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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, April 19, 2015

“Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40).

The word “life” is a translation of the Greek word “zōē.” It is the life of God the Father and the Son. As Christ said,

“The Father hath life (zōē) in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life (zōē) in himself” (John 5:26).

Jesus came into the world to give us this life, so we can live. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life (zōē)” (John 10:10).

Jesus died on the Cross so we could have life. Jesus shed His precious Blood so we could have life. And those who are converted have this “life.” Christ said, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life [zōēn aiōnion],” John 3:36. Dr. A. T. Robertson said that he who believes on Jesus “has it here and now” (Word Pictures; note on John 3:36).

Henry Scougal (1650-1678) was only 28 years old when he died. So he could not have been older than 26 or 27 when he wrote a little book called, The Life of God in the Soul of Man (Martino Publishing, 2010 edition).

The Life of God in the Soul of Man was given to George Whitefield by Charles Wesley. Whitefield was converted through reading it and went on to become one of the greatest Gospel preachers of all time. As Whitefield read it he said, “O what a ray of divine life did then break in upon my soul!” Whitefield said, “Jesus Christ...revealed himself to me and gave me the new birth.” The book played a major role in the First and Second Great Awakenings. John Wesley published it fourteen times. It was published in America by William Staughton, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin even published one edition of it!

In The Life of God in the Soul of Man, Henry Scougal said we must not mistake the outward forms of religion for real Christianity. Henry Scougal said that real Christianity is the “union of the soul with God, a real [partaking] of the divine nature” (ibid., p. 30). In other words, The Life of God in the Soul of Man! God’s life can only enter our souls when we come to Jesus. But Christ said,

“Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40)

or as a modern translation puts it,

“You refuse to come to me to have life” (NIV).

Christ said this to men who believed in God. He said this to men who believed every word of the Scriptures. He said this to men who fasted at least two days each week. He said this to men who were trying hard to be godly. And so He says this to you who are not yet converted this morning,

“Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40).

The only way to become a real Christian is to have the life of God in your soul. And the only way to receive that life into your soul is to come to Jesus. Yet the Saviour says, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” I will apply this verse in several ways.

I. First, why you have not come to Jesus.

“Decisionists” think that anyone can come to Christ at any time. All they have to do is raise their hand or “come forward” at the end of a sermon. All they have to do is say the words of a “sinner’s prayer.” These are all human acts that anyone can do at any time. But none of these “decisions” will save your soul. Dr. Isaac Watts said,

No outward forms can make me clean,
The leprosy lies deep within.

“Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” This means that you who are unconverted do not have life now. The Bible says that you are “by nature the children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). The Bible says you are “dead in sins” (Ephesians 2:5). The Bible says you are “under sin” (Romans 3:9).

“Under sin” – what a terrible statement, but a true one. Dr. Lloyd-Jones said it means “All mankind by nature is under the guilt of sin, under the power of sin, and under the pollution of sin...We are born sinners, ‘all under sin.’ And the term ‘under,’ I think, gives us the impression that we are under authority, that is the whole realm to which we belong...because we are all descendants of Adam, we are all born under sin... [Adam’s sin] is the most cataclysmic and devastating thing that has ever happened in the world” (Romans, Chapters 2:1-3:20, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1989, pp. 190-191).

He went on to say, “If you do not accept this description of yourself...then there is no need to argue about it, you are just not a are not yet convinced and convicted of sin, and you are not a believer in Christ, though you may have thought you were. If you in any way object to this, you are automatically putting yourself outside... the Christian faith. This description of man in sin is the simple truth, the horrible truth” (ibid., p. 214).

Arthur W. Pink said, “Very far from being only an ‘infirmity,’ indwelling sin is a loathsome disease” (Man’s Total Depravity, Moody Press, 1981). The disease of sin has such a hold on you that you do not want to come to Christ. You do not come to Him because you do not want Him. You are such a slave to sin that you want nothing to do with Christ!

You may say, “But I’m coming to church. Doesn’t that show that I’m all right?” No, it does not! It shows that you are coming out of some selfish motive. Let’s face it. You are not here because you want Christ. You are here because you like being in a crowd of happy young people. You like the people here, but you do not want Christ! Now, I’m asking you to be honest with yourself. That’s true, isn’t it? Someone may say, “Yes, that’s true. So I won’t come any more. I’ll be honest and not come any more.” But that only proves what I said even more! It proves even more that you don’t want Christ! It proves even more that you are bound and shackled by sin – that sin has complete dominion over you. You are dominated by sin. As the Apostle Paul put it, you are “under sin.” No wonder you haven’t come to Christ! No wonder Christ says to you, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” You don’t want Christ. You don’t want life. You want sin. Jesus said, “Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Until you admit that to yourself there really isn’t any hope for you. You must become aware of it. You must say to yourself, “Yes, it’s true. I love darkness rather than light. I love the way I am, and I don’t want to be saved by Jesus. Even if I could change, I don’t want to! I like being the way I am.” No wonder you will not come to Jesus! No wonder Christ says,

“Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40).

