Light and Death

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

John 5:25-29 | May 20 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
May 20
Light and Death | John 5:25-29
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Let’s pray. Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules. You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness and in all faithfulness. Your promise is well tried and we love it. We are small and despised, yet we do not forget Your precepts. Your righteousness is righteous forever and Your law is true. Trouble and anguish may be ours, but Your commandments are our delight. Your testimonies are righteous forever. Give us understanding that we may live. In Jesus we pray. Amen.

We come this morning in John’s Gospel to chapter 5. John, chapter 5, verses 25 through 29, and we will start the reading one verse earlier, at verse 24. John, chapter 5, beginning at verse 24. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself. And He has given Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

I wonder if you agree with this statement: The Bible is the Word of God completely true and without error in everything it teaches, the Bible is the Word of God completely true and without error in everything it teaches. I am going to go out on a limb and assume that most everyone here, though I know not everyone, we’re very glad to have visitors or seekers or those who are just exploring Christianity, but most all of you hear that and readily give mental and verbal assent to it. Yes, I believe that all Scripture is breathed out by God, 2 Timothy 3:16, you believe with Jesus that the Scriptures cannot be broken, John 10:35, and even more you believe that everything Jesus said and everything in the Bible is infallibly good and right and perfect.

So if I were to ask you if these few verses that I just read, if you believe them, you’d all say “yeah, yeah, it’s in the Bible.” You’ve probably read the gospel of John before. “Yeah, I believe this is the Word of God and I believe these verses are true.” And that’s good. But let me ask: Do you really believe these verses? Are you really sure that these verses are true? You probably just let the words go by quickly. We, we often do that. Someone’s reading to us, maybe you were still looking for it in your Bible.

But there are a lot of remarkable claims in these few verses. We have life-altering, eternity-defining claims about Jesus, about life, about death, about resurrection, and judgment. And so this is one of those passages where it’s good to slow down, take a step back, and say “okay, do I really believe that?”

And I hope we do. And if we do, it ought to have a profound effect on our lives. If these verses are true, then you ought to be in your thoughts, in your hearts, in your actions, in your priorities, vastly different from the rest of the world, if these verses are true. And there’s a difference between faith as verbal affirmation and then faith as deep-seated trust and conviction.

I’ve heard this story before, I don’t know if it’s true, maybe it just gets passed down as a good sermon illustration, but you know those daredevils that will walk on tightrope across buildings or they’ve done it across Niagara Falls. I’ve seen that, you’ve maybe seen that, and they tiptoe across or they have some sort of beam to steady them and crowds gather as they do this without a net, without any sort of harness, and they walk across. The story is told that generations ago, one of these daredevils was walking across the tightrope over Niagara Falls. And it wasn’t enough that he would just go and walk back and the crowd would be astounded, but then he started to do it without the balancing stick, or then he would do it juggling, or then he would do it carrying different objects, first perhaps something light and then something heavy, and then to the point of carrying a bag of sand or a sack of potatoes on his back. And as each feat became more and more difficult, the people were standing there in awe and wonder and he would ask them “who thinks that I can carry a bag of sand?” “Oh, you can do it!” And then he would ask until it was increasingly difficult and finally he said “who thinks that I could carry a man on my back tiptoeing across Niagara Falls?” and people said “Yes!” And he said “great, who will be my first volunteer?” [laughter] And the hands went down.

See, there’s faith as verbal affirmation –”yes, you can do that, I’ve seen you with a bag of sand, you can do it” and then there is faith as a deep-seated trust and conviction—”I’ll get on your shoulders.”

Let me tell you from this passage three things that will be true of us if we really believe this passage. Three things that will be true of us if we really believe this passage. Now, let me just put as a parentheses here that faith is often a struggle. There’s a reason the Bible will call it the fight of faith. Why we wrestle to believe things, we have doubts, we have temptations, sometimes just plain laziness. So, I’m not suggesting that we will appropriate these three things without any struggle or any admission of degrees. No, we will throughout our lives have to constantly fight to say “yes, I believe” and we will, in moments of crisis, have people come around us and remind us of things that we knew and we forget. So, it’s a fight to believe.

