By Brandon Sutton
The title of this article comes from Jesus’ assertion in John 15:5, “apart from me you can do nothing.” It is an absolute statement. Jesus means to say, without Him, you and I and everyone else in the world can do absolutely nothing without His divine aide.
I’ve been thinking about this statement a lot lately, and I want to unpack it in this article. But to do so, I want to frame in the context of an atheist.
Imagine that I told an atheist that apart from Jesus, He can do nothing. His response would probably be laughter. To him, he doesn’t need Jesus. He doesn’t even believe in Jesus. Therefore, in his eyes, Jesus’ claim means absolutely nothing.
What he believes, however, has no bearing on the truth. What’s true is true; regardless of whether or not he believes. The truth is, without Jesus man can do absolutely nothing, and there are two ways in which this is true.
First of all, without Jesus, our very existence isn’t even possible. Jesus is the Creator. “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). We owe our very lives to Jesus. As I write this article, it is my birthday. 34 years ago, Jesus brought me into this world. I am alive only because He made me.
Furthermore, my heart beats because Jesus keeps it beating. It is Jesus, the writer to the Hebrews says, who “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3). Think of it! Jesus Christ is why the universe exists. Of course, it exists for His glory (Colossians 1:16), but it also exists because He sustains it. The universe is not self-sufficient. Jesus maintains it by the word of His power. You and I are not self-sufficient either. Our hearts beat because His sovereign power keeps them beating. Our lungs take in air because He allows them to do so. Our minds continue to function because Jesus gives them ability. So, to my dear atheist friends, I would say, you only exist because of Christ, because “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Secondly, without Jesus we can do nothing of eternal value. This is the true meaning of John 15:5. Not only do our very lives depend on Jesus’ power. Whether or not we do anything of eternal value depends on Jesus too. When Jesus says apart from me you can do nothing, He means without Him, you can nothing of eternal significance apart from His power, will and authority. As one famous missionary said, “One life, soon will pass. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” In 200 years, no one will remember your name. We are a vapor in the vast expanse of human history. Our works, words and legacy will be forgotten. But if you work for Christ, you will never be forgotten. If you live your life in dependence on Him and to do His will, then the work you accomplish will contribute to the eternal Kingdom God is currently building. Every person you interact with in the name of Christ will matter in eternity. Every prayer you lift up, the Father will remember. Every dollar you spend in Jesus’ name, will count for eternities’ sake.
Dear reader, who are you living for? Yourself or Christ? If you live for self, not only do you fail to honor the One who made you. You also fail to do anything that really matters. Live for Christ. He is what life is all about!