The Simple Gospel John MacArthur April 16 Sermon: Salvation It's wonderful when a person comes to Christ—he or she is no longer under the tyranny of sin and guilt or of lust and desire—no longer are under the bondage of a purposeless and meaningless existence. Christ not only gives meaning to life, but also restores harmony to our spiritual lives by completely forgiving our sin. Now, what happens when someone does not want to establish a relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ? What happens when a person maintains the masquerade of Christmas, giving homage to an event, but not tolerating the individual in which that event finds its meaning? If receiving Jesus Christ results in an abundant and eternal life, then not receiving Jesus Christ results in receiving the curse of God. We find in this passage of John 8 some very alarming comments by Jesus. They make the passage a difficult thing for me to discuss, let alone understand. I sometimes want to cry out with Richard Baxter, "Oh, for an empty hell and a full heaven!" It is not my desire, nor is it Jesus' desire, for anyone to enter hell, for God is "not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9). It is not condemnation, but rather warning that Jesus speaks in these verses. It ought to be brought to our attention that people who give lip service to Christianity while rejecting Christ are engaged in the most foolish kind of fun. It would be comparable to people having a party on the Lusitania, as they went on ignoring the reality of the German threat. If people really knew their eternal destinies were determined by Christ, whom they rejected, I doubt whether there would be much for them to celebrate. The Bible makes clear that there is no neutrality on this issue. Jesus put it simply and succinctly when He said, "He who is not with Me is against Me" (Matt. 12:30). All the way back into the first set of writings the Bible [provides], the Pentateuch, Moses established this pattern that continues all the way to the Book of Revelation: "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose" (Deut. 30:19). Here are the same two things we see through Scripture: life or death, blessing or cursing. Joshua 24:15 says, "Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Two options are given: serving the true God or serving false gods. John 3:18 says, "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already." You only have two choices: you're either condemned to hell or not condemned. The crux of the issue is whether you believe. The reason for condemnation is given at the end of the verse: "because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." The Book of Revelation closes with an invitation: "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.' Let the one who hears say, 'Come.' Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost" (v. 22:17). There again is the choice of choosing one of two ways. The other day, one of my children asked me, "Daddy, is it true there are only two places you can go when you die, heaven or hell?" I said, "That's true, only two, heaven or hell." There is no neutral ground, no purgatory and no waiting place. Hell may have different designations as to its final form and identity; but there are only two places—heaven, where God is, or hell, where God is not. You may have heard the old line, "He had nobody to blame but himself." That is biblical. There may be a big theological argument about who is responsible when people are saved—whether it's God or [if humans] have anything to do with it—but there's no question about who is responsible in the Bible when people go to hell, because it says we choose. Jesus substantiated the reality of man's choice of hell when he confronted some of the Jews, saying, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life" (John 5:39-40). The responsibility for not choosing Christ belongs to us. In Romans 1:20, Paul says that men are without excuse. John 16:8-9 says, "And He [the Holy Spirit], when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin…because they do not believe in Me." To not believe in Christ is the sin of all sins. The Lord condemned Jezebel, who was misleading the church at Thyatira, saying, "I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality" (Rev. 2:21). God has given the call to repentance; when people do not repent and turn to Him in faith, that is their own fault and they are responsible for that decision. In John 8:21, a powerful [comment by] Jesus was given to the Jewish leaders: "Then He said again to them, 'I go away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come.'" Jesus was making a very strong statement about the fact that He was going to heaven and they were not. He can give such a warning because they have had enough information to have made a decision about Him. For eight chapters, John chronicled the self manifestation of God in Christ by recording the many wonders He had accomplished in Galilee and in Jerusalem. Furthermore, Jesus said many astounding things: His claims to deity were clear. In fact, Jesus later exhorted those Jews who were evaluating His ministry to believe Him for the words and the works