II. Second, what happens to those who do not come to Jesus.

I remember well what happened to me. I have been writing my autobiography, so this has been in my thoughts recently.

At first I thought that coming to church was all I needed. The people next door took me with their children to the First Baptist Church of Huntington Park, California. I kept coming to church because I liked being with those friendly people. There wasn’t any other reason. I liked it. That was all.

I wonder if that isn’t the reason you come to church. You enjoy the experience – nothing more. That can last a long time. But sooner or later that will not be enough. If you don’t come to Jesus, after a while you will not be satisfied by the outward happiness you find by coming to church. Something will happen that makes you unsatisfied with merely coming to church.

Something bad will happen in the church. Since no church is perfect, you will see or hear something that disturbs you. I started to say, “You may see or hear something that disturbs you.” But I changed it to, “You will see or hear something that disturbs you.” It is bound to happen. It always does. There is not one man on this platform with me who hasn’t been deeply troubled by something they saw in this church. But they are still here. Yet others, who saw the same things, fell away and stopped coming. They are described in the parable of the sower,

“These have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away” (Luke 8:13).

Dr. R. C. H. Lenski said “temptation in some form is bound to come to every believer” (note on Luke 8:13). But those who are rooted in Christ do not fall away. Those who are not rooted in Christ will fall away when they are tried by some difficulty. Why do they fall away from the church? It is because they do not have the “life” of Christ within their souls!

“Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40)

is proved by the fact that they leave the church after a while.

I have known people who went to one church after the other. But they were never satisfied. They always found some fault. But they never realized that the main fault was in themselves. To them Christ says,

“Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40).

III. Third, those who do come to Jesus.

Those who do come to Jesus are they who are drawn to Him by the grace of God. As a teenager I went through a truly horrible church “split” at the First Baptist Church of Huntington Park. I can’t describe it all in this short sermon. It is enough to say that it was horrible. People grabbed each other and fought like animals in the Sunday morning service. They threw hymn books at each other. They said and did things too terrible to mention in a church service. I saw all of this as an unsaved teenager. Yet here I am, preaching to you, over fifty years later. I think all the other teenagers fell away. Why am I here? I didn’t even come from a Christian home. Why am I here? The only way I can explain it is by quoting from Ephesians 1:4, “He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” It was nothing good in me that saved me. It was God who chose me! It was all by the grace of God!

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
   (“Amazing Grace” by John Newton, 1725-1807).

I began to love Jesus before I trusted Him. The others were fooling around in church, but I was a homeless boy, a fatherless boy. At first I thought I could save myself by being good. But I couldn’t be good enough. Finally, in a moment of time, I came to Jesus Christ Himself – or rather, He came to me. He saved me and He cleansed me from all sin by His precious Blood!

I’ve found a friend, oh such a friend!
   He loved me ere I knew Him;
He drew me with the cords of love,
   And thus He bound me to Him.
And round my heart still closely twine
   Those ties that naught can sever,
For I am His and He is mine,
   Forever and forever.

I’ve found a friend, oh such a friend!
   He bled, He died to save me;
And not alone the gift of life,
   But His own self He gave me;
Naught that I have my own I call,
   I hold it for the Giver;
My heart, my strength, my life, my all
   Are His, and His forever.
(“I’ve Found a Friend” by James G. Small, 1817-1888).

I love Thee, because Thou hast first loved me,
   And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
   If ever I loved Thee, My Jesus, ‘tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
   And praise Thee as long as Thou lendeth me breath;
And say when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
   If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.
(“My Jesus, I Love Thee” by William R. Featherstone, 1842-1878).

Oh, dear young people, I plead with you to love my Saviour, Jesus! He bled for you on the Cross to make you clean and fit for Heaven. Come to Jesus and love Him, and trust Him. Come to Jesus and He will give you eternal life and everlasting joy! He’s alive! He’s alive! He’s in the third heaven, seated beside God the Father. He’s alive! Come to Him. Trust Him! He loves you!

He loves so long, He loves so well,
   He loves you more than tongue can tell;
He loves so long, He loves so well,
   He died to save your soul from Hell.
(“He Loves You Still” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

Father, I pray that someone here this morning will come to Thy Son, Jesus, and be saved forever and forever. Amen.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: John 5:33-40.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“More Love to Thee” (by Elizabeth P. Prentiss, 1818-1878).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life”
(John 5:40).

(John 5:26; 10:10; 3:36)

I.   First, why you have not come to Jesus, Ephesians 2:3, 5;
Romans 3:9; John 3:19.

II.  Second, what happens to those who do not come to Jesus,
Luke 8:13.

III. Third, those who do come to Jesus, Ephesians 1:4.