By William C. Sexton
Security is a commodity desired by all but obtained by very few, even though many spend most of their resources trying to obtain and maintain it. When we speak or think of “security,” we usually have in mind economic, social, medical, physical ideas. All of these are important to our well-being and consequently they are valuable to each of us. However, I have in mind another type of security Spiritual!
Spiritual security springs from the two-fold nature of man: he is not only physical, having a body with needs, he also has a spirit, a soul (Mt. 10:28; 1 Thess. 5:23), the “inward man” (2 Cor. 4:16) with needs, too. We wish to explore securities for this aspect of man. We challenge each person to be awaken to these securities and to become an investor in the same.
The Bible proposes to be a revelation from the Creator to man, declaring his origin, duty, and destiny! We believe that adequate evidence is available to the serious-minded, honest, investigation person to convince him of the claims, that it is genuine, authentic, indisputable, indestructible, and practical. Man’s physical and social needs are temporal and immediate; consequently, they are often given most of his time, energy, and resources. His spiritual needs, however, are eternal, deserving his first attention and most serious effort to obtain and maintain.
John 5:24 speaks of security, a type which we wish to examine closely as how it may be obtained and maintained by whom and under what conditions. The text has a wonderful message, which ought to be declared truthfully, accepted enthusiastically, and responded to whole-heartedly!,, Few passages, however according to our observation, have been so abused and misused, misunderstood and distorted to the injury of people, as this one. Therefore, we wish to deal with this passage in a way that will profit all of us, and hopefully we will be able to assist others more effectively who have found a false security based upon a distortion of this passage.
In order to avoid injury from a distortion of this text, one needs to see the context clearly – conditions which caused Jesus to produce this statement, an analysis of the text – observing the words and structure, thus the real meaning of the different parts; then, one needs to avail himself of the security. Therefore, we direct your attention to this passage, inviting you to drink from it.
I. The Context of any and every passage, is always significant in understanding the original message. In the first 9 verses of this 5th chapter, Jesus healed a man by saying “rise, take up thy bed . . . .” “Immediately the man was made whole.” However, it was on the Sabbath day, and the Jews had an idea of the Sabbath that made such a serious act of disobedience. Verses 10 to 16 show the Jews reacting in such a way as to identify Jesus as the sinner and seeking to have “him opposed by all. Verses 17 to 31 give us an account of Jesus’ response to their charges: He and the Father were working together, and it was impossible to honor one of them and not honor the other; all such effort was fruitless. His claim of having God as His Father was interpreted to mean that He had made Himself “equal with God, rendering Him worthy of being killed! They were determined to do that worthy act. Jesus claimed that the Father loved thr. Son and approved of all that was done by the Son and had given the Son power to raise the dead, judge them, and thus approved of the honor equally deserved and demanded by both. In that context, He said, “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 verses 32-47, He offered witnesses to testify to His claims. The text, then calls for hearing His word and believing on the Father, who had sent Him. Joint action of faith relative to each of these Divine persons, the Son and Father, is essential to spiritual-security as offered in this verse. Let us continue to focus our attention on that fact.
II. An Analysis of the Text He that heareth my words, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life thus is state. Many people have misused this verse to claim that one is saved at the point of faith before and without obedience, and then nothing can ever cause them to be lost, thus the doctrine of impossibility of apostasy. A close and correct view of this verse reveals something drastically different from what so many have loudly proclaimed relative to it.
First of all, let us look at the word in the original for heareth. It is the word akouon, being a present participle in the nomative case, singular, masculine in gender, present tense, and active voice (Harper’s Analytical Greek Lexicon, page 13) of the verb akouo. Participles are “verbal adjective (s), sharing in part the characteristics of both the verb and the adjective; it describes its subject as a doer of the action denoted by the verb” (Syntax of the Moods and Tenses in The New Testament Greek, Ernest De Witt Burton, page 53). The verb akouo, is defined as meaning, to hear, hearken, listen to; to heed, obey (Harper, p. 13; Green, p. 5; Arndt and Gingrich, p. 32; Thayer’s p. 23).
