Explore the relationship between faith and works in salvation, drawing from Jesus' teachings on resurrection and the true nature of divine judgment.
John 5:28-30 — Resurrection & Judgment — Aneel Aranha
Hello and welcome to the Bite-Sized Gospel with Aneel Aranha. Today we will reflect on John 5:28-30. Listen.
[Jesus said:] "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me."
In today's passage, Jesus speaks of a time when "all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out." He is talking about Judgment Day and the universality of the resurrection. Regardless of our beliefs or deeds, every individual will experience this resurrection.
The resurrection leads to two outcomes: life for those who have done good and condemnation for those who have done evil. This shows us the importance of our earthly choices and actions. In his Parable of the Goats and the Sheep, which speaks about Judgment Day, Jesus mentions the criteria for judgment based on acts of mercy and compassion (Matthew 25:31-46).
This does not contradict what Jesus said earlier about belief in him being the criterion by which we are saved. While faith is the root of salvation, works are its fruit. Genuine faith in Christ will naturally produce good works in the life of the believer. As James writes, "Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead" (James 2:17). The works Jesus speaks about in this passage are not the basis of salvation but the evidence of genuine faith.
This faith can only be determined by God, who sees the heart's intent. We might see only external actions, but God sees the faith that underlies them. Let us understand this clearly. I can feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and tend to the sick, but these actions alone won't save me; the faith that drives them will. If I have genuine faith, I will automatically be motivated to do these things.
This internal examination of the heart is the reason why Jesus emphasizes the just nature of his judgment. His judgments aren't arbitrary but are based on what he hears. As we have already learned, "hearing" in the biblical context often means more than just auditory perception; it implies understanding, receiving, and internalizing. Thus, Jesus says his judgments are rooted in the divine wisdom and truth he receives from the Father.
What do we take away from this? In the Book of Acts, Paul speaks of his hope in the resurrection. "I have the hope in God," he says, "that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked." So? "So," he continues, "I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man" (Acts 24:15-16). Let us strive to do so too.
God bless you.