Eternal Life: A Christian Perspective

The other day I was asked, “What is eternal life?”

This question came up in relation to John 3:14 which says, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” I will try to provide a concise Christian response.

We are drawn to the idea or eternal life. Many have become Christians just to grasp eternal live. No argument from me, that sounds better than dying and just ceasing to exist. It sounds a lot better than eternity in the pain we encounter regularly, or for some, all the time. The meaning of eternal life has become a bit confusing as the term is used in relation to both quantity and quality. When eternal life is mentioned, it is usually related to quantity/length. We think first of forever.

At some point in life, we have all felt a desire to live more, for more time and with more quality. As I see it, only quality should be of concern. We all have a bodies that corrupt as they moves toward an inevitable death. If eternity has been bound/set in heart, then it is understandable that eternal life would be our desired.

First, all things made of flesh will die. This is universally accepted and not an idea unique to Christianity. This is foreseen in the Old Testament. Moses and Abraham are examples. Those who follow Jesus will see death in the flesh. We have the records of the deaths of many of Christ’s disciples. As with Jesus, many of the disciples and early followers of Jesus, died as martyrs at the rough hands of others. Stephen in the book of Acts is an example. The only people who will not die in the flesh are those with the Spirit of Jesus living in them when He returns.

The second thing to consider is that all souls will live forever. This can be seen in the beliefs of several major world religions. Eternity is stamped, as it were, on our hearts. Why would anyone image people, with eternity stamped on their hearts, not by nature, lean toward systems with this theme. The souls of those who do not believe in God will be separated from God, this is the quality issue. This was foreseen in the Old Testament, but more fully revealed in the New Testament. For those who do not follow Jesus, this eternal period will be in suffering the separation from God. On the other hand those who believe in Jesus will live with God, in a positive relationship. For those, who live to glorify God and enjoy His presence forever, every reasons for tears and pain will be wiped away. Jesus said that Abraham saw His day and rejoiced. Those who die to themselves and live for Christ will reign with Him forever.

In the end, eternal life, both related to time and quality, has to do with living with/in Jesus. Jesus is life. If we drink of Him, we will have springs of living water welling up in us.

3 “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Eternal life is knowing Jesus, not just for life in eternity future, but for life now.

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” 8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father;

Below I have included a few related verses, if you care to read more. Grace to you and Peace.

  • All Flesh will die.
    • God’s chosen people die.
      • 8 Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life;and he was gathered to his people.
      • 5 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.
    • People who have believed in Jesus Die.
      • 59 They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.
    • One exception to physical death
      • Those alive at the return of Christ
      •  16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
  • Second – All souls live on forever
    • Those who do not believe are separated from God
      • Old Testament
        • 2 “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.
      • New Testament
        • 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
    • Those who believe in God will be with God
      • 56 4 “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”
      • 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
      • 11 It is a trustworthy statement:
        For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
  • Eternal Life has to do with living with God.
    • 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
    • 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.
  • Eternal life has to do with knowing the God
    • 3 “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
    • 41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’
    • 22But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.