What Exactly is Eternal Life?
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
This is one of the best well-known verses in the Bible, and the most used in leading people to salvation.
The question that came to mind, ‘What exactly is eternal life?’
Eternal, from the Strong’s Concordance, aionios: age-long, unending; partaking of the character of that which lasts for an age; perpetual.
John 17:3 answers that question:
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
So what does ‘know’ mean?
Again, from Strong’s:
Know: ginosko: to be taking in knowledge, come to know, learn; to ascertained, realized.
From this, we learn that eternal life is coming to know God and Christ.
When we ‘know’ someone, we would assume a relationship. Without a relationship, you cannot truly know them.
1 John has numerous verses on the topic of ‘knowing’ God. The whole book is about having fellowship with God.
1 John 2:3-4: And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
This links ‘knowing’ God with obedience. We know in John 14:15 Jesus tells us if we love Him to keep His commandments. So to love someone, you have to know them. For knowledge of God/Christ, it is demonstrated through obedience.
This is further expounded on in 1 John 3: 4-10.
Here, we have the definition of sin (transgression of the law). Vs 6 says that those who sin do not know God.
Having a real knowledge and growing relationship of God would preclude someone from sinning.
When we sin, it breaks relationship with God. Sin cannot exist in the presence of a Holy God. Throughout the Bible, we have examples of God telling His children that He turns away from sin. He does not listen to the prayers of those who ‘have iniquity’ in their hearts.
There is a great deal more on this topic I will be expanding on later. When we come to God, accepting Christ as our Savior (John 3:16), Christ’s righteousness is imparted to us. Our sins are forgiven. We experience justification. ‘Just as if I’d never sinned.’
The challenge is that once we believe, we are to ‘walk as Jesus walked.’ (1 John 2:6) We cannot do this on our own power. This means, as we grow in grace, we develop a deeper relationship with God. We learn to die to self and live unto Christ. (Rom 12:1-2) As we do this, (as described in 2 Peter 1: 2-10) we become sanctified (holy/sinless).
The process of sanctification is a life-long process. We are to continually grow in knowledge of God/Christ. As we do this, Christ’s righteousness is imputed in us. This means, we grow to reflect His character. [There are several verses on how Christ will come to dwell with us. This signifies relationship/knowing someone.]
Simply believing and not having the heart change will not grant access to the Tree of Life. (Rev 22:14) James 2:26 tells us that faith without works is dead. The works do not save it. It is the proof we are saved. Rom 6:1-4 Paul also addresses the topic of ‘continuing in sin’ simply because we are saved by grace.
An example to explain this would be if you told someone you loved them, then did not spend time with them, but, instead, ran around and dated other people, or even slept with others. Would the person you claimed to love believe you?
If you said you loved someone, but never contacted them, spent time with them, would they believe you? Your actions speak louder than your words.
This brings me to another part of ‘walking our talk.’ When you say you believe something, but you do not live accordingly, then your brain will prune your neural pathway of that belief. Therefore, it is essential we live in line with what we say we believe.
In closing, Jesus gives warning of what happens if we do not depart from iniquity. Earlier, we learned that to ‘know’ God means to walk in obedience to His law. We learned that sin is the transgression of the law; that it breaks fellowship with God.
We can have a lot of ‘outward’ actions (Isa 58), doing a lot of good things, but if we regard iniquity in our hearts, we will not have access to the Tree of Life.
One of the saddest passages I know is Matt 7:21-23.
Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
I pray that as you grow in the knowledge of God, that you will grow in the grace that gives strength to overcome the sins that beset us. That Christ will soon stand before you saying, ‘Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (Matt 25:34).
Something to think about.