"Verily, Verily, I Say"
By Dr. Tom Wallace
(Pastor, Franklin Road Baptist Church, Murfreesboro, Tennessee)
"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."óJohn 5:24.
The book of John probably has more individual texts that lend themselves to great messages from God than any other book in the Bible. I could preach the rest of my life on individual text verses and never run out of material. What a book!
This will be a textual message. I will select one of the 31,173 verses of the Bible and stick with it: John 5:24. There is enough Gospel in that verse to save the whole world. What a verse! If everybody in the world just simply absorbed that passage and heard what it is saying and heeded what it is admonishing us to do, the whole world would get saved. The whole Gospel is right there in that verse.
Dr. H. A. Ironside called this verse the "gospel chain." He said, "Every phrase in this verse of Scripture is a golden link making up a golden chain and giving us the Gospel."
The Lord is stepping up to make a pronouncement: "Verily, verily!"
Everyone is seated in the courtroom except the judge; he is in his chambers. Suddenly the bailiff comes in and says, "Hear ye, hear ye!" (He says that to get your attention.) "The most Honorable Judge So-and-so is sitting on the bench today." Everyone stands when the judge enters the courtroom.
At a banquet everybody is talking and eating; then you hear someone tapping on a glass with his spoon. That means, "Give me your attention, because Iím about to say something important."
That is what "verily" means. The Lord is saying, "Everybody, listen! Iím about to tell you something unique and unusual."
You are driving down the road not paying much attention to traffic, when suddenly you hear a loud HONK! HONK! That horn nearly scares you to death, but it gets your attention.
Paul Revere rode through New England yelling, "The British are coming! The British are coming!" He was getting peopleís attention, because he had something they needed to hear. Their lives, and the entire country, depended upon their hearing what he had to say.
Thatís what Jesus is doing here: "Verily, verily, I sayÖ." The word "verily" means "truly, truly," or double truth. Why did He say it twice and not just "Truly, I say unto you"?
When someone important says something, he usually has to say it only one time. So when Jesus stands up to speak, that ought to be enough right there so no one has to hear it twice. If Iím in tune with the Lord and He says, "Hey, Tom," I should be ready to snap to attention.
But the Lord knows that we are distracted by a lot of activities; He knows we have a lot of things running through our minds; He knows that we are not quite as spiritual as we would like to be. So He is very kind and understanding when He makes His pronouncement, "VerilyÖ." But He says it again, indicating "What I am getting ready to tell you is not just true, it is doubly true!"
I watched a very sad news report on television about a comedianís sonís getting killed out on the freeway. The family was heartbroken because somebody had snatched their son out of their lives.
One newsman stuck a microphone in the fatherís face and said, "Give us a statement." The father made one quick statement: "He was my hero!" When the entire news media picked up that short statement, the world heard it and knew it was from that father. So famous was the father that nobody had to hear it twice.
It is a sad, sad shame that Jesus isnít recognized enough in the world that He could just say, "Verily," and everybody would listen. But when the Lord wants our attention, He is willing to become like a nobody in order to try to grab hold of our minds, so He says, "Verily, verilyÖ."
Back in the Old Testament when God wanted Abraham to do something, He said, "Abraham, Abraham."
When God wanted Jacob, He said, "Jacob, Jacob."
In the book of I Samuel, chapter 3, the Lord spoke to little Samuel: "Samuel, Samuel."
When He spoke to Saul on the road to Damascus, He said, "Saul, Saul."
When He spoke to Simon Peter in Luke 22, He said, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee."
When Jesus hung on the cross of Calvary, He cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
He says to us, "Verily, verily: What I am about to say is doubly important." He is trying to get our attention, like blowing a horn or tapping on a glass.
You have noticed that over public address systems at some places, like hospitals, any announcement is always repeated.
One time I was going through the airport in Atlanta, Georgia. A businessman and I were walking down the corridor at about the same pace. All of a sudden I heard the public address system bark out someoneís name and say, "Would you call your office please."
I snapped to attention and said to that fellow, "Excuse me, Buddy. Did you happen to hear if that guy said Tom Wallace?"
He said, "I wasnít listening."
Then the announcement was repeated: "Mr. John Watkins, would you call your office please."
I could have sworn that my name was called the first time. Busy and preoccupied, I just did not hear what he was saying, and I suddenly wondered what he had said. Then he cleared it up by making a second announcement.
My wife often says, "HoneyÖ." Then I donít hear the rest of what she says, so I have to ask her to repeat it. She says, "I wish youíd get a hearing aid!" Then I say, "I donít need a hearing aid. What I need is for you not to start talking until I get ready to listen!"
You have all experienced that with your children. Many kids donít listen until you call their names the second time: "Johnny, JOHNNY!"
