What the Bible says about Eternal Life is to Know God
(From Forerunner Commentary)
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 (1930-2016)
Will Christ Find Faith?Related Topics: Calling | Contend for the Faith Once Delivered | Continuing in the Faith | Eternal Life | Eternal Life is to Know God | Examining Ourselves | Faith | Faith as a Way of life | Faith, Living | Faith, Living By | God's Mind | Knowing God | Living by Faith | Mind of God | Narrow Way | Straight and Narrow
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
These verses describe the position any given unconverted person is in because of his failure to repent. The unconverted are most definitely being held accountable by God. They are not escaping judgment; they are not being given a “free pass” on their sins simply because they are unconverted. Therefore, their poor choices have the potential to eliminate them from conversion and eternity. The converted must not misjudge unconverted people's apparent ease in living without faith and the fear of God. Their lives are not as contented as they might seem to the casual observer.
Based on Romans 1:18-20 their position is insecure, to say the least, so we will quickly evaluate their position realistically:
First, the wicked are making choices, but with neither faith nor God's grace guiding them, and God is judging them. Second, they are making those choices without a relationship with God to access in their times of need. Third, we know full well God is not giving them an unlimited get-out-of-jail-free card just because they are unconverted. Our conclusion has to be that we converted people have tremendous advantages over them because of our calling. There is no valid reason for envying the unconverted.
A deep trial sometimes requires us to repent and change our ways and thinking. The danger, the reason the cautions are given, lies in being lured into thinking, by our resolve to be righteous, that God owes us something because we do a few good works. If we yield to that temptation, the trial becomes a major danger.
A simple but important question needs to be answered: Do we truly grasp—have we thoroughly thought through—the fact that God owes us nothing, absolutely nothing, zero, zilch, nada? Yet, we owe Him everything—from life itself to every breath of air we breathe, to the knowledge we have of Him and His purpose, to forgiveness and the gift of His Spirit. Everything!
This is where the knowledge of John 17:3—“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent”—comes to our aid. Knowing God becomes especially important because intimate knowledge of Him is the very thing our carnality does not want to achieve. Our carnality fears knowing Him and draws back from it to avoid becoming dependent on Him. Thus, Romans 8:7 warns us that our nature looks upon God as the enemy; it fears being beholden to Him. Our carnality is nothing more than a remnant of the spirit of Satan's world in us. It is a spirit of self-centeredness that always wants to hold some of itself back in order to preserve its independence.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Twelve): Paradox, Conclusion
Why do we have to go through this suffering? For the same reason that Christ did. Verse 10 gives the answer, "that I may know Him." In what way? By the experiences of going through the same kinds of sufferings He went through. We gain intimate knowledge of what it took for Him to do what He did even though our tests, trials, and sufferings are considerably toned down so that we can bear them. It is almost as if we are given a little taste of walking in His shoes.
That is why we are here and that is why we suffer. There is very good reason why we have to go through it. If we do not, we do not really know Christ. He Himself says in John 17:3 that eternal life is to know God.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Wilderness Wandering (Part Five)
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?