that He had said and done (John 10:37-38; 14:10-11). Throughout these chapters, we see His works and hear His words again and again. In chapter 1, John introduced Him as God Incarnate, who "became flesh, and dwelt among us…the only begotten from the Father" (v. 14). In John 2, He performed His first miracle at Cana as He changed water into wine. InJohn 4, we see Him reveal a woman's personal life, never having known her, and talk about the fact that He was the living water. In John 5, we hear His dialogue with the Pharisees as He claims to be God, who has been commissioned by His Father to make the ultimate judgment. In John 6, we see Him doing many miracles all day long, including feeding thousands of people on a hillside in Galilee. In John 7, He proceeds to Jerusalem and the things He says there continue to support that He is God. In John 8, He forgives sin and claims to be the light of the world. All of these words, works, signs and wonders should have been sufficient to elicit genuine faith and confidence in who He was. In the mind of Jesus, anyone who was seeing, hearing and experiencing those things, yet not believing, alone bears the guilt of their own sin—he or she is without excuse. Even though many had their physical needs met by Jesus Christ, they still rejected Him, not wanting to have to face the spiritual need for repentance and belief in Him. In Galilee, big crowds initially followed Him because He fed and healed them. When He started laying down some principles of life and meddling in their sin, they stopped wanting to crown Him King. When He came to Jerusalem, the same thing happened: Great crowds followed Him everywhere. As He began to turn away from the physical to the spiritual and deal with the sin in the hearts of people, the crowds began to melt away until finally, the only crowd left was a group of Pharisees trying to figure out how to kill Him. Such a tragic rejection was epitomized in John's words: "He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him" (John 1:11). The Jews were responsible for their conclusions about Christ as is every other person. Though some did believe, John 7:40-41 tells us there were others who didn't: "Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, 'This certainly is the Prophet.' Others were saying, 'This is the Christ.' Still others were saying, 'Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He?'" To some who rejected Him, Jesus said, "And you are unwilling to come to Me so you may have life" (John 5:40). They had no one to blame but themselves, as do all who have full revelation and yet turn away from the truth (Heb. 6:10). Though the unbelief of the scribes and Pharisees was manifested in their desire to kill Jesus, John 8:20 says, "no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come." Held back by God from being able to take His life at this point, they are confronted by Jesus in verse 21: "I go away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come." This confrontation reveals the tragic result of refusing Jesus Christ—dying in one's sin. Jesus hinted at this in the previous chapter when He said, "'For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me. You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come.' The Jews then said to one another, 'Where does this man intend to go that we will not find Him? He is not intending to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks, is He?'" (John 7:33-35). Whereas they were honestly confused about what He meant in chapter 7, in chapter 8 the Jews become cynical when Jesus essentially repeated the same warning: "So the Jews were saying, ‘Surely He will not kill Himself?'" (John 8:22). Their cynicism revealed their lack of understanding. Jesus simply was saying He was going to go to the Father in heaven and they would be unable to, because they would be in hell, having rejected Him. If they sought Him too late, their seeking would be in vain. There is a limit to the grace God will bestow on those who reject Him. Amos 8:11-12 says, "'Behold, days are coming,' declares the Lord God, 'when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea and from the north even to the east; they will go to and fro to seek the Word of the Lord, but they will not find it.'" The same thing is true of His gospel about Christ. In Proverbs 1:24-31, divine wisdom is personified turning away from those who would reject it: "Because I have called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; and you neglected all my counsel and did not want my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes, when your dread comes like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but they will not find me, because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord. They would not accept my counsel, they spurned all my reproof. So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way and be satiated with their own devices." In other words, when the day of grace has ended, those who have rejected God's wisdom will be responsible and will pay the consequences they have earned. It is like the prisoner who was instructed by the king to make a chain. Every day he added another