Read John 5
Focus on verse 28-29
I remember as a young man in my teens encountering information about a carnival act named Ripley’s Believe it or Not! At this booth one could spend a ticket to gain entrance to see whatever they huckster manning the booth claimed to be behind the curtain. If one was fortunate there may actually be some mutated freak of nature on display, or if that was not available, they would try to use smoke and mirrors to make it appear that way. In any case, once inside, one would typically discover that the whole deal was typically not as impressive as the huckster at the door made it sound.
In today’s reading Jesus presents a rather surreal but convincing case regarding His true identity, and states quite plainly what lies ahead for us a human beings after this earthly life is completed.
Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his (the Son of Man’s) voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (v. 28-29)
This is not so much a declaration of a works theology, as it is an assurance that there are consequences for the choices we make in the way we choose to live out the time we are given to be on this earth. The consequences of rejecting God’s invitation to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ is to face God’s judgment for every occasion by which we have transgressed His law. The gift God gives to those who accept His invitation to enter into this relationship with Jesus Christ is to extend His mercy and grace to us forgiving us of every occasion where we transgressed His law.
The bottom line is that our eternal destiny is not incumbent upon how much good or bad stuff we do. Rather it is incumbent upon whether or not we choose to accept the forgiveness of God based upon our belief that Jesus already absorbed the punishment that we deserved for the laws that we have broken.
Ultimately it comes down to whether we “believe it …or not”.