Meaning of John 3:36: What Does “He That Believes on the Son Has Everlasting Life” Truly Mean?
The greatest wish of every one of us who believes in the Lord is to enter the heavenly kingdom and gain everlasting life. The Bible says, “He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God stays on him” (John 3:36). Many people think that believing in the Son means believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that Jesus’ way is the way of everlasting life. So, when someone testifies to them that only Christ of the last days can bestow everlasting life upon man, they are unable to accept it. They think they can gain everlasting life by believing in the Lord Jesus, so what need is there to accept the words and work of Christ of the last days? To understand this issue, we must first understand what exactly “He that believes on the Son has everlasting life” means and how we really can gain everlasting life. These matters are crucial as they have a direct bearing on our fates and final ends, so let us fellowship and explore them now together.
What Is True Belief in the Son? Can We Gain Everlasting Life by Believing in the Lord Jesus?
We all know that believing in the Son means believing in Christ in the flesh, and we think that believing in the Son means believing in the Lord Jesus. But this is only half right, and this is not what belief in the Son truly means. The Bible clearly prophesies that when the Lord returns, He will come again in the flesh as the Son of man: “Be you therefore ready also: for the Son of man comes at an hour when you think not” (Luke 12:40). “For as the lightning, that lightens out of the one part under heaven, shines to the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in His day. But first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation” (Luke 17:24–25). “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37). The words “the Son of man comes” and “the coming of the Son of man” refer to someone born of man who possesses normal humanity. The spiritual body of the Lord Jesus after His resurrection cannot be called the Son of man, and so when the Lord returns, He will once again be incarnated as the Son of man. The words spoken by the Lord Jesus, “He that believes on the Son has everlasting life,” do not merely refer to faith in the Lord Jesus, but they also mean faith in the Christ incarnated in the last days. Only this is true belief in the Son.
Some people do not understand this, and believe that when the Lord Jesus said, “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14), this showed that the Lord Jesus possessed the way of everlasting life. They ask: “Why can’t we gain everlasting life just by believing in the Lord Jesus? Do we really have to believe in the Son of man in the last days? Could it be that the Lord Jesus is unable to give us everlasting life?” We should not say such things, but instead we must have clarity on this matter: The Lord Jesus was God incarnate; He possessed the identity and essence of God; He was the truth, the way, and the life, and He inherently possessed the way of everlasting life. So why can we not gain everlasting life just by believing in the Lord Jesus, but must also believe in Christ of the last days before we can gain the way of everlasting life? This is directly connected to God’s work and the fruit of each step of God’s work. Everyone knows that at the end of the Age of Law, all of humanity was in danger of being put to death for violating the laws, and they needed an eternal sin offering. That is why the Lord Jesus became flesh and came to earth, and was personally crucified for mankind’s sake, becoming the sin offering for man. After that, people had only to repent and pray to God, and their sins were forgiven. What cannot be denied, however, is that we still live in sin and are incapable of keeping the Lord’s teachings; we can’t help but always sin and then confess, living in a vicious cycle of sin. Our sins have not yet been fully cleansed and the root cause of our sin has not been resolved. Until that happens, we are unfit to enter the kingdom of heaven and gain everlasting life.
As the word of God says, “For all that man may have been redeemed and forgiven of his sins, it can only be considered as God not remembering the transgressions of man and not treating man in accordance with his transgressions. However, when man, who lives in a body of flesh, has not been set free from sin, he can only continue to sin, endlessly revealing his corrupt satanic disposition. This is the life that man leads, an endless cycle of sinning and being forgiven. The majority of mankind sin in the day only to confess in the evening. This way, even though the sin offering is forever effective for man, it will not be able to save man from sin. Only half the work of salvation has been completed, for man still has a corrupt disposition” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “The sins of man were forgiven, and this is because of the work of God’s crucifixion, but man continued to live within his corrupt satanic disposition of old. This being so, man must be completely saved from his corrupt satanic disposition, so that his sinful nature may be completely extirpated, never to develop again, thus enabling the disposition of man to be transformed. This would require man to grasp the path of growth in life, to grasp the way of life, and to grasp the way to change his disposition. Furthermore, it would require man to act in accordance with this path, so that his disposition may gradually be changed and he may live under the shining of the light, so that all that he does may be in accord with the will of God, so that he may cast away his corrupt satanic disposition, and so that he may break free from Satan’s influence of darkness, thereby emerging fully from sin. Only then will man receive complete salvation” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
We have been deeply corrupted by Satan and our satanic nature is deeply rooted within us. We are dominated by such satanic dispositions as selfishness, arrogance, and deceitfulness. We continue to sin and confess endlessly, unable to free ourselves of the bonds of sin. To satisfy our own personal interests in various situations, we always tell lies and deceive others; when we work for the Lord and preach, we always show off and flaunt ourselves, hoping others will look up to us and hold us in high esteem; as for how we treat God, we thank Him when He blesses us, yet misunderstand and blame God when trials come upon us. These are just a few examples. And so if we, who so frequently sin, who resist God and betray God, only accept the Lord Jesus’ salvation and have our sins forgiven, yet our corrupt dispositions remain uncleansed, how then can we gain everlasting life? We can see from the results achieved by God’s work that the work the Lord Jesus performed in the Age of Grace only enabled people to have their sins forgiven, and made them no longer of sin, but they cannot gain everlasting life just by believing in the Lord Jesus. When the Lord said, “He that believes on the Son has everlasting life,” He was actually testifying to the fact that the Lord Jesus was God Himself appearing in the flesh. He was testifying to the authority of God, that only God could bestow everlasting life upon man. However, the Lord never said that He would bestow the way of everlasting life upon man in the Age of Grace, and that by accepting His salvation, people could gain everlasting life. If we want to gain the way of everlasting life and have our corrupt dispositions purified once and for all, then we must accept the words and work of the incarnate Son of man in the last days. If we only believe in the Lord Jesus and do not accept the Son of man who has returned in the last days, then our “belief in the Son” is only a half-belief and cannot be termed true belief in the Son, much less will we be able to enter the kingdom of heaven and gain everlasting life.