And yet, I want us to consider what should be true of us on our best faith-filled days. If we really believe what Jesus speaks to us in John chapter 5.

Here are three things. Number one: If this is true, we will not tremble before death. In the face of death, we will not be afraid.

Look at verse 24 and 25. Two “Amen” statements; if you looked in the Greek, it says “amen, amen,” or translated here “truly, truly.” It’s a kind of oath formula. Here’s something really important, and both of these statements, verse 24 and verse 25, have to do with receiving the gift of life instead of death. We see that faith leads to life. This is, as we’ve seen, the entire purpose of John’s Gospel. In chapter 20, these things are written down that you may believe and that by believing you may have life in His name.

Notice verse 24. He says “whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me,” now do you notice the parallelism there? Hearing the word of Christ is tantamount to believing the Father who sent Him. This is yet another passage demonstrating the equality of Father and Son. If you listen to the Father, you listen to the Son, and when you hear what the Son says, you are, in effect, listening to the Father. That word “hear,” “whoever hears My word,” don’t think of that as just, you know, auditory, I can understand the soundwaves going in and I can make sense of the language. That’s not what “hear” usually means in the Bible, and not what it means here.

“Hear,” h-e-a-right, implies listening, responding, and obeying. So when it says “whoever hears,” it’s not just whoever sits in front of a sermon, but whoever hears and receives and responds to My word is believing the One who sent Me. To listen to Jesus is the same as believing the Father.

And then notice the promise there: “That one has eternal life.” Has eternal life.

Now there’s plenty of places in John’s Gospel and elsewhere in the Bible that it speaks of our future possession of eternal life, as something that we will inherit, something we will receive, something we will enjoy. But notice here, you need to know verbs, you need to know tenses, you need to know nouns. You ever say “why am I learning these things? Why am I learning these things in my language arts class? Why am I learning these things in language class? Why am I studying a foreign language?”

Okay, there’s a lot of reasons. Here’s one of the reasons: So you can be a better reader of the Bible. Has, has eternal life. Not “will,” that’s true, but “has.” So eternal life is your present possession, if you believe in Jesus. Isn’t that remarkable? You are eternal. Not that you’ve had no beginning, but that your life in Christ will have no end.

It says something similar in verse 25: “I say to you, an hour is coming and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.” So “is coming” and “is now here.”

There’s a famous phrase, which you may have heard before, and it’s a good one to just sort of tuck away in your biblical vocabulary that theologians came up with a few generations ago. It goes like this: “The already and the not yet.” The already and the not yet. When we think about life in Christ, there is an “already” and a “not yet.” So in once sense we already are in possession of this life and yet there is more of it to come.

So verse 25, Jesus can say “there’s an hour coming,” so there’s a future fulfillment of this life in Christ. There is an experience of life in Christ that you have not experienced yet. It’s coming, and yet He says at the same time, it is now here, it has arrived, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. So eternal life is for all of you who know Christ, already your present possession. We are born again by the incorruptible seed of the Word of God, 1 Peter 1:23. Or Colossians 3:3 says we are already seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Do you realize, Christian, that’s where you are? You have a dual citizenship. Citizenship in heaven and here on earth.

You are seated in the heavenly places because of your union with Christ, which is one of the great New Testament motivations for growing and living in godliness and holiness. If you’re really seated in heaven, why would you live like a child of hell? Do you know where you are? Do you know where you’re seated? Do you know who you’re with? Do you know what you already have? You already have eternal life. Eternal life has, for the Christian, already begun. This is one of the reasons that we affirm that those who truly believe can never be lost. You cannot lose your salvation, that’s usually how it’s explained.

Now, can you make a profession of faith, you know, sign a card, raise a hand, I’m a Christian, and have that prove to be a false profession? Yes, it’s not a mechanical thing: “Well, I went through a class and therefore it doesn’t matter what I do the rest of my life.”

But if you’re truly justified, you cannot be unjustified. If you’re truly born again, you cannot be un-born again. You cannot lose life that is eternal.. And when you believe in Christ, you come into present possession of eternal life.

