Monday, April 16, 2012


John 8:24, “Unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins.”

Set before us is a clear and succinct statement of warning and remedy. The warning is to all since “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). Sin demands and deserves punishment (Romans 6:23). God is holy and just. A day of judgment looms. “The wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience” (Colossians 3:6). They will “pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

To die in one sins is to die and then stand before God with no remedy in hand. No excuse will deflect His wrath. No amount of self-righteousness will stay His fury. To die in one’s sins is to depart this life, troubled as it may be, to an existence of eternal woe. One can only imagine the pain and suffering of such a place, where there is eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:42). There is a great chasm fixed between heaven and hell—there will be no escape for the one who dies in his sins.

The broad path that leads to destruction is well-traveled (Matthew 7:13). It seems right to men, but ends in death (Proverbs 14:6). We are all broad-path travelers by nature. We are removed from the path only by God’s intervention.

The “unless” at the beginning of our text speaks to God’s remedy. There is a way and one way only by which certain doom can be averted. The remedy is in a person and bound up in our response to Him. The Gospel of John was written to proclaim the truth that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:30). Seven recorded miracles testify to His deity. Likewise, He Himself made seven “I Am” statements that affirm His identity. Two of these statements are in this context of our text. In the first Jesus declared, “I AM the light of the world (John 8:12).” In the second He said, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.” The statement was a proclamation of His deity.

S. Lewis Johnson commented on this matter, “Now, one must appreciate the language of the Bible to understand this, but this is the language of deity. Back in the Old Testament…when God told Moses who he was…God said, "I am that I am." Now through the Old Testament that becomes the language of deity. In fact, when you get to the prophets it not only is the language of deity but it is the self-existent Yahweh. "I am." When Jesus says "Before Abraham came to be, I am" he was claiming to be that covenant keeping God. One German scholar who has studied in some detail this question has said, "This is Jesus' boldest declaration. It means, 'Where I am there is God. Where I am there God lives, speaks, calls, asks, acts, decides, loves, chooses, forgives, rejects, hardens, suffers, dies.' Nothing bolder can be said or even imagined than for Jesus to say, 'I am before Abraham came to be.'" That's the kind of Savior we need. We have to have a Savior who is an eternal being.” That the Jews understood what Jesus was saying is demonstrated by their response (John 8:59, 10:30-33).

It is in this One—the divine Son of God who died for sins—that a remedy can be found (John 1:29). That He has done all that is needful to save us is without question. The resurrection was proof-positive that God had accepted His once-for-all payment for sins (Romans 1:4, 4:25; 1 Peter 3:18).

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners (destined to die in our sins), Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This past weekend a man drowned in the Columbia River. His two year old son had fallen overboard. He dove into the fast moving water and handed his son to his father-in-law, but then he slipped underwater and did not resurface. He gave his life for his son whom he loved. God, in love, gave His son for rebellious sinners like us—so that we might not die in our sins. “Amazing love, how can it be that Thou My God shouldst die for me?”

The remedy for sin is appropriated by faith: “Unless you believe that I am He.” John’s gospel purposes to declare the truth about Jesus “that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). Salvation is appropriated by faith and only by faith. 90+ times the word “believe” appears in John’s gospel. The message, from beginning to end, is that salvation is by faith in Him (Cf. John 1:12-13, 3:16, 3:36, 8:24, etc.). This message—salvation by faith alone in Christ alone—is reiterated in numerous other Scripture texts (Acts 16:31; Romans 1:16, 10:9; Ephesians 2:8-9, etc.).

What is faith but trust? To believe in Him is to trust in Him. He proclaimed the truth about Himself. Some picked up stones to throw at Him…to their doom (John 8:59). Others believed in Him and were saved (John 8:30). 100 years ago yesterday the “unsinkable” Titanic hit an iceberg and began to sink. People donned life-jackets. Some were fortunate enough to find a seat in a lifeboat. Those lifeboats proved life-savers for those who got on board. They were saved, others perished in the cold North Atlantic. Jesus is a life-boat to those “sinking deep in sin.” To trust in anything else is to remain in one’s sins. “You can’t get to heaven in a leady old boat, ‘cause a leaky old boat it just won’t float.” To refuse to “obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” is to face certain doom (2 Thessalonians 1:8). To believe in Him is to receive God’s remedy and the abundant and eternal life He alone can give.

Pastor Jerry

No comments: