Who Has Eternal Life?

by Mike Ratliff

24 Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ὁ τὸν λόγον μου ἀκούων καὶ πιστεύων τῷ πέμψαντί με ἔχει ζωὴν αἰώνιον καὶ εἰς κρίσιν οὐκ ἔρχεται, ἀλλὰ μεταβέβηκεν ἐκ τοῦ θανάτου εἰς τὴν ζωήν. (John 5:24 NA27)

24 “Amen, amen I say to you that the one who hears my Word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and does not come into judgment, but has been transferred out of death into life. (John 5:24 a personal translation from the NA27 Greek text)

I was listening to a discussion today between several theologians as they contrasted the reaction the 1st Century Jews had to Jesus’ claim to deity with that of the heretics who came later. These 1st Century Jews took Jesus’ words in John 5 about his relationship to the Father as claims of deity, that is, making himself equal with God (John 5:18). Heretics who were not from the time of our Lord and were not Jews of that period were the ones who came up with Arianism, Modalism, et cetera. Each of these types of attack on doctrine of the Holy Trinity are proofs that those doing this may have indeed heard the truth (Jesus’ Word), but they have most certainly not believed the Father who sent him. If so they would most certainly not attack that wonderful doctrine that is so hard for the unregenerate to accept let alone believe. What did Jesus say about those who hear his Word and believe him who sent him? These have been granted eternal life. 

Look at what Jesus says about that. Those who possess this eternal life do not come into judgment. This is huge. That means that their sins are forgiven. This is their justification. They have been transferred out of death into life. This is their regeneration. Paul called this the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5). No regeneration, no eternal life, sorry. It must come first for it is with the living faith given to those he saves that we believe the gospel and are so justified by the Father (Ephesians 2:1-10).

25 ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἔρχεται ὥρα καὶ νῦν ἐστιν ὅτε οἱ νεκροὶ ἀκούσουσιν τῆς φωνῆς τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ οἱ ἀκούσαντες ζήσουσιν. 26 ὥσπερ γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ ἔχει ζωὴν ἐν ἑαυτῷ, οὕτως καὶ τῷ υἱῷ ἔδωκεν ζωὴν ἔχειν ἐν ἑαυτῷ. 27 καὶ ἐξουσίαν ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ κρίσιν ποιεῖν, ὅτι υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου ἐστίν. (John 5:25-27 NA27)

25 Amen, amen I say to you that an hour is coming and how is when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and the ones having heard will live. 26 For just as the Father has life in himself, so also he gave to the Son to have life in himself, 27 and he gave authority to him to make judgment because he is the Son of Man. (John 5:25-27 a personal translation from the NA27 Greek text)

Our Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son, from eternity always had the right to grant life to those to whom he willed, but at his incarnation as a man, he laid that aside voluntarily to subject his will to the will of the Father. In this passage we have a glimpse of the “already/not yet” tension regarding the resurrection. All in Christ are already spiritually resurrected (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13), and yet a future physical resurrection still awaits them (1 Corinthians 15:35-54; Philippians 3:20,21).

What is this judgment in v27?

28 μὴ θαυμάζετε τοῦτο, ὅτι ἔρχεται ὥρα ἐν ᾗ πάντες οἱ ἐν τοῖς μνημείοις ἀκούσουσιν τῆς φωνῆς αὐτοῦ 29 καὶ ἐκπορεύσονται οἱ τὰ ἀγαθὰ ποιήσαντες εἰς ἀνάστασιν ζωῆς, οἱ δὲ τὰ φαῦλα πράξαντες εἰς ἀνάστασιν κρίσεως. (John 5:28-29 NA27)

28 Do not marvel at this for an hour is coming in which all those in the graves will hear his voice 29 and will come out. The one having done the good things to a resurrection of life, but the ones having practiced the evil things to a resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29 a personal translation from the NA27 Greek text)

This is very clear and so much for those who preach universalism. These are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus saves those whom he wills, the Father draws them to the Son (John 6:44) and regenerates them so they are able to believe after hearing our Lord’s Word.

Do you still believe the Gospel is about redeeming your culture?

Soli Deo Gloria!





8 thoughts on “Who Has Eternal Life?

  1. Good post Mike; I went round and round with a ‘free willer’ who insisted regeneration comes after they ‘hear’, they insisted the dead hear by choice; after much time, scripture and debate, I had to dust off my feet.

    May the true, undistorted, unadulterated Gospel go forth with power. May the doctrines of grace be recovered and proclaimed for the sake of the souls of men.


  2. Amen Lyn, I believe the clearest passage (though there are many others) that shows that our salvation is all of God and not our doing is Ephesians 2:1-10. If any part of our salvation is something we do then that violates what that passage says…


  3. All the vain men who think we are to redeem the culture are a blight on the church. They inevitably end up (if they don’t start) using pragmatic methods that amount to modern day “strange fire”.


  4. Dear Mike,
    Grace and peace in Christ Jesus!
    May God continue to strengthen you for the task at hand.
    “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” Hebrews 6:10
    Blessings, charisse


  5. Amen. Why redeem the world/culture when the Lord already redeemed His chosen ones? He doesn’t need to redeem anything else!

    Those that want to redeem culture do so only to be more comfortable in this broken sinful world, because they love the world, and ignore the promises of a new heaven and a new earth, and the promise to be with the Lord forever for those for whom He died.


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