And look what else it says in verse 25: “The dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.” Now we’re going to come back to this when He talks about resurrection, and that’s the sort of new life that is not yet; we haven’t yet had the resurrection, except the first fruits in Christ. But this is now the kind of life that is here, that is a spiritual resurrection. He says the spiritually dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and live.

This is why we believe in the power of preaching. Whether you have a good preacher or not, we believe that this miracle still happens, and it has happened in your life, and it will happen in some of your lives. It may happen in someone’s life this morning. You listen to sermons, sounds like nothing, nothing, nothing, words, words, words, I’ve heard it in another talk, same old, same old, another Bible study, another chapter, another message. Same.

And then life! Life! You, you hear what you didn’t used to hear. You listen like you didn’t used to listen. And suddenly you say “Pastor, you’ve gotten a lot better.” [laughter] No, you’ve gotten a new heart, and new ears, and new eyes. The goal of my ministry individually and our ministry collectively is simply to get as many people as possible to hear the voice of the Son of God. He’s the One who’s going to do the work. And I preach and other pastors preach and we pray, in hope that every week there will be someone here who stops hearing simply a sermon and starts hearing a savior. That wasn’t just Pastor Kevin speaking, but the Son of God spoke.

And when you hear that word, you really hear that word, you receive that word, you respond in faith and obedience to that word… Do you see the promise here? He, or she, verse 24, has passed from death to life.

Now think about that. We ought not tremble in the face of death. Why? Because verse 24 says amazingly enough, death, at least the death that you most have to fear, is behind you. You’ve passed from death to life. So death is what was in your past, spiritually estranged from Christ, dead in your sins and trespasses. You have passed from that realm, that world, and now life.

So when you come to the moment of death, or you grieve for your loved one approaching that moment of death, if you are in Christ, if they are in Christ, you can have this firm confidence: Judgment as condemnation is no threat for you. The worst thing that can come upon you already came upon Christ for your sakes.

Now notice very carefully there is still death to lament. We understand this is as Christians as well as anyone. Death is the last enemy, the last enemy to be conquered. So we grieve, of course we grieve. We mourn, we weep. But we do not grieve as those who have no hope. We do not weep as the world weeps. There is still a death to lament, but there is not a death to fear.

Hebrews 2, 14 and 15: “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same things that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” That’s good news.

One of the things the devil does is he wants to keep you in bondage: Keep you in bondage to your sins, keep you in bondage to what you’ve done in the past, and then bondage to what might happen to you in the future. There’s a lot of people that the devil has enslaved through this fear of death, and you become his captive. That’s what the devil… You’re gonna die someday, better eat, drink and be merry. You better do whatever you can to never look old, never act old.

And people are afraid of death. That’s one thing we don’t talk about, one thing we don’t acknowledge until it’s upon us, and by that fear the devil keeps us in bondage and Christ came to break the shackles of that fear. You don’t have to fear death. You’ve passed from that death to life. It’s behind you. It’s in the rearview mirror. It has no hold on you. Yes, we’ll die, unless the Lord returns before then, we will all die. The statistics are pretty convincing: It’s 100%.

But only the Christian has a reason not to tremble. If you don’t know that this death has been paid for in the death of Christ, then I would tremble. What is on the other side? What will it be? Do I just cease? Do I just decompose? Am I reincarnate? Have I been good enough? Have I been smart enough? What will happen to me?

That’s what the devil wants you to be afraid of. And Christ came to set you free from that. So you do not tremble before death—you’ve passed out of that into life. That’s the first thing.

Here’s the second, if we really believe these verses, we will not tremble before death, and we will not trifle with the Son. We will not trifle with the Son, S-o-n.

We saw last week that the Son, like the Father, verse 26, is “autotheos.” It’s a Greek word: Theos/God, Auto/by itself. The Son, like the Father, is God of Himself. So God the Father communicates to the Son, the person of the Son, in relationship to the Father, but not the essence of the Son as God. The life God has because He is God. That’s what this means: Life of Himself, in Himself. Verse 26: The self-existent, eternal, dependent on no one, contingent on nothing for life kind of life. That life the Father has and the Son has also by an eternal grant from the Father. We saw that last week.

