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Rooted in Christ

The Gospel in a Nutshell

John wants us to know that Jesus is God’s exclusive provision for life.

“God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” (1 John 5:11, NKJV) 

John bears witness to about as clear and pointed a conclusion as could be expressed. “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son “ (1 John 5:11). John is saying, “This is what you need to know and I don’t want you setting aside this letter without making sure you’ve heard it.” 

He begins by saying the God has given us eternal life. Eternal life stands in contrast to perishing under the wrath of God (see John 3:16). Our Lord Jesus spoke of eternal life in His high priestly prayer: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). Eternal life is not simply living forever. It involves restoration of relationship with the God we were created to glorify and enjoy and uninterrupted, intimate fellowship with Him for all eternity. 

Everything about this reconciliation and renewal comes to us from God. From heaven to heart to home it is the work of God’s sovereign grace. When John uses the word “given,” he lifts our gaze fully and exclusively away from self to the hand of God. 

John goes on to declare that this life is in God’s Son. Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life. Spiritual, abundant, eternal life is bound up in Him. John wants us to know that Jesus is God’s exclusive provision for life. 

That’s why John goes on to make his third point, and it’s a straightforward one. “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12). 

John is very pointed about this in his Gospel account. We may be familiar with John 3:16 but do we know the rest of the story? “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:17–18). 

The point is that we are not condemned to eternal death by not believing in Jesus. Rather, we already stand condemned because we have not embraced God’s means of deliverance. We are separated from the life of God bound up in Him. John states it categorically: “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). 

In his conclusion, John does two things. He states the facts, looks us in the eye, and asks, “What about you?” 

What does it mean to “have” the Son?

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and ten grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

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