Do you know what eternal life means?
I was stumped for years and couldn’t answer that question.
My answer today is eternal life is Christ Himself!
It is the presence of God and His continuing involvement in your life in the here and now. It’s also consciously growing in the awareness of God’s presence – Christ in you and you in Christ.
It’s so much more than dying and going to heaven one day to live with Jesus in eternity. E. James Wilder, in Joyful Journey: Listening to Immanuel, says,
“This might help us to understand why many Christians maintain a life of survival instead of thriving. The abundant, thriving life with God is fully experienced when we have true iSight.”
The most important thing is knowing the Holy Spirit’s meaning rather than man’s meaning of eternal life. When you accept the Holy Spirit’s meaning, it’s like scales falling off your eyes.
“And this is what He promised us – eternal life.” (I John 2:25)
“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” (I John 5:11)
“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” (I John 5:20)
The mistake we make is when we try to describe eternal life in spending time in eternity with Jesus only. When you get a glimpse of what eternal life is you’ll never be the same. Paul wrote, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
Marcus Rainsford in, Our Lord Prays for His Own, notes, “This, then, is eternal life – fellowship with the Father, union and communion with His Son Jesus Christ!”
Jesus describes eternal life by relationship and you see this in John 17:2-3. You can: 1) identify this relationship, 2) it is intimate, and 3) it is instantaneous.
First, you can identify this relationship. It’s with “the only True God, and the One He has sent.”
You enter into an authentic and genuine relationship with God because when Christ died, you died and when Christ raised from the dead, you raised with Him and were brought into relationship and friendship with “the only True God, and the One He has sent.” (John 17:3)
Second, it is intimate, there is a heart-to-heart connection. Jesus didn’t just invite His disciples to be followers but to be His friends. Also, He didn’t just offer to be their friend but invited them to be His. This is eternal life.
In addition, look at the friendship that’s been shared from eternity between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Now imagine the day God the Father decided to create humans and invites them into this circle of friendship. It’s remarkable.
For instance, when you get married, you don’t just know facts about your spouse. You experience love for each other, because it’s a heart-to-heart connection, a mutual desire to give from the heart.
Both of your lives are enriched when you give from your heart, you know your spouse and your spouse knows you in a close affectionate manner. It’s called grace and when you don’t receive grace and mutual respect from each other you feel betrayed.
Dr. Marty Folsom says, “The Greek word charis is translated grace, but grace is not like a blank check or a wrapped package that is given to us. Grace is being a gift to another person while being with them.
God doesn’t give grace as a “thing” that goes out from himself; it is the very manner of God being with us as a loving, embracing presence.
A charismatic is not someone who is attractive or talented at public speaking, but one who is empowered to be a helpful person where grace is needed.
The economy of God is grace: a life of giving to others, who then give away what they have received.”
So, Jesus invites into this circle of love, there is always grace and mutual respect. It’s not knowing facts about God and Jesus but it’s experiencing their extravagant love (grace) for you in real and meaningful ways.
Eternal life grows and matures in you because this is what the Father has always longed for.
Third, eternal life is instantaneous. “And this is eternal life, to know You, the only true God, and Him whom you have sent, Jesus Christ.”
The Holy Spirit’s meaning is clear. Jesus is speaking about relationship and not about location. And He’s talking about knowing the Father through Him and not just about going to heaven one day.
“Now this is eternal life,” (John 17:3).
Did you catch it – it’s those two little words now and is? Now and is, means it’s a present reality. This is eternal life, not this shall be eternal life. Big difference.
May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to your relationship with Christ as one of reality, what’s real now, not just when you get to heaven.
Where would you say you are, on your spiritual journey to knowing the Father?
- I’m not interested.
- I’m currently seeking to understand what eternal life is.
- There are barriers keeping me from simply talking to the Father.
- I can’t hear Him speaking to me.
- I am experiencing the life of Christ in me and hearing the Father’s voice more clearly than ever before.
- Eternal life is becoming more real to me.
- I have a desire to know the Father better, not just head knowledge about Him but to have a heart-to-heart connection.
Father, thank you for eternal life that I now have. I long to know You and Christ more because You are the only true God and Your Son is the only one who reveals You.