And now we see, verse 27, what we saw already in verse 22, namely that the Father h.s. given to the Son authority to execute judgment. You see that in verse 22, the Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, and then in verse 27, and He has given Him authority to execute judgment, and then you notice a reason is given: Because, because He is the Son of Man.

I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: Son of God, Son of Man. You see both of those phrases here, Son of God in verse 25, Son of Man in verse 27. Now we’re likely to misunderstand the phrase Son of Man and think, well, Son of God is a reference to His deity, and Son of Man is a reference to His humanity, and while it’s true that the Son is fully human, His incarnate state which continues, Son of Man here is actually a designation more of divinity than humanity. Son of Man. It comes from the book of Daniel.

Turn back in the Old Testament, because you’ll want to see this if you haven’t seen it before, and make a note of it, because it will help you make sense of this language. Throughout the New Testament, it’s Jesus’ favorite self-designation. He refers to Himself as the Son of Man, and it comes from Daniel chapter 7. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, into Daniel before we get into the minor prophets.

Daniel, chapter 7, look at verse 9. Daniel’s having this vision and it says in Daniel 7, verse 9, “as I looked, thrones were placed and the Ancient of Days took His seat. His clothing was white as snow and the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was fiery flames, its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before Him and thousand thousands served Him. And ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him, the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.”

So this is clearly a picture of God Almighty on His throne, the Ancient of Days, and a theophany, all the familiar language. You can’t see God, He’s not a human, but when people see God in the Bible, they see with this sort of imagery. Fiery flames and clothing white as snow, angels around Him. And then, verse 11, “I looked because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.” And it continues: “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven, there came one like a Son of Man.”

So here’s a second person. “And He came to the Ancient of Days, and was presented before Him, and to Him, [that is the Son of Man] was given dominion and glory and a kingdom that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him, His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”

So here you have the doctrine of the trinity, not yet fully realized, but you certainly see more than hints of it here. You have God on the throne as the Ancient of Days, and here comes another something, someone called a Son of Man and he receives from the Ancient of Days all of these divine prerogatives. He has dominion and glory and a kingdom and people worship Him and serve Him, so clearly this Son of Man is like the Ancient of Days, also deserving of worship.

So He’s One who is not the Ancient of Days and yet He is equal to rank and authority and power and given from the Ancient of Days the right to judge the earth. And so it’s fitting that Jesus would say He has been given authority to execute judgment because, here’s the reason, He is the Son of Man. Because He is this one that Daniel saw in his night vision.

So Jesus Christ, the Son, is the One who will come again to judge the living and the dead. We recite that every time we rehearse the Apostles’ Creed. He’s been given authority.

And not, not a weak authority. You know, when, when you go out and, you know, you tell your kids, “okay, now you listen to the baby-sitter, whatever she tells you do to, you need to do it.” That’s good, that’s good. You know, extending some authority. That goes well infrequently. [laughter] Not the fault of the baby-sitter, but children who may not really be willing to submit themselves to this new authority. Just like it’s not the fault of the substitute teacher normally who comes in, but there’s a sense that the children have, ooh, you know, you’re filling in here and we’ll wait until the teacher gets better, wait ’til mom and dad get home.

But don’t think the Father is just sort of “well, I wanted to get the night away, had a personal day,” so here comes the Son and “why don’t you take care of it? I’m busy.” No, no no. This One executing judgment is God of Himself, the Word made flesh, the One who was with God and is God. The One through whom all things were made and by whom all things hold together. This One will execute judgment. So do not think it will be a light thing to stand before the Son of God on that day.

You know your Bibles. You know the reaction throughout the Bible when people see the glory of God revealed. I’ll tell you what the reaction is not: “Hey, God, cool. Let me run up and give You a hug.” No, fall on your face as though dead.

Numbers 20:6: The glory of the Lord appeared and Moses and Aaron fell on their faces.

Ezekiel 1:28: A likeness of the glory of the Lord appeared; Ezekiel fell on his face.

Matthew 17:6: The mount of transfiguration. The glory of Christ revealed, the disciples fall on their faces.

Judges 13:20: The angel of the Lord appeared to Sampson’s parents; they fall on their faces.

