BibleTools

Topical Studies

 A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Printer-Friendly          E-mail this page


Bible verses about Eternal Life
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Through the prophet Jeremiah, God asserts:

Thus says the LORD, 'Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches: but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD. . . .' (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

How important is it to know 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). As used here, eternal life is knowing God! He implies an intimate relationship with God that matures over a lifetime. Each party knows each other well, as familiarly as marriage partners. Thus Hosea observes, "Then shall we know, if we follow on [in the path of obedience] to know the LORD" (Hosea 6:3, KJV).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wholeness of God


 

In John's epistles, the term "eternal life" is equivalent to the phrases "entering the Kingdom of heaven," "sitting in heavenly places," "inheriting eternal life," or being "in Christ" used by other biblical writers. In this sense, "eternal" describes, not what is future in terms of time, but what is unending in both directions, as well as the character of the life Christ lived.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Six): Eternal Life


 

Genesis 3:4   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Satan's heresy that "You shall not surely die," when expanded, claims that we are already immortal, so death has no real hold over us. This idea, proposed at the very beginning, has thrived throughout history. Mainstream Christianity calls it the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, while various Eastern religions contain it in beliefs such as reincarnation. Whatever its moniker, the belief that human beings possess a spiritual, eternally conscious, imperishable component is a major tenet of nearly every religion throughout man's history. In our modern culture, books and movies abound with examples of the spirits of the dead hovering around the living characters, giving them comfort, aid, and encouragement. It is taken as given that death is not the end; somehow, one's conscious spirit will live on when the physical body perishes.

The Gnostic belief in the dualism of flesh and spirit—with the flesh being evil and something to be freed from, while the eternal spirit was good—also originated in the lie Satan told Eve. Gnostics, in general, believed that the purpose of human existence was to return to the spiritual realm from whence all originated. Death, then, was seen as liberation of the spirit.

First, consider how this belief affects a person's attitude and way of life. When Satan undermined the death penalty for disobedience, in addition to sowing further distrust in what God says, he also blunted one of the keenest elements of human motivation, continued self-preservation. If life beyond the grave is assured, how this life is lived makes little difference. It is like guaranteeing a college freshman that he will receive a doctorate degree, regardless of whether anything is learned, any work is done, any classes are attended, or any tuition is paid. While the student may indeed expend some effort, the motivation to apply himself wholeheartedly to his education will be substantially weakened. It would be so easy to slack off and postpone catching up to some time next week. After all, if the goal is certain, why worry about the details in the meantime?

Spiritually, the result is the same. If one already has immortality, and is eternally saved, there is no pressing reason to resist the pulls of carnality. Resisting Satan matters little. Devoting one's life to growing and overcoming has no urgency. Sin is no big deal. Why should one study to come to know God and His truth? Believing that one already possesses eternal life removes the urgency to live according to the desires and requirements of the Creator. At best, all that remains is the vague guidance of "just be a good person."

The Bible teaches that there can be life after death through the resurrection from the dead. Eternal life is ours only if God supplies it, and not because we possess an immortal soul:

» God tells us, "Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die." (Ezekiel 18:4; emphasis ours throughout). God repeats this in Ezekiel 18:20. Clearly, it is possible for a "soul" to die.

» Paul instructs in Romans 6:23 that "the wages of sin is death," not eternal life—not even eternal life in ever-burning hell. As with Ezekiel 18, sin incurs the death penalty. Satan, though, would have us believe that since death is not a real threat, sin is no big deal. It is only because of God's grace that we are not struck down immediately—not because of any inherent immortality within us—as the rest of Romans 6:23 explains: "but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Eternal life is a gift, not an inborn quality.

» I Timothy 6:16 says that God "alone has immortality"—not any member of the human race, Christians included!

» Romans 2:7 promises "eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality," again proving that eternal life is a gift, not a right, and that immortality must be sought (by "doing good") rather than assumed to have it already.

» Finally, in the "Resurrection Chapter," I Corinthians 15, Paul explains when Christians receive immortality:

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." (I Corinthians 15:50-54)

It is not until "the last trumpet," when Jesus Christ returns, that the dead will be resurrected and given immortality (I Thessalonians 4:16). At this time, the saints will be changed and given new spiritual bodies (I Corinthians 15:49; I John 3:2). Clearly, immortality is not given until the resurrection from the dead, which does not take place until Jesus Christ returns.

That God must resurrect a person for him to continue living means that He retains sovereignty. He is not obliged to grant eternal life to anyone who demonstrates, once he has the opportunity to know God, that he is not willing to be subject to His way of life. However, by belittling the truth about the resurrection from the dead, and telling people that they already have immortality, Satan can distract them from a basic reason why they need to listen to God—so that they may be resurrected and continue living!

David C. Grabbe
Whatever Happened to Gnosticism? Part Three: Satan's Three Heresies


 

Genesis 3:19   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The last part of God's curse on Adam involves the brevity of physical life. To this point, death had been mentioned only as a threatened punishment for sin (Genesis 2:17), so it must be assumed that, as long as Adam and Eve remained sinless, they would not die. Paul writes in Romans 5:12, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned."

God designed His wording of Adam's punishment to link mankind with the earth: He was created out of it, and when he died, he would return to it. His sin had removed him from the environs of the heavenly and forced him to dwell, labor, and die in the earthly. Yet even this has a silver lining:

And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. (I Corinthians 15:45-49)

The benefit of a physical body is that it can die! This may sound strange, but it is exactly this fact that makes man able to become immortal sons of God! Men can die and be resurrected, following the pattern set by Christ, receiving eternal life and the rewards of His Kingdom. It is our righteous living in the flesh through the grace of God that qualifies us for this glorious potential.

On the flip side, our physical nature also makes it possible for God to rid the universe of anyone unwilling to submit to Him. Unlike angels, men can be completely consumed in the Lake of Fire—totally destroyed for all eternity and unable to defile the holiness of God's Kingdom. Though God desires "all [to] come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9) and "all men to be saved" (I Timothy 2:4), He has this option should it be needed. Revelation 19:20 shows that it will indeed.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The First Prophecy (Part Three)


 

Genesis 13:14-15   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God commits Himself to giving Abraham this land forever. The concept of eternity enters the picture early in God's relationship with Abraham.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part One): The Promises to the Faithful


 

Numbers 11:18   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

How quickly they forgot! They were slaves in Egypt. They may have had a variety of food, but they were slaves. Was that a good trade-off? Would we rather be free or have good food? If we take the food, we fall into the same category as Esau. What do we want—the sensual stimulation that the world can provide or eternal life? It comes down to questions like that. What do we want? Are we going to crave it, or are we going to follow God?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Passover and I Corinthians 10


 

Psalm 90:1-4   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Perhaps only Isaiah 40 can compare with this psalm in presenting God's grandeur and eternity in contrast to our frailty and mortality. Moses' point, however, is that God's eternity is the answer to our problem with time.

One might think that we hardly need to be reminded of this. But when the misconception that we are already immortal ("You shall not surely die") is combined with our innate and powerful proclivity toward abusing time, it is urgently necessary that God emphasize this on occasion.

God often underscores the brevity of our lives. Job laments: "Now my days are swifter than a runner; they flee away, they see no good. They pass by like swift ships, like an eagle swooping on its prey" (Job 9:25-26). In Psalm 39:4-5, David prays:

LORD, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Indeed, you have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah.

And finally Asaph writes, "For He remembered that they were but flesh, a breath that passes away and does not come again" (Psalm 78:39).

The rapid passage of time is something we need to be serious about. We cannot live as though there is no day of reckoning because judgment is now upon the household of God (I Peter 4:17).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Simplify Your Life!


 

Proverbs 31:30   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

When God describes the ideal woman, she is portrayed as one who fears God. In order to be deserving of this praise, she must possess this particular characteristic—and a lot of it! We must also assume that "what is good for the goose is good for the gander"! God is no respecter of persons, and if God praises a woman because she has the fear of God, then He will also praise a man because he, too, fears God.

I John 3:4 defines sin as "the transgression of the law," and John 17:3 defines eternal life as "to know God." Here is a Bible definition of the fear of the Lord:

The fear of the LORD is to hate evil, pride, arrogance, and the evil way. (Proverbs 8:13)

This is why the woman pleases God and receives His praise. The knowledge of God, which is instilled as a gift, compels or constrains one to depart from evil. In other words, it leads one to keep the commandments of God.

The person makes the choice to do what is right and good and thereby evidences his inward disposition, his inward attitude, proving what is in his heart by what others see on the outside—his conduct. He departs from evil. God is taken into account in his life in every circumstance, in every aspect, and in every situation, and he makes the choice to do it God's way. The person learns to hate evil and to love to do what is right, good, and pleasing to God! Godly living is the fear of the Lord!

