Daily Study from Lifeway’s “The Gospel Project”
Read John 5:24-30
24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
Did Jesus preach the gospel—salvation by grace—or a salvation by works? If we just take His words in verses 28-29, we easily could come to the conclusion that Jesus determines our future state in eternity based on our good or wicked deeds. But we must remember to read these verses in context, which includes the surrounding passage but also the entire Gospel of John, and even the entire Bible.
In the immediate context, verse 24 connects eternal life with hearing the word of Jesus and believing in the God who sent Jesus. Salvation comes by faith, just as the gospel proclaims. In the larger context of John’s Gospel, Jesus answers a question posed to Him about how people can do the works of God. His answer: “This is the work of God—that you believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29). In other words, the work of God that we must do is believe in Jesus. Works are important, but the whole of Scripture shows that good works flow out of the work of God in a heart of faith (John 3:21).
What role do good works have in your life: Are they efforts to earn God’s approval or an overflow of your heart of faith? How will you know the difference?