“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” — Romans 6:23
Many Christians assume that when a believer dies, they enter into eternal life, but this is not how eternal life is described in the New Testament. Passages about eternal life are always written in the present tense. For example, John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has—(present tense)—eternal life…” Jesus also tells us, “Whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has—(present tense)—eternal life…” (John 5:24). While eternal life has an ongoing and everlasting dimension to it that is beyond this life, it is something we are to receive here and now in the present tense.
What is eternal life? Jesus defines eternal life in John 17:3 when He says, “Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” In other words, eternal life is knowing God and knowing Christ. This is not knowing in the sense of intellectual appreciation but knowing experientially, because eternal life is nothing less than the very life of God lived within a person who received Him by the Spirit of God. In essence, eternal life is life that derives meaning from the presence of Jesus Christ in us which makes sense of life on earth and continues through all eternity.
Why do we need eternal life? The alternative to eternal life is what the Bible calls “perishing.” John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” “Perishing” is a process. When we were born, we began in the state of perishing, where we are separated from God, in a state of death. Unless our life is replaced with the process of living an eternal life, it will culminate in eternal separation from God in a place called “hell.” This is why the Bible speaks of “perishing” in the present tense too: “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are—(present tense)—perishing…” (1 Corinthians 1:18), and “Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are—(present tense)—perishing” (2 Corinthians 4:3).
Every one of us is naturally in the process of perishing, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is about Him intervening in a person’s life, halting the process of perishing and replacing it with the process of living. How do we get this eternal life? The marvellous thing is we can do nothing to earn it. Eternal life is never a reward or payment; it is a gift of God that we simply receive in humility.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus Christ, I am so grateful to know You. Thank You for intervening in my perishing life and gifting me with eternal life. Praise You!