The obverse of the coin is true too. If the fear of God is to hate evil, then the fear of God is also to love a godly way of life. The fear of the Lord is filled with moral content.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fear of God


 

Ecclesiastes 7:1-4   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

If we believe these verses, we must accept that death must have its "better" points. We are all well aware of the reasons why we think of death as a negative thing, but how can we think of such an event and condition as positive?

We must always remember that our Creator, the Master Craftsman who made everything of the highest quality (Genesis 1:4-31), built death into man's design. He did this for good reasons. Surprisingly, there really are good and positive purposes behind both the "first death" and the "second death" (Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8). The first death is the one with which every person is familiar—the one everyone must face. This death terminates the physical life of every human being who lives during the 6,000 years allotted to man.

Before the Flood, even though many people lived for multiple hundreds of years, they all still died. Afterward, God gradually shortened man's average lifespan to 70 years (Psalm 90:10). Perhaps He did this to show us the results of long lives of disobedience to God's law, such as we see in the record of the pre-Flood world, the Tower of Babel, and Sodom and Gomorrah. What would the world be like if it were filled with immortal, law-breaking humans?

God is reproducing Himself. He wants children who will not turn to lives of sin, as Satan and his demons did, and continue to live forever in misery. Unlike the destiny of that miserable band of fallen angels, death is the wages of sin for human beings; death is our penalty for failing to live God's way (Romans 6:23).

Is death, the just penalty for sin created by God, really the "bad thing" in this equation? Is it not rather sin, which causes the death penalty to be incurred, that is really bad?

God does not want one of us to live a miserable, sinful existence for all eternity. He wants children who will learn to obey Him willingly, who will learn to reject sin and reap the positive results throughout eternal lives of joy. He has promised to give every human an opportunity to receive His gifts of salvation and eternal life in His Family and Kingdom. However, if any of His regenerated children insist on continuing in sin after they have been given adequate time to learn, weigh, and understand the consequences of each alternative, they will incur the penalty of the second death, God's loving and merciful penalty of eternal sleep (Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8). Romans 6:23 can be paraphrased as, "The wages of sin is death! Eternal death! Not eternal life in hell-fire, agony, and misery!" We can see by this merciful method of final punishment that, when God tells us to love our enemies, He is not asking us to do something that He is not willing to do Himself. What a loving and merciful God we have!

We believe and hope that Jesus Christ will return very soon to straighten out the mess that man has made of His creation. However, if He does not return before our allotted time expires, we will experience the dreamless sleep of the first death as He did. Jesus' sleep lasted only 72 hours. We should not be concerned that ours will probably last longer because, when we are in a deep, sound sleep, we are unaware of time passing (Ecclesiastes 9:5).

Staff
Death of a Lamb


 

Isaiah 57:15   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Isaiah writes that God "inhabits eternity," that is, He dwells in perpetuity or lives eternally, continually. Moses puts it a different way in Psalm 90:2, "Even from everlasting to everlasting [or age to age], You are God." However, the way Isaiah constructed the phrase, "inhabits eternity" can mean that God moves freely in time; any period of time is accessible to Him. He made it and has power over it. Whether this was Isaiah's actual intent is unknown.

Understanding this is made more difficult because Hebrew has no general word for "time." Ad, the word used in Isaiah 57:15, simply means "duration, perpetual, continuity." This is similar to the idea behind the name Yahweh, translated "LORD," which means "He who is." This corresponds to "'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,' says the Lord, 'who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty'" (Revelation 1:8). God is, has always been and always will be, no matter how men perceive time.

Another of God's names, "I AM" (Exodus 3:14) also implies that men cannot truly understand His relationship to time. Robert Young, author of Young's Analytical Concordance, writes of this word, hayah, "A name indicating rather the unsearchableness of God than his mere existence, as commonly supposed" (p. 506, his emphasis). As Paul points out in Romans 11:33, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!"

God's eternity allows Him to work out His plan over the whole expanse of time. From the most remote past, He has planned, created, and fulfilled each step of His purpose to bring about His ultimate goal, the birth of sons and daughters into His Family (II Corinthians 6:18). God Himself explains how this works:

Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure," . . . Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it. (Isaiah 46:9-11)

Because of God's endless life and His power over events and lives of men, He can prophesy a thing to occur in ancient times and bring it to pass today. Only a Being unconstrained by time could carry out such a long-term feat.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Time and Life


 

Ezekiel 33:10-11   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The Old Testament was written without punctuation of any kind, and in fact, punctuation was not added until about 1,200 years after Ezekiel wrote this. As God's answer to the question of verse 10, verse 11 would read better if a period followed the words "Lord GOD." He replies that we should live as He would live if He were a man - sinlessly. When Jesus came as a man, He did exactly that.

Jesus declares in John 17:3, "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." A key to understanding Jesus' intent is to grasp His use of the word "eternal." We normally think of it as an endless length of time. However, William Barclay's commentary on this verse contains a simple and meaningful difference of opinion with that concept. Barclay contends that Jesus is speaking of something very good, one to be much desired. Living forever is not necessarily good unless the quality of life is also good. Therefore, "eternal" describes the quality of life God lives endlessly. Knowing God and being able to follow His example are vital to our living as He does. Jesus implies that, if one truly knows God, he will also live that way as an effect of his intimate relationship with God.

Yet, truly coming to know God creates one of the more difficult and continuous problems for church members. In fact, one commentator called it the church's biggest problem, and Romans 11:33 seems to confirm this. "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!" Paul says plainly that the full depth of God's wisdom and knowledge are unsearchable and past finding out. We can indeed find out a great deal if we are devoted to seeking Him, an endeavor that requires thorough searching, evaluating, and adjusting of our conceptions. Certainly difficult, but not impossible!

Nevertheless, we must still seek Him, since this verse suggests that we can indeed learn much. It helps that God desires us to know Him, so He is willing to reveal Himself further.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Seeking God (Part One): Our Biggest Problem


 

Ezekiel 37:7-11   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This exciting scripture is just one scene from the event that we talk a lot about on the Last Great Day of the Feast. We call it the "Second Resurrection," and it describes the time when all of those billions, small and great, who never had an opportunity for salvation will be physically reconstructed (as only God knows how) to live again—to live a physical life, yes—but one with a difference: the opportunity for, and the great probability of, salvation and eternal, spiritual life.

Staff
Resurrection AD 31


 

Amos 5:1-6   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Note something of considerable importance to church members: Both Isaiah and Amos addressed their counsel to people who had already made a covenant with God. Why? Because these Israelites were in serious spiritual trouble within the relationship that the covenant created. These are stern exhortations for them to get on the ball.

A second but not readily apparent reason why these warnings are important to us is that seeking after God truly does not begin until after He reveals Himself to us and we make the covenant with Him. Many do not realize that seeking God is the main occupation for a Christian during the sanctification process. Amos is clear regarding this.

God warns how devastating the coming perilous times will be, then He counsels us to seek the help of One far greater - our Creator and Ruler. Finally, He urges us to turn our everyday conduct to seeking to do good, showing care for God and His people.

Amos is not charging the Israelites to seek God in order to find Him because, at the very least, they were acquainted with Him, having already made the covenant with Him. However, that He charges them with seeking Him reveals that despite making the covenant, what they knew about Him had not been translated into everyday living or being like Him. This indicates that they were just drifting along with the times.

Four times in Amos 5, he urges them to seek God, and two of those times, he adds, "that you may live." This thought ties directly into John 17:3, which indicates that, more than being just endless existence, eternal life is a quality of life. As we proceed, we will see that they were being exhorted to seek God because, despite having made the covenant, they had stopped seeking Him, and the effect of stopping was their poor spiritual condition and subsequently, their imminent destruction at the hand of the Assyrians.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Seeking God (Part One): Our Biggest Problem


 

Habakkuk 2:4   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God, in this verse, sets out the two universal sides. The proud are on one side. Their deeds are not upright. On the other side are the just, those who live by faith. In a way, He is asking Habakkuk—and us, "Which side are you on? Can I count you among the proud, who will be destroyed, or the just, the faithful, who will be rewarded? Choose your side."

This verse is quoted three times in the New Testament, all by the apostle Paul. In Romans 1:16-17, he shows that the gospel Christ brought reveals God's righteousness, the way we are to live, which is by faith in Jesus Christ. Thus, he writes, "The just shall live by faith." It is a common misconception that the gospel is merely the announcement of the Kingdom of God. But it is much more than that: It is the instruction of God on how we are to live. It is the faith we must live. We are to live the gospel, the way Christ revealed in His life and teaching. We can live confidently according to God's Word because we trust God—we have faith in Him and His revelation.

