Showing posts with label Eternal Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eternal Life. Show all posts

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Assurance of “These Things”

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:13)
We must take good account of “these things,” the two words with which 1 John 5:13 begins because it is by means of them that John seeks to offer assurance about eternal life to those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a context that precedes, and “these things” connects us to that. The phrase, “that you may know,” is a purpose clause that connects us back to “these things,” which in turn connects us back to the preceding context.

What, then, are the “these things” of which John is speaking? They are the things John has written about in his letter up to this point — from 1 John 1:1 all the way up to 5:12. What are the things he wrote about? For one thing, he wrote about light, and walking in the light: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:6-7).

He wrote about not loving the world: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16).

He wrote about a lifestyle of righteousness: “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God …” (1 John 3:10). Along with that, he wrote about the imperative of loving one another, not only in word but also in deed: “... nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (1 John 3:10-11). He continues on this theme of love quite extensively:
Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us (1 John 3:15-24)

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).
He also writes about faith in Christ — it is one of the two commandments John says that God has given us:
And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. (1 John 3:23-24)
Notice that it is not just in keeping the commandment to believe in Christ that we know that God abides in us, but it is also in keeping the commandment of loving one another that we have the assurance of God abiding in us.

First John 5:13 was not written in a vacuum but in a context — “these things” — and the context is about walking in light, living in righteousness and loving one another. These offer assurance that our faith in Christ is real and that eternal life — the divine life of God — really is at work in us.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Eternal Life is Knowing God through Christ

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3)

And this is the testimony: 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)
The thing that makes eternal life eternal is God Himself. It is His life — it comes from Him and He shares it with us. It is the life of Christ in us. It is the Spirit of God in us, continually ministering life to us. It is, to use the words of 2 Peter 1:4, being “partakers of the divine nature.” Eternal life has everything to do with God.

The quantitative aspect of this life — that it is eternal — is a result of the qualitative aspect — that it is divine. The primary aspect of this life and this salvation, out of which all other aspects flow, is being reconciled with God. In His prayer in the garden of Gethsemane on the night before He was crucified, Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

Eternal life is all about knowing God through Jesus Christ. This is not merely knowing about God, but knowing God Himself. And not just knowing about Christ, but knowing Christ Himself. It is an ongoing personal relationship with God, being reconciled to Him through Christ. The Greek verb for “know” in John 17:3 is in the present tense and indicates continuous action.

Knowing God through Christ is not merely a means to an end. It is the purpose as well as the source of eternal life. Indeed, knowing God is the essence of eternal life, and it is found in Jesus Christ.
For it pleased the Father that in Him [Christ] all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)
To enter into salvation, then, is to enter into that reconciled relationship with God. We enter it through Jesus Christ. “Whoever has the Son has life,” says John. A person who does not want that relationship does not really what salvation but something that does not exist. The salvation Jesus offers is life, eternal and divine, given freely and received by faith. And this gift of life is ... Himself.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Life of the Resurrection

Eternal life is the life of the age to come. Yesterday we saw that the age to come is the age of the kingdom of God, and eternal life is the life of the kingdom. But there is also another way to speak about the age to come, something else that is an important part of it: The age to come is the age of the resurrection of the righteous. This was the Jewish expectation. It is spoken of in Daniel 12:2, of the time when “many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life [zoen aionion in the Septuagint], some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

When Lazarus died, Jesus said to his sister Martha, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” She was expressing the Jewish hope about the age to come. Taking up that point of expectation, Jesus responded with a startling revelation about Himself: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:23-26).

Jesus Himself is the resurrection life of the age to come, and all who believe in Him shall live. But this life does not begin sometime in the future — it begins now. Jesus said,
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. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. (John 5:24-25)
“The hour is coming and now is,” He said, when those who hear His voice will live. This is resurrection life at work even in this present time. Even so, there is also another resurrection coming, the resurrection of the body. Jesus went on to say,
Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. (John 5:28-29)
We can hear the echo of Daniel 12:2, that some will wake to everlasting life and others to everlasting contempt. However, that hour, the hour for the resurrection of the body from the grave, is coming but is not yet here. Even so, resurrection life, the life of the age to come, is already at work in us. Paul said, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).