link, until finally, they took him and bound him with his own chain. That is how it is with sinful people who reject Christ: They are producing in their lives their own ultimate disaster. The Jewish leaders sought heaven all their lives, but in the wrong place. Instead of seeking it at the feet of Jesus, they sought for it in their own self righteousness. According to Romans 10:17, faith comes by hearing a message about Christ. Instead of seeking it there, they sought it in their own books, laws and rituals. They not only sought it in the wrong place, but they sought it in the wrong way. In Romans 10:2 Paul says about the Jews, "For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge." They were seeking God according to their own system, and it was far from being a wholehearted search. Jeremiah 29:13 says, "You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." The scribes and Pharisees didn't give their whole heart to seeking God because they had devoted their whole heart to the proud propagation of their own self righteousness. So, many of the Jews were seeking in the wrong place, in the wrong way. Unfortunately, they also would be found seeking at the wrong time. Jesus tried to convey the fearfulness of hell with some of His parables. For instance, in Matthew 13:40-43 Jesus said, "Just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks and those who commit lawlessness and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear." There are only two places to spend eternity: hell, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth; or heaven, where you shine as the sun. It's a fearful warning. When Jesus warned the Jews in this passage, He was not brutalizing them by sovereignly ending their choice or putting an end to all possibility of salvation for them. He merely was warning them of the consequence of their current choice. When you hear people criticize God for speaking negatively and saying God is not a loving God, don't believe it for a minute. God is so merciful and loving that He warns us. No one ever went to hell who didn't choose to go there. God isn't going to force Himself eternally on someone who doesn't want Him. Now, there are four elements that I see in John 8:21-30 that show how a person can die in his sin. Be Self-Righteous The first way to guarantee that you will die in your sin and not go to the Father's house in heaven with Jesus is to be convinced that you don't need to be saved, that you are spiritually all right. By far, those who deny their need of a Savior are the most difficult people to reach. People who claim to be righteous apart from Christ by saying, "I belong to this special group," or "I'm one of the 144,000," or "I've got my papers that say I'm a righteous person" are only deceiving themselves. Self righteous people who have developed a system they believe gives them the right to enter God's presence are the hardest people to convince that they need a Savior because they already feel they are fine. Satan is clever. When he puts together a phony system based on human achievement and works righteousness, he does it in such a complex and supposedly biblical way that it is tremendously deceiving. People become captivated in cults and falsely assume they can gain righteousness by what they do. No one ever comes to Christ who doesn't see Him as a Savior who takes away sin and him or herself as a sinner who needs sin taken away. The Jews whom Jesus confronted clearly were self righteous, as you can tell from their answer. Jesus had just given them a loving warning, and their response was a mocking joke: "So the Jews were saying, 'Surely He will not kill Himself, will He, as He says, "Where I am going, you cannot come"?'" (John 8:22). They implied Jesus was going to commit suicide. The Jews believed suicide was the worst sin, for which the blackest part of Hades was reserved. People who had killed themselves had no possibility of ever entering "Abraham's bosom" (Luke 16:22). Therefore, the Jews concluded that if Jesus killed Himself, He would be going to Hades, opposite to where they assumed they were going. They didn't understand what Jesus was saying. They were so self righteous, having systematized their religion so carefully, that they believed they were the ones who would populate heaven. Nevertheless, Jesus mercifully warned them with an announcement of impending doom. How deaf could they be? If you read the whole New Testament, you would be hard-pressed to find a story of the conversion of a Pharisee. There are a few, but not many because they were such hard people to reach with biblical truth. The Jews were correct in concluding that Jesus was going to die…but it was going to be a self sacrificial, voluntary offering of Himself to be crucified. Acts 2:23 says, "This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death." It was murder, not suicide. He was a willing victim in order to accomplish redemption. Self-righteousness is the big lie of Satan. The truth is you are saved by Christ; the lie is you are saved by anything other than Christ. That lie can come in all kinds of packages: You can be saved by following certain rules, doing specific routines, belonging