The Lord says, "Verily, verily," because He wants us to hear what He has to say. He has given us 1,189 chapters of Revelation, and all of us approach it in the same way. He would like us to know what He has said, because He has said such wonderful things. He said, ĎI want to tell you what is going to happen to you when you die. I want to tell you all about Heaven.í (I hope Iím listening when He talks about Heaven.) He says, ĎYou can get things you desire if you will call on Me. I will answer and show thee great and mighty things that thou knowest not.í (I want to be listening when He says that!)
The Personal Aspect of John 5:24
Notice the personal aspect of this verse: "I say unto you." The sovereign, all-powerful Creator God of the universe is given to us in one letter: "I."
The Bible says the Heaven of heavens cannot contain Him. God is too big to fit into the universe, and Heaven is too small for Him, yet He can fit into one letter of the alphabet.
"I"óthe Almighty God, Jesus, who is God, walking around in a body upon the earth! Almighty Godóimagine that! God said, ĎIím not saying this to the whole world; Iím saying it to youíóas if you are the only one around.
Not my brother, not my sister,
But itís me, O Lord,
Standing in the need of prayer.
He says, "I say unto you." I need to come to the Lordís table or to His altar or to His throne and say, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to hear? What do You want to say to me?"
Each of us has individual needs that nobody else has; and the Lord has a personal message just for us, a personal message that is just right for us. He has a solution to my problem, and He has a personal answer to my question. That is true for every one of us. It is not that all of us are here together and God is out there somewhere, in some kind of vague form. God is real. God is specific and definite. He is very personal. "I say unto you": this is direct; it is pointed.
It is like the ringing of the phone and the telephone operatorís saying, "I have a person-to-person call forÖ," and she calls out your name. The Lord is saying, "This is a person-to-person call for you!"
Sometimes when we read this, we think it is "she" or "he" or "they"; but this is "you," so leave everybody else out of this verse.
God says, "Verily, verily," or ĎTruly, truly, I, Almighty God, say unto youÖ.í Think about what God is saying to only you. That is the setting of this verse. He has some things in this verse just for you.
The Privilege of John 5:24
This is the privilege of this verse, but we donít really classify this as a privilege because we are so blessed.
I have probably fifty Bibles, just shelves of them, old and new. The majority of the people in the world do not have Godís Word, a copy of the Bible, to read. It is sad that most people who have a Bible do not understand what it says. We read through the Bible and skim over the top of it, but the truth of it does not come through at the time we read it.
When I read the Bible, sometimes a verse lights up like a light bulb. I have been reading the Bible for forty-six years, yet I didnít see that particular verse in that particular light before.
I have several sermons that dig deep into the Bible, and each may take an unusual approach to the verses. Scores of times people have come up to me and said, "I believe Iíve read those verses many times, and I have never seen in them what you just said!"
A few weeks ago at a preachersí meeting in Louisville, I preached out of Psalm 15. Four or five men came up to me and said, "I have studied that, memorized that, preached on that, taught that in Sunday school, but I never saw that before!"
This is why John said, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
The Person Who Backs John 5:24
"Him that sent me." "Him" is God in His Father position. Jesus (God the Son) is talking and saying, "Him [God the Father] that sent meÖ." Here is Almighty God who has never shaded the truth. The Bible says, "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" (Num. 23:19).
If you want to borrow money, the first question you are asked is, "What kind of collateral do you have?"
One time our church needed to buy some buses. (We were running about forty-two buses at the time.) We went to talk to the bus salesman.
"Boy, do I have a deal for you fellows!" he said. "The International Company here has for the last thirteen years made up the chassis for the entire county. They put in a bid by projection, and knowing they would get the bid, they started building even before the papers were signed. But this time the Ford Company beat the International Companyís bid. Now the International Company is stuck with a whole field of great big yellow cabs with motors and wheels, but with no bodies on them.
"Iíll tell you what: We can buy fifty of those brand-new buses for about half-price, and if you fellows can figure out a way to do it, weíll get you a finance company."
We checked with a body company in Arkansas. They said they would put the bodies on the chassis for us. The total price would be $350,000 (a million dollars today). However, we didnít have any collateral.
The bus salesman said, "Brother Wallace, if you are willing to sign the note personally, they will give the loan to the church."
I said, "Youíve got to be kidding! I donít even own a house!" My wife and I owned our own furniture, and I had an old used car we used for errands; but we had no collateral. The newer car I was driving belonged to the church.
The salesman said, "If you are willing to put your name on the loan, and if you are willing to back it, it will go through."
I said, "You guys are crazy, and I donít know if I want to do business with a company that has no better sense than that!"
The man said, "Weíve studied your record. Youíve been right here in this one place all your life, and the church has grown, and we have confidence in you. We just need to be sure that somebody is backing this who has some honesty and integrity."
I said, "If you will trust me on this thing, then Iíll sign it."
I put my name on the loan for $350,000, and we got those fifty beautiful, brand-new school buses. It turned out to be one of the best deals we ever got in our lives!
"Verily, verily, I say unto youÖ." Look who is backing this verse. God says that He will give you everlasting life, that you will not go to Hell when you die.
Notice that it is not a Baptist church saying this; it is not Tom Wallace promising this; it is Almighty God backing this verse. And Godís Word is His bond!
