This Is Life Eternal

In his book The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis said, “There are no ordinary people.  You have never talked to a mere mortal . . . It is immortals whom we joke with, worth with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.”  The point that he is making is that everyone who has ever lived will spend eternity somewhere.  The Bible presents two options: everyone will spend eternity either in heaven or in hell.  That is what Lewis means by immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.  The distinction between these two groups is whether or not they have believed in Christ and accepted His gift of salvation.  John 14:6 says, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  1 John 5:12 says, “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”  The Bible speaks of those who have accepted and believed on Christ as having eternal life.  John 5:24 says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”  Christ very plainly said that whomever hears what Christ has said (including that He is the only way of salvation) and believes in this has eternal life.  This is the Gospel that the Bible lays out for us.

But what is eternal life?  We may think of it as the spiritual life that we will have in heaven after we die.  Our bodies die physically, but we will live eternally in heaven after we die.  That is part of eternal life, but the reality is that eternal life begins the moment that we accept Christ as our Savior.  John 5:24 does not say that we when we believe then we will have eternal life in the future.  No, it says that the one who believes has (currently, presently) eternal life.  He is already passed from death to life.

So from what death have we passed already?  If we have not yet faced physical death, then from what death have we passed away?  Isaiah 59:2 says, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”  The Bible teaches that our sin separates us from God.  If we consider what death is, it is really a separation.  In physical death, a person’s spirit, the immaterial part of him, is separated from his physical body.  In spiritual death, a person is separated from God, as Isaiah 59:2 says.  That is why Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you hath he quickened {made alive}, who were dead in trespasses and sins.”  When a Christian was spiritually dead, separated from God by sin, God gave him spiritual life.  God gave him spiritual life by giving him a relationship with God, eliminating the barrier of sin that was between them.  This spiritual and eternal life begins the moment we get saved.  We do not wait until we reach heaven to receive eternal life; if we have trusted and accepted Christ as our Savior, then we already have eternal life right now.

So what exactly is this eternal life?  The Bible teaches various aspects of eternal life, but one of the key ones is found in John 17.  In John 17, Christ is praying for the disciples soon before His death on the cross.  John 17:3 says, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”  What is eternal life?  Eternal life is knowing God.  Sin separated us from God in spiritual death, preventing us from truly knowing God in a personal way and having a personal relationship with Him.  We could know a little bit about God.  We could know facts that the Bible teaches us about God.  We could look at Creation and see the work of God, knowing that He exists.  But we could not truly know God personally.  But when God grants us eternal life, based on our faith, then we truly have a relationship with the God of the universe.  We can know Him personally.  The joy of this reality is that we don’t need to wait until heaven to know God well.  We certainly will learn far more about God when we reach heaven.  But for the Christian, he can begin knowing God in a personal way right now.  He isn’t limited only to learning facts about God; he isn’t limited to a God who seems a million miles away.  He can know God personally and closely.  As a believer in Christ, we have the opportunity to know Him personally and closely, and that is a privilege and relationship that we must seek to build every day.  Knowing God personally and closely: this is life eternal.

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