A second quotation of this verse is Galatians 3:11, a usage slightly different: as a proof that God does not justify us by the law but by faith. To paraphrase, he says that God has granted us eternal life because of our faith in Christ not by our adherence to the law. The apostle makes this verse say, "The just shall have eternal life by faith, or because of faith"—our faith in Christ, and so we will live.

Finally, Paul quotes this verse in Hebrews 10:38-39: "Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who draw back to perdition [or to destruction], but of those who believe to the saving of the soul." Paul uses the quotation from Habakkuk much like Habakkuk himself does, showing the two sides of the issue: the just on the one hand, who go forward to reward, and on the other side the proud, those who draw back and are destroyed. If we desire to enter into His Kingdom and live eternally, we must believe God and live our lives accordingly. The proud draw back from God, and they receive destruction. If we live by faith, we go forward to perfection (Hebrews 6:1-2) and thus to salvation, not to destruction. Paul says in II Corinthians 5:7, "We walk by faith, not by sight." The lesson is, whatever the circumstances, we must obey God and let the chips fall where they may. We must always be faithful to be counted among the just.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Habakkuk


 

Matthew 4:4   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

There is a dimension to life apart from food and water, and that dimension is given life by the Word of God. God's Word provides it strength and the ability to grow. The Word of God adds an absolutely vital dimension to a person's life—if he wants to live the abundant life and eventually have eternal life.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Freedom and Unleavened Bread


 

Matthew 10:39   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Commentator Albert Barnes explains:

The word "life" in this passage is used evidently in two senses. The meaning may be expressed thus: He that is anxious to save his "temporal" life, or his comfort and security here, shall lose "eternal" life. . . . He that is willing to risk or lose his comfort and "life" here for my sake, shall find "life" everlasting, or shall be saved.

This scripture is one of six similar scriptures scattered through all four gospels (Matthew 16:25; Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24; 17:33; John 12:25).

Jesus attaches a double meaning to the word "life": a lower, physical, and temporal meaning and a higher, spiritual, eternal meaning. Christ warns us that we must make an entire sacrifice of the lower for the higher. For if we do not completely and wholeheartedly surrender the lower for the higher, we will lose both. "When we learn how to die, we learn how to live." Indeed, to learn how to die physically is to learn how to live spiritually (Romans 6:6; II Corinthians 5:17).

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:24-26)

As Christ tells us, if we want to seek Him, we must follow Him and surrender to God everything—our wills, our bodies, and our lives. The self must be denied because our carnal mind is driven by pride and an underlying belief and desire that we must get things for ourselves. We must subsequently live our lives as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1), following Christ's example of complete submission to the Father's will. If we are anxious to save, to preserve, our physical lives and/or to put our security in physical things, we will lose our spiritual lives.

Those who seek to gain the world's physical treasures (Matthew 6:19-21) will lose the Father's spiritual treasures. All of the world's physical treasures are not enough to purchase one eternal life, but if we are willing to sacrifice everything—and it takes everything—if we, with complete trust in Him, put everything in our faithful Creator's hands, we will find everlasting life.

As Christ tells us in Matthew 10:39 and its parallel scriptures, if we want to know Him, we must surrender everything to God. He instructs us to follow His giving example of total self-sacrifice in devotion to God's will. He teaches us to deny the self because our carnal mind is driven by the way of get, which always forces us off the right path. Finally, He advises us to sacrifice entirely the lower, physical, temporal life for the higher, spiritual, eternal life. For if we do not completely and wholeheartedly surrender the lower for the higher, we will lose both.

In our daily prayer and self-evaluation, we should ask ourselves, "Is today the day? Have I surrendered everything to God and am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person that God wants me to be?" We must remember that life can end in an instant, but we are to live in the fear of God, not in the fear of death. In order to live, we must first learn to die.

Bill Onisick
To Live, We Must Die


 

Matthew 16:24-27   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Our Savior is trying to explain the relative values of our physical lives and what we can humanly accomplish to what awaits us in what is commonly called the afterlife. In short, there is no comparison!

Notice the Bible's consistency on the value of human life apart from God:

» Ecclesiastes 1:2-4: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun? One generation passes away, and another generation comes; but the earth abides forever.

» Job 14:1-2: Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away; he flees like a shadow and does not continue.

» Psalm 90:10: The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

» Isaiah 40:6-8: All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.

» James 4:14: For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

» I John 2:17: And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

The physical life we would live now is a bowl of lentils compared with eternal life. It is nothing more than a vapor, a breath, a shadow. The passing pleasures and cares of the world will only gratify and satisfy the immediate desires. If our only interest is the immediate gratification that the world has to offer, we are indeed saying, "What profit is the Kingdom of God to me now?" Like Esau, we will despise our inheritance and go our way apart from God.

Our inheritance is the Kingdom of God. By seeking it and His righteousness first (Matthew 6:33), we are telling God that we place high value on it, that we want it, that we want to be like Him and think like Him, and that we can be trusted to take care of His estate and to live and reign with Christ.

Staff
What Is Your Lentil Soup?


 

Matthew 19:16-22   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The young man's question to Jesus is "How can I have eternal life?" In connecting it to the New Covenant terms in Hebrews 8:10, w can see that the writing of the law on the heart is a two-sided affair. Only those who have 1) made the New Covenant with God, and 2) met the terms within the framework of the time that they live, will be given eternal life. The Boss—Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master, the Messenger of the Covenant, our Savior, the One who preached the gospel, who knows what He is talking about—says, "If you want to have eternal life, keep the law!"

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 10)


 

Matthew 19:17   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Jesus tells him he must do something, not just believe, to gain salvation. By this, He also tells us what works He expects of us, if we would live forever with God.

We must do good works to be blessed with eternal life, and all who have eternal life do such works. Our Savior expects us to become coworkers with Him in our salvation, as well as the salvation of all mankind. Paul writes, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).

God's great law is His way of life! God chooses to live by the Ten Commandments, and they reveal His excellent character. To enter His Family, we also must live by God's law, which helps us to develop godly character. This is how closely eternal life is linked to keeping the commandments.

Staff
Works of Faith (Part 1)


 

Luke 6:24   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The consolation of the rich is the temporary pleasure they get from acquiring material wealth. This is the only consolation they receive, and it is temporary in every way. How far short of the real prize, eternal life, have they come? There is no comparison. In the Parable of the Rich Fool, Jesus teaches:

"And I [the rich man] will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.'" But God said to him, "You fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?" So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:19-21)

Martin G. Collins
Barnabas: Son of Encouragement and Consolation


 

Luke 18:8   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The churches of this world generally teach that all a person has to do is to believe on Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, intellectual and even emotional beliefs on their own produce the static, idle faith that James speaks about—dead faith. However, in one who is truly called by God—an individual who has living faith—his belief galvanizes into a conviction that will produce righteous works. These works ultimately produce the "much fruit" that will glorify God the Father (John 15:8).

Just what is the faith that Jesus Christ is looking for? It is a faith far greater than we might imagine. It is faith, not just in individual truths or doctrines, but in an entire way of life—the righteous, holy way that God Himself lives. God wants us to accept and follow the whole package of Christian living that He reveals in His Word.

Granted, it is very hard to do. We live in one of the most sinful, evil, corrupt, self-centered societies of all times, and our patience and conversion are being severely tested. The world wants us to come out of the narrow way that protects us, teaches us, and prepares us for our future. It is pushing and enticing us to accept the broad way that will pull us down to failure and destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).

But the life that God has called us to is truly awesome! In John 17:3, Jesus declares the kind of life we have been chosen to live by faith: "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." Living this eternal life gives us the ability to know God: how He thinks, makes decisions, shows His love, feels for others, extends mercy and forgives, etc. In other words, living God's way now allows us—as much as is humanly possible—to know the mind and ways of God. It is in God and His incredible way that we must have faith.

Because our calling and potential are so tremendous, God gives us a warning to consider in II Peter 2:20-21:

For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.

Once we start down this road, we have committed ourselves to following it to the very end.

For this reason, Paul challenges us in II Corinthians 13:5 to examine ourselves as to whether we are in the faith. He tells us to test ourselves to prove that Christ lives in us. We will not fail the test if we draw close to Him and truly work to make the changes we need to make as individuals to take on the very nature and life of God.

Then, when the question arises, "When the Son of man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" the answer will be a resounding, "Yes!"

John O. Reid
Will Christ Find Faith?