We used to talk about Grandpaís word being his bond. Grandpa would promise to pay for a house that was yet to be built. He did not have a contract with the builder; his word was his bond. But nowadays you have to have two or three notary publics and witnesses and seals, and a lawyer has to read the contract to ensure that no one can later back out of the contract. Folks today say one thing, then donít do what they said they would do.
God is the Person making this promise, so you can believe it. It is just like having money in the bank, because this is God talking.
The Possession of John 5:24
Do you have everlasting life right now? I hope you can say, "Yes, I do," and not, "I hope I do."
God didnít say, "He had it at one time when he was doing better than he is doing now." God didnít say, "He will have it one of these days after he dies." No! God said he "hath everlasting life."
One time I had a banker in my church (one of the finest fellows in the world), but he had heard something when he was young. He would pray beautifully but say, "O Lord, please give us a burden for souls. And, Lord, bless our sick people. And, Lord, help our good preacher. Bless our deacons. And, Lord, save us in the end."
My blood would curdle at those last words. He had learned that somewhere, but it wasnít what he believed.
A lot of people believe that you canít know that you are saved until the end.
"Hath" is the possession in this verse, and it means right now. It doesnít mean "will have" or "did have" or "might have." It is pres-ent tense; right now it is a sure thing.
How long is everlasting life going to last? If it doesnít last forever, then God doesnít know what kind of words to put in the Bible. I have eternal life, and if the word didnít mean "eternal" life, then He should have found a different word.
Weíre looking at it from the human standpoint, and we like to make excuses and use logical reasoning. When God uses the word everlasting, He means "everlasting." That word in the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic languages means the same thing. Everlasting means "everlasting," and eternal means "eternal."
I asked a dear lady one time in Chattanooga, "Are you going to Heaven when you die?"
"Oh no, Iím not going to go unless something is different than it is now," she answered.
"Are you saved?"
"No, Iím not saved."
I read her a good verse of Scripture. When I started reading John 3:16, "For God so loved the worldÖ," she grabbed it away from me and finished reading the verse.
"Thatís a beautiful verse," I said.
"Oh, it is!"
"Isnít everlasting life a wonderful thought? Have you ever had that?"
"I used to be saved," she said. "If anybody ever had everlasting life, I did."
"How long did it last?"
"Well, maíam," I said, "two yearsí life is different from everlasting life."
Suddenly she woke up and saw what the Bible meant.
We have the possession right now. I have a pen in my hand that has the churchís name, address and phone number on it. I claim this pen as my possession. My eternal life is just as real and definite as this pen.
This promise is enough to make you want to sing "Amazing Grace" and "To God Be the Glory!"
"Hath everlasting life." Put that in Tennessee and Kentucky language: "Shall not ever go to Hell!" God is saying that the saved will not end up in the lake of fire. ĎHe has everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation.í
This is the same thing as Romans 8:1: "There is therefore now no condemnation [no judgment, no eternal damnation, no hellfire] to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
God says we shall never, ever come into condemnation. Think about how simple this statement is. Even the kindergarten children can get this. Those of us who have college degrees and honorary doctorates can understand this too.
"Verily, verily [truly, truly], I say unto you, He that heareth my word [he that will listen and pay attention], and believeth [put his faith in what God says] on him that sent me, hath [right now] everlasting life [eternal life], and shall not come into condemnation [heíll never, ever have to worry about going to Hell], but is passed from death unto life [thatís conversion]."
We pass from being lost to being saved. We pass from being blind and confused and not understanding, to seeing and understanding. We pass from deafness to the voice of God, to where we can now hear what He says. We pass from eternal Hell in the future to eternal Heaven in the future. We have passed from death to life right now! We are right now alive!
Think about what this means to us. God Almighty is saying that if we hear what Jesus is saying and just believe or put our trust in the One who sent Him down to die for us, we will never, ever have to go to Hell. We will pass from death unto life. Thatís it! Isnít it simple! Itís worth coming to church just to find out that little, elementary truth.
The Lord is saying, "Look, if you are not sure that you are saved, why donít you just come and believe what I say and let Me give you the gift of eternal life?"
You say, "Well, Iíll have trouble quitting a lot of things."
You donít have to worry about quitting anything. You just need to believe on the Father who sent the Son, and He will give you eternal life. His presence in your life makes all the difference; and suddenly you will have a brand-new outlook and brand-new strength. If you need to quit something, He will help you do itóafter He saves you.
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."óII Cor. 5:17.
Most of us can testify that that really works.
If you donít know the Lord, I beg you to put your trust in Christ. Forget all about people and problems you may be having and just believe the simple Gospel. Come to the altar and say, "Lord, Iím going to believe this, and I will put my trust in You today. Iím going to start for Heaven, and Iím going to have everlasting life when I leave this building."
Donít wait until you go straighten out some things or fix up some things, but right now accept what the Lord has said and let Him have His way in your heart.
How to be Saved