Only Christ of the Last Days Can Bestow the Way of Everlasting Life Upon Man
Some may now ask, “Since we cannot gain everlasting life only by believing in the Lord Jesus, and we can only gain everlasting life by accepting Christ of the last days, how then does Christ of the last days give us the way of everlasting life?” The Lord Jesus prophesied, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (John 16:12–13). “And has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man” (John 5: 27). “And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:47–48). We can see from the Lord Jesus’ prophecies that when God becomes flesh in the last days, He will utter more words, perform the work of judging and cleansing man, fully save man from the influence of Satan and enable us to gain everlasting life. When the Lord Jesus came to perform His work, man was of small stature and could not bear God’s work of judgment and chastisement. That is why God expresses the truth to perform this stage of work in the last days, for God always works in stages according to the stature of man. Now, the Lord Jesus whom we have anxiously awaited has returned in the flesh — He is Almighty God, Christ of the last days. Upon the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption, Almighty God expresses all the truths that can purify and save mankind; He performs the work of judgment beginning with the house of God, bringing us the way of eternal life. This entirely fulfills the prophecies of the Lord Jesus.
Let us read God’s words: “Christ of the last days brings life, and brings the enduring and everlasting way of truth. This truth is the path by which man gains life, and it is the only path by which man shall know God and be approved by God. If you do not seek the way of life provided by Christ of the last days, then you shall never gain the approval of Jesus, and shall never be qualified to enter the gate of the kingdom of heaven, for you are both a puppet and prisoner of history. Those who are controlled by regulations, by letters, and shackled by history will never be able to gain life nor gain the perpetual way of life. This is because all they have is turbid water which has been clung to for thousands of years instead of the water of life that flows from the throne. Those who are not supplied with the water of life will forever remain corpses, playthings of Satan, and sons of hell” (“Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“In the last days, Christ uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the essence of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the essence of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, the words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan, and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced into submission to God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt substance and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the substance of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him. This work is the work of judgment done by God” (“Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
God says, “Christ of the last days brings life, and brings the enduring and everlasting way of truth. This truth is the path by which man gains life, and it is the only path by which man shall know God and be approved by God.” God’s words are very clear: The way of everlasting life comes from Christ of the last days, and only by accepting the judgment and purification of Christ of the last days can we gain everlasting life. By undergoing God’s judgment of the last days, our conduct and dealings with others can be in line with God’s words, and we can become capable of handling matters with principle, so we no longer sin or resist God, and are able to obey God. That is, all the truths expressed by God in the last days which purify and save us become our very life, and only then can we become fit to enter the heavenly kingdom and become those who gain everlasting life. But we are now corrupted so deeply by Satan that, in accordance with our needs, God expresses all the truths that can enable us to be utterly freed from Satan’s influence and attain full salvation, and it is these truths that are the way of everlasting life God gives to man. God expresses the words which expose the nature and essence of man, words which teach man how to obey and love God, words which testify to what God has and is, and more. When we read God’s words and experience the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, we come to have some true understanding of our own satanic nature. We can see that, though we may display many superficial good behaviors, inside we are filled with satanic corrupt dispositions, such as arrogance and conceitedness, where we listen to no one, where we wish to stand out from the crowd, no matter who we are with, where we always want to be number one, and make others look up to us and adore us; being exceedingly crooked and deceitful, selfish and despicable, greedy and wicked, where we only consider our own interests, where we work and expend ourselves for God only to bargain with Him so that we can get into the kingdom of heaven and gain everlasting life. These things are not remotely to satisfy God. When God’s work is at odds with our own notions, we can even go so far as to deny God, judge God, and resist God. When natural or man-made disasters come upon us, when we encounter trials and tribulations, we blame God and betray God. It is only at times like these that we are able to see clearly the ugly face of our corruption by Satan. We then acknowledge that our own nature is indeed of Satan, and we begin to hate and loathe ourselves from the bottom of our hearts. We repent to God, we focus on pursuing and practicing the truth, we live out some semblance of a human likeness, and our corrupt dispositions are slowly cleansed and changed. Without these truths expressed by Christ of the last days, there could be no real repentance or change in us. By experiencing God’s work of judgment in the last days and being purified, we are then able to live by God’s words. If we undergo even more of God’s judgment and chastisement and our dispositions are totally changed, we then become able to obey God and heed His words — we are then gained by God, like the pure and honest “little children.” Those who are purified through judgment, those who are pure and honest, shall enter the kingdom of heaven and gain everlasting life. This is God’s promise, just as it is prophesied in the Book of Revelation: “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14). Conversely, if we do not accept God’s judgment and chastisement in the last days, then it will be impossible for our sins to be cleansed or for us to enter into God’s kingdom. It’s just as the Lord Jesus said: “He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God stays on him” (John 3:36).
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