 

John 1:1-4   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

What poured out of Jesus Christ while He was here? Words—God's words, which are spirit and life (John 6:63). What are God's words, in total? The truth! The truth makes us free (John 8:32). Where does the truth lead? To eternal life! Put all of those concepts together, and we come to what John says so succinctly: "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." How do we get to the Kingdom of God? By following God's words—the Light (see Psalm 119:105).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Preventing Deception


 

John 3:16-17   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Our God, Jesus Christ, gave up everything and redeemed the whole world. Notice, however, this verse says, "whoever believes in Him . . . should have everlasting life," not the whole world. He did not sacrifice Himself for all mankind just because they were there, but for those out of the whole world who believed in Him. Paul writes in Hebrews 9:26, 28 that Christ gave Himself "once" for all time, for the remission of sin, and He does not have to sacrifice Himself again. That is "all" it took, but it took all He had.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part 3): Hidden Treasure


 

John 6:32-33   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Notice the words "gives life to the world." He speaks them to living people, suggesting that He is talking about a different kind of life than physical existence. He is talking about the abundant life, a life that is free and that will eventually be eternal.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Freedom and Unleavened Bread


 

John 6:47-51   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Verses 47-51 reinforce the strategic role eating—listening to and believing in—God's living Word, Jesus Christ, plays in producing everlasting life. The knowledge that one gains by listening to and applying God's Word results in the greatest of all possible blessings: everlasting life. Remember, eternal life is quality of life as God lives it, as well as endless life.

Notice also that those who believe already have this life. It is the gift of Jesus Christ. Those who have believed have "eaten" Him, and thus He calls Himself the Bread of Life. This Bread does what no other bread, even manna, can do. It works to impart spiritual life and banish spiritual death. He adds that He is the "living bread," implying that He lived in the past, is living in the present, and will live in the future. He will always be there to provide nourishment. Further, we must not just taste this Bread. Once the process begins, we must eat it continuously so that we can assimilate Him into us and begin living life in Him and He in us.

Up to this point, Jesus has insisted that He, not manna, is the true Bread of Life. Now, He adds a new thought: This Bread will give His life in the flesh so the world may also live. He means that we cannot have everlasting life without also "eating," believing, accepting, assimilating, His voluntary, vicarious death by crucifixion for us. The Father gives the Son, and the Son gives Himself. Apart from this sacrifice, Christ ceases to be bread for us in any sense.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Four)


 

John 6:48   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Unless we eat His flesh (represented by the unleavened bread of the Passover ritual) and drink His blood (symbolized by the wine), we have no life in us and will not inherit eternal life! It is vital, therefore, for all converted Christians to observe the New Testament Passover every year.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Passover


 

John 6:62-63   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Jesus' answer to their incomprehension is to point them to His authority, saying in effect, "If you see the Son of man ascending to heaven, will this not prove where He came from, as well as the authority of His words that you just heard? My flesh cannot benefit you. Stop thinking that I was literally asking you to eat My flesh or drink My blood. It is My spirit, My person in the act of sacrificing Myself, that bestows and sustains spiritual life, even everlasting life. The words that I have spoken to you are full of My spirit and therefore My life." Unbelief lay at the root of their problem, so they could not understand.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Four)


 

John 10:10   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

What does He mean by "life . . . more abundantly"? A problem arises when discussing this concept due to the apparent subjectivity of the term "abundant." What is abundant living for one person may be absolutely unsatisfying for another. A hard-charging, A-type businessman - into exotic vacations, sports cars, and rock climbing - would not consider a rocking chair on the porch, a vegetable garden out back, and a weekly round of golf at the local course to be fulfilling, yet they would probably suit a retired senior citizen just fine. One person's bowl of cherries is another's bowl of cherry pits.

The Greek word Jesus uses in John 10:10 to describe the kind of life He came to teach His disciples is perissón, meaning "superabundant," "superfluous," "overflowing," "over and above a certain quantity," "a quantity so abundant as to be considerably more than what one would expect or anticipate." In short, He promises us a life far better than we could ever envision, reminiscent of I Corinthians 2:9, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (see Isaiah 64:4). Paul informs us that God "is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).

However, before we begin to have visions of palatial homes, classic automobiles, around-the-world trips, and wads of pocket money, we need to step back and consider what God says comprises "life." Once we determine His view of living, we will have a better grasp of what kind of blessings we can expect as Christ's disciples. All we need to do is glance around at our and our brethren's situations to know that wealth, prestige, position, and power in this world are not high-priority items on God's list of blessings (I Corinthians 1:26-29). In terms of economic, academic, and social strata, most of us come from the lower and middle classes, and we tend to remain in a situation similar to the one in which we were called (compare I Corinthians 7:20-24).

Perhaps the most telling biblical definition of life - particularly eternal life - is uttered by Jesus Himself in John 17:3: "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." Note that this definition makes no mention of length of days, health, prosperity, family, occupation - in fact, the only thing it does mention is knowing God!

What can we take from this?

» God is not overly concerned with the physical circumstances of our lives. It is enough that He assures us that we need not worry about what we will eat or wear (Matthew 6:25-32; Philippians 4:19).

» Eternal life, the kind of life in which a Christian is truly interested, is not determined by duration but by a relationship with God. This is why, once we are converted and impregnated with the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are said to have eternal life already (I John 5:11-13), though not, of course, in its fullness.

» Eternal life - the life God offers us through Jesus Christ and His teaching - is thus about quality, not quantity. Put another way, the abundant life is life as God lives it (Ezekiel 33:10-11; I Peter 2:21; I John 2:6), for once we truly come to know God, we will desire to emulate Him.

» Physical blessings, then, may or may not be byproducts of God's way of life; neither our wealth nor our poverty is a sure indication of our standing with God. Certainly, God desires that we "prosper in all things and be in health" (III John 2), but the bottom line is "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth" (verse 4), not that we live like royalty.

» Finally, a Christian's life revolves around, as Peter puts it, "grow[ing] in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18). This suggests that the abundant life is a process of learning, practicing, and maturing, as well as failing, recovering, adjusting, enduring, and overcoming because, in our present state, "we see in a mirror, dimly" (I Corinthians 13:12).

As humans, we are naturally oriented toward material things, but as Christians, our perspective must change. Paul admonishes, "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died [in baptism], and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:2-3). To us, life - and our perception of abundant life - is a whole new ballgame!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are You Living the Abundant Life?


 

John 12:20-26   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This catches the essence of what Christian life and overcoming are all about. Notice the setting here. A small group of Gentiles ask Philip for an audience with Jesus. John does not record one word of what they said, and the context distinctly suggests that Jesus speaks before they ever say a word. He responds to the fact that they want to see Him.

Two thoughts must have exploded into His mind simultaneously. He first recognized that the people who wanted to see Him were Gentiles. He must have envisioned across the expanse of time the huge multitudes of their populations being converted, growing, overcoming, and entering the Kingdom of God.

At the same time, He anticipated their questions. "What must I do to be saved? What must I do to have eternal life? What must I do to be in Your Kingdom?" How does He answer them? He tells them, "You must quit living your life the way you do." He was not, on this occasion, concerned about specific behaviors but rather the overall principle—the force that drives carnal human life: self-centeredness. So important is what Jesus says that God's voice thunders in agreement out of the heavens:

Then a voice came from heaven, saying, "I have glorified [My name] and will glorify it again." Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to Him." Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake." (verses 28-30)

Notice, beginning in verse 24, how Jesus' response unfolds. He uses a simple, understandable illustration: Unless a seed is planted in the ground and dies, it bears no fruit. Only when its life is sacrificed does it bear any fruit. This applies both to Jesus and to any of His followers. He sacrificed His life, and its fruit until now is the church, but multitudes more will be added as God's plan unfolds.

The same principle holds true in our lives. The fruit that leads to eternal life is produced when the individual sacrifices himself in service to others, God and man. In verse 25, Jesus teaches that the person who attempts to preserve rather than sacrifice will end up losing what he spent his lifetime attempting to preserve. Meanwhile, those who readily sacrifice their lives keep living right on into the Kingdom of God.

It is interesting to note that John uses two different words, both of which are translated as "life." The first is psuche, usually translated "soul," which simply means physical life. The second is zoe, and John usually attaches it to the adjective "eternal," causing it to mean the spiritual vitality of God.

In verse 26, He reinforces His instruction regarding sacrifice by commanding us to do as He does. In this case, this is what "follow Me" means. It is not merely walking behind on the same general course but completely "aping" or imitating Him—doing exactly what He is doing. In this particular teaching, it points to the sacrifice of our lives. He was already living this way, and He would complete His life of selfless service by sacrificing it in death. "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (John 15:13). However, we must understand that laying down one's life is a continuous process. He expects us to follow in His steps, do what He does, bear what He bears, love what He loves.

