God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
1 John 5.11-12
What is eternal life? First, it is life that persists beyond death. In the Christian understanding, human beings are not spirits contained within bodies, two disparate things joined together. Human beings are living souls. That is why any biblical understanding of the afterlife must take into account all teaching on the resurrection. We don’t go up into Heaven as disembodied spirits. The clear teaching of the Bible is that we live again in new bodies on a new earth. Eternal life, then, is the life we will live here after we have been resurrected. And that life will never end, for there will be no more sickness, death, or time. We will just go on living in the presence of God forever.
Second, eternal life is the quality of life we will enjoy. Some have rendered the phrase “eternal life” as “the life of the ages” or even “life, the way it was always meant to be lived.” These are good renderings, linguistically credible. What’s more, they make good sense. Not only will we live forever with Christ, but we will live fantastically, wondrously, and awesomely. It will be the high life. We will feel truly alive every moment. Our prior lives on earth will feel like the work we had to do before we could enjoy this eternally long weekend.
The Bible talks so much about eternal life because it’s a carrot worth chasing. It’s good to have the best life possible. It’s even better when such a life never ends. Life will be full throttle, and we will never run out of gas.
I could say a lot about how we will spend this eternity but that’s not really what I want to talk about. I just want to remind us what eternality is supposed to feel like, not go over the weekend schedule of events.
More importantly, I want us to understand that we do not have to wait for death and resurrection to begin enjoying the life of the ages now. We can experience life, presently, the way it was always meant to be lived, eternally. Through Christ and his promise for abundant life, we can come to enjoy a better quality of living than we ever thought was possible on our own. We have access to Heaven’s resources now. Please don’t get sidetracked into thinking I’m promising unrestricted health and wealth. And please don’t be deceived into thinking that means neither material nor physical wellbeing matter. I’m talking about so much more than health and wealth. I’m talking about the ability to forgive. To let go. To move past old hurts, wounds, bitterness, and resentment. I’m talking about the power to love those who persecute you, and in the process watch them be transformed by that love and become friends instead of enemies. I’m talking about a life so good it’s contagious.
And we can begin living that way now.
We have recently hired a new staff person at our church. She was offered the job almost three weeks before we began paying her, but during those three weeks she spent her evenings and weekends doing the job for which she would later be rewarded. Don’t you see? She was already living the life she wanted, the life she was promised, before she had received her reward.
We can do that with eternal life now as well. Later on, life the way it was always meant to be lived is a certainty, but now it remains a possibility. All we need to experience that eternal life in the present tense is faith in Christ and an open posture to his Spirit.
This post is from Seasons of Christian Spirituality.