to a particular system, being good enough to outweigh your shortcomings—there's a myriad of possible systems to counter the one truth; and they are all part of Satan's big lie. If Satan can get someone into a system that says he or she is righteous, it's very hard to extract him or her from it. One reason is that self righteousness is very proud. I am reminded of what Job said to those who judged him: "Truly then you are the people, and with you wisdom will die" (Job 12:2). Proverbs 12:15 says, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes." Luke 16:15 says, "That which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God." When people believe Satan's lie and develop a system that is highly esteemed in their eyes, it is an abomination to God. Salvation never can be earned by good works and keeping religious rituals. So, the first way to die in your sins is to be self righteous and laugh at anyone who talks about sin or hell. The world mocks Jesus, making a joke out of His warnings about hell. The world gets no more serious about hell than to put devil suits on little kids at Halloween, yet refuses to admit its sin and need of Christ's forgiveness as it trusts in good works or self made religion for salvation. A person who gets wrapped up in the kind of self righteous systems the world offers, whether it is a religious institution such as Mormonism or Jehovah's Witnesses—or one's self made system—can become very belligerent once he or she becomes committed to it. For example, I read an article that was sent to a Melbourne newspaper by a person after he had heard Billy Graham preach, which said: "After hearing Dr. Billy Graham on the air, viewing him on television and seeing reports and letters concerning his mission, I am heartily sick of the type of religion that insists my soul and everyone else's needs saving, whatever that means. I never have felt that I was lost, nor do I feel that I daily wallow in the mire of sin, although repetitious preaching insists that I do. Give me a practical religion that teaches gentleness and tolerance, that acknowledges no barriers of color or creed that remembers the aged and teaches children goodness and not sin. If in order to save my soul I must accept such a philosophy as I recently have heard preached, I prefer to remain forever damned." Now that's a precarious position. Evidently the man had developed a system in which he believed he had attained self righteousness before God, and therefore fearlessly mocked the truth. That letter reflects the attitude of the Pharisees and scribes. Desiring to give a correct analysis of the situation, Jesus responded to their mockery: "And He was saying to them, ‘You are from below, I am from above'" (John 8:23). Jesus understood their intention in mocking Him…but Jesus in effect said, "It is you who are from Hades; I am from above. You've got it reversed." With this cutting reply, Jesus did not mean they were literally from Hades. He meant their unbelief, hypocrisy, false religion, ignorance and willful self righteousness were spawned from the enemy. He made the distinction clear that they were following Satan while He was following God. They were, as all unbelieving people are in this world, from beneath in the sense they were part of the evil system. In John 8:44, Jesus said to them, "You are of your father the devil." Such people operate their lives "according to the prince of the power of the air" (Eph. 2:2). Whereas the unbeliever is unknowingly guided by Satan, the believer is guided from above because his or her citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20), and he or she positionally resides in "heavenly places" (Eph. 1:3; 2:6). Jesus, warning the Pharisees, put things in perspective, saying in effect, "Your roots run downward to Hades because your lifestyle makes it manifest. You'd better recognize the source of your religious system." If you want to die in your sin, follow the Pharisees' attitude: Believe you don't need Christ as your Savior, assume you are OK, have solved all your problems and have attained righteousness. Convince yourself of that and you will die in your sin. There's a second way to die in your sin: Be Earthbound In John 8:23 Jesus says, "I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world." Jesus drew another contrast. He told the Pharisees they were part of the world system of which He was not. The term world refers to the invisible spiritual realm of evil. We use the word to identify a particular system, such as the world of politics, the world of sports and so on. The system Jesus had in mind is the system of evil opposed to God and Christ. If you want to guarantee that you will die in your sin, just be a part of the world system and accept whatever it offers. Then you can be classified as "sons of this age" (Luke 16:8) entrapped in "this present evil age," from which Jesus seeks to deliver us (Gal. 1:4). Opposed to the truth of God, the world propagates its own self righteous systems. You could characterize the system in this way: It is materialistic and humanistic, believing we are going to solve our problems and rule our own fate; it is lost in preoccupation with