To most of those who call themselves "Christian," Christianity is a theory to be accepted rather than a life to be actively and daily lived out. Many apparently have the vague idea that what Christ does for us and offers to us enables us, while remaining what we are, to evade the consequences of being what we are and to reap a destiny that is not naturally ours. If we believe this, we must seriously consider II Corinthians 5:10: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." At the end of our lives, we will receive from God what we are living! God wants to see us living like Him, and He will honor those who do.

However, making the sacrifices to live His way is costly to human nature, which resists strongly. Jesus says in Mark 8:34-38:

Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

Why does Christ have to say things like this? Because human nature is driven by the impulse that the only way to the things a person deeply desires is through self-centered, assertive, competitive concentration on getting what it wants. We all have this drive; however, individuals differ in the strength of human nature in them and the methods they employ to achieve their goals. Jesus says the self must be denied because human nature is driven by pride and covetousness.

Of course, the Bible is not urging us to court martyrdom. It is speaking of a general approach to life, of crucifying the self-centered impulses of human nature. This means subordinating a clamoring ego with its preoccupation with "I," "me," and "mine"; its concern for self-assertion; and its insistence on comfort and prestige. It is denying the self for the sake of embracing Christ's cause. To be ashamed to live this way of life is equivalent to being ashamed of Christ Himself.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Six): Eternal Life


 

John 13:17   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The word translated happy in the King James and New King James Bibles can easily be rendered "blessed," "favored," or "satisfied." There is a reward for following God's marvelous way of life! Not only will we be given eternal life and rulership in His Kingdom, but God will also bestow His blessing and favor upon us until we are completely satisfied!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Holy Days: Atonement


 

John 17:3   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

He refers to God's name three times in this brief and exceedingly important prayer! The name represents what He spent His ministry revealing to us about God. He keeps us through His name both by our trusting in what it means and our obedience to how it shows we should live.

He defines eternal life as "to know God." "Know" suggests a very close intimacy, just as a husband and wife are intimate in marriage (Genesis 4:1). It indicates experiential knowledge, not theoretical. In Amos 5:4, God exclaims, "Seek Me and live!" He is saying, "Turn to Me and My way of life; seek to know Me," not "Search for Me," because He has already revealed Himself to us. He is saying, "Seek to know Me by living the same way I do." That is how experiential knowledge of Him becomes an intimate knowing of Him. He will walk with such people (Amos 3:3).

Aionis, the word translated "eternal," deals less with duration of life (although it is included), than it does with quality of life. Living endlessly is not necessarily good. Would anyone want to live forever with a demon's quality of life? True eternal life is the life of God. To possess it means experiencing now some of its splendor because it is being lived and producing its glorious fruits.

Psalm 9:10 adds, "And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You." Those living by faith do not trust in what He is called, for that would be mere superstition. Their faith is in what He is, His character and nature, which they have experienced by seeking to live His way.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment (1997)


 

John 17:3   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

He does not use the term "immortal" or "endless," but He describes a kind and quality of life in terms of knowledge and a relationship with the Father and Son, a very intimate relationship.

Do not be misled by the limited Strong's definition of the word translated "eternal" in this verse. A more complete lexicon like Spiros Zodhiates' Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament gives a more precise usage—how the word is used in the Bible rather than merely in classical Greek. Zodhiates says that the word refers to the "life which is God's" (p. 107). The life of God is more than endless, and that is what is important here. He adds, "It is to be understood as referring not only to duration, but more so to quality. That is, it is not merely life that is eternal in duration, but is primarily something different from the natural life of man, i.e., the life of God."

The Daily Bible Study Commentary: John (Volume 2) by William Barclay contains this comment:

There is another important thought in this passage, for it contains the great New Testament definition of eternal life. It is eternal life to know God and to know Jesus Christ whom he has sent. Let us remind ourselves of what eternal means. In Greek, it is aionis. This word has to do, not so much with duration of life, for life which went on forever would not necessarily be a boon. Its main meaning is quality of life. There is only one person to whom the aionis can properly be applied, and that is God. Eternal life is, therefore, nothing other than the life of God. To possess it, to enter into it, is to experience here and now something of the splendor and the majesty, and the joy, and the peace, and the holiness, which are characteristic of the life of God. (p. 207)

John 17:3 also contains the word "know." To understand eternal life, we must also understand how this word is used here. It undoubtedly contains elements of intellectual knowledge, understanding, discernment, information, and familiarity. However, this word suggests more than this because the Old Testament regularly uses "know" to describe sexual knowledge. Sexual knowledge between a husband and wife is the most intimate of knowledge. Husband and wife are no longer two but one flesh. In this regard, in John 17:3, the important thing is not the sexual act but the intimacy of heart and mind that in true love precede the act. To know God, therefore, is not merely to have intellectual knowledge of Him, but it is having an intimate, personal relationship with Him like the nearest and dearest relationship between two people.

Hosea 4:6 provides an interesting example of the practical effect of "knowing": "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children." God's implication is clear. If they had possessed knowledge of God, they would have had the power to avoid being destroyed. Nobody in his right mind wants to be destroyed. Ignorance might be bliss, but this verse shows it can be dangerously life-threatening.

Consider the implications of a lack of knowledge in the area of physical law. A person who does not know the power of electricity, nitroglycerin, carbon monoxide, drugs, or certain medications could pay for his ignorance with his life. Or, even if a person's ignorance of these things does not kill him, he might have the quality of his life severely impaired through a maiming, debilitating injury. However, when they are used with knowledge, they can do worthwhile things. Similarly, knowing God opens to men the freest and most rewarding expressions of an abundant life.

What if a person does not know of God's righteousness? Proverbs 11:6 says, "The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the unfaithful will be caught by their own lust." What a person does not have cannot deliver them, thus they are injured or destroyed. Isaiah 11:9 shows that during the Millennium, the knowledge of God will cover the earth like a vast ocean. This is what will make the Millennium so wonderful!

Eternal life is more than just endless life. The biblical eternal life includes power to produce quality living superabundantly far beyond merely existing forever.

We should touch briefly on its sexual aspect. Genesis 4:1, 17, 25 each contain the Hebrew word yada'. It has a wide variety of possible applications, one of which is "to lie by man." In each case in Genesis 4, it is translated as "knew," since that is its basic meaning. The Hebrews used it to describe the sexual part of the relationship between husband and wife; thus, it suggests intimacy. When applied to God, it highlights not merely being acquainted with Him but, as we would say today, being "inside His head." The corresponding Greek word, ginosko, translated "know" in John 17:3, can be and is used in the same way as yada' in Hebrew (see Luke 1:34).

To know God thus includes a wide range of mental, emotional, and experiential knowledge. The fruit of this intimacy includes love, reverence, obedience, honor, gratitude, and deep affection. We come to know Him as sovereign Ruler, Master, parent, brother, friend, Savior, and Lawgiver. We would never know this mixture of admirable qualities and authority without getting close to Him. They compel us to yield to Him with all of our heart while we strive to obey and glorify Him.

In sum, this points to Jesus indicating that eternal life is not merely endless, though that is its dominant sense, but that those who have it live intimately with God and conduct their lives as God does—otherwise, there would be no close intimacy with Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Six): Eternal Life


 

John 17:3   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

When Adam and Eve sinned, they, representing all mankind, were expelled by God from the Garden of Eden. The Garden represents being in God's presence and thereby having easy access and communication with Him. In Genesis 2:17, God had warned Adam and Eve that in the day they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they would die. Once they sinned, it became evident that God did not mean they would die immediately, but that, if they ate of that tree, they were as good as dead.

Their human life went on, but God, to emphasize the serious effect of their sin to later generations, placed a flaming sword to guard the Garden's borders. This portrayed that mankind, though still alive, was cut off from any relationship with Him. Thus, sin, which demonstrates a lack of love and fidelity for our Creator, not only seals the death penalty on each sinner, but it also denies an individual access to and thus communication with God while they live on under Satan's continuing influence.

When Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, and we, by faith in that sacrifice, became justified, God legally cleared us of guilt before Him. It is as though the barrier of the flaming sword between us and Him were removed, opening the way for communication with Him and for the growth of a relationship with Him that never before existed for us.

The relationship we have with the Father and the Son through the work of Jesus Christ, both as the payment for our sins and as our High Priest, is everything in terms of salvation. Why is this true? Because we can now communicate with Them! Having access to God furnishes an opportunity for a relationship with the Father and the Son. The relationship is the medium of communication - holy, righteous, spiritual communication.

This communication is more than a mere counterbalance to the evil spiritual influence of this world. It decidedly tips the scales in our favor in this war for our spiritual survival, if we will but continue to believe and trust Them by taking advantage of the contact, communication, and influence freely given to us. What Jesus does ever so briefly in John 17:3 is to tie quality of life, called "eternal life," to a person's relationship with God.

