Scary passages

  • I discovered the doctrine of justification 8 years ago. It was so powerful and brought me such joy thinking about the security Jesus purchased for me it was actually easy to remain free from pmi for three years or so.

    Gradually though over that time as I kept reading scripture, scary passage stood out that seemed to contradict the faith alone message. I’ve never had anyone be able to reconsile them with that doctrine. And it’s bizare how little they seem to bother people l. Most people don’t seem to treat the passages seriously and kind skip over them.

    I’m wandering if this has been the devil slowly eroding my trust with me not understanding them and him twisting them.

    The first one is John 5:29.
    ‘All who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have DONE good to the resurrection of life, and those who have DONE evil to the resurrection of judgement.

    How do I square that with what John says a few verses earlier: vs24: whoever hears these words and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgement but has passed from death to life.

    If seems very confusing for Jesus to say your saved through believing and hearing Him, then just a second later your saved if you have done good, a few verses later. Surely He also knew how confusing that would seem? Or is there some nuance in the Greek which would clear it all up? Calvin simply says that ‘John is not describing the cause of salvation, only a way of distinguishing the elect. Where the father graciously sees our sin riddled works as good because of Christ’. But how does Calvin know this? I love Calvin, but that’s a lot of theology to read into that passage. He might be right though.

    I really need theses passages properly explained to feel assured and hopefully my joy and trust restored that I once had. The are a few more scary passgaes, but I’ll only share this one for now. Hoping someone can help with this first one.

    Thank you in advance.

  • Mentor

    @Luke-Howard This is a great question. I have been pondering this for several days.

    As we study the scriptures and look for understanding, we need to make a few assumptions. One is that the scriptures, the Bible, is the Word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Two, we let scripture interpret scripture. We don't just look at a verse without making other verses help us to understand its meaning. (Acts 17:10-11)

    So let's read the verse in the context of what Jesus is saying:

    "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. (25) "Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, 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 to have life in Himself, (27) "and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. (28) "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice (29) "and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation." (John 5:24-29 NKJV)

    Jesus says that those who hear and believe have passed from death to life. This message is described as being born again (John 1:11-12; 3:3-17). Paul uses the language of becoming a new creature in Christ who has been reconciled with God by Jesus becoming sin for us and those who believe become the righteousness of God in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)

    What is it that we believe? We believe the Gospel, the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16-17). The Gospel is clearly defined as Jesus' death on the Cross, His burial, and His resurrection on the third day. (1 Corinthians 15:1-6) It is believing that Gospel, Jesus Christ and Him crucified (2 Corinthians 2:2) that is at the heart of our salvation and our sanctification. It is all by God's grace and mercy that He has poured out upon us. It is by faith through grace; we are saved to become God's workmanship for good works. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

    This reconciliation happens at the Cross as Jesus, the Lamb of God, takes upon Himself the sins of the world and in turn, the righteousness of Jesus is placed upon those who believe and are trusting in that blood shed to cover all their sins. This sacrifice is motivated by God's love and grace to reconcile to Himself those who did not love Him at first. (1 John 4:19)

    So, there are two resurrections in John 5:29. Paul understood this because he said; "I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust." (Acts 24:15 NKJV)

    The first is to the resurrection of life of the just, those who have done good. We know that none are good, and all are sinners, but the righteousness of God is placed upon those who believe by faith. How? The gift of God's grace is through the redemption as a propitiation in Jesus' blood through faith. God has passed over all the sins previously committed. The believer stands righteous before God because the "good" of Jesus has been credited to the believer. (Romans 3:10-26)

    The second group of people concerns the resurrection of condemnation of the unjust. Those who have refused to believe and have suppressed the truth will be judged and are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-22ff)

    Jesus tells of the coming judgment at the end of time in Matthew 25:31-46. Two groups of people, the sheep (believers) and goats (non-believers) who will hear either "Come, you who are blessed of My Father…" or "Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire…"

    This eternal fire is described at the second death: "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8 NKJV)

    Everyone will die twice. The non-believer will die physically (Hebrews 9:27) and then will experience the second death forever in that lake of fire.

