Lesson 2 – Faith in Jesus Christ: the Only Path to Eternal Life
- Text: Jn. 3:14-18.
- To say that the gospel of Christ is a matter of life and death is no exaggeration.
- To men and women doomed to die, Christ didn’t just say that life was possible in Him — He said it was only possible in Him.
- Of all the claims of Christ, this is the one that is most offensive to modern ears.
- Let’s look more closely into this exclusive claim, especially in the writings of John.
I. SPIRITUAL LIFE AND DEATH
- We were created to enjoy life in spiritual union with God.
- But the “wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), and so, as those who have sinned, we are spiritually dead — cut off from the life that we were created to have in God.
- Jesus came to give back the life that was lost by our sin: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). Cf. Jn. 6:35-40,47,63,68.
- The “gospel” is the good news of life in Christ. Cf. “all the words of this life” (Ac. 5:20).
- But the gospel is good news that must be accepted.
- If we don’t accept the truth of Jesus’ testimony about Himself and about God, we will die in our sins: “. . . if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (Jn. 8:24). Cf. Jn. 3:14-18,36.
II. THE TRUTHFUL KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
- One way to look at what we have lost in sin is to see that we have lost the knowledge of God — His character, His wisdom, His will, etc.
- Having had perfect fellowship in a face-to-face relationship with God, Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden, and with every day that passed, they would have forgotten more of what God was really like.
- Today, the rebellion of mankind has been going on for a long time, and we are far removed from the true knowledge of God.
- But the gospel offers to bring us back to the knowledge of God.
- Surely, there could be no eternal life for us without coming to know God again, and there is a sense in which that is what eternal life really is: “Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent’” (Jn. 17:1-3).
III. THE HISTORICAL RECORD OF JESUS’ LIFE
- When God took upon Himself fleshly form and lived in the world in the person of Jesus Christ, He revealed Himself in a more perfect way that He had ever done before – Heb. 1:1-3. Cf. Jn. 14:7-11.
- But since we weren’t there to see and hear Jesus, we depend on the testimony of those who did see and hear Him. Jesus’ revelation of God would mean nothing to us today if the historical records of His ministry were not accurate.
The biblical records are a trustworthy record of the eyewitness testimony of the apostles.
- Jesus commanded His apostles to teach the world what He had taught them – Mt. 28:19-20.
- Jesus promised that the apostles would be miraculously guided in remembering what He had taught – Jn. 14:26.
- After the apostles began their work, they claimed to be speaking the truth – Jn. 19:35.
- They were fully aware of the implications if they didn’t tell the truth – 1 Cor. 15:15.
- They called down the curse of God upon themselves if they deviated from the truth – Gal. 1:8.
- The apostles knew that their spoken witness to Christ needed to be preserved in a written record so that it would be available after their deaths – 2 Pt. 1:12-15.
- As erroneous reports of Jesus life and teaching began to circulate, strenuous efforts were made to keep the historical record clear – Lk. 1:1-4.
- Thus the apostolic writings must be taken very seriously: they contain eyewitness testimony to the resurrection of a man who claimed to be God’s equal — in fact to be God Himself. Cf. Jn. 5:18; 8:58; 10:30.
- Knowing God requires that we accept the apostolic witness to Jesus Christ – Jn. 20:30-31.
- And on the practical level, knowing God through the apostolic witness to Christ requires the hard work of Bible study — there is no shortcut.
IV. JESUS CHRIST, THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE
- The truth about Jesus Christ and what He accomplished on our behalf makes possible a life that physical death cannot destroy – Jn. 11:23-27. Cf. Rev. 2:11.
- Atoning for our sins by His death and then being raised to an immortal life on the third day, Jesus became the “firstfruits” of the resurrection – 1 Cor. 15:20.
- In Him, our hope is one of life rather than death – 1 Pt. 1:3-5. Cf. Heb. 2:14-15.
V. JESUS CHRIST, THE ONLY PATH TO GOD
- But according to testimony of the apostles, Jesus Christ is not merely one among many paths to life in God — He is the only path – Jn. 14:1-6. Cf. Jn. 8:24; 1 Tim. 2:5-6.
- The exclusive claims of Christ were no more “politically incorrect” in the first century than they are now, but the apostles would not back down from what they knew to be true – Ac. 4:5-12.
- The truth of the gospel can’t be determined by whether it respects “diversity.” The question is not how radical or unreasonable the gospel sounds to us today, but simply . . . is it true?
- In a nutshell, Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God stands or falls with the resurrection.
- So the only issue is this: How strong is the testimony? How trustworthy are the witnesses?
- Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (Jn. 5:24).
- It is in Christ that God is reconciling the world to Himself – 2 Cor. 5:18-21. Have you been reconciled to Him?
Next lesson: Why Do Some Not Believe?