Friday, November 24, 2017

The Vision (11.24.17): They that hear shall live

Image: Thanksgiving meal at the Riddles, North Garden, Virginia. November 23, 2017

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on John 5:25-30.

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 hear shall live (John 5:25).

Jesus announces, “The hour is coming, and now is.” He is declaring here a present reality. Something new has happened. Something new has arrived. Jesus then describes this present reality: “when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.”

This presents one of the greatest and most compelling images for regeneration or conversion in Scripture. It is like passing from death to life (cf. v. 24b).

Compare Jesus’ parable of the Lost (Prodigal) Son, when the Father declares: “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found....” (Luke 15:24).

Compare Paul’s words in Ephesians:

Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
This is not the hospital analogy but the morgue analogy! Its origins are in the teaching of Christ himself. Dead men do not do anything for themselves. You can hold out a million dollars to a corpse all day long, and he’ll never reach out a hand to take it. Offer him the keys to a brand-new sports car or tickets to the big game or the most appetizing meal, and he’ll never reach out a hand to take it. So it is when we offer Christ to spiritually dead men, unless Christ is first pleased to quicken them.
What is the mechanism or catalysis that breaks through the deadness and brings life? It is the voice of Christ: The hour has come “when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God.” Jesus will later say, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
Here Jesus adds, “They that hear shall live.” This is a description of what we call the effectual or efficient call. There are two types of hearing: hearing with the ears (external hearing) and hearing with the heart (internal hearing). Christ’s disciples are those who hear not only with the ear but with the heart.
One might say that this was much easier for John and Peter and the first disciples. They could hear Christ’s voice directly while he was here on the earth. But how is Christ heard today? Through the reading of his Word and through ordinary preaching and teaching. Paul said, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Have you heard the voice of your Shepherd and has he been pleased to quicken you, to move you to pass over from spiritual death to spiritual life?

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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