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EVERLASTING LIFE NOW!

June 30, 2012

 

 

“For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.” 

– John 5:26

 

     Jesus taught his followers many things.  Each Christian Bible writer seemed to have been impressed by different parts of his teachings.  A review of the writings of the Apostle John reveals that John was most impressed with Jesus’ teachings on love and life.  In the verse noted above, John tells us that God gave Jesus “life in himself.”  So, though Jesus died, he did not continue in the death state.  He was resurrected because of the ‘life he had in himself.’  But John tells us that God did not limit this gift only to Jesus.  God gave everlasting life to all believers: 

 

“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. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 

- 1 John 5:11-13

 

     Can this be so?  Do believers already have everlasting life?  Do we who follow Jesus have within us the same life Jesus had within himself?  Perhaps this is a poor translation of John’s letter.  Let’s look at other Bible translations:

 

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.  These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” 

– 1 John 5:11-13 (King James Version)

 

“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.  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

–  1 John 5:11-13 (Today's New International Version)

 

“And this is the testimony, that God gave 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.  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”

–  1 John 5:11-13 (English Standard Version)

 

“And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  So whoever has God's Son has life; whoever does not have his Son does not have life.  I write this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.”

–  1 John 5:11-13 (New Living Translation) 

 

     Yes, Bible translators consistently translate these words to mean that God has already given believers everlasting life!  

 

     This teaching, that believers in Christ are given everlasting life during their earthly sojourn, is repeated in John’s gospel.  Let’s look at a few of them:

 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoeverbelieves in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

– John 3:16 

 

“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

– John 6:40

 

“Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.”

– John 6:47

 

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

– John 17:3

 

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”

– John 5:24

 

     From these scriptures, we learn that when we hear Jesus’ teachings, believe them, and exercise faith in them, at that moment, we have everlasting life.  

 

     The Apostle Paul’s letters also shed light on the gift of everlasting life.  Paul spoke of the giving of this gift as an anointing and a sealing, and the gift itself as the  “token of the spirit:”

 

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

– 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 

 

“For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

– 2 Corinthians 5:4-5

 

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

– Ephesians 1:13-14

 

     Understanding this gives real meaning to our anointing.  Anointing is not an act of selecting special believers.  It constitutes the granting by the Father of the gift of everlasting life!   When we listen, believe and exercise faith in Jesus’ teachings, our anointing is sealed.  And we symbolize our anointing with everlasting life by undergoing the baptism into Christ’s death. 

 

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”  

– Roman 6:1-3

 

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin—  because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”

– Romans 6:4-7

 

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  

– Galatians 2:20

 

     By our baptism, we symbolize that we are a part of the body of Christ, the body that “has life in himself” (John 5:26), by means of the spirit:

 

“For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body —whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” 

– 1 Corinthians 12:13

 

     But what teachings in particular lead to the gift of everlasting life?  Jesus gave the answer in an illustration that stumbled many:

 

“Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

– John 6:53-54

 

“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you?  Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.”

– John 6:60-63

 

     Seeing that his disciples were shocked, Jesus explained that he was not speaking of his literal flesh – “the flesh is of no use at all.”  Thus, eating his literal flesh and drinking his literal blood would have no life-giving benefit.  He was speaking in a spiritual sense – “the spirit is life-giving.”  So eating his flesh and drinking his blood means that we must become sharers in his life in the flesh – the things he did, the way he conducted himself, the way he worshiped the Father, the way he treated men, the way he loved mankind.  It is also a sharing in his death, true.  But we die only so that we can be born again. 

 

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.” 

– Romans 6:5-7

 

     Truly, everlasting life is the will of God.  

 

“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

– John 6:40

 

     Since it is guaranteed, salvation should be taken for granted by those who believe in the fatherhood of God.  (Yes, we said taken for granted.)  Our chief concern should not be the selfish desire for personal salvation.  That is a given.  Rather, it should be the unselfish urge to love and, therefore, serve our fellowman even as Jesus loved and served men.  

 

     Prior to Christ, mankind was lost and had become separated from the Father. 

 

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.” 

– Colossians 1:21-23

 

     Jesus came to show us the way home.  (John 14:1-11)

 

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 

– John 14:6

 

     And once mankind was re-directed toward the Father, Jesus commissioned us: 

 

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

– Matthew 28:19-20

 

     The knowledge that we have everlasting life in ourselves strengthens us for our ministry and enables us to endure whatever trials this life brings.  We need have no fear of death.  For by means of this gift, which has already been given, we are assured of our resurrection to life in the heavens with Christ.  

 

     If we use the illustration of purchasing a house, we could say that we already have the title deed.  We are not in escrow!  Once we have exercised faith by our words and conduct, we have met all the purchase requirements.  All that is left is to move into our new dwelling!

 

     So, in the interim, while we are in between residences and tarrying in the flesh, let us imitate the Christ and let the ministry be our primary concern.  As Paul explained:

 

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

– 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

 

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