The Incredible Value of Eternal Life

March 8, 2020

 

(This teaching was given at Hope Church in Rhome, TX on Sunday, March 8, 2020. Special thanks go to Pastor Jonathan Splawn for inviting me to speak.)

 

What would you say is the most well-known “eternal life” verse maybe in the whole world? It even shows up at pro football games: John 3:16.

 

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

 

When I learned I was invited to teach today I sensed that the topic was supposed to be “eternal life”. So, if we need a title for today’s teaching I guess it would be: “The Incredible Value of Eternal Life”.

 

I knew I was going to study the topic from the Bible but I decided to do what so many do: I did a web search and found an article on Wikipedia. Here is how the article started:

 

“Eternal life traditionally refers to continued life after death…”

 

When most people think about “life” we think about the day we are born but we, as Christians, know that our physical lives start when we are conceived. Hebrews 9:27 tells us that everyone eventually experiences physical death (unless, of course, we happen to be alive when Jesus returns.) Most people believe that “spiritual eternal life” begins after we die or, like the Wiki definition said, this is when we start to experience “continued life after physical death”.

 

I went looking for an earthly definition because most Christians tend to see eternal life the exact same way the world does. Indeed, the Bible does say things that make this seem it might be true…if we don’t dig deeper.

 

“So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight.  We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8)

 

Whenever physical death comes to us we immediately shed our physical bodies and find ourselves face to face with Jesus – “present with the Lord”. If we’re saved we get a new body and spend forever and ever in Heaven with Him; if not, we spend eternity in the Hell we chose for ourselves.

 

For many Christians, this is what they mean when they say the term “eternal life” or “everlasting life”. And, to be fair, verses like this prophetic word in Daniel helps us to think that way:

 

“…at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book.  And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:2)

 

The word “everlasting” means there is no vanishing point or end of time. The word “life” there simply refers to an alive person. When you hear that don’t you just picture a line starting at someone’s conception and then going off into forever?

 

While its true that once we physically die and begin to live in heaven we WILL live there forever and ever, that idea doesn’t come close to the meaning of the term “eternal life”. We’ll be looking at this today but we will also dig into that one word: “life”. It might seem like a no-brainer but its not.

 

I hope when we’re done today we will have a new understanding of TWO words: “eternal” and “life”. In particular, I hope we won’t read this and go on thinking eternal life is just a very long time. It means a LOT more than that and we don’t have to wait until we stop breathing to experience it!

 

In other words. we can experience eternal life, RIGHT NOW.

When the devil was successful at tempting Eve and Adam in the Garden, a lot happened. They lost SO MUCH and that has affected you and me – because WE inherited their loss. We lost authority and our identity, our ability to see ourselves in terms of being WITH God.

 

Most of all, though, we lost LIFE.

 

Now, in the Greek of the Bible, there are two words for LIFE: ZOE and BIOS. Adam and Eve had both there in the Garden. They were alive spiritually (ZOE life from God) and enjoyed that spiritual life in their physical bodies. When Eve and then Adam ate from the fruit of the tree of knowledge, they lost ZOE and all they had left was BIOS, a physical body.

 

We inherited that and its effects and one terrible effect is that we also were given an earthly mindset with a focus on mere BIOS. We began to see ourselves as mere physical beings who had periodic experiences with God. Our perspective as a people changed and we started to live on a timeline…moment by moment – with NO real eternal perspective.

 

God still had a plan and He interacted with people, even after they failed Him in the Garden.

 

(He still wants to have relationship with you…and me…even though we fail Him at times.)  

 

Imagine seeing everything just in terms of taking one step…then another step…then another. Living like that…with the perspective into which we were all born…causes us to see only life in terms of a series of events.

 

There was a conception event. Then we have a birth event. (We celebrate that one every year: our HAPPY BIRTHDAY…event.)

 

Some of us, hopefully all of us reading this, have had a salvation event. Then we follow that with a regular weekly worship event. Some of us have a marriage event. Some of us have one or more events in which we experience the birth events of our children. Then one day we will have a death event…followed by a funeral event.

 

Most of us think that our eternal life starts after that death event; but, if that were so, would Paul have said this to Timothy?

 

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12)

 

Why did Paul put it this way? It was because “eternal life” was available to Timothy right then – from the moment he was born again - not something he had to stop breathing in order to experience.

 

The Fall of Man orchestrated by satan has caused us to see our lives in terms of a series of events. Jesus did NOT and does NOT see life that way.

 

As John reported in John 3:16, Jesus said “that whoever believes in Himwould “have everlasting life”.

 

That word “believes” literally means “that whoever BE LIVING IN Him” would “have everlasting life.” Jesus is saying that His intention for us is that after the initial choice to believe in Him (an event) there is an on-going lifestyle in which we “be living in Him”.

 

And, this is interesting: the word “have” has to do with gaining access to something and then being able to experience it all the time. It literally means “to have and to hold”. I find it intriguing that these are words found in almost every wedding ceremony.

 

Can you imagine a marriage ceremony event in which two become one, husband and wife, and they WAIT until some other event (like death) to experience everything intended to happen in a day to day marriage??? That is absurd, isn’t it?

 

We became one with Jesus the day we experienced our “salvation event” and, then, because of our event mentality…we wait to experience “eternal life” until after we die.

 

Can you see what the devil has stolen from us? Why isn’t living like

that absurd to us?

 

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

 

God loves us SO MUCH that He gave His Son so that whoever be living in Him should not perish…so we would not go to hell someday…but ALSO so that we would not experience miserable, boring, drudgery-filled lives. Instead, He did this so that we would be able “to have and to hold” eternal life RIGHT NOW.

 

We don’t have to wait until after we stop breathing to experience this. So, why don’t we experience this right now? Because we try to live without accessing that eternal life by walking after the flesh and not after the Spirit. We try to do it on our own.

 

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)

 

We don’t typically come to Jesus for life and provision and protection. We turn to the world and to our own flesh to try to find ZOE all on our own and all we get is BIOS…and BIOS always degrades and dies.

 

“And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?’ So he answered and said, ‘'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND,' and 'YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'’ And He said to him, ‘You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.’” (Luke 10:25-28)

 

What Jesus says here isn’t a one-time salvation event. This is a LIFESTYLE of choosing to love the Lord with everything we have. Jesus promises that when we decide to live that way…and then do that…we will experience ZOE!

 

“Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’ Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.’ But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” (Mark 10:17, 21-22)

 

Our “possessions” – and this includes ANYTHING we have…including our abilities and gifts and talents…can keep us from “following” Jesus. And THAT will cheat us out of experiencing eternal life now.

 

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

 

What we have can keep us from believing…from “be living in

Jesus.”

 

So far, we have looked at the fact that while we DO have access to eternal ZOE life forever and ever this does NOT mean we have to wait until we die to do that. We’ve seen that there is a deeper sort of “life” that God intends for us to enjoy, ZOE – the same life Adam and Eve knew before they forfeited it.

 

Let’s look briefly at these words “eternal” and “everlasting”. In the strictest of definitions, they CAN simply refer to something that is not at all bound by time. And, you know, that’s really more than we could have ever hoped for – right? It’s amazing that we get to live, unbound by time, for eternity with Jesus.

 

But consider, for a minute, that idea in the context of how Jesus speaks of “life” (again, ZOE life) in this verse in John in which Jesus speaks about His mission regarding us:

 

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more ABUNDANTLY.” (John 10:10)

 

That word “abundantly” means He makes ZOE available to us in a superabundant way, far exceeding all the spiritual life we could possibly ever need.

 

Do you ever sense