 00:00

Our goal on Sunday was to distinguish between the blessings of eternal life and the forgiveness of sins.

(1) Regeneration brings eternal life. The flip-side of the coin of regeneration is justification, which is a judicial clearing of the believer. So there is nothing for the believer to go into court for. He will not come into judgment (John 5:24) to determine whether or not he’s saved. He has already been cleared by the heavenly court, declared righteous by God in His sight. The believer is justified, is regenerated, and has eternal life.

(2) Forgiveness (experiential) ends our estrangement from God – the barrier that sin creates between man and God in terms of man having harmony and fellowship with God.
Even in daily, ordinary life, forgiveness is not an issue that goes before the courts. Forgiveness is an issue between people. To forgive a person, is to remove the barrier of estrangement between you and that person. For that person to forgive you is to remove the barrier of estrangement between you and him, or them. This is very important.

Question: How many times does the gospel of John refer to “forgiveness of sins”?
Answer: Once. And the passage is “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” and obviously, this is not in a salvation context (John 20:23).
Conclusion: The issue in the gospel of John is not forgiveness of sins. It is what? Eternal life.

That the key issue determining one’s eternal destiny is whether or not one has life is seen in Revelation 20:11-15, which speaks of the Great White Throne judgment, the final judgment of the unsaved. 11Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. . 13The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15And anyone not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Note what Revelation 20:15 does not say:
15And anyone whose sins were not forgiven was cast into the lake of fire. Nope.
And anyone whose bad works exceeded their good works was cast into the lake of fire.
No. That’s not there either. Rather, verse 15 reads:
15And anyone not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, who founded Dallas Theological Seminary, was used to making a very important statement, I think. He said, “The cross settled the sin question, and now, the issue between the sinner and God is the Son question.” 1 John 5:11-13 speaks to this issue very clearly: 11And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

The issue that determines the eternal destiny of a person is whether or not that person possesses eternal life. Have they believed in the Son of God for everlasting life?

The Bible teaches us that when the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross, He became the propitiation – the satisfaction – for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2 ~ 1My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world). By His sacrifice on the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ removed sin as a judicial issue between man and God.

So God will not send anybody to the lake of fire because of their sins.
It is because their death penalty has not been removed through simple faith in Jesus’ promise to give them eternal life (regeneration). At the moment of faith the person is justified (declared righteous before God ~ Romans 4:1-8)

Well then, for what reason are these “books” opened in Revelation 20:12?
The books are to give each and every individual that has ever lived on the face of the earth a fair day in court. We realize that an enormous number of people have died thinking, “I’ve done enough good works to make it.”

And the Judge is not just going to sit there and say, “Sorry, you didn’t.”
He is going to have the books opened.
He is going to have the complete record unfolded for each individual, so that each individual is confronted with the reality that the Bible has already confronted us with, that by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight (Galatians 3:11).
The sinner who stands before Jesus at the Great White Throne judgment will realize that he has no claim on God on the basis of his works.

Notice it doesn’t say “sins” here, even though evil works would involve sins. But the issue is not sin. At this point in the judgment the point is, “What has this person done? Does he have a claim on God?” Answer: No! But what is the basis of his final disposition at the tribunal of God, by the Lord Jesus Christ? It’s the other book! It’s the book of life.
15And whoever’s name was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Think of it this way. Everybody who has eternal life is saved, even if at some moment in time not all of their sins are forgiven. And anybody who does not have eternal life is unsaved. And until they get eternal life by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no chance that they can go to heaven. If they stand before God (actually, His Son ~ John 5:22-23) at this final judgment, it is because their names are not written in the book of life, and therefore they must be cast into the lake of fire. Those who have believed in Jesus for eternal life have already passed from death to life and so will not come into judgment at the Great White Throne (John 5:24).

The Lord Jesus Christ removed sin as a judicial issue between man and God. God is satisfied with regard to the sin question, as far as His judgment court is concerned.
The only question that remains is whether or not the person has eternal life?
And that is something that God can give freely because of the price paid by the Lord Jesus Christ at the cross.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that you have eternal life and will never come into judgment at the Great White Throne Judgment?!! Indeed, “Wonderful Grace of Jesus!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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