As I visit with various Jesus believers and pre-believers here and there in person and by correspondence and e-mail around the world, I find that many of them have only a vague, nebulous concept of what real LIFE—eternal LIFE—is all about.
Here’s what the Bible teaches: Eternal LIFE is God’s own uncreated, self-existent, imperishable, undiminishable, destructible, inexhaustible, incorruptible, boundless, limitless, abundant LIFE He implants within people through Jesus Christ when they are born again (born2). In short, it is God’s own LIFE in all its fullness. It is the quality, inherent nature, or character of that LIFE, not its duration, that is paramount. In most of my writings, I almost always capitalize God’s LIFE in us to emphasize its exceedingly wonderful quality, not its duration.
Many Mistaken Beliefs
We mistakenly tend to think of eternal LIFE in terms of an endless, future existence in a fantasy heaven far off somewhere “beyond the blue.” 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 wonderful and can never be diminished or stolen from you. He says, “I have come that you may have LIFE, and have it to the fullest.” (John 10:10) The eternal LIFE God gives us is a life exceeding that of the highest life any human being possesses, just as the highest life a human being possesses far exceeds that of the lowliest one-celled animal.
Eternal LIFE is not the mere continuity of this mortal life in an immortal, endless religious life playing harps while sitting on clouds in some far-off forever. No! It begins now and “ends” in a state of being called the eternal state. 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—that moment in time comes when it 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. (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 more 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 time or in eternity—to the enlargement of our existence, to the flood of LIFE that will flow 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 most men and women without God’s LIFE in them is actually a sort of “life in death,” an unreal dream existence, an emptiness, a pointless wandering in a twilight zone. LIFE eternal is not merely an endless elongation of consciousness. No, LIFE eternal is given us by God—a LIFE which is his own, beyond the attack of decay or death. Eternal LIFE is an existence in this mortal life in which the believer has been given a portion of the very self-existent, uncreated 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 to 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 mortal lives in time and space before we reach our eternal state of being. 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 Humans Get LIFE
As simply as I can put it in summary fashion, here’s how humans “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 fused 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 broader truth of God’s very own LIFE within his sons and daughters. 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 look at 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 true Author of the Bible, can teach us in depth about time and eternity. And I encourage you to ask him for assistance as you continue to read this material. He can fill in the many gaps I’ve left out of this teaching because of my own limited understanding. I freely admit there is much I don’t comprehend about time and eternity. 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 can clarify for us.
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 known 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 strictest, non-theological 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. In other words, 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 temporal beings, not yet totally eternal.
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 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 to the issue of 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
In Jesus’ Kingdom when He returns,
and the roll is called up yonder,
I’ll be there . . . . ”
I hasten to say 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 great old Gospel song describing us.
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 is eternity. Eternity is in God.
“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
In continuing to consider the concepts of time and eternity, we must completely jettison any thinking that time has anything to do with eternity or is part of eternity. Time and eternity are two separate entities. They are mutually exclusive of one another in an absolute sense.
Eternity IS a state of absolute timelessness, NOT a state of unending time. There are NO endless ages of time in eternity. Eternity IS a state of absolute simultaneousness, NOT a state that goes on and on and on with the passing of “unending” time.
Eternity is a state of being, resident in the very nature and person of God in which such time-concepts as past, present, future, before, after, minutes, hours, and years do not exist.
Time Shall Be No More
The ages and eons of time will end; they are alien concepts in eternity. Time and eternity have no relationship with one another just as up or down, for example, have no relationship with light or dark. The terms “up” and “light” are mutually exclusive. Time is not part of eternity just as “up” is not part of “light.”
It may seem like I’m overemphasizing this point, but it is absolutely essential that we understand such differences between eternity and time before we can begin to comprehend what the Bible teaches, for example, about eternal LIFE. Time is not part of eternity. Eternity is not composed of segments of time. Eternity is not time standing still. It simply is not time in any sense that we understand time. Eternity doesn’t go on and on, ad infinitum. Eternity doesn’t go anywhere or anywhen, nor does it do anything. Eternity simply is. It doesn’t go on and on and on.
Time is created. It is extra-eternal in the sense we say something is extra-biblical. Time is a measurable, fixed, limited, created phenomena. Eternity, in contrast, is part of the very nature and person of God.
The Great “I AM”
Eternity transcends beyond our comprehension anything having to do with time. Eternity simply is, just as God simply is. The expression, “It is that it is,” has unique reference to eternity just as “I am that I am” has unique reference to God. Just as Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am,” (John 8: 58) it can be said of eternity, “Before time was, I am.”
Some Misunderstood Terms
For my next point let’s consider only briefly the definitions of such biblical words and terms as “forever,” “forever and ever,” “eternal,” everlasting,” and related expressions. By the way, have you ever pondered how there can be a “forever” with an “ever” following it? Just asking.
In over 500 places in most modern translations of the Bible where we find such terms in the English language as the four just mentioned, they have with very few exceptions been mistranslated from the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic languages in which the Bible was written.
“Forever” can most often be translated as “age-lasting,” or “continuing for the ages of time.” “Forever and ever” and “everlasting” should be translated as “for the age(s) of the ages,” “enduring for the ages of time,” or “throughout all generations.”
Such biblical words or expressions are not about segments of time that go on and on and on without end. I am simply saying that these words are all time-words words expressed in time-languages, fallen languages of a fallen race of beings, languages that are inadequate to wholly express and define that which is eternal. They are not words having to do with eternity; they are only about time. In the original languages, the biblical emphasis on such words seems to be upon the quality and purpose of such words rather than upon an unending duration. In other words, eternal LIFE means the nature, quality, or purpose of the LIFE rather than it’s length or duration.