Even though many in it may be religious, the world does not have a relationship with God. There is no communication from Him to them. Undoubtedly, a lot of people know many things about God, but they cannot actually know Him without access to Him. It is like a person knowing of someone from across town by reputation but really knowing nothing about him through personal contact.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Communication and Leaving Babylon (Part Three)


 

Acts 18:27   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The last phrase, "who had believed through grace," parallels the thought in Acts 13:48: "And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed." It reinforces that our belief is the consequence, not the cause, of God calling us, even as His predestinating us to eternal life causes us to believe. This also clarifies that God appoints only a limited number to eternal life in this age, and by grace, God's gift, He imparts to them the faith to submit to Him. Some believed the preaching of Paul and some did not. Those whom God gave faith by grace were greatly helped by Apollos, to whom God had also given faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Part Seven


 

Romans 2:5-7   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Notice that Paul separates "immortality" from "eternal life" as though they are different. The words assuredly share a common idea, that is, both indicate a long, enduring period. Immortality simply means "unending existence" because the being does not corrupt, decay, and die.

However, "eternal life," as used by the Bible's writers, includes something "immortality" does not, introducing a shade of difference between the two words. Unfortunately, in many minds, "immortality" corresponds exactly with "eternal life." They are not the same.

Perhaps a good way to illustrate this is to refer to the Greek myths with their pantheon of gods. In these myths, the gods had immortality but—by biblical definition—not eternal life. This is because immortality speaks only of endless life, not its quality. The Greek gods acted, reacted, and had passions and attitudes just like human beings, mere mortals, whereas eternal life in the biblical sense is life lived the way the true God lives it. It indicates the totality of life, which, as we will see, we already possess in principle. To put it into a more human setting, eternal life is to live life endlessly according to the will of God. Thus, we can understand that the demons, like the Greek gods, have immortality but not eternal life.

John 5:24 helps us to begin to understand when Jesus says, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." Notice that he who believes has already passed from death to everlasting life. We can connect this to Ephesians 2:1: "And you He made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins." Before repentance and conversion, God views us as dead even though we are physically alive.

Though we possess animal life, before God's calling we are totally unaware of the spiritual life of God, even as those who are physically dead are unaware of the pleasures, cares, and amusements of the living. They hear no music, enjoy no food, can see neither beauty nor ugliness—they are unaware even of people trampling on their graves! Before conversion, we are likewise unaware of the spiritual life of God, the beauty of holiness, and the joy, power, abundance, peace, honor, and glory of that life. Conversion is a life slowly expanding into a new dimension that we never knew existed before—everlasting or eternal life.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Six): Eternal Life


 

Romans 3:27   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Paul further drives home the point that no one can earn justification or boast about having received it through his own effort. "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith." No one can ever brag about having been so obedient or having done so many good works that God just had to grant him eternal life. No one will ever be able to boast that he "earned" his way into the Kingdom of God! All those who enter the Kingdom will have done so solely because God extended His mercy to them and forgave their sins through their faith in the sacrifice of Christ.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Saved By Faith Alone?


 

Romans 3:28   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This concludes Paul's entire discussion begun in Romans 3:10. The only way we can be justified—that is, have our sins forgiven and be brought into a right relationship with God—is through faith in the sacrifice of Christ. This justification is something that is imputed to us once we meet God's conditions of repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38). We cannot earn it through lawkeeping or doing good works.

However, what many do not understand is that being justified is not the same as being saved. Justification is only one step on the road to salvation. Someone who has been justified cannot break God's laws with impunity and expect to receive salvation anyway. To have our sins forgiven, we must repent from having broken the laws of God (Acts 3:19). To repent means "to turn around"—to stop sinning and orient our lives to obeying God's law. Paul explains it plainly in Romans 3:31: "Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law."

The true Christian, having repented from sin, has been given the gift of God's Holy Spirit, which is the love of God that enables him to keep His laws in their full spiritual intent and purpose. He has been justified and has received God's undeserved pardon. He realizes his sins caused Jesus Christ to have to suffer and die. Because of all of these things, the true Christian strives with all his might to resist the pulls of the flesh and to put sin out of his life.

Paul makes it very clear that the true Christian must not continue to live a life of sin. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Romans 6:1-2). The true Christian understands that the way he lives and conducts his life has a great bearing upon whether he will inherit the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).

To receive salvation, we must not only be justified, but we must live a life of obedience to the laws of God, developing the fruits of His Spirit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23). Then—and only then—will God give us the gift of eternal life.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Saved By Faith Alone?


 

Romans 6:23   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

A wage is payment for work. Death, then, is what we "earn" as a result of committing sin. This is not eternal life in hell fire but death, the complete annihilation of one's life.

God offers eternal life to those who are willing to meet His conditions. Therefore, salvation—being delivered from the consequences of sin—is receiving the gift of eternal life. Though some think that we already have an immortal soul, the Bible makes it plain that the only way we can receive eternal life is to receive it as God's gift.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Basic Doctrines: Salvation


 

Romans 6:23   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The Holy Spirit delivers us from death and leads us to the gift of eternal life. We inherit mortal life through Adam, but God gives His Spirit to endow eternal life on His faithful and obedient children. Since the Spirit is God's gift, neither are we born with it, nor can we earn it.

Martin G. Collins
The Holy Spirit


 

Romans 12:2   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

After being willing to sacrifice (verse 1), the next step to unity is throwing off the world, human nature, and inferior way of life that we have learned in this world. We could also say we must get rid of the old man and put on Christ, the new man (Romans 13:14; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10). Paul later says we have to transform and renew our way of life and our thinking processes (II Corinthians 3:18; 4:16; Ephesians 4:23), and by doing so, we approve and are convicted by God's will. Only by going through this process do we finally get thoroughly in our minds and hearts what God wants us to do to live God's eternal way of life. If we never start walking that walk, we will never prove it, and thus we will never be unified.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Psalm 133


 

Romans 15:13   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Could we call ourselves out of spiritual Egypt? Can we forgive ourselves through our works? Can we give ourselves the Holy Spirit? Can we give ourselves the gifts needed to achieve God's purpose? Do we begin to see that it is He who should be our hope? Everything, including hope, flows from this real, literal, personal Being with whom we must develop a relationship so that we truly know Him.

Jesus utters a great profundity when He says that "eternal life is to know God" (John 17:3). It is profound because this God—Jesus' God—is God, and He can fulfill His promises. Promises are not worth a thing, not even the paper they are written on, except for the holiness, the power, and the integrity of the one who gives them. Can God be trusted? If He can, we can have hope. Our hope is in Him. If we put our trust in the promises, we are putting our hope in the wrong place because they are just added benefits.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Perseverance and Hope


 

1 Corinthians 15:26   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

If death is part of God's good creation, how can it also be an enemy? God does not create enemies, does He? Yes, He does! For the ultimate good of His people, God has allowed—and even raised up—many different kinds of enemies throughout history to test us. Without making light of the seriousness of human death, we might look on it as a "disposable test tool." When God has finished with it, He will throw it in the garbage!

Yes, death is an enemy. Death and its inseparable and causative partner, sin, are enemies that, although they have led to so much unhappiness and misery over the years, God will one day destroy. But they will not go down without a fight!

In some respects, the first and most crucial battle in the war between humankind and these enemies, sin and death, has been won already by our Savior: ". . . knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him" (Romans 6:9).

Because Christ won this first battle through His death and resurrection, we—His fellow-soldiers (II Timothy 2:3-4; Ephesians 6:11-18)—have been given an opportunity to fight in these subsequent battles, to participate in the destruction of sin and death. Our reward is to receive the gift of eternal life: "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. . . . For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive" (I Corinthians 15:20, 22).

Staff
Death of a Lamb


 

1 Corinthians 15:49   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Jesus Christ was resurrected bodily, yet He was composed of spirit. When we are resurrected, it will also be bodily. We, too, will be "quickening"—life-giving, composed of spirit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 1)


 

Ephesians 2:4-5   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In His mercy, God fulfilled what Jesus said in John 6:44, and began to draw us. He started to bridge the gap and to give us life. We were dead because of sin, but He made us alive and began to give us light.

In this context, "life" means more than endless or eternal life. It implies a "quality" of life, for endless life is a blessing only if its quality is good. Thus, the definition of eternal life must include quality of life.

