Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,
but whoever rejects the Son will not see life,
for God’s wrath remains on them.
~ John 3:36 ~
Take a quick survey of Christian believers and ask them to define the term “Eternal Life,” and the majority will offer familiar terms in their response: going to heaven, not going to hell, and spending the rest of eternity in the presence of God and His angels inside the Pearly Gates. On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with this response – until you understand they’re missing the bigger picture.
Yes, God the Father did send Jesus to the world as part of His redemptive mission.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only
begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him
should not perish but have everlasting life.
~ John 3:16 ~
Yes, Jesus did die for the sins of mankind as part of His redemptive mission.
It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who
raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was
delivered up because of our offenses, and
was raised because of our justification.
~ Romans 4:24-25 ~
Yes, our professed faith in Christ guarantees we will be able to join our Father in heaven.
For our citizenship is in heaven,
from which we also eagerly wait
for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
~ Philippians 3:20 ~
Yes, our professed faith in Christ guarantees we will not be removed from God’s sight and be banished to hell.
But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers,
sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars
shall have their part in the lake which burns with
fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
~ Revelation 21:8 ~
Those are all very valid reasons to profess faith in Christ as Lord and Savior. However, if Christians are only drawn to faith to be taken out of the waiting line for hell, and given a ticket to heaven, they’re missing the true meaning of Eternal Life. Heaven opens when we die, but benefits of Eternal Life are available to Christians now.
Words are important; we use them to describe the world around us, and to create images in the minds of others. If the words used aren’t fully understood, an accurate image can’t be created to help visualize what’s being described. This proves to be especially true when reading the Word of God.
And this is eternal life, that they
may know You, the only true God, and
Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
~ John 17:3 ~
God’s promise to Man of Eternal Life means to know Him. It doesn’t mean to know of Him or about Him, but to truly know Him in the Biblical sense. Yes, you just read that correctly.
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can
this be, since I do not know a man?”
~ Luke 1:34 ~
When Mary asked this of the angel Gabriel, she knew she was a virgin who had never had intimate relations with a man. The word in the original Greek text γινώσκω (“ginóskó,” to know) is the same in both Scriptures and implies the same idea: an intimate relationship. Obviously, this doesn’t imply a physical relationship, but in matters of the heart and soul the message is clear.
The Word of God reveals the He wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him and, in so doing, He gives us the promise of an Eternal Life that starts now. Does a person change when they have an intimate relationship in the world? Everything changes: the way they feel, act and speak. If that holds true for worldly relationships, how much more would that hold true for God the Father?
Going to church and hoping things get better when you get to heaven isn’t taking full advantage of the Eternal Life the Word of God promises you now.
I pray that the Holy Spirit guides you in your studies, and brings you to a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Have a blessed day.