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Our Reaction to Jesus Determines our Destiny

John 3:36
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. (NIVUK)

This verse could not be more stark.  It denies the claim of some that everybody will ‘get to heaven’, and definitively links our reaction to Jesus to our eternal destiny – because He alone is the Way to the Father (John 14:6).  How we respond to Jesus is the most critical decision of every person’s life, according to John the Evangelist.  Jesus’ message to Nicodemus, “You must be born again” (John 3:7) is further explained in John 3:15 – eternal life will come to everyone who believes in Jesus; and it is summarised in this verse which allows for no confusion.

The Gospel call applies to ‘whoever’ – not just Jews or religious people or those who think Jesus is a good example. ‘Whoever’ includes the catalogue of social criminals, and more, listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 .  ‘Whoever’ also included the thief on the cross, and the violent persecutor who became the Apostle Paul.  In other words, ‘whoever’ (and that means anyone and everyone) who believes in Jesus will have eternal life (2 Peter 3:9). That is God’s promise.

But there is another ‘whoever’ – they are the people who reject Jesus from the centre of their lives: they will not have eternal life (John 3:18).  They are among many who continue to live under God’s wrath, and will perish in the final judgement, unless they repent and put their trust in Jesus.  Interestingly, the Greek word for ‘rejects’ does not mean a violent or aggressive attitude to Jesus: it is the word from which we derive ‘apathetic’ (which means a lack of interest or concern; indifferent; unresponsive).  Such people are sleep-walking into hell.

Perhaps such a thought was the divine motivation for John’s Gospel; urging apathetic people to understand that Jesus had come to save them from God’s wrath to come.  Every true evangelist has the same burning passion: to awaken the apathetic as well as to challenge the aggressively rebellious.  We might think that those who quietly ignore Christ will quietly find their own way to be saved: but the Bible will not allow that idea!  This verse tells us that those who keep their distance from Him in this life will find that He rejects them in eternity (Matthew 10:32-33).  That thought should drive us to prayerful concern and a willingness to share the gospel with those who show little interest (2 Corinthians 5:11).  Many people around us are like that.  We must not let them remain ignorant of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world.  Their response to Jesus the King in this life, determines their destiny in the next.

Gracious God. It is wonderful to be reminded that ‘whoever’ trusts in Jesus will be saved. Forgive me for ignoring those around me who show little interest in Jesus. Please help me to realise that You love them and want them to wake up to eternal realities, so that they can repent and receive Jesus, and so be saved. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams