Christ The Life
Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life — John 5:40.
There is, brethren, to my mind, nothing more affecting than just to hear of the multitudes that came around the Lord of glory, and yet were not saved by him. There were multitudes that pressed upon him as he preached by the Lake of Galilee; and they crowded round him when he preached in the house; and when he went to the mountain-side, they followed him; or, when he left the mountain-side, and came to Jerusalem, they still followed him, and he used to stand and cry, “If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:3 7). Never man spake like this man. His were choice words; and then they were delivered with such divine tenderness that the like has never been spoken since; and yet men were not saved by them. All his preaching in Galilee seems to have only converted about five hundred, of which we read in I Corinthians 15:6. Brethren, does it not affect your hearts to think of Christ standing in the midst of perishing sinners, and yet they would not come to him, that they might have life? My dear friends, we have the same scene before us now. You know, “he is the same yesterday, today, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is still walking in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. He is still as able to save as ever; and you will all need him. You need his arm to deliver you; and yet you will not come to him, that you might have life. Most here die unsaved – “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).
I would now, dear brethren, depending on the Spirit’s aid, show you:
(1) The life that is in the hand of Christ.
(2) The witnesses that all point you to go to Christ.
(3) The reason why any are unsaved – “Ye will not come!”
1. The life that is here said to be in the hand of Christ – “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life”.
It is here implied, then, that Christ has life, and that you all stand in need of it. The life that is in the hand of Christ may be described in three ways – life judicial, life spiritual and life eternal.
(1) Life judicial. You know that when a man receives a pardon from government he is said to receive his life. So it is here. The word is used in the same sense in the 24th verse: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” In this verse, you will notice that life is opposed to condemnation, and it appears to mean justification. The same meaning may be attached to those words in the 20th chapter, 31st verse: “These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that, believing, ye might have life through his name.” See also the first Epistle of John, 5th chapter, 12th verse: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son hath not life.” In this passage, life appears to be the pardon of all sins, and admission into the favour of God. And it is said in Proverbs 8:35, “He that findeth me findeth life.”
Now, Christ when he stood in the midst of the Jews, knew that they were all under the sentence of the broken law, and he knew that he was to die for sinners; therefore he said to them, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” In my hand there is a pardon: “The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins” (Matthew 9:6); yet ye will not come to me. This is true among yourselves; he is as much here present as he was then. He has suffered, the just for the unjust. He has died for sinners, and now he offers you pardon. Why are you not saved? The reason is, ye will not come to him, that ye might have life.
(2) But I said that it implied spiritual life – the life that the Spirit begets in the soul. It is what is spoken of in the 25th verse: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that shall hear shall live.” The same life is spoken of in Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” He is life. Spiritual life proceeds from the heart of Christ in the believer. See also Colossians 3:3: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God!”
Brethren, this life, the fountain of it, is in the heart of Christ. When Christ stood in the midst of the Jews, he knew that they were dead. He knew that their wills were dead, so that they had no will to choose him. He knew that their whole affections and spiritual beings were dead; and therefore he said, “Ye will not come to me that ye might have life.” There was in Christ living water that might wash a thousand worlds; yet they would not come to him. It is the same with you. Christ stands and says, “I will pour out my Spirit upon you”; but you are dead – your ear is closed, so that you do not hear the melody of a Saviour’s voice; but in Christ there is life. He is ready to quicken whom he will. He is ready to make you a living soul, and yet you will not come. This is the reason why you perish you will not come.
(3) But I said that eternal life was implied in these words “Ye will not come to me that ye might have life.” These words are continually used to signify eternal life. It is said in the 25th of Matthew, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal” (verse 46). And it is said in John 3:16, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life”. And it is said in Galatians 6:8: “He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the spirit shall of the spirit reap life everlasting.” Now, when Christ stood among the Jews, he knew that they were dead. He knew that they were walking over the fire that never shall be quenched. And, O brethren! it was this that made him cry so earnestly, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” There is life eternal in his hand “I give unto you eternal life.” He was always willing to give it. Had the chief of his enemies come, they too would have got it; but, ah! “Ye will not come to me.” It is the same with you. Those of you who have not been born again are on the brink of destruction, disguise it as you will; but Christ has the very thing that you need. Why will you not come to him that you may have life?
2. I come now to consider the witnesses that bear witness of him.
The first witness is mentioned in the 33rd verse: “Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.” Compare this with John 1:6-7: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.” The very purpose for which God sent John into the world was to bear witness of the Light – to bear witness of Christ. Now, the very same people were willing to hear John. Like Herod, they heard him gladly, and did many things; and yet for all that they would not come to Christ, that they might have life. They were willing for a season to rejoice in his light; and yet they refused that light itself Ah! it is the same still. God has sent many Johns into the world to point to Christ; and though the light be dim, compared with that of John, yet we all point to that light. Many of you hear us gladly; but will you come to Christ? Ah! it is a strange thing that you are willing to hear about Christ, but yet you will not come to him. Ah! that will be your condemnation in the judgment.
There is a second witness mentioned in the 36th verse: “But I have a greater witness than that of John; for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me that the Father has sent me.”
The works which the Father sent Christ to do were twofold – (a) works on the bodies of men; (b) works on the souls of men. A little before, he had cured an impotent man; and a little before that, he had cured the ruler’s son. But there were other kinds of work he had come to do – I mean works on the souls of men. He had said unto a man sick of the palsy, “Thy sins be forgiven thee” (Mark 2:5). He said to a woman taken in adultery, “Neither do I condemn thee” (John 8:11). These words bore witness of him; and yet they would not come unto him that they might have life. Brethren, I say the same to you “The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me” (John 10:25).
I believe that there are none here who have not seen some converted by their side. You have seen a wife, perhaps, or a husband, or a neighbour; you have seen them live as the children of a king. Have you not seen all that? And yet you will not come to him, that you might have life. His works bear witness that he is a Saviour, ready to pardon and yet you will not commit your soul into his hand, and therefore are not saved.
Notice the third witness in the 37th verse: “And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me.” The third witness whom Christ called was the Father. The Father bore witness to Christ in many ways. You remember at his baptism the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). And then the Father bears witness of Christ by his teaching sinners: “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man, therefore, that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father cometh unto me” (John 6:45). Here you will observe that the Father is represented as the great teacher, no doubt by the Holy Spirit. Now, in this very way the Father bears witness of his Son. He had sent the Spirit to strive with them; but they had resisted the Spirit. Just as Stephen says, “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51). And the Father bears witness in your consciences. He pleads with you; and yet you will not come to Christ for all that, that ye might have life. And the Father bears witness in times of trial and affliction: he says, “Turn ye, turn ye; why will ye die?” O brethren! is it not sad to think that you will not come for all that, that ye might have life?
Notice a fourth witness (verse 39): “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me.” The last witness which Christ summons is the Scriptures. The whole Bible testifies of Christ. Moses testified of him; and the Psalms testify of Jesus; and the Gospel testifies of him. O brethren! the whole Bible from the beginning to the end testifies of Christ. It testifies of the way of pardon through his blood; and yet he says, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” You go to your Bible, and it says, Go to Christ. But you will not come. You will go to your minister, and yet you will not come to Christ.
Brethren, all these witnesses will rise in the judgment against you. The ministers that have preached to you will rise up in judgment, and say, They would not come. And those who have been converted by your side will bear witness against you. Then the Father will bear witness against you: he will say, “I pleaded with you by my mercies, and by my judgments; yet you would not come.” The very Bible will bear witness against you in the judgment: “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father; there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust” (John 5:45). O my brethren! what will you say in the judgment when all these testify against you? Ah! it will only be said, you would not have life.
3. I come now, in the last place, to consider the reason here given why sinners do not come to the Saviour: “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.”
Brethren, he was a true Saviour that spake these words. He was a wise Saviour – one who was in the beginning with God; and yet he says, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” l believe that Christ could have given other reasons, why they did not come: he could have opened the book of life, and showed them that their names were never written there – that they were reprobates. But he chooses this reason – “Ye will not come.” He stops here and says – “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Perhaps you cannot explain why your names are not in the book of life, and yet you are invited to come. But this is not the reason why you will not come. What then is the reason?
Many will not come through ignorance. Like the Jews, you go about to establish your own righteousness, and will not submit to the righteousness of God. I believe that there are many here who are as ignorant of the way of pardon as a Hindu who never heard the Gospel. “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water” (John 4: 10). If you knew what a Saviour was offered you – if you knew the power of his Spirit to change the most devilish and wicked heart – you would fall down at his feet and say, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15).
And there are some of you who would take the pardon he offers – you are willing that Christ should save you from hell; but you have heard that he would save you from your sin; and this is your condemnation, that light hath come into the world, and that you love the darkness rather than the light, because your deeds are evil. You love your games, you love your glass; and, therefore, you will not come to him that you might have life.
O my brethren! I have just to entreat you to think of two things: The first is, How will you meet Christ in the day of judgment? Christ will say, “I have often gathered you as a hen gathereth her brood under her wings, and you would not” (Matthew 23:37). I sent you my ministers, and you were willing for a season to abide in their light; but yet you would not come to me. I converted many by your side, and yet you would not come. My Father pleaded with you, and yet you would not come. Every page of the Bible pleaded with you, yet you would not come. Oh what will you say to the Lord of glory when he puts these accusations to you?
And then again, How will you feel throughout eternity, with these words ringing in your ears – “Ye will not come to me, theat ye might have life”? When you have been a thousand years in hell, and when you look forward to an eternity of it, and think that the reason you are there is that you would not come to Christ that you might have life. Oh! will you not say, “Cursed ignorance! cursed folly!” O brethren! this one text will be bitter like gall and wormwood, in eternity. Oh! you will say, that it were blotted out of the Bible – that it were blotted out of my memory! Amen.