Eternal life is not a what, it is a Who

The ultimate claim of Christianity is the immortality of it’s adherents. I think that many of our well-meaning friends over emphasize that if you come into a relationship with Christ you can have a better life now, at the expense of the message of the resurrection life of Jesus.

If you follow those faithful followers of Jesus after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus the hope of shared resurrection was a constant theme in their preaching. Man’s greatest enemy had been decisively defeated. There was clear proof. Jesus’ closest associates had seen him, eaten meals with him, and had seen him ascend into the clouds. And, on one occasion over 500 people saw him very much alive at one time. And then there’s Paul the Apostle, perhaps Jesus’s greatest spokesman, who didn’t fit the mold of the others, but also saw Jesus face to face long after his resurrection.

The Gospel of John gives the account of Jesus’ conversation with the Jewish leader Nicodemus. What Jesus offered one of the most holy men in Israel was simply “eternal life”. He said it in no uncertain terms. The choices were, trust in me and live forever, or don’t trust me ….you are already condemned.

Then there’s the narrative of Jesus showing up later than expected after the sickness and death of his friend Lazarus. John 11 tells about Jesus’ words to the sister of the dead man saying “I am the resurrection and the life” and that “everyone who lives and believes in me, even though he dies yet will he live” and then asks “Do you believe this?”

Wow! “I am the resurrection and the life“! The implications of this, if true, are staggering. Well, it is true. You see, what God offers through the gospel about Jesus is Jesus himself. Eternal life is not just one of several benefits afforded like forgiveness, peace, community, hope, etc. Eternal life is a PERSON! I have said this to people in classes and small groups and they don’t seem to grasp the weight of it. It is true anyway.

The opening words of 1st John are very straight forward and hard to miss if read carefully and thoughtfully.

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
1st John 1:1-4

John’s testimony is that Jesus is himself eternal life! He has always been “the life” or “eternal life” and he was “made manifest” (the incarnation) and he is now proclaiming “the eternal life, which was with the Father (before Jesus’ human birth) and was “made manifest“. When you are looking at Jesus you are staring eternal life in the face. So when a sinner repents and puts his trust in Christ what God gives him is not a “something” but rather a “somebody”, namely the man Christ Jesus our Lord.

In the 5th chapter of 1st John it is confirmed and I think even more clear.

10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
1st John 5:10-12

The record is crystal clear. Jesus is eternal life. People who are living life dictated by the appetites and desires of their bodies and are swimming along with the culture toward certain destruction do not need religion. They don’t need a life coach or new resolve or even better morals. What they desperately need is Jesus who is eternal life and our blessed hope. What the good news offers is a person, A man who lived a life pleasing to the Father that you and I could never live, A man who willingly died being punished for our common sins, as a substitute for us, so we would never have to face the wrath of God.

In short, the good news is very good news! There is a way out! Jesus loves you, He died for you, and if you will put your whole trust in Him, He will give you himself with all that he is. He will come to be your constant companion and friend by the Holy Spirit, and as a promise that you never need worry if you will finally be with him forever when this earthly life is done. Sins gone, eternal life now, a free gift to you by the God who loves you. What a deal!

The Bible describes those who are not Christians as spiritually “dead”. A dead man needs only one thing, life! Here it is, His name is Jesus, trust Him now.

3 comments on “Eternal life is not a what, it is a Who

  1. It’s difficult to abandon the idea of trying to live for the moment with every entitlement and or promise of prosperity for something which none of us has experienced…eternal life. It is a bold step of faith…and one that can be taken only if we believe that we are truly saved. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be for those who aren’t sure of their salvation in Christ… It’s difficult enough for me as it is…

    • It isn’t about me, or you, it is about him. My confidence rests completely and finally in Jesus own promises, not in my performance.

      Eternal life is a present possession. My life is hidden with Christ in God.

      I have been saved from the penalty of my sins. That’s justification.
      I am being saved from the power of sins. That’s sanctification.
      I will be saved from the very presence of sin. That’s glorification.

      And, I can’t accomplish any of these things. I only lean heavily upon the everlasting arms knowing I am safe.


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