John 5:24--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.
For example, if someone's car runs out of gas and he asks me who he can borrow ten dollars from, I might direct him to my friend Jimmy and say, "Go ask Jimmy. He has ten dollars." "Has" is present tense and gives the idea that Jimmy possesses ten dollars at that moment, so the person thanks me and goes to Jimmy. But all along I know Jimmy used his ten dollars on the ridiculously expensive ice cream he is now enjoying. A few minutes later, the person comes back, frustrated because Jimmy did not have ten dollars and he is still stranded. This mistake could have been avoided had I used the right verb tense to correctly relate the information I knew. I should have told him, "Jimmy had ten dollars." By using the past tense, the person would have understood that Jimmy possessed ten dollars in the past, and then we could have had a nice conversation about the outrageous price of Jimmy's ice cream while trying to find someone who actually has ten dollars.
That is a silly example, but a suitable one. Incorrect verb tenses can cause mass confusion, especially when applied to serious subjects. In the above verse, Jesus is speaking on the topic of salvation, and He uses several verbs to describe the condition of a person once they are saved and point out that this salvation cannot be lost. And you can be sure Jesus never mixed up His verb tenses.
Jesus begins by stating that the believer "hath everlasting life". This is the same as saying the believer has everlasting life; it is in the present tense. This means from the moment a person "heareth [Jesus'] word, and believeth on him that sent [Jesus]", he or she possesses eternal life. Gaining spiritual life is being saved. This is why Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3 that he had to "be born again". If you're not saved, you are dead spiritually in your trespasses and sin, but once you put your trust in Jesus, you come alive spiritually and are born into God's family by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Because of Jesus' choice of verb tense, we know that spiritual life isn't gained sometime later in life or when we get to Heaven. At the moment of faith in Christ, a person gains spiritual life, and the fact that it is "everlasting life" means that it will never end. If the verse stopped here, it would be enough to prove that one cannot lose one's salvation, but Jesus then shifts to another verb.
He follows with "and shall not come into condemnation". This denotes an action (or, in this case, lack of action) in the future. However, there is no future tense in the English language. We use what are called modal auxiliaries in connection with present-tense verbs to express action in the future. Shall and will are two basic examples of modal auxiliaries.The condemnation spoken of here is an eternal sentence to Hell, and with this statement, Jesus affirms that this will never happen to the believer. For one who has been forgiven of sins and given eternal spiritual life, it is impossible to be condemned to Hell. The only future after salvation is Heaven.
Lastly, Jesus uses the past tense in the phrase "but is passed from death unto life." Once a person is saved, his or her sins are in the past, his or her death is in the past, and he or she has "passed from death unto life". Salvation and eternal life aren't merely things you possess and can misplace or have taken from you; they are a complete transition from one state of being to a completely opposite one. Salvation is a one-time deal and doesn't need to happen again because it lasts forever. As mentioned above, the life you pass into is everlasting and will never end. You cannot lose your salvation. Some great passages on this are John ten, Romans eight, and Hebrews ten.
In one sentence, Jesus uses all three realms of time to express the fact that salvation cannot be lost. If you've been saved, you passed from death unto life in the past, possess eternal life now, and will never come into condemnation in the future. What a great comfort! One saved, always saved. No matter how bad we mess up, we are still protected under God's grace. As Paul asked in Romans 8:35, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" What a wonderful, loving, gracious, kind, and merciful God we serve!
However, this comes with a huge warning. As Uncle Ben once told Peter Parker, "With great power comes great responsibility." We should not use our eternal security to freely sin. That is not why God gave it to us. We have been given eternal life, eternally freed from sin and death, so we can choose to love and serve God and others (Galatians 5:13-14; Romans 6:1, 2, 15). If we abuse God's grace by continuing to live in sin, our lives will be miserable. We will not go to Hell, but we will still face consequences from our sin (Galatians 6:7). If you claim to be saved and use eternal security as an excuse to sin, it brings into question whether or not you have truly been saved. This leads into the next matter.
Do you know you are saved? As stated above, if you claim to be a child of God, yet use God's grace as an excuse to sin, it's highly unlikely you are saved. I'm not judging, but that is not the way a Christian is to live. The Holy Spirit will not lead a person to sin, and if He lives in you, He will convict you when you do wrong. You will not have a desire to sin. Examine your heart and life. Make sure beyond one hundred percent you are saved and going to Heaven.
Maybe you don't claim to be saved. Maybe you know if you died, you would go to Hell. Well, that can be fixed. You can be saved and eternally secure right now! Jesus gave the requirements in the verse above: hear His Word and believe. Please don't put it off another moment. Click the Salvation tab above for details.
Thank you for reading, and God bless.