In his letter to the believers at Ephesus, Paul prayed that they might know “what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 1:19-20). Paul went on to say that God has “made us alive together with Christ … and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6). This is not future promise but present reality. It is resurrection life now, the age to come breaking into this present age. In Ephesians 3, Paul wrote that God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” The “power that works in us” in Ephesians 3:20 is the same power mentioned in Ephesians 1:19, the power that raised Jesus from the dead.

Indeed, this resurrection life that we have now (and the coming resurrection of the body) is the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus Himself. He is called the “firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18). Because He lives, we live, partaking of His life. Paul spoke of the “mystery” of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). This is the reality Paul himself confessed, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith I the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

This is eternal life, the life of the resurrection. It is the life of the risen Jesus and belongs to all those who belong to Him. It begins now and lasts forever.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Life of the Age to Come

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. (John 6:47)
Jesus says that those who believe in Him have everlasting, or eternal, life. Eternal life is not just about quantity of life, it’s about the quality of that life. That is, eternal life is not just life that lasts a really, really long time (eternity, in fact). It is the life of the age to come. That is it’s quality — it is not the life that comes from the present age (which is passing away) but the life of the coming one.

The Greek has it as zoen aionion. Zoe speaks of life. Aionion comes from aion, which speaks of an age (like eon). Eternal life is the life that is of the age. Which age? The age to come, which is the age of God’s kingdom, the Messianic age, the age of the resurrection.

In the Gospels, the life of the age to come is associated with the kingdom of God. For example, in Mark 9, Jesus speaks of entering life (verses 43 and 45). In the same section and under the same paradigm, He speaks of entering the kingdom of God (verse 47). In context, it is clear that both phrases refer to the same thing.

In Mark 10, we have the story of the rich young man who came to Jesus and asked, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (v. 17). Jesus dealt with the young man, telling him, “Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (v. 21). The young man went away in sorrow, because he had many possessions and was unwilling to give them up. Jesus then said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God” (v. 23). He said the same basic thing again in verse 24 and once more in verse 25. All three times, He spoke of it as the “kingdom of God. The rich young man asked about eternal life; Jesus answered his question, but in terms of the kingdom of God.

The disciples were stunned by this, and Peter started in, “See, we have left all and followed You” (v. 28). Jesus cut him short and said,
Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time — houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions — and in the age to come, eternal life.
Eternal life — just what the rich young man came seeking. It is the life of the age to come, the life of the kingdom of God.

In John 3, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (v. 3). And again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (v. 5). Being born again speaks of a new life, indeed, of a new quality of life. It has to do with the kingdom of God, and with the Spirit of God. When we come down to verse 15, Jesus refers to Himself as the “Son of Man” (a Messianic reference) and of how He must be “lifted up” (a reference to the cross), “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Then in verse 16, we have that famous passage: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (“Eternal life” and “everlasting life” are the same words in the Greek.) Again we see that eternal life is the life of the kingdom of God.

Though it is the life of the age to come, it is the present possession of all who belong to King Jesus the Messiah. Notice that in John 6:47, Jesus says that whoever believes in Him has (present tense) eternal life. It has already begun because the kingdom of God has come into the world. Jesus announced it at the beginning of His ministry: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, Repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Jesus is Himself the king — that is the significance of the His, Messiah (literally, “Anointed One”). It means that Jesus is the one God has anointed to be king over His kingdom.

The kingdom of God has come into the world and has been growing ever since. Jesus said, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it” (Matthew 11:12, NIV). The apostle John wrote, “The darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8).

We live between the times — the time of God’s kingdom coming into the world (through Jesus the Messiah) and the time it will be revealed in all its fullness (when King Jesus comes again). We enter into that kingdom by the new birth, being “born again” by the Spirit of God, through faith in King Jesus. This is eternal life, the life of God’s kingdom age, the age to come which has already begun for us in King Jesus.