John 20:31, “That ye might believe—and believing ye might have life through His name.” Supposed to prove that spiritual life is granted to sinners for believing in Christ. The clue to its correct interpretation is, however, simple. St. John informs us that his object in writing his Gospel was, that the credence of Faith might be given to his testimony, and that confidence might be directed to and reposed in the Saviour, whose biography he had written—“that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” What he had advanced was sufficient ground for the belief of a heaven-born Faith.
[The object of St. John’s Gospel was (as above), that men might believe in the person called Jesus as the Incarnate Word, and so enter into the enjoyment of spiritual life through His name. The object of his First Epistle was that his brethren might be led into the full assurance of Faith, and so into deeper fellowship with God and fullness of joy.]
The result of their thus believing is added, “That believing, ye might have life.” Not “if ye will believe, ye shall obtain life,” but “that, believing, ye might have life.” The meaning of the words “living,” or “having life,” in Scripture has before been explained. Their force often is to have the consciousness of a life previously imparted (Page 215). A man in a swoon has life, but is altogether unconscious of the fact, since his senses which are the only channels of intercommunication with the otter world, are in a state of inaction. Now faith is the organ of spiritual perception and intelligence, and till it is in operation, a regenerated sinner must remain ignorant of the existence of spiritual life in his soul. Without Faith there can be no spiritual consciousness. But Faith can only act by means of the Gospel, and thus by believing we awake to the perception of our relation to spiritual realities, and know that we are alive to God. So St. John had presented to his spiritual readers the great Object of Faith, that they might believe, and by believing become conscious of the fact that they had life through His name.
That Faith is not the procuring cause of spiritual life, is evident from the expression, “through His name.” His name, evidently means His person, and the power and authority that are associated with it. “Believers have their spiritual and eternal life through Christ; their life of Justification depends on Him; their life of Sanctification flows from Him; and their life of Glory will be maintained through their connection with Him. Their life centers in His person; comes to them from Him as its procuring cause; and is bestowed for His sake. Yea, it is in His hands to give, and is imparted by Him (not to those who consent to receive it from Him, and apply to Him for it), but to all whom His Father gave Him before the foundation of the world.”—Abridged from Dr. Gill.