And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life;1 he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. (1 John 5:11-12)
Everyone remembers the promise of eternal life, but who remembers what Yahshua,2 the Son of God, said it would take to receive that life? What is eternal life, anyway? Is it just going to heaven when you die? Why then does the Apostle John write of having or not having that life in the “here and now”? In fact, the whole letter we call “1 John” is about how you can tell whether you have passed out of death and into life, based on how you are living right now. And if, by reading 1 John, you discover that you have not yet passed out of death and into life, then you can do something about it. Look at the next verse:
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe in the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:13)
It may seem as if John was unnecessarily repeating himself in this verse,3 but he was actually trying to make a point. Many people “believe” in a certain way, but their belief does not result in the life that John describes in his letter. When they read 1 John and are honest with themselves, they don’t know that they have eternal life.4 Having come to that conclusion, they have the opportunity to truly believe in the Son of God.
John’s gospel records an example of the kind of belief that doesn’t result in the believer actually receiving eternal life:
Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs that He was doing. But Jesus on His part did not entrust Himself to them, because He knew all men and needed no one to bear witness about man, for He Himself knew what was in man. (John 2:23-25)
Many believed in Him, but He would not entrust Himself to them, for He knew their “belief” was shallow and fleeting. They were not ready to entrust their lives to Him, so He could not entrust His life to them. That explains what John is saying in the verse at the beginning of this article: “He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son does not have the life.”
So then, what does it take to “have the Son” so that you can “have the life”?
It takes nothing less than your utter surrender to Him, as to a conquering king who is offering you terms of peace.
Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks terms of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:31-33)
If you receive and obey those terms of peace, then you will have peace with Him. He will be your king, and you will have the privilege of serving Him all the days of your life, shoulder to shoulder with all the others who have utterly surrendered to Him.
Is that good news to you? Or is it bad news?
It was bad news to this man, often called the rich young ruler:
And as He was setting out on His journey, a man ran up and knelt before Him and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’”
And he said to Him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.”
And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:17-22)
Apparently this man believed in Yahshua, for he had run after Him and with deep respect asked Him what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. But his belief stopped short of the utter surrender that Yahshua demanded of him. The good news was bad news to him.
What Yahshua said on another occasion could well have been spoken to the rich young ruler:
And He said to all, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23-25)
“Whoever loves his life will lose it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25)
What wonderful words to someone who hates his life in this world! This alone is the reversal of the fall of man, releasing the grip of self and the sentence of death. This shows us what we must do in order to be saved from this world system, which is under the power, sway, and authority of its evil prince.5 He has his attachment to every man’s spirit, thereby controlling his mind, will, and emotions.
The education of the mind of man does not release him from Satan’s control, but merely sinks the hook in deeper. Satan thrives upon man’s vain philosophy and religions, the chief among them being Christianity. Satan controls over one third of the world’s population by this one vain philosophy alone. Christianity is a mere philosophy because it does not accomplish the purpose of the “Christ” it professes to follow. It does not produce a witness of His kingdom6 — a people who no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died, and went into death, and rose again on their behalf,7 a people who are of one heart and soul, who share all things in common8 because they love one another just as their Savior loved them,9 a people who prove by their lives of selfless devotion that they are no longer under the sway of the evil ruler of this present world.10
To be a follower of Yahshua, to be His adherent so as to be one who is included in the salvation He came to give mankind, you must first of all give up your life. You must deny yourself, give up all of your own possessions, forsake your career, your unwilling family members, your loyalties to anything other than Him alone.11
In today’s Bible schools and seminaries, which are devoted to the “study of the Word,” they search the Scriptures, for they think that in them they have eternal life, but they refuse to come to Him in order that they might have life.12 They misapply and misinterpret His words because they love the world and the things of this world, and they love to receive glory from men, therefore the love of the Father is not in them.13 They do not hate their life in this world, therefore they do not have the life that Yahshua only gives to those who obey Him.14
You have to obey Him if you want life. You will not get anywhere by merely studying the Scriptures, or even coming to command them, if you do not let them slay you. There is no painless progress on the road to salvation. There is no local anesthetic that can be applied to where it hurts the most. Many try to protect certain areas of their lives, but Yahshua, who brought forth these words of the gospel from His own spirit and soul, taught that it is not merely areas of one’s life that one must forsake, but SELF!
Yes, self is what must be denied in order to be a follower of the Son of God. His so-called “hard words” are Good News, sweet to our ears, for they are the words of eternal life, the way by which we may be saved from death!
Listen once again to Yahshua’s Good News, these lovely and most wonderful words of joy and happiness and eternal life:
“If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)
Is this good news to you, or bad news?
Those who hear His words and do not obey them are like the man who built his house upon the sand. When the storms of life come, it will crumble, for it is not built on the rock of obedience to His words.15 Where are you going to run, O sinner, on that day, if you haven’t built your house squarely upon the rock, the words of Yahshua, and His good news of how to be saved? You will surely perish.16
This Good News is the narrow road of the self-denying way to sweet fellowship with God and with your brothers and sisters. To suffer outside of what makes for the building up of your brothers and sisters in Messiah’s body is vain pain, useless suffering, worthless deeds, dead works. Such suffering is for self-glory and not for the sake of Yahshua and His kingdom. To deny yourself for the sake of Yahshua and His kingdom is the only cause that will bring an end to Satan’s tyranny over the human soul, and the resulting misery in the world today.
No end of war, hatred, jealousy, hunger, abuse, or environmental disaster will ever come if no one will suffer for the sake of Yahshua and His kingdom alone. No one has eternal life today who does not give up all his own possessions for Yahshua’s sake, denying himself, and taking up his own cross. No one has eternal life who does not follow Him on this narrow road. How could they? How could one who is in flagrant disobedience to His commands have the promise of His word?17
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the Good News!” (Mark 1:15)
Who, then, is willing to deny himself for this cause? Then come and follow Him, and you will know eternal life! That life begins right now for those who serve Him where He is,18 where all who believe live together and share all things in common.19