Therefore, the verb means more than just the words come so as to be perceived, but to have them understood and obeyed (Cf. Mt. 18:15; Acts 4:19). Thus the participle akouon is describing the person who is responding favorably to the words of Christ, not one time, but habitually, continually, and such is indicated by the word heareth in the English translation of the KJV. As Burton says, “The Present denotes action in progress . . .” (p. 54). Consequently, Jesus is saying something of a person who is actively doing what His words teach that person to do. Such is in harmony with the claim in Mt. 7:21-23; the one who hears and acts is blessed by Him and His Father.
Secondly, the word translated believeth is pisteuon. It too, like akouon, is a present participle, having all the functional characteristics as described above, but coming from the verb pisteuo, with the basic meaning of trust, which is also expressed in obedience. This is relative to the One who sent Jesus, the Father. As an example of one who did not continue to trust the Father in a beneficial, pleasing manner, read Num. 20:12.
Thirdly, Jesus says of that person or of those persons who are presently active in these two things: (1) Hearing the words of Jesus in the sense of perceiving and yielding to them; (2) Believing in the Father, who sent Him, in the sense of trusting and manifesting the same in his action, that person is saved! That person, or all who are described in those two participles have eternal life! They have made the transition from death to life! All such people have spiritual security!
Fourthly, all such persons shall never come into condemnation! The persons whose present life is described by those two participles, are as safe as if they were in the arms of the heavenly Father. They are just as sure not to come into condemnation as the unbeliever is not to “see life” (Jn. 3:36). However, beloved, be sure that you understand what that present life is: an active responsible yielding to the word of Christ and an active responsible trusting in the Father! If one ceases to be what those two participles describe, then just as the unbeliever who ceases to be thus described can come into life, so the once-active-hearer and believer shall come into condemnation (Heb. 3:12).
I found it interesting to notice that Kenneth S. Wuest, in his The New Testament An Expanded Translation renders our texts, “Most assuredly, I am saying to you, He who habitually hears my word and is believed the One who sent me has life eternal, and into judgment he does not come, but has been permanently transferred out from the sphere of death into life.” In like manner, Boyce W. Blackwelder, in his book Light From The Greek New Testament (page 105) says, “Jesus says (John 5:24): `Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth (present participle) my word, and believeth (present participle, goes on trusting) on him that sent me. hath (echei, present tense, goes on having) everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from (metabeken, perfect tense, is in the state of having passed from) death unto life.”
Thus the clear, emphatic, all important lesson taught in the verse is: when one is active in hearing the words of Jesus Christ – obeying them and believing the Father he is saved, having passed from death to life, remaining thus secure! Thus the hourly concern is: are we those described by those two participles? If so, let us rejoice; but if we are not, then let us seek to become so that we can and will be so described by God’s standard.
III. Application of the Principles Spiritual security, then beloved, is available to all men and women, on the same basis, and we would urge each to avail themselves of it.
The word of Jesus teaches that none who come to Him will be turned away, (Jn. 6:37). Coming, by hearing and responding to what He says, will not allow one to claim salvation without having done what He teaches, however (cf. Jn. 8:24; Lk. 13:3; Rom. 10:9-10; Mk. 16:16). Many do that very thing. Let us not be guilty of such foolish behavior. Continuing to serve Him in a faithful way is essential to keep that hope alive and secure (cf. 1 Pet. 1:3-5).
Friends, are you placing God “first” in your life, as the word of Christ teaches (Matt. 6:33)? If we will but hear His word and “follow” His voice (Jn. 10:28-29) we are secure and nothing is so powerful as to take us away. But let us not lose faith and go back into the world (2 Pet. 2:19-20). Unholy conduct will keep us from heaven (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Inactivity and unuse of our senses in the process of growth and development will cause us to be displeasing to God and unprepared for the present time (Heb. 5:11-6:6). Unscriptural practices will remove us from the realm of safety (2 Jn. 9).
It is our aim to encourage all to become concerned about his spiritual security, be informed as to how it maybe obtained and maintained, be sure that we are following the standard rule-book, the New Testament scriptures. If we let the spiritual security slip through our hands, we shall suffer eternally (Rev. 20:10-15). Do we have the right kind of securities?
Truth Magazine XXIII: 28, pp. 457-459
July 19, 1979