sex; it is plagued by carnal ambition, pride, greed, jealousy, envy, self pleasure, selfish desire, murder and so on. Its opinions are wrong; its aims are selfish; its pleasures are sinful; its influences are demoralizing; its politics are corrupt; its honors are empty; its smiles are phony; and its love is fickle. Furthermore, it is in the process of dissolution, according to 1 John 2:17, "the world is passing away." It will self destruct. Jesus identified those mocking Him as being a part of the world system. They were sinful, selfish and earthbound souls, who were controlled by the dictates of the evil system run by Satan. They had separated themselves from Jesus Christ with a gulf that was impassible. Even though they were religious, and maybe even humanitarian at heart, they were still part of Satan's evil system opposed to God. Jesus simply was saying to them, "You're going to die in your sins for two reasons: Number one, you are self righteous; and number two, you are totally engulfed in the system—you buy whatever the world is selling." There's a third way to die in your sins: Be Unbelieving In John 8:24 Jesus says, "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." So the third way to guarantee you will die in your sins is to be unbelieving of the gospel. You don't have to go out and kill someone and be bad to go to hell; hell is not just for criminals, but for everyone and anyone who refuses Christ. If you refuse Christ in this life, God isn't going to force you to dwell with Him forever in eternity. You say, "What am I supposed to believe?" I remember a song that used to be popular, called "I Believe," which kept repeating the words "I believe." I believe what? Another song is "I Believe in Music." If that is all you believe in, you're in trouble. You find the same kind of vague or misdirected faith when you ask people, "Do you believe in Christ?" and they respond, "Yeah, I believe in Christ; He lived and so forth." Jesus had something more definite in mind. Notice what He says: "Unless you believe that I am He…" It isn't enough to believe Jesus is the One you think He is; you must believe He is the One He claimed to be. He claimed to be God by such phrases as, "I am the bread of life" (John 6:35), "He who believes in Me will never thirst" (John 6:35), "I am the Light of the world" (John 8:12), "I am the good shepherd" (John 10:11), "I am the door" (John 10:9), "I am the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25), "I am the way, and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). Because Jesus was identifying Himself with God, saving faith not only becomes a question of turning from sin, but trusting the Son, as well. It's a question of believing Jesus is who He claimed to be. You ask, "Am I going to die in my sin unless I believe He is all He claimed to be?" That's right. You ought to find out who He claimed to be, for Romans 10:17 says faith comes by hearing a message about Christ. You never can have true faith unless you hear the truth about Christ. True faith is the result of hearing and believing with your heart that Jesus is who He claimed to be, and that God verified that claim by raising Him from the dead (Rom. 10:9). Jesus promises His opponents they will die with their sin unforgiven if they do not believe He is who He claims to be—God in human flesh. Not to believe and turn away shatters hope and leaves only hell's gloomy foreboding. On one occasion when I was sitting on a plane, a man asked me, "How do you become a Christian?" after he found out I was a Bible teacher. So I shared the gospel with him, telling him he must believe Jesus is who He claimed to be: God in human flesh, the Savior who died for your sin and rose again. A person can go to hell and remain there eternally for not believing those few things. Faith in Christ comes by hearing a message about Him; and if you haven't heard enough, then you ought to read some more or find someone who can tell you. There is no sense in going to hell for something you failed to do, because not believing is the same thing as rejecting: "He who is not with Me is against Me" (Matt. 12:30). Finally, we come to the fourth way to die in your sins: Be Willfully Ignorant When someone hears a speech about Christ but doesn't let it register, that person is willfully ignorant. The Jewish leaders had enough evidence about Christ; they just refused to believe and in their chosen ignorance mocked Him. They were willfully ignorant of Christ's identity: "So they were saying to Him, 'Who are You?'" (John 8:25). This could be paraphrased, "Who do you think you are, fella? These are some pretty ridiculous things you are saying, telling us that we're going to die in our sin. Do you know who you're talking to? We're the spiritual elite. Who do you think you are? You're some nobody from Nazareth, who has come down here to tell the leaders of Jerusalem how to run things. What gives you the right to assume the role of equality with God?" Such willful ignorance is manifested in other places in Scripture. John 8:19 says, "So they were saying to Him, 'Where is Your Father?' Jesus answered, 'You know neither Me nor My Father.'" Jesus was saying, "You