LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Monday, April 20, 2009

Life eternal

While reading through the book of 1st John, I am continually drawn to verse 2:25, in which it is written:

“And this is the promise that he made to us – eternal life.”

I’ve been thinking and pondering a lot on this verse, particularly after reading the footnote in the NET Bible, which states:

“The promise consists of eternal life, but it is also related to the concept of ‘remaining’ in 2:24. The person who ‘remains in the Son and in the Father’ thus has this promise of eternal life from Jesus himself. Consistent with this, 1 John 5:12 implies that the believer has this eternal life now, not just in the future, and this in turn agrees with John 5:24.”

Those verses cited are:

1 John 5:12 – “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

John 5:24 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”

The reason I stopped and lingered for days – still lingering, in fact – on the words ‘eternal life’ in 1 John 2:25 is because the idea of having eternal life now runs a bit counter to the way we normally perceive the word ‘eternal’ when we discuss Christian living.

I think the word ‘eternal’ is most commonly viewed among Christians as referring to what happens to our souls when our physical bodies die.

And yet, I believe what John and Jesus are referring to here is life that begins when a person becomes ‘born again’ – born, that is, in the Spirit by God Himself.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” – John 6:44

As an aside, the Greek word helkuo meaning “draws” in the verse immediately above is the same Greek word used in Acts 16:19 (“But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and helkuo/“dragged” them into the marketplace to the authorities”), Acts 21:30 ("And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and helkuo/“dragged” him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut”), and James 2:6 (“But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and helkuo/“drag” you into the courts?”), so it is more than a mere wooing on God’s part with the sinner. I am inclined to believe that God's drawing of us leans heavily on the side of compelling the sinner, more than a mere wooing.

But I disgress. The point of this post is not our understanding of the Greek word for “draws,” but of the word “eternal.” Strongs Concordance suggests that the Greek word aheeoneeos (eternal) means “perpetual, also used of past time or past and future as well.”

I keep bumping into this idea – that eternal is not just the future as we perceive it because we as finite fleshly beings are physically born and physically die. But eternal means that in addition to the future inheritance of life everlasting that we know is to come, we likewise possess that very life now.

Although seemingly a simple intellectual difference in understanding, I think it is an enormous change in the heart when one grasps this reality. Because to understand in mind and soul that we have actual real possession of His life within us this very moment, we begin to understand in our hearts that we possess the strength and power of God’s Holy Spirit to enable us to walk in Him, thus avoiding the very real danger of sin.

As you may already know, John’s reference to Christians not sinning in 1 John 3:16 (“Everyone who resides in him does not sin”) does not mean that Christians never sin. That would be impossible in our tents of flesh. I believe John clarifies this by surrounding verses, such as 3:7b-8 (“The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as Jesus is righteous. The one who practices sin is of the devil.”) John’s references to not sinning here refer to the continual, ongoing practice of sin.

But more than that as well.

I think John is saying here that the Christian – when truly walking in the power of the Holy Spirit - is capable of not sinning, but only when abiding in Christ, which gives the Christian the power (and, I believe, the desire) to not sin.

I think we Christians stumble because we don’t know the full power of what we possess. We don’t acknowledge that the very real power of the Holy Spirit abides in us, because we are prone to feeding the flesh and not taking hold of the strength that resides in us, if we would only choose to abide in Him.

And so in this, I think that if we truly understood the word ‘eternal’ as more than just endless time from the point of physical death forward, but grasped more accurately the idea of our possession of very real life in the Holy Spirit in the here and now, we would better be able to walk in Him daily, hourly, moment by moment. When we are tempted or frustrated or lacking peace, we can pray in truth and in Spirit for His strength and power to deliver us from whatever fleshly qualities are pulling us away from abiding in Him.

I favor the word order ‘life eternal’ over ‘eternal life’ now, which sounds like a bit of a nit, but it reminds me to focus on the life I have been given now and the power available to me now to overcome sin and truly abide in Him. This is opposed to focus on the word ‘eternal’ as if it’s something temporal that is reserved for some period in the future. We have His life now. We have His power now. We have His strength now. We have, if we will but ask. (“You do not have, because you do not ask.” - James 4:2b)

I am asking the Lord daily – and more frequently than that – to deliver me from myself and grant me the ability to fully – and I mean fully – trust Him. I confess that I don’t always trust Him and His heart, or love Him as I ought – but I do believe that He has given me His Holy Spirit, and by His strength and power, I am able to do these things.

I pray that God grant you the clarity and wisdom to seek Him with greater understanding and truth this day.

Labels: ,


Blogger mark pierson said...

Eternal life - the life of God within. Where once was rebellion against God, hatred of His ways and rule, being led about by the spirit of this world, following the lust of the eyes and mind, and the pride of life - spiritual death - now there is knowledge of God and a desire to follow His Christ as our Lord and Savior. Great post, Susan!

April 20, 2009 1:26 PM

Blogger Susan said...

Thanks, Mark. Thanks for suggesting that I post it here. It really is an eye- (and heart-)opener to realize His life is indwelling us. Such ... grace. Such... power. Such... accountability - for how we submit.

Increasingly, it is being worked within me to well and truly take my eyes off of myself and this tent of flesh and onto Him, wherein real life - and peace and joy - reside.

April 20, 2009 3:23 PM

Blogger jazzycat said...

There is indeed power in the blood.

April 20, 2009 9:34 PM


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home