There’s some flawed and faulty thinking among many worldwide believers in Jesus. About What?
Here’s what. As I visit with various Jesus-believers and pre-believers here and there in person, by correspondence, and by e-mail around the world, I find that many of them have only a vague, dim understanding of what eternal LIFE—Real LIFE—is all about. Here’s what the Bible teaches: Eternal LIFE is God’s own uncreated, self-existent, imperishable, undiminishable, indestructible, inexhaustible, incorruptible, boundless, limitless, abundant LIFE He permanently implants within people through Jesus Christ. In short, it is God’s own LIFE in all its fullness. The quality, inherent nature, or character of that LIFE, not its duration, is paramount. It’s the present real-ness of that life that is crucial. In most of my writings, I almost always capitalize God’s LIFE in us to emphasize it’s abundantly wonderful quality, not its duration or length.
We mistakenly tend to think of eternal LIFE in terms of an endless, future existence in a fanciful heaven far off somewhere “beyond the blue,” beginning when we die. And the existence it seems to imply is a sort of religious church service in the sky “in the sweet bye and bye,” which leaves many people wondering if they would really want that kind of life to go on forever….as dull and boring as are some church services. But Jesus is quite clear when he speaks of eternal LIFE—He means it is LIFE that is absolutely wonder-full and can never be diminished or stolen from you. He says, “I have come that you may have LIFE, and have it to it’s fullest.” (John 10:10) The eternal LIFE God gives us is a life far exceeding that of the highest life any human being possesses, just as the highest life a human being possesses far exceeds that of the tiniest one-celled amoeba.
Eternal LIFE is not the mere continuity of this mortal life in an immortal, endless religious service where we all play harps while sitting on fluffy clouds in some far-off forever. No! Eternal LIFE begins now and culminates after the long eons of time in a final, timeless state of being called eternity. All spiritual growth of a Jesus-believer during this life is simply to receive more and more LIFE from God! Sometimes when God first implants his LIFE within us, it may lay dormant for a time. Then when we are ready, it begins to come awake in us, blossoming into its full, vibrant expressiveness in ways that only God can “grow” it in us.
There comes what I call a “magic moment” in each person’s life when God’s embryonic LIFE—whether in root, in seed, in tiny acorn—begins to blossom and bear fruit. That LIFE in our innermost being begins to fulfill its destiny within the Father’s new-creation son or daughter—That’s you! That’s me! (2 Corinthians 5: 17) That LIFE begins to shoot upward from where it has taken root in our spirit. It sprouts within us, sending forth new leaves and branches and fruit, flowering and blossoming until that LIFE in us is All in all. We don’t need to experience more and more of this finite, perishable, mortal life we have on planet earth in order to have a fuller life. No, we need more and more of the infinite eternal LIFE of God in us—more of his LIFE-making Presence in us. If we will simply let God pour more and more of his LIFE into us by means of the inner work of the Holy Spirit, there will never be a limit—throughout all time or in eternity—to the enlargement of our existence, to the flood of LIFE that will gush into us, through us, and out of us. Most of us simply have no conception of how full and “complete” and vast real LIFE is.
Life Without LIFE
The condition of pre-Jesus believers without God’s LIFE in them is a sort of “life in death,” an unreal, colorless dream existence, an emptiness, a pointless, aimless wandering in a dull, gray, twilight zone. LIFE eternal is not merely an endless elongation of our consciousness. No, LIFE eternal is given us by God—a LIFE which is his very own LIFE, not subject to the ravages of decay or death as are our mortal lives.
Eternal LIFE is a present existence in which the Jesus-believer has already been given a “portion” of the very self-existent, uncreated, loving character and nature of God!
I can’t emphasize it enough: Eternal LIFE is not some sort of endless life we’re going to get (future tense) when we die. No, it’s God’s very own LIFE He gives us now (present tense) when Jesus comes to live permanently within us in his unbodied form of the Holy Spirit. It’s the very LIFE of the Eternal God flowing into our lives in the ages and eons of time and space before we reach our final state of being in timeless eternity. If the Son of God lives in us by virtue of our having been born2, we have (present tense) God’s very own eternal LIFE within us…NOW! (1 John 5: 11- 13)
How People Get LIFE
As simply as I can put it in summary fashion, here’s how we “get” God’s eternal LIFE. When we are born2 (see John 3: 5 – 8), God takes a “portion” of his own uncreated, self-existent, imperishable, inexhaustible, undiminishable, incorruptible, indestructible, boundless, limitless, abundant LIFE and permanently implants it within our human spirits. And we instantly come ALIVE with that LIFE within our human spirits, inseparably and permanently melded, welded, or amalgamated with God’s LIFE-giving Spirit within us for all time and eternity!
