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What the Bible says about Eternal Life is Being Intimate with God
(From Forerunner Commentary)

John 17:3

This verse provides a succinct yet broad biblical definition. We tend to think of eternal life as simply endless life when it is not. Jesus' definition of eternal life is "knowing God." We could say it is understanding the way God lives or that the quality of life that God lives is eternal life. He does not live as a human lives, but He lives on the God-plane. We must learn to live as He lives, to think as He does, to act as He does, to write His image on our minds.

God has set the Sabbath apart so we can know Him, that is, so we can know what eternal life is and live it. Knowing Him is eternal life. Another way to put it is that eternal life is being intimate with Him. He is not intimate with people who rebel against Him nor those who, on the Sabbath day, have their minds on everything else but Him and His way of life. Such people talk about everything else except the things that concern Him and our relationship with Him. Using the metaphor of a courting couple, we cannot come to know Him by going out on a date with Him and then not paying any attention to Him.

The proper observance of the Sabbath is given to humanity so that we might come to know God better on this day than is possible on any other day of the week. He provides an entire twenty-four hours to spend with Him. It is no wonder that He became upset with Israel because they ignored what He wanted from them on the Sabbath. They spent precious little time with Him. They failed to dig into His Word and so failed to discuss His message, His attitudes, His character, His purpose. Their minds were on everything else but Him.

We know that, if we went out with someone of the opposite sex, with whom we expected to have an enjoyable time, and that person paid attention to everybody else except us, we would be frustrated and angry. We would never want to go out with that person again. That is the issue. Eternal life describes the way God lives, and the Sabbath is set apart so that we can come to know Him and become more intimate with Him.

People spend an untold number of years preparing to earn a living in this world. Doctors spend four years at college then study more years at medical school and during their internship. It might take eight, ten, or twelve years for them to prepare a doctor to be successful.

By contrast, God commands us to set aside just one day each week to help us prepare for living endlessly in the highest quality - as He does.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sabbathkeeping (Part 1)

1 John 4:7-8

These verses furnish Christians with critical marching orders and guidance while providing crucial insight into our Creator's nature—all centered around the word “love.” Twice in these three verses, John declares that “God is love.” He also implores us to “love one another” and to know God, and then he identifies God as the source of love. Furthermore, our Savior commanded His disciples, earlier in John 13:34-35 (see also John 15:12, 17), to love one another “as I have loved you.

Consider that God has created humanity physically in His image (Genesis 1:26), and further, is re-creating those whom He has called into His spiritual image (II Corinthians 3:18). To that, we must add our standing orders to love God (Deuteronomy 6:5), to seek Him (Matthew 6:33), and to establish an intimate relationship with Him that we might become more familiar with the image that Christ came to reveal and that we are to become (John 1:18).

Consider also the following quote from John Ritenbaugh's 1992 sermon, “Do You See God?”:

We are beginning to see an application to you and me. Will God be working in our lives if we don't see Him? If we don't recognize Him? If we don't understand His purpose, what He is working out in you and me? I don't think so!

In like manner, in his 2006 sermon, “God, the Church's Greatest Problem,” he opined:

Since eternal life lies in the relationship with God, it is extremely important how frequent and accurate our thoughts about Him are. We can conclude that what one knows about the true God Himself and how one uses that knowledge are the two most important issues in life.

A strong relationship with God is critical to attaining eternal life, and the strength of that relationship depends upon an accurate understanding of who He is—His nature. To that end, we have the written Word of God to guide us as it reveals the true nature of God. Moreover, since the Bible teaches us that God is love and that our ability to know God will be determined by our willingness and capacity to love, it is vital that we understand the true meaning of love, particularly as intended by the apostle John's inspired writings. In fact, without this understanding, how can we possibly proceed with our marching orders to seek God—to know Him—and to reflect His will in our interactions with all mankind?

But, everyone is familiar with the concept of love, right? After all, virtually all of civilization is absorbed—even obsessed—with the idea of love. Throughout man's history, countless writers, performers, pundits, and deep thinkers have devoted much—if not most—of their respective careers trying to define and even display love. So, determining the meaning of this simple, four-letter word should not be too great a challenge, right?

Perhaps it is not as easy as one might think. In fact, if we study the world's most common usages and descriptions of love, we find that they have little or nothing in common with the divine nature of our Creator. Stated another way, we discover that John's use of the word “love,” as translated from the Greek word agape, has little to do with our modern, worldly concept of love.

Joseph B. Baity
The Nature of God— What's Love Got To Do With It?


 




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