#TalkingThursday – If you don’t talk about Jesus who will?
Today we’re taking a peek at something that’s often been misinterpreted or misunderstood by many — Eternal Life.
Eternal (aionios) means unending or timeless, but it refers to not just the quantity but also a certain quality of life. In Hebrew eternal life is literally “life of eternity, age” (hayye `olam, Daniel 12:2), an expression used in contrast to temporal life and also in the contrast between this age and the age to come.
The word eternal is related to the word “age” (aion). Life in the age to come is characterised by a restored relationship with God, and that is precisely what Jesus speaks of. The life of the age to come is present in Jesus and made available to his disciples, and at the heart of it is an intimate relationship with God.
Eternal life is God’s free gift to those who believe in His Son (Jesus Christ). The Father gave His Son the authority to give eternal life to those whom the Father gave to the Son. Therefore, Jesus’ ultimate mission was to give eternal life: the gift of knowledge about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
From the human viewpoint, we receive the gift of eternal life when we believe in Jesus Christ. But from the divine viewpoint, we have already been given to the Son in divine election. This is a mystery that the human mind may never fully understand or explain and we often must accept it by faith.
What is “eternal life”?
It is knowing God personally. Not just knowing about Him, but having a personal relationship with Him through faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot know the Father apart from the Son (John 14:6-11). Simply “believing in God” will never save a lost soul from eternal hell. “The devils [demons] also believe and tremble” (James 2:19). Our Lord’s debate with the Jewish leaders (John 8:12) makes it very clear that people may be devoutly religious and still not know God.
Eternal life is not something that happens after death or a place that saints end up after death because they received Jesus before death. On the contrary, eternal life is a present possession, to be experienced here and now. However, it also offers many rich and joyful future prospects.
Eternal Life As A Present Possession.
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
— Romans 6:22 (KJV)
But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.
— Romans 6:22 (NASB)
These scriptures reveal to us that the outcome of our sanctification is eternal life and sanctification happens here on earth. Therefore, eternal life mingles components both future and present, for “eternal life” in Christian belief is not only a life of endless duration but a quality of life in which the possessor shares by faith in God’s eternal being. The fruit of salvation and sanctification is eternal life: a higher quality of life.
Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
— Colossians 3:1 -4 (NASB)
Fight the good fight [or Run the good race] of faith, grabbing hold of ·the life that continues forever [eternal life]. You were called to have that life when you confessed the good confession before many witnesses
— 1 Timothy 6:12 (EXB)
These two verses illustrate aspects of eternal life as having an endless duration and higher quality that begins at the point of salvation in Christ and continues on till when Christ is revealed in His full glory.
William Barclay points out that “Life is only of value when it is nothing less than the life of God—and that is the meaning of eternal life.”
It necessarily follows that eternal life has no termination. It is triumph over death through Christ and infinitely extended life but it is also a unique quality of life, knowing God in this life and sharing the life of Christ. From those verses, we see that the source of eternal life is God himself.
Eternal Life As Knowing God & Enjoying His Eternal Blessings.
And this is eternal life: that people know you, the only true God, and that they know Jesus Christ, the One you sent.
– John 17:3 (EXB)
That colon (:) after eternal life isn’t present in many versions but this translation of the bible is used here particularly because of it. It illustrates that a basic definition of eternal life is: to know the only true God, and to know Jesus Christ, the One God sent. The more we know God and Jesus Christ; the more the quality of our eternal life increases. Knowing Jesus starts here on earth and therefore, so does eternal life. The blessings that come with knowing God and Jesus Christ our saviour here on earth are a part of eternal life. We enjoy many spiritual blessings because we have eternal life. You can read more about that here.
Eternal Life As Experiencing Jesus Christ’s Life.
Always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake; so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
— 2 Corinthians 4:10-11 (NASB)
The life of Jesus, the quality and duration of His life, is our eternal life. We are daily crucified in and by the world that the life of Jesus may be manifested, not just in our spirit but our flesh: our mortal flesh! Even before death, there is an eternal life that exists in our flesh because Christ lives in us and the quality of life He enjoyed here on earth, we can have access to also!
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
— Romans 8:11 (NASB)
Eternal life is the restoration of our dominion and we must do away with the idea that it begins at death. This is eternal life: that the Holy Spirit who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give our mortal bodies life. Where we are weak, this Spirit strengthens us, where we are sick, this Spirit heals us, where we are tired and faint, this Spirit encourages us, where we lose hope, this Spirit comforts us; and in the age to come: this Spirit will raise us up to see Christ in His full glory. This is eternal life, which anybody can gain access to through Jesus Christ.