Intro. This week the Shadow of Death touched my life, my Aunt Peggy died. Aunt Peggy was my Dad’s youngest sister. I was asked by my Uncle to speak at the funeral. My Aunt was a precious lady, loved by her husband, children, grandchildren and all who knew her. In the face of this terrible loss, I encouraged my family with the wonderful message of Easter, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Easter message is a message of life, eternal life. Matthew 28:6 says, “He is not here, for He is risen.” This morning I liked to talk with you about eternal life.
The phrase Eternal life (zoen aionion) occurs 42x in the NT. Everyone I have every read sees 2 major meanings for this phrase: the quantity, eternal life and the quality, eternal life.
I. The 1st meaning refers to our endless existence with God. Everyone, even unbelievers will live forever, but only believers spend eternity in the presence of God. We often speak of eternal life as meaning “we are going to heaven.” The Bible also calls this regeneration, which means new birth. It refers to being born into God’s forever family when we believe in Jesus.
1. Eternal Life is a gift. Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
2. Eternal Life is received by believing in Jesus Christ.
John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
3. Eternal Life includes the Resurrection from the Dead
John 6:40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
John 11:25-26 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
4. It is permanent (never die-Jn 11:26; never thirst-Jn 4:14)
John 6:35-37 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 “But I said to you, that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. 37 “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
These verses make it abundantly clear that eternal life may be ours when we believe in Jesus. There is NO other condition for receiving eternal life given in these verses. Eternal life is a gift based upon faith alone in Christ alone. Bel. are secure.
II. The 2nd major meaning of eternal life refers to the quality of life. Eternal life is God’s life. Not just the length of life, but the richness of life that God has. Jesus is life and we experience life when we are in fellowship with God.
John 17:3 says “And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.”
Here Jesus compares eternal life to knowing God and knowing Christ. The word used in John 17:3 for knowing is epiginosko. It means to know by observation and experience, it refers to intimate personal experience. This is the word that is used for the intimacy of the sexual relationship between a husband and wife.
Therefore, Eternal life can also be defined as close intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ.
You husbands, have you ever had your wife say, “You don’t know me.” She is not talking about being acquainted or friendly. She is talking about an intimacy that has developed from time and commitment. She means you understand her, you know what she likes and dislikes, but even more you take her likes and dislikes into account when you act or react.
Verses that speak of the eternal life in terms of ongoing fellowship with Christ are not referring to going to heaven, but experiencing a godly life here on earth which results in eternal rew.
That explains the 11 verses (26%) where the phrase eternal life is presented to the believer as something earned or worked for.
1. This Eternal life is promised to believers as a reward, not a gift.
John 12:25-26 25 “He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal. 26 “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.
Romans 2:7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;
2. This eternal life is based upon faith plus obedience. Believers are to walk by faith. (2 Cor. 5:7)
Rom 6:22 “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.”
1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Possessing eternal life is based on believing in Jesus, but “taking hold” of eternal life depends upon a believers choices. Possessing eternal life depends upon God alone. We acquire it by faith. But “taking hold” of eternal life depends upon believers obeying what God says to do. 1 Timothy 6:14 “that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,”
3. This eternal life is a process that will be experienced in different degrees by believers.
Matthew 19:29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life.
John 4:36 Already he who reaps is receiving wages, and is gathering fruit for life eternal, that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.”
John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.
Jesus offers life as a gift by faith, but the abundant life is a process where believers can grow in their faith. Growth is not automatic. It depends upon our response to God. He provides the Holy Spirit, but we may quench the Spirit. He gives us spiritual gifts, but we may not use them for others good. He offers access into His presence through prayer, but we may not ever develop our prayer life. He has given us the Scriptures to tell us His will, but we may not read or obey what God tells us to do.
Eternal salvation is an either-or proposition. You either have it or you do not have it. Whoever believes in Christ has eternal life.
Eternal life, which is defined as being in fellowship with Christ is a process. Knowing Christ is NOT nothing or all. There are degrees. Our fellowship with Christ is not something that happens at a point in time, it is a process that continues over a lifetime and varies in intensity depending upon our faith and obedience to Christ. It can increase or decrease.
My Aunt died this week, but she is living right now because of the gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.
If you want to receive the gift of eternal life, do you believe that Jesus died for you and that He will raise you up.
My Aunt also experienced the quality of eternal life as she walked with the Lord. She was a quiet person, but was a constant encourager both to family and friends. Aunt Peggy was a postitive person who helped others gain confidence & security in her love. She never stopped loving anyone, even if they were not very lovable & she had to correct them. She also made some of the best tuna cassarole, I believe she will be in charge of cassaroles & much more in heaven.
She did not have an easy life. Her father died in an accident before she was born. Her mother reared 3 children during the great depression as a seamstress. She married her childhood sweetheart, but her husband began to drink heavily, but my Aunt never quit loving him. Eventually my Uncle met the Savior through the godly example of his wife. My Aunt had emphysema during the final years of her life. Each and every breath was a struggle, a fight for life. But her faith in God never quit, her love for others never stopped and her service for the Savior continued to her final strained breath.
Even though you are a believer and have the gift of eternal life, you may be feel something is missing in your life:
in your marriage
in your Christian walk
in bad habits
in your personal relationship with Christ
The Bible says eternal life is knowing Jesus. If you are trying to find life through : money, sex, drugs, work, family, friends, recreation, hobbies, service or even religion, then you may be missing the abundant life. These areas are responsibilities where God encourages us to serve and grow, the context of life, not the source of life. The message of Easter is “He is not here, for He has risen.” (Matthew 28:6). Jesus is alive and you can expereince the power of the resurrected life today.
If you want to experience God’s life, eternal life, in your life:
walk with Jesus by faith (you may not always understand what God is doing, but understand WHO He is. Is your faith growing up or growing cold?
rely upon His Spirit for power (that raised Jesus from the dead) He enables
obey God (He has given us His Word)
don’t stop, don’t give up, but do look up (ask God for help, He has provided it)
For example, God Says: love one another
What are some ways we can obey Him?
greet someone you may not know that is in church today
ask them about their family or job
give up something for someone else
take a loaf of bread or some cookies to a neighbor
offer to fix something that you know is broken
visit a nursing home
go talk to a lonely kid at school
Ask Jesus to use you this week to show His life, eternal life to others around you.