Eternal LIFE is God’s self-existent, uncreated, undiminishable, imperishable, incorruptible, inexhaustible, indestructible, limitless, boundless, abundant LIFE of God in us, a LIFE the seed of which we now possess and which will come to full fruition in eternity when the ages of time have ceased to exist.
Check ‘em Out Yourself
I’ve given only a few examples of such words and expressions. An exhaustive—and startlingly convincing—personal study can be made of every such word in the Bible with the use of a good Bible concordance.
In summary, it can readily be seen that both time and eternity are concepts beyond total comprehension by fallen and limited human beings. Our “darkened,” finite, limited minds and understanding are too limited to fully grasp their meanings. Nevertheless, even a dim understanding of such concepts will help change our thinking and preconceived notions of space, time, the universe, God’s nature and personality, God’s “size,” God’s inherent eternality, and our own future eternality.
God is cultivating within Jesus believers an eternal nature, a nature no longer rigidly bound to and regulated by time, by clocks, by seasons, by cycles. The thoughts of God’s people are becoming boundless and eternal, no longer controlled and motivated entirely by memories of the past, by present events, or by dim hopes for an endless future in the “sweet bye and bye.” God’s people are becoming age-less and time-less, are being “caught up” to God and his throne, are becoming truly and genuinely eternal beings in many ways. The fledgling eternal spirits of God’s people are growing up into the limitless expanses of God’s own eternal, spiritual nature.
New, Eternal Beings!
His people are becoming new eternal creations, no longer limited by the restrictions of the space-time continuum and by our physicality and materiality.
We are not human being having a temporary spiritual experience; no, we are eternal spiritual beings having a very brief human experience!
We are seeing with our “inner eyes” of our “faith-sense” the reality of a state of being called eternity—resident in the very nature and person of God—and our hearts strain and leap upward toward that “place” in God that awaits us beyond the eons of time.
I hope that brief discussion of the concepts of time and eternity will help you more fully appreciate the wonder-full, rich, abundant, eternal LIFE God has implanted within you through the eternal sacrifice and total and complete salvation God has given you through God the Son, Jesus! He implanted that LIFE in you at the time of your new-creation, second birth and it will continue to grow within you throughout all the eons of time and then beyond time into the eternal state! Thank God for such amazing salvation!
Beyond The Far Shores Of Time
Here is a little scenario I recently wrote based on my own very, very limited understanding of Eternity, that place in God to which we are all journey-bound:
“Beyond the far reaches of the vast sea of time and space lies a fair and lovely land called Eternity. It is a land beyond measure in which no mortal feet have yet trod. A land of great delights, of fulfilled desires, dreams, goals, and visions. A land where all is well and all is peacable.
A land where He Who Is . . . is All in all; there is nothing in that altogether lovely land which The Great Presence does not fully permeate and fill to the full. We . . . you . . . me . . . all are bound for that unclouded land beyond the far borders of time.
In that ever-sunny land there will be no need of the sun or lamps, for there will be no night there. The permeating, en-Lightening Presence of Him Who is All in all will provide all Light. And, in that wondrous land of light and beauty beyond compare, there is a pure River of Life flowing from the throne of the All in all.
On either side of that River is a Tree of Life which bears fruit always, and the leaves of the Trees will heal those from every tribe, tongue, and nation who made the long journey to that wondrous Land.
No dark and limiting curses will find a place in that comely Land, but only extraordinary blessings for all . . . from Him Who is All.
Pure love will radiate throughout that land from Him Who is seated on the throne and from the Lamb seated at his right hand; love will be the very atmosphere breathed by all in that fair land. And love will be the very core character and nature of all who dwell there . . . because He is Love.
It’s a land of dazzling beauty no human eye has ever seen—a land of light beyond the crystal sea. A bountiful land of abundance, a land of milk and honey where Justice and Mercy fall and nourish the land like spring rains, sweeping gently across the lush, verdant meadowlands of Eternity.
Love and grace waft unceasingly throughout the land, filling the very atmosphere. The knowledge of God and his Righteousness and Good cover the earth as the waters fill the seas.
Praise and joy resound from every corner of the land. Salvation and Deliverance flow down as crystal rivers flow from high mountains.
All is Peace—peace which surpasses finite comprehension, Peace which overshadows all that might cause anxiety and worry, Peace which stills any tumult and storms that might arise on the crystal seas in that radiant land to which we go.
There are still, sparkling waters, beside which the Great Shepherd of all sheep leads us into verdant meadows where Feasts surpassing abundance are ever provided to all.
We shall dwell there beyond the far shores of time, ever in the Presence of Him who fills all with Himself. Death shall be no more. Nothing shall ever disturb the peace and tranquility that pervades that all-spacious land over which the King of kings and Lord of lords rules with eternal benevolence toward all creation.
Ceaseless High Praise—loud as rolling thunder—is ever heard, yet there is always a hushed and still quietness that is palpable to all. Such Praise rolls effortlessly from all created beings, originating from deep within the redeemed who ever come singing to the Temple of God—whose temple we are, filled with all the fulness of the Spirit beyond measure and comprehension.”
Dear reader, that is the wondrous land called Eternity to which we are all journey-bound beyond the far reaches of time and space. Let’s journey on.
“God makes everything beautiful in its own time. He has placed within the heart of every human ever born the knowledge of the ages of time and eternity. But our understanding is so finite and limited that during our journey here we can never fully grasp what God is doing. What we are able to comprehend of God’s working throughout human history is always unclear, partial, and distorted.” –Ecclesiastes 3: 11
To Think About:
“On most gravestones there’s a date of birth, a dash, and then a date of death. The dash is very short; it represents my life from conception to death. It’s what I do during the dash that really matters!”
Life enrichment Services, Inc
Revised and Updated November 2020