are hopelessly ignorant. You think you know God, but you really don't. You think I'm a fake, so you don't know Me either. You can't recognize the truth because you are so dominated by sin." Do you recall the blind man healed in John 9, and all the Jewish leaders wondered how the blind man was able to see, admitting their disbelief in Jesus' power? Verse 30 says, "The man answered and said to them, 'Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes.'" This blind man had more sense than the Jewish leaders. Why? Those leaders willed to be ignorant of the truth. Hell will be filled with people who are there simply because they willed to be ignorant, not wanting Jesus making claims on their lives. They didn't want to know the truth; they were satisfied with what they already believed. To the close minded Jews who questioned His authority, Jesus said, "If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself" (John 7:17). In other words, for the willing heart the truth is available; but they weren't willing. You say, "How can people be like that?" The answer is found in John 3:19. Men are like that because they love their sin: "Men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil." Because of their sin, the Pharisees didn't want to expose themselves. They were so smug in their self righteousness and confirmed in willful ignorance that they turned their backs on the truth. That's tragic, because that puts them right into the category of those who have heard enough information to believe the truth, have rejected it and are going to receive a punishment more severe than others: "How much severe punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?" (Heb. 10:29). In other words, the greater punishment in hell is reserved for the people who knew the truth but trampled on it. These Jews were also willfully ignorant of Christ's authority: "Jesus said to them, ‘What have I been saying to you from the beginning? I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.' They did not realize He had been speaking to them about the Father" (John 8:25-27). Because the Jews refused to accept what Jesus had been saying, Jesus didn't provide them with any further revelation. He said He has words of judgment to speak concerning them, which come from the Father, who "has given all judgment to the Son" (v. 5:22). Willful ignorance brings judgment, as does unbelief, earthbound attitudes and self righteousness; the Pharisees were characterized by all of them. In their spiritual blindness, they didn't recognize who He was or understand He spoke to them about God the Father. They thought He was talking about some judgment on His own part. Judgment is a terrible result for those who continually refuse to hear the truth. That is why Jesus warned, "He who has ears, let him hear" (Matt. 13:9). The Jews also gave evidence of their willful ignorance of Christ's immortality: "So Jesus said, 'When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me'" (John 8:28). "How were the Jews going to know that?" you ask. What did the Father do at the death of Christ to verify the claims He had made? He raised Him from the dead. Repeatedly the Bible teaches that. In effect, Jesus says, "When My resurrection comes, then you are going to have to look honestly at My claims." Many of the Jews did. When it became known that Jesus had been resurrected, the church was born; literally thousands of people in the city of Jerusalem saw the truth and believed (Acts 2—3). Finally, the statement in John 8:29 shows that many of the Jews were willfully ignorant of Christ's unity: "He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him." The Pharisees could not comprehend Christ's unity with God. So Jesus said, "You are going to know the Father is with Me and has sent Me and that all the claims I made are true, in the day that I am lifted up to be crucified, because the result of death is going to be the resurrection." For now, they didn't know. Many of them never knew and consequently died in their sins to be separated from God for eternity. You can't always preach the positives; sometimes you have to preach the negatives, because the negatives are needed to bring some to Christ. If you never have committed yourself to Jesus Christ, you are separated from Him by a gulf that you never can span on your own. Not all of your good deeds, self righteousness or religion can do it. The only way that gulf can be spanned is for you to recognize your sin and receive the Lord Jesus Christ. If you have a desire in your heart to do that, in your heart pray something such as: "God, I want Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I receive Him now. I don't want to die in my sin. I want to go where You are." If you do that in sincerity, He will hear that prayer and your life will be "transferred…to the kingdom of His beloved Son" (Col. 1:13). If your faith is weak, ask Him to help you believe. If you need more information so you can make that decision and truly want to know Him, ask God to teach you the truth about Christ. Taken from Truth Endures by John MacArthur, © 2011, pp. 29-44. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, Crossway.org.