Jesus says, “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
— John 17:3 (NRSV)
Eternal life clearly has two aspects from the biblical viewpoint: the now and the not yet. Now, there are many disparate schools of thought on Heaven and eschatology. But that isn’t my present focus, here. Besides the magnificent concept of Heaven—the place I believe all true believers in and doers of God’s Word go, by grace, through faith—there is the shimmering promise of eternal life now.
Ours is to take hold of this promise; to make it our own through obedience; to worship God, through the living of our lives, in Spirit and in truth.
For our three-score-and-ten, plus some if we are very fortunate, we have the opportunity to grasp the fullness of life, and to take with thankful hearts what has been freely given us through the divine favour of grace.
What Is This Eternal Life About?
Every one of us will have slightly different notions about the vision of God for our lives; a vision of the abundant life and what that means in our personal context.
We breathe and we walk and we talk. These for the glory of God! We may travel. We could have the pleasure of work—the construction of things, ideas, and so forth—to make our contribution. We possibly sow into family; have children and grandchildren, aunts and uncles, etc. We may not choose our family, but we have the opportunity to love them as they are, because of and despite how they may treat us. This for the glory of God! For the pleasures we ought to be grateful; we are incredibly fortunate. For the blessings of democracy, praise God. For all the natural things of wonder and things we will never work out—the mysteries of life—we are reminded of the significance of life. Imagining how big life is within our minds and hearts, only to think we are just an individual part of a race of 7 billion, we should marvel about God. Considering we live on the cusp of time, in the very present, all that history behind us, with knowledge of our ancestors and the ancients, that we cannot go back there, how could we not believe in God?
I’m not quite sure if these all demonstrate aspects of eternal life now or not, but what I am sure of is that life is significant—so important, and to be cherished, that all things of God are to be advanced in the name of our Saviour.
Eternal life now must be about cherishing each person in our midst; about noticing the significance in each moment; about embracing both opportunities and challenges with equal vigour (as much as we can muster, in the strength of the Spirit); about knowing right from wrong and choosing right as much as we are able, etc.
The gift of salvation, by grace through faith, blossoms upon the concept of eternal life now. Saved for heaven we may be, but just as importantly we are saved for here and now—to live the abundant life that overflows to blessing for everyone our lives touch.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.