Luke chapter 5: Simply at the miraculous catch of fish, when Peter gets a glimpse of who this man is is in the boat, he falls on his face before Jesus, and in a pile of stinky fish.

I hope, as we’ve been moving slowly through John’s Gospel, if nothing else, this Gospel will help to disabuse us of whatever notions we have that Jesus is a saccharine and sentimental deity. And that when we stand before Him, we’ll be standing like this. Oh, we will not. Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. And in that moment, when all tongues are confessing and all knees are bowing, for some it will be the culmination of everything they have lived for, and for others it will be too late. Everyone will see, everyone will know, everyone will bow.

Remember the vision of Christ in Revelation chapter 1? “I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands, one like a Son of Man [there’s the language] clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around His chest, the hairs of His head were white like white wool, like snow, His eyes were like a flame of fire, His feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, His voice was like the roar of many waters. In His right hand He held the seven stars. From His mouth came a sharp two-edge sword and His face was like the sun, shining in full strength. When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead.”

If we believe John chapter 5, we will not trifle with the Son. We will come before Him one day. Nothing will be hidden from His sight, don’t think that you’re going to have the Father as bad cop and the Son as good cop. All authority, all authority on heaven and on earth has been given to Him. And know for certain that the Son will not be trifled with on that day, and so He ought not be trifled with on this day. Do you think of Jesus too lightly? Approach Him intimately, yes, casually, no. He’s the one that we will have to give an account. He’s the one before whom we will stand and we will fall and He will execute judgment. And on that day, surely you will want to say, and be able to say, “my Lord and my God, and I have loved you and I love you more now than I ever knew possible.”

If we believe these things in John chapter 5, we will not tremble before death, we will not trifle with the Son, and finally we will not treat the resurrection casually. If you look at John chapter 5, verses 28 and 29, now we see future language. Remember verse 25: An hour is coming and is now here, that’s the already and not yet of this new life. Verse 27, an hour is coming. So now this is exclusively future. And we have here a dramatic scene. An hour is coming when all who are in the tombs (the tombs is a generic reference to all those who are dead, we know that people are not always in tombs and people aren’t always able to be buried, and that word simply means the dead), the dead will hear His voice and they will come forth.

Now that’s where you gotta stop. You believe this? We just have to be honest sometimes as Christians. We believe some, some amazing things, that either are completely goofy and just ridiculous, or everyone needs to know about this. Which is it? That they’re going to hear His voice and the dead will come back to life? That will happen. It may sound like pie in the sky, it may seem like it’s forever off, but you know what? That’s, that’s what the promise of the Messiah must have felt like to all those generations. Yeah, yeah, there’s something in our Bible about a Messiah. Is there really going to be a day when He comes? But then in the fullness of time, the Virgin conceived and gave birth to a son and called His name Immanuel, God with us. It happened, and this day will happen.

And a voice will sound forth: Come out. And they will come out. As easy as that.

Just like the Word at creation said let there be light. No struggle, no intermediaries, and there was light. The voice will say “come forth,” and all the dead will come forth.

And we read that they will come out. Those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. Now you say, wait a minute, that almost sounds like salvation by works, that I’m going to be judged now on how good or bad I was. But you have to take this in the totality of John’s Gospel. Remember in John chapter 2 when Jesus was in Jerusalem and it said that many in the crowd believed in Him, “believed in Him,” but Jesus did not believe in them because He knew what was in their heart? In other words, we already have the category. There is a type of faith, so-called, which is not real faith.

We saw in John chapter 3 that darkness must be exposed so that we move from darkness to walk in the light, that when we have faith we move from death to life, from darkness to light, and we’ll read in John 6:29, Jesus says this is the work, to believe in the One who sent Me.

So all of this is really nothing more than what Jesus Himself said in the Sermon on the Mount, that good fruit comes good root. And if you have good root, you bear good fruit. And if you want to know what someone’s really like, you gotta pull down some of the fruit from their branches and take a bite. Because you can say all sorts of things about what you believe, and if your life doesn’t, mmm, have some, mmm, that tastes a little bit like love, mmm, that’s kind of like joy and peace and patience and self-control. No, mmm, that tastes like selfishness and debauchery and sensuality and strife, well then, you have no reason to think that there’s a good root producing that sort of fruit.

