“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24)
One of the interesting themes in the Gospel of John is the emphasis upon what we may call “this present life.” In this verse, for example, the whole idea of judgement is moved from a future post-death experience to a present choice. Whoever hears and believes Jesus has eternal life. Present tense. “He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
According to this verse, then, I no longer have to consider a future testing or trial where I am proved worthy or unworthy. I have come into life. Now of course, to interpret the Bible correctly, you have to consider every mention of “judgement” and not just one, but still, here it is and it must be given its due weight.
I like James Packer’s take here, which seems to bring both present and future together: “Optimism hopes for the best without any guarantee of its arriving and is often no more than whistling in the dark. Christian hope, by contrast, is faith looking ahead to the fulfilment of the promises of God, as when the Anglican burial service inters the corpse ‘in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Optimism is a wish without warrant; Christian hope is a certainty, guaranteed by God himself. Optimism reflects ignorance as to whether good things will ever actually come. Christian hope expresses knowledge that every day of his life, and every moment beyond it, the believer can say with truth, on the basis of God’s own commitment, that the best is yet to come.”