I heard a pastor say, if salvation was just a ticket to heaven then once we had accepted Christ as our Savior, we would instantly be taken up to heaven to be with God forever. And this is so true! The fact that a person believes in Christ, receives Salvation and gets eternal life all while remaining here on earth is testament to the fact that there is so much more for us to experience of God here on earth. And so if eternal life – what we get in the exchange of Salvation, is not simply a ticket to heaven or an escape from hell, then what is it?
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Eternal life is a gift from God to all those who believe. It is our union with Christ, which allows us to escape the righteous judgement of God for our shortcomings and instead live in His fullness for eternity. And since it is a gift from God then it must be something which He owns and gives to us or purchased for us. In this case it is both. God possesses eternal life and Jesus purchased it on the cross for all who will believe in Him.
So eternal life is a gift, a very precious and expensive gift which the whole Bible speaks of, but if we don’t know what exactly the gift we’ve been given is, then we either take it for granted, ignore it or don’t fully maximise it.
So what does this gift of eternal life really give us?
In John 17:3 Jesus defines eternal life in His prayer, for all disciples, to God the Father:
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Eternal life gives us a relationship with God the Father and Christ the Son. It is the reconciliation of us with the Father. What sin destroyed at the beginning with Adam and Eve, the gift of eternal life restores through Christ when we believe.
It has always been God’s intention to have an intimate relationship with us forever. He designed us for this. God wants us to live out of our relationship with Him- the way Jesus did. He is willing to share His thoughts, heart and ways (wisdom) with us. This is what He has given us as a gift through Christ – unfettered access to Himself. It is what we see Jesus live out of – oneness with the Father; fruitfulness, effectiveness, peace and so much more.
Why were God the Father and Jesus Christ so bent on restoring this relationship?
Well like any good relationship which is going to last the test of time, eternity in this case, this relationship is founded on unconditional love – love that does not require any virtue or goodness or righteousness.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 5: 6 – 8
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
While we were still sinners – fallen, Christ died for us and made this gift of eternal life, of a restored relationship with God, available to us. God wants us to know Him, not because He needs His ego satisfied, but because He loves us and has no desire to withhold Himself from us, plus, we actually need Him!
He created us in His image and likeness for His glory – to display His awesomeness, but how do we do that when we don’t know how awesome He is? when we don’t recognize His goodness or His faithfulness or the beauty of Christ’s love towards us in His perfect work of redemption on the cross?
If we believe in the finished work of Christ, if we claim to be His followers then we must get to know Him. This takes time- He is just that big, it takes effort, conscious and intentional steps to learn about Him and spend time with Him. No relationship grows or thrives when one person has a passive attitude towards it. We are commanded to love God with everything – heart, mind, strength, soul, and we can only love Him well the more we know Him.
So how can we get to know God and Jesus Christ more? here are my most practical examples:
- Making room for God in my life – intentionally setting a time and if possible a place to meet with God daily – I do this with a journal so I can write down whatever is on my heart and whatever I hear Him say
- Talking to him like a friend – respectfully still, but I bare my heart to Him, the same way I would to a dear friend, and ask for His help / instruction
- Study the word – what was God’s heart behind the things written? – asking the Holy Spirit for understanding when doing this is key!
- Coming to God in humility – understanding that He loves me perfectly just as I am not because of anything I do.
- Thanking Him for all things at all times! A thankful attitude helps you see His beauty in everything and everyone.
- Praying Paul’s prayers for believers in Ephesians 1 and 3 and Colossians 1 over myself. (you can also pray Philemon 1:4-6, Hebrews 13, 1 Thessalonians 1 and 3).
- Fellowship with other, more mature believers – asking them questions and being inspired by how they love God.
- Remembering all that Christ is for me and has done for me, what He makes available for me and what He promises to give me.
God is so loving, He doesn’t force us into loving Him but He makes all of Himself available if we want to know Him. And if we believe that Jesus is risen from the dead and so we have eternal life, we must get to know Him for who He actually is – not our idea of who He is or whatever society has told us He is like.
Jesus stands at the door of our hearts and knocks waiting for us to let Him in so He can fellowship with us. He died and rose again so we can know the only true God, and Him as Christ. And it’s all for our benefit – that our joy may be full!
May we not abuse or ignore this act of love, may we grow in our knowledge of God and Jesus Christ His son.
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