God revived us, as it were, resurrecting us from a state of spiritual death to life. He revived us, not just to give us eternal life, but to change the quality of our lives. This is a given, because why would He revive us if we are going to return to the same kind of sinful life that spiritually killed us in the first place? No, He revived us from spiritual death to make possible a different kind or level or quality of life, one that includes the ability to fellowship with Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Truth (Part 4)


 

2 Timothy 1:10   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

What powerful words! He brought life and immortality. We have life—mortal life—but not immortality. Could "life," in context with the word "immortality," be a different kind of life than we are now living? We should be on the way to living this new life brought by the gospel. But it is not the kind of life human beings ordinarily live.

What kind of gift would immortality be to give eternal life to those who murder, rape, pillage, plunder, abuse children, or live in any other sin? If they were given immortality, would they not continue to do the things they had been trained from a child to do? Without a doubt, they would.

The life Paul writes about is the kind of life that came through the message of Jesus Christ. Contained within the gospel is God's life, a quality of life that God lives to which He is willing to add immortality. It is a powerful part of the good news of the Kingdom of God. Paul stated in an earlier epistle, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation" (Romans 1:16). And the gift of the Spirit God has given is one of power (II Timothy 1:7).

What is the gospel? It is just words, ideas. But those words impart power! They motivate our lives. They give us the will to do things in righteousness. They give us drive, endurance, perseverance, patience, hope, faith, understanding, gentleness, goodness, kindness, vision, direction. They give us a path for our lives, a way of living that produces a quality of life to which God will add immortality. God is training us in His way of life.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Guard the Truth!


 

2 Timothy 4:7-8   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The apostle had endured strong temptation and terrible persecutions. He had been faithful and had dedicated his life to doing good works, specifically preaching the gospel among the Gentiles. He was certain that he had indeed overcome and would be given his crown of victory and honor when Christ returned.

The crown of life consists of eternal, imperishable living! It represents victory over our earlier, perishable life of sin. In the Millennium and for all eternity, we will wear our crown of life as an emblem of victory, righteousness, and honor as befits those who have been obedient and faithful to Christ.

Martin G. Collins
The Crown of Life


 

Hebrews 2:5-8   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Ultimately, it is God's purpose to put resurrected Christians in charge of the entirety of the universe! We will be ruling over all of God's creation as members of the God Family throughout all eternity! The idea that a Christian's reward is "going to heaven" is far short of the reality of our true reward. God has promised us an eternal, abundant life of challenge, creativity, and achievement that excels man's limited ability to comprehend!

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Basic Doctrines: The Reward of the Saved


 

Hebrews 4:9-11   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

We see the Sabbath in several different lights. First, it commemorates the completion of the Creation Week (Genesis 2:1-3). God is Creator. Second, in Deuteronomy, we see that it commemorates redemption (Deuteronomy 5:15). In the Gospels we see Jesus acting upon this redemption motif with regard to the Sabbath. God has gotten us out of spiritual Egypt. Now the question becomes, how do we use the Sabbath? So Jesus magnifies it by showing that we should use the Sabbath to produce liberty. We might almost say that the first thing we need to make sure is that we are free and stay free. Therefore, we have to strive to keep the Sabbath! Third, it prefigures a time yet future when the people of God enjoy the rest.

So, now we see the Sabbath doing what?

It points to the past—the Creation.

It points to the present—redemption and sanctification.

It points to the future—the Kingdom of God.

These three areas are the parameters within which Sabbath use and obedience fall.

"For there remains yet a keeping of the Sabbath." This is really beautiful. What it shows in the Greek—which, incidentally, is probably the most beautiful Greek in the whole Bible—that the Sabbath rest has already begun if we are striving to use it right. We have already begun to enter into it. If a person works on the Sabbath to earn a living, has he entered into it? Obviously not! Keeping the Sabbath is vital to entering God's rest.

This ties very closely to the term "eternal life" in the Bible. Eternal life is not merely a period in which there is life without end. To God, eternal life includes the quality of life being lived. It would be no good to have eternal life if we had to live like a demon. But eternal life is only good when it is lived as God lives it.

Now, are we starting to live like God? If we have begun to live like God lives—having His attitude, doing the things that He does in terms of what Christ has showed us—then we have begun to enter into eternal life. Therefore, we are already beginning to enter into God's rest. It is a beautiful picture!

Paul's point to the Hebrews is that the children of Israel did not enter into God's rest because they did not hear God's Word and obey. The illustration is the Sabbath, for the breaking of which both Israel and Judah (as Ezekiel and Jeremiah show) went into captivity. What is so interesting here is that this is written to the first-century church, and it is introduced as an illustration of what they are to do with their lives.

Think about this. If the Sabbath had been done away, the illustration was useless. This is one of the strongest proofs in the entire New Testament that the first-century church, the church of the apostles, were still keeping the Sabbath—and reinforcing its keeping by using it as an illustration of the very Kingdom of God, the rest into which we will enter. Far be it from the apostles to say that it was done away! That is patently ridiculous. Maybe the spiritually blind cannot see that, but we should be able to see it clearly.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 4)


 

Hebrews 5:7   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Notice especially the link connecting His being saved from death and being heard because He feared. Christ acknowledged God's sovereignty through a deeply held reverential awe, showing that answered prayer, eternal life, and the fear of God are intertwined.

This is true because the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is right application, and right application is obedience. Jesus Christ obeyed God perfectly. His fear was not an occasional burst of deep respect—as ours so often is—but sustained and built throughout His entire life. It had to be this way because His trials intensified as He aged, and His need of godly fear became ever more urgent.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sovereignty and Its Fruit: Part Ten


 

Hebrews 9:15-17   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Christ did this so that we can serve God. Thus, in order for us to serve God personally, we must be close to Him. Sin separates! What does sin do to relationships, either with humans or with God? It divides. When a person steals from another, do they become closer? If a spouse commits adultery, does that bring a married couple closer? No, it drives them apart. If a person covets something belonging to another person, does their relationship blossom? Sin separates.

Above all, it separates us from God. How can we be close to Him as long as we are sinning? Something had to be done, first of all, to bridge the gap: The sins had to be forgiven. Therefore, Jesus Christ, when He qualified by being blameless, voluntarily offered Himself to be the sacrifice that would overcome the division.

Before He did this, knowing He would die, He made out a will. He said, "When I die, those who take advantage of My death will inherit what I have inherited." The inheritance is to be in His Family! With it goes all the other promises: the promises of the Holy Spirit, eternal life, all the gifts, continual forgiveness, etc.

Whatever is needed, He will supply it. He will continue to stand between God and us, for a priest is one who bridges the gap between different parties to bring them together. He is saying, "When I am resurrected, I will always stand in the gap and be there when you need Me, and I will administer the Spirit of God."

Being brought close to God not only enables us to serve Him, it also enables the Father to serve us. Because we are in His presence, He can distribute to us the gifts than enable us to continue. Christ, then, is shown to be the Sacrifice for forgiveness of sin; the Mediator of peace between God and us; the Testator who died, passing on the benefits to us. These benefits work to remove the flaw, allowing us to keep the terms of the New Covenant.

We can then have a sustained and wonderful relationship with God. We can have His laws written on our hearts (Hebrews 8:10) and so be transformed into His image, qualified to share the inheritance of the promises with Him because we are like Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace and Law (Part 13)


 

Hebrews 11:6   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Notice that Hebrews 11:6 reads, "he who comes to God," and I Peter 2:3-4 uses a similar phrase. "Coming to God" means that one approaches nearer to God, seeks Him, or he walks with Him. It signifies fellowship with Him.

The Bible shows three stages of coming to God. The first is at God's calling when one begins to draw near. It results in justification and the imputing of Christ's righteousness. The second is more continuous, occurring during sanctification, as a person seeks to be like God, conform to His image, and have His laws written, engraved, into his character. The third stage occurs at the resurrection when the individual is glorified.

John 6:44 clarifies our first coming to God: "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day." Nobody comes to God, no one seeks the God of the Bible, until he becomes aware of his need of Him. Nobody comes to God until he realizes he is far from Him and out of His favor—in fact, he is under God's condemnation and separated from the quality of life called in the Bible "eternal life." God reveals a measure of these things through His calling.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son illustrates this (Luke 15:14-19). The son did not return or draw near to his father until he was aware of his need. This sense of need motivates us to seek God and draw near to Him. This sense of need is a gift of God's grace working on a person's mind and is initially given when God summons the individual to approach Him.

Ephesians 4:17-24 covers the second "coming to God":

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness on their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ. If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Verse 30 adds an instructive, albeit sobering, thought: "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." The Holy Spirit mentioned here is God Himself, who is hurt, sorrowed, by our sinful neglect of His gift. Once He bestows this sense of need, it is a continuous impulse unless we stifle it by neglecting to follow through, as those in the book of Hebrews were doing.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Five)


 

Hebrews 11:36-39   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Verses 36-38 list various trials God has required of some of the faithful. Especially notice verse 39: "And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise." Even though all looked lost from a human standpoint, they still believed God, knowing that the sovereign God could and would keep His promises even beyond the grave.