    The believer will also die twice. The believer will die physically, just like the non-believer (Hebrews 9:27). But the second death had already happened there on the Cross when Jesus died. The believer has already died with Christ (Romans 6:8, Colossians 2:20, 2 Timothy 2:11). Paul says: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20 NKJV)

    "For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection" (Romans 6:5 NKJV)

    Our hope is found in the Gospel that always points us to the Cross and resurrection. There is no other.

    "Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live." (John 11:25 NKJV)

  • @Bill-Miller

    Thanks Bill,
    So what’s your conclusion of who this passage is referring to?

    John 5:29.
    ‘All who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have DONE good to the resurrection of life, and those who have DONE evil to the resurrection of judgement.

    Kind regards

  • Mentor

    @Luke-Howard I appreciate you asking and wrestling with these passages. Let's examine a few more scriptures.

    "and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation." (John 5:29 NKJV)

    Consider again that those who have been redeemed at the Cross can do good. This comparison in John 5:29 is not some scale of justice that God weighs out the bad vs. good. No, for we would always be wanting and without hope, if it was based merely on our “good deeds.” But by God’s grace, He gave us His Son on the Cross to redeem and purify for Himself a people.

    "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, (12) teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, (13) looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (14) who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works." (Titus 2:11-14 NKJV)

    Those who believe (putting their trust and faith in the finished work of the Cross) are those “special people.” And we will not only be doing good works; we will be zealous for good works to God’s glory.

    That “resurrection of life” is for those who believe and have put on the Lord Jesus as their righteousness. The blood that Jesus shed is the only thing that will cleanse and make us whole. It is not by our works, but by grace through faith. We have now become His workmanship for good works in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

    We learn to take up that Cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). It is learning to die daily and live in the shadow of the Cross. Paul continued to have this mindset. "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (21) "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain." (Galatians 2:20-21 NKJV)

    We live with the Cross, being crucified with Christ – and being buried with Christ – and being raised with Christ. In Him, we are free and will be raised up on that last day to the resurrection of life.

  • @Bill-Miller

    Hi Bill,
    Thanks for all your feedback, I’ve been thinking it through.- I think your last paragraph resonated with what I’m thinking.

    This is my conclusion, let me know ur thoughts:

    1. Humans really really will be judged according to their works on the last day whether good or evil. - there’s no escape!
    2. Everyone in-Christ will pass through the judgement because their sin has been condemned in Christ on the cross already, and there is Now no condemnation and they are justified in Him.
    3. So we will be declaimed perfect on the last day! Because we are clothed in His perfection.
    4. God may even choose to see our sin riddled works as good, like a loving Father would smile at something his child made Him, imperfect as it is. (I’m not sure about this final pint though).

    What do u think?

    What a relief! Praise Jesus I’m justified already.

  • Mentor

    @Luke-Howard You are right on all points. I was thinking about that 4th point a few days ago (but didn't write it out). 🙂 The Father looks at us through Christ. We "appear" perfect because of the blood. We look at ourselves and see the mess, but the Father looks at us and sees Jesus.

    There is one who will always point out "the mess" in our lives: the devil, the accuser of the brethren. "Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. (11) "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death." (Revelation 12:10-11 NKJV)

    Yes, BUT Jesus... Yes, the accuser is right, I have messed up, I have sinned, BUT Jesus has covered that sin with His blood, and I am no longer condemned (Romans 8:1).

    So how do we overcome those accusations? Verse 11 says, by the blood of the Lamb. The blood is our first "go-to" when we are accused of past and current sins. When those accusations come, I remind myself, "I am under the blood of righteousness and have been made righteous by that blood of Jesus."

    This response to accusations leads us to the second "go-to," our testimony. That testimony is merely reminding myself (and whoever I might tell) that I am under the blood of Jesus, who died for me and took upon Himself ALL of my sins. I have been buried with Him and have risen with Him as righteous. By faith, I believe Jesus died on the Cross for me, and I am now a new creature in Christ. And a part of our testimony to telling others what Jesus has done.

    "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (18) Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, (19) that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (20) Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. (21) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NKJV)

    And the final "go-to" is not loving our lives to the death. Paul said it this way:

    "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. (8) Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ (9) and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; (10) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, (11) if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:7-11 NKJV)

    Whatever we might think was import in our lives, is rubbish in comparison to what we have gained in Christ. Paul held on to this attitude to the very end of his life. "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. (7) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (8) Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:6-8 NKJV)