Rejection of Divine Life
by William Nicholson, 1862
"And you will not come unto me, that you might have life!" John 5:40
By this declaration, Christ charges the Jews with obstinate infidelity. Some of them had heard the testimony of God from Heaven — the announcements of John the Baptist. They had heard the sublime teaching of the Redeemer, and witnessed his stupendous miracles, etc. These all were indubitable evidences of his Divinity — yet they would not recognize him as the Messiah, nor come to him as the Savior for salvation.
I. The Blessing Which Christ Dispenses:"Life."
Not mere natural or intellectual life, though Christ is the Author of both — but spiritual and heavenly life.
1. Spiritual life. This comprises . . .
the enjoyment of the Divine favor,
love to God,
union with him,
delight in his service,
and holy fellowship.
This is not the state of man as a sinner. No, for as a transgressor he is condemned, he is depraved, averse to God and holy pursuits. All his powers are dead to spiritual action. "The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so!" Romans 8:7. "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised!" 1 Corinthians 2:14
Spiritual life consists in freedom from condemnation. Romans 8:1, 2. Spiritual life is effected by the mediation of Christ, Romans 5:1; Acts 13:38, 39.
Spiritual life consists also in the renovation of the soul — the infusion of life into its dead powers. Ephesians 2:1, 2, etc.; Romans 6:17, 18, 22; 8:5, 6-10. This is a life . . .
of exquisite pleasure and delight,
of agreeable associations,
of distinguished privilege and honor,
and of exhilarating hope.
2. Christ gives heavenly life, eternal in its duration, John 3:16; 4:14; 6:27, 51; 10:28. How blissful its nature!
Christ is the Author and Giver of this life. He revealed Heaven — he opened the way to it by his sacrifice, resurrection, ascension, and intercession.
3. Christ bestows spiritual and eternal life gratuitously. "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish!" "Take the water of life freely."
II. The Means of Obtaining This Life."You will not come unto me."
Coming to Christ is the way of salvation. John 6:37; Matthew 11:28.
Coming to Christ is not a mere bodily act — and not merely a profession. Many come thus, but come not at all.
Coming to Christ is the approach of the soul, implying . . .
deep conviction of need,
faith in his atoning blood,
fixed determination to obtain life in the appointed way,
and great earnestness.
Coming to Christ is like a thirsty man in the desert, "Give me water or I die!"
In this way myriads have come. Look up to yon great number which no man can number.
III. The Contempt of This Blessing."You will not come unto me," etc.
This is the case with the greater portion of those to whom Christ is preached. He says from his cross, "Come, and I will give you life, happiness, honor, dignity, and glory. Come, you guilty, and I will pardon you! Come you condemned, and I will justify you!" etc. But they say, "We will not come — we desire not the knowledge of your ways."
If worldly honors, worldly possessions and pleasures were offered to them — they would instantly come.
The drowning man instantly seizes the outstretched arm,
the diseased man welcomes the physician,
the dying Israelite willingly looks at the serpent of brass to save natural life.
But very few will look to Christ's cross to save the soul.
What is the cause?
1. Ignorance . . .
of their ruined and lost estate,
of the glorious nature of the life which Christ gives, and which they absolutely need.
2. Love of the world.
The pleasures of earth,
the cares of life,
the engagements of business,
the allurements of wealth —
choke the seed of the kingdom. These captivate, and hold the soul fast!
3. Unbelief. This is the great sin of the Jews. Some do not credit the Gospel; some want to save themselves — and are not disposed to rest on Christ. Some presume on the mere mercy of God, etc.
4. Procrastination. They resolve to come at some future convenient time.
5. Extreme obduracy of heart, and determined enmity to Christianity. "The message of the cross is foolishness unto those who perish."
IV. The Folly and Danger of Rejecting Spiritual and Everlasting Life.
1. It is the rejection of the most precious and invaluable blessing in the universe, "Eternal life!" Compared with this, what are riches, kingdoms, etc.?
What folly to prefer the trifles and shadows of earth — to glorious and immortal life! What absurdity!
2. It is the suspension of this great blessing upon a mere contingency — a future opportunity which may never arrive.
3. The rejection of this great blessing will meet with deserving punishment. Hebrews 10:28; 12:25.