Remember Zacchaeus? We have no record of Zacchaeus praying a sinner’s prayer. What we have record of is Zacchaeus saying “hey, I have been royally cheating people and I’m going to more than make up for everything that I’ve done,” and Jesus said “salvation has come to your house.” Why? Because he’s changed. Two sides of the coin: Faith and repentance.

That’s what John chapter 5:29 is saying. Yes, there will be a judgment of works: Not to weigh do you have enough good deeds to outweigh the bad deeds, but is there evidence in your life of grace flowing out to, to show that grace has actually flown in.

And so, shorthand, the resurrection of life for those who have done good and the resurrection of the judgment for those who have done evil. There is a distinction on the last day. And if this is true, it’s no exaggeration to say that eternity hangs in the balance every Sunday when we gather. You have on the one hand life. The Bible describes it as Abraham’s bosom, or to be at the Father’s side, or our inheritance, or a kingdom, or eternal life, or a wedding feast.

You thought yesterday’s wedding was a big deal? Phht. That’s a bowling alley reception [laughter] compared to what’s to come. No offense if you had a bowling alley, I’ve been to them before, they’re nice.

Life.

And you know how the Bible describes the judgment, outer darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth. Jesus says it’s the place where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. Do you believe that’s true? Bodies will be raised. Some will have the resurrection of life and some will have the resurrection of judgment.

We didn’t make this up, this stuff. You can’t say “well, that’s from the Puritans” or “that’s the medieval church.” No, it’s here, it’s from Jesus. So you need to ask yourself is it true, is verse 29 true? If it’s not true, if you say “I don’t think that’s true,” at least be honest enough to say “well, it’s not an isolated teaching.” You can’t just say “well, one scribe made a little error.” You can’t say it’s just the Old Testament because here we are in the New Testament. You can’t say it’s just the apostle Paul, because here we are with Jesus. And in fact, the teaching on judgment comes from Jesus more than anyone else. Jesus is the one who uses the word Gehenna, hell, more than anyone else, so if you want to say I don’t believe this, it’s a free country, you can say that, just be consistent. Okay? Jesus is wrong, the Bible is wrong, historic Christianity is wrong, I do not believe this.

And if you do believe this, if this is true, that there is coming a day when all in the tombs will hear His voice and be reconstituted, body and soul, raised for life or for judgment, if that’s true, then aren’t you motivated to, to give of your wealth to this end? Aren’t you motivated, some of you, to go to far off places? Aren’t you motivated to send? Aren’t you motivated to pray? Aren’t you motivated to share personally this saving gospel? And if this is true, what does it mean for your own soul? You put the phone away long enough and turn off the TV and slow down enough to think what is awaiting me? Am I afraid of death?

On the other side of breathing my last, is there more life than I ever thought possible, or is there a death that’s even worse that I can imagine?

People say, well, you know, the worm and the fire, and those are just images. Okay, I grant you, they’re images. But they’re images to communicate that that’s how bad it is.

So all of you here this morning are in a dangerous place, you’re in a dangerous place because you’ve been warned, you’ve been given light, you’ve been told the truth, I trust, from God’s Word, which means you’re in a dangerous place. What will you do with that truth? Suppress it? Embrace it? It’s a dangerous place, but it’s also a privileged place. Because you have been invited, invited to come, invited to receive, invited to hear, invited to believe, to say when I stand and fall before that Christ on that day, that will not be the first time that I’ve worshipped Him. It will be only the beginning of all of my forever days to worship the One I love.

Do you hear His voice? Open your eyes, open your ears, and live.

Let’s pray. Our gracious heavenly Father, we give thanks for Your Word and we pray that we might come before it humbly and with reverence and awe. Speak to us, teach us. Even now be quickening hearts and minds in this room and preach to us through Your Spirit on this Pentecost Sunday a better sermon than the one that was just preached. That when we stand before Your Son on that day, it will be a day of rejoicing, and not fear. In His name we pray. Amen.