Unless You Believe
Read John 8:21-24 (ESV)
So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”
According to Jesus, what is the only way that we can avoid dying in our sin?
Today, there are people who call themselves Christians but claim that all people will be in heaven someday. This is called “universalism” or “universal reconciliation.” They simply refuse to believe that a loving God would allow some people to perish and be separated from God for all eternity.
That may sound more palatable than what Christians have historically taught. But the question shouldn’t be whether or not a teaching is easy to swallow. The question we should be asking is: what did Jesus and the rest of the Scriptures have to say about the subject?
In today’s verses, we read that Jesus very clearly excluded a certain group of people from heaven—the unbelieving. He told them that soon, He would go away and where He was going they could not come. This was in reference to His coming death, resurrection, and ascension back to heaven. Jesus had the foreknowledge that He was going to be crucified but would raise again on the third day and later return to the Father. But once again, the Jewish religious leaders were obtuse and didn’t put together what He was saying.
They thought that perhaps Jesus was intending to kill Himself which they believed was a one-way ticket to the very lowest hell. They were extremely confident that they wouldn’t be following them there as they were extremely righteous. Or so they thought.
But the tragic irony is that Jesus was saying exactly the opposite. He was going to return to the Father in heaven very soon and they would not be allowed to join Him. Jesus warned them yet again that unless they believed that He is the Messiah they will die in their sins.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe explained: “The reason Jesus and the Jewish leaders were going to different destinations was because they had different origins: Jesus came from heaven, but they belonged to the earth. Jesus was in the world, but He did not belong to the world” (see John 17:14-16).
They were so concerned with worldly things that they were not understanding spiritual truths. They spent their lives trying to earn their salvation with self-righteousness. But they couldn’t earn their salvation and they were spiritually blind to the One who came to offer it. Because they refused to trust in Jesus as the Messiah, they couldn’t go where He was going.
Jesus explicitly taught that those who refuse to believe in Him will die in their sins. Not everyone will go to heaven. But the good news is that His followers get to follow Him! Those who do believe that He is the Messiah and trust Him for their salvation will go to be with Him some day. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:1-3). Do you believe in Him?
Jesus, I believe that You are the promised Messiah. I know that You are God in the flesh and that You died to secure my salvation. I praise You for going to prepare a place for me. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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