Time and Eternity
To get a better understanding of what I’m attempting to teach about eternal LIFE, it would help to understand a little about the differences between time and eternity. So…let’s examine for a few moments the concepts of time and eternity. They are both integral parts of the greater reality of God’s very own LIFE within Jesus-believers. I’ll attempt to teach these two concepts as somewhat separate from one another, but, of necessity, there is much overlapping of the two. When we examine the overall subject of time, we will also look at other time-concepts that are temporal, non-absolute, and relative.
Let God’s Spirit Teach Us
Only the Holy Spirit, the Author of the Bible, can teach us in depth about time and eternity. And I encourage you to ask Him for understanding and clarity as you continue to read this teaching. He can fill in the many gaps I’ve left out of this article because of my own limited understanding. I freely admit there is much I don’t comprehend about time and eternity. I’ve never been to the ages of time to come and the state of being called eternity, so I really don’t know much about them yet. There is much yet to be learned as the Holy Spirit gives us illumination and enlightenment. In a sense, there is much about time and eternity that only time to come and eternity’s reality can clarify for us. Okay, we’re considering the concepts of time and eternity in connection with God’s own self-existent, uncreated, eternal LIFE He implants within us when we are born2.
Time And Space
Continuing on with our thoughts, let’s think about whether or not time and space are finite or infinite. If they are infinite, are they necessarily eternal? By definition, space is “the expanse in which all material things are contained.” Infinity is defined as “something lacks known or measurable limits and bounds,” not that something has no limits or boundaries. With my present understanding, I believe that space and time do have limits and boundaries, but they cannot be measured by presently used astronomical instruments. I am open to changing my mind as additional study might dictate. Space, time, and the material universe are created phenomena and are infinite, but only in the sense they cannot be measured by finite humans. I believe they are not infinite in the sense of being eternal—as only God is.
What Is Eternity
Now let’s consider the concept of eternity. Please understand that the most basic definition of eternity is “a state of being.” We shall see that it is much more than that, but it is a state of being, first and foremost. Eternity is not a created phenomena as time is. In all candor, I believe the Bible teaches very little by way of defining or describing eternity. Why? Because the Bible is essentially a book of time and for time. It was written for us who are limited time-beings, not yet totally eternal beings. We are presently creatures of time—journeying through time. Only when we arrive at and fully enter that state of being called eternity… only when He who is Eternal becomes All in all in us… Only when time ends and is swallowed up into eternity… only when eternity becomes an absolute reality to us… only when we are spiritually metamorphosized into our eternal milieu… Only then will we spiritual time-beings, who were formerly physical and material beings, comprehend eternity and matters of an eternal nature.
There’s an old familiar Gospel song which speaks about our “going home” upon Jesus’ return…to our metamorphosis…to our Great Transition…to our change from mortal to immortal:
“When the trumpet
of the Lord shall sound,
and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks
eternal, bright, and fair;
When the saved of earth
shall gather over on the other shore,
and the roll is called up yonder,
I’ll be there…
On that bright and cloudless morning
when the dead in Christ shall rise,
and the glory of his resurrection share;
When his chosen ones shall gather
To their home beyond the skies,
and the roll is called up yonder,
I’ll be there…”
I don’t necessarily agree with all the “theology” of that old song or with the time sequence of the events it describes, but it is, nevertheless, a good old Gospel song describing the Great Hope we have for our future in time to come and in eternity to come based upon what Jesus has done for us. Everything written by us humans about eternity (including this article) is at best enlightened speculation based upon limited information. Because we are still time-beings, not yet eternal beings.
The Eternal God
We read in the Bible that God is Eternal, or, more literally, the Father of Eternity (Deuteronomy 33: 27, Isaiah 9: 6). He is called so in the sense that he is the originator and sustainer of eternity. In short, eternity is part of God. He dwells in eternity. Eternity is in God.
Continued next month…
“So…to the King of the ages of time and eternity, to Him who is invisible, to the only God there is, full of wisdom—may honor and glory be given to Him alone for all the ages of time and eternity. Amen!” –1 Timothy 1:17
To Think About This Month:
“I am extremely grateful God gives me sufficient time to prepare for eternity!”
Life Enrichment Services, Inc.
Revised and U[dated December 2018