With all of God's promises, He does not promise when He will answer. The timing of those answers is in His hands. Based on what is best, God, who is love (I John 4:8,16), decides when (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The right time may be, not in this life, but in the next. In fact, believing God's promises, even to the end—death—could be the last piece of proof God requires to "know" He can entrust us with eternal life, an everlasting relationship with Him.

Pat Higgins
Faith—What Is It?


 

1 John 1:1-4   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Notice the wording carefully. What is it that John says was manifested, that they experienced with their own senses? Eternal life! Eternal life is something that in the biblical sense can be seen and heard. Indeed, the apostles fellowshipped with it in the flesh! In turn, they reported it to us so we can also fellowship with it - though not to the same extent and in the same manner as they did.

Of course, John is speaking of witnessing and fellowshipping with that kind of life as exemplified in Jesus Christ. Verse 3 is the specific purpose statement of this epistle of I John: to proclaim the reality of God's eternal life as revealed in Jesus Christ.

When John wrote this epistle, the Gnostic heresy was rising in the church. We should note that John's method of countering it is highly subjective, that is, the epistle has many references to the first-person pronouns "I" and "we." The apostle uses the weight of his personal experience witnessing this life to combat the heresies of the Gnostics.

He says the life we witnessed "was from the beginning"; it is the original manner of living. It is the ultimate reality of how to live. This kind of life is not subject to change, whether over time or from culture to culture. The ultimate reality is God - in this case Jesus Christ in the flesh, who is God - and He changes not.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Six): Eternal Life


 

1 John 2:1-6   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Eternal life is to know God (John 17:3). Do we want to know God and do His will at the same time? Keep His commandments. Do not sin. Overcome and grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ (II Peter 3:18). To do this, we have to desire to live the eternal life given us by the Father through Jesus Christ. This does not come easily. Our Savior describes this way as difficult and narrow, for human nature stands ever ready to throw stumbling blocks in our path.

Sin destroys ideals. As we sin, the high standards of eternal life are gradually eroded away, and we become willing to accept just about anything. Sin destroys innocence, and in the process creates fear, cynicism, guilt, and restlessness. Sin destroys the will, gradually removing the barriers to sin more and the incentive to do well.

Sin produces more sin, sickness, pain, slavery, and finally, death. This cycle will never change unless each person, as God summons him, takes it upon himself to allow himself to be motivated to use the gifts God gives. It takes a great deal of effort to do this. Jesus warns it will be difficult.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Six): Eternal Life


 

1 John 2:10-17   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Remember that John's epistle is written to church members. Therefore, he frames matters in absolute terms, offering no middle ground regarding sin and one's relationships with God and fellow man. It must be this way because this is our one and only opportunity for salvation, and sin was what cut us off from God in the first place, causing us to need salvation. We do not want to fall into that position again. Sin is serious business!

Regarding our moral and spiritual conduct, we must recognize that there is no twilight zone, especially in our relationship with God. A Christian cannot muddle around morally or spiritually, thinking that sin is a rather minor affair. It cost Jesus His life! In this relationship, which is in reality preparation for a marriage, love and loyalty are extremely important.

John spells matters out as either light or darkness, love or hatred, all absolutes. Where love is absent, hatred rules in darkness. Where love prevails, there is light. Through the word "darkness," John is disclosing that, because of the sin or hatred, a lack of love for a brother, the relationship with God declines. Notice in verse 11 that the sin John mentions is against a brother, meaning a fellow church member. Hatred is not a trifling matter! Later, in I John 3:15, John says that one who hates his brother is a murderer. What is the result? A relationship is broken, and communication with the brother ends.

Even more serious, we find that the sin also involves one's relationship with God because the effect of that sin is a measure of spiritual blindness. The hater grows insensitive to or hardened against spiritual truth.

Paul reinforces what John teaches, writing in Hebrews 3:12-13, "Beware brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called 'Today,' lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." He warns that sin has a deceptive quality. It promises so much even before it actually becomes an act of conduct, but it delivers far short of its promise. Its truly sneaky aspect is its powerful tendency to lure us into further sin, enslaving us and hardening our minds against righteousness. In other words, it shares characteristics with drugs in that it is addictive or enslaving, destroying one's well-being.

Herein lies the cause of the apostle John's concern in I John 2. God is the source of spiritual truth (light), and we are sanctified as His children and to His service by it because we believe it. However, under the sin of hating, communication with God begins to break down, and consequently, the sinner puts himself in peril of falling completely away. Notice in I John 2:13-14, John mentions that the fathers - those in the congregation older in the faith - have known the Father. He appeals to them to exercise their longstanding, mature leadership within the congregation in a right manner.

The word "known" ties John's thoughts directly with Jesus' words in John 17:3. Knowing God, having an intimate relationship with Him, is the key to living a life - called "eternal life" - which will be acceptable for living in the Kingdom of God. Hating a brother actually cuts the sinner off from the Source of the gifts and strengths necessary to live that quality of life. In other words, the sinner is not properly using what God has already given him and is showing disloyalty both to God and to another member of the Family.

Beginning in verse 15, John pens three of the more notable verses in his writings. When considered in context, they should be scary stuff for a Christian. Why does he command us not to love the world? Because the sinner's conduct exhibited in his hatred of his brother reveals the source of communication prompting his sin! John exposes the communication to which the hater is responding.

Under no circumstance would God ever communicate the sin of hatred toward a brother. Besides, James confirms that God tempts no one (James 1:13). John is warning that the person's affections are drawing him away from God and toward the world, and he had better do something about it before he slips completely back into the world.

This also connects to John 1:5. "And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." Darkness symbolizes the spiritual blindness of Satan's unconverted world. In the book of Revelation, this blindness is represented by Babylon the Great. Satan's world simply does not get it, that is, spiritual truth. Because it cannot grasp God's truths, the only spirituality the world can ultimately communicate is inducement to sin, which it does insistently and attractively.

This leads us back to God's illustration regarding Adam, Eve, and Satan. Satan is the god of this world (II Corinthians 4:4), and thus its spiritual leader and governing principle. He persuaded Adam and Eve to sin. So the only way we can come out of the world is to reverse the process that placed us in the world in the first place: to stop sinning. One can phrase it more positively as to yield to God's will rather than Satan's or to God's communication rather than this world's.

We could never leave the world on our own. God must mercifully deliver us by calling us. We do not understand the mechanics of what He actually does in our minds, but in calling us, He miraculously does something to begin leading us to think of matters in relation to God with a clarity of understanding and intensity that we never before experienced. It is almost as if we suddenly understood a foreign language.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Communication and Leaving Babylon (Part Three)


 

1 John 5:11-13   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Eternal life is more than endless living. It includes fellowship with God and at least beginning to live life as God lives.

When God gave us eternal life, He gave us something unique, a life different from the one we were living before our calling. At that time, we were "dead" in trespasses and sins because we were living a life that produced death. Those still in the world continue to live this kind of life by nature. Do they have fellowship with God? Do they walk with Him as friends because they agree with Him about how to live and to remain at His side endlessly?

Understanding this fellowship aspect is important to understanding eternal life. "Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?" (Amos 3:3). God created humanity for fellowship, and by nature, we seek it out on many levels. Many find it through hobbies, the arts, politics, intellectual pursuits, social organizations, and sports. The greatest and highest form of fellowship, though, is with God and others who share the common desire to live like God always and whom He is transforming to that end. This fellowship is reserved for those whom God summons.

This means an independent Christian is a contradiction in terms. The Christian church is a community fellowship comparable to a body of which Christ is the Head (I Corinthians 12:12-31). Hebrews 10:25 commands us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Fellowship is not just friendly conversation and geniality. The Bible's writers show plainly it is a tightly knit relationship marked by self-sacrificial love manifested in mutual service, concern, prayer, labor, and helpfulness.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Six): Eternal Life


 

Find more Bible verses about Eternal life:
Eternal life {Nave's}
 




The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

Sign up for the Berean: Daily Verse and Comment, and have Biblical truth delivered to your inbox. This daily newsletter provides a starting point for personal study, and gives valuable insight into the verses that make up the Word of God. See what over 115,000 subscribers are already receiving each day.

Email Address:

   

We respect your privacy. Your email address will not be sold, distributed, rented, or in any way given out to a third party. We have nothing to sell. You may easily unsubscribe at any time.
Printer-Friendly          E-mail this page
 A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
©Copyright 1992-2014 Church of the Great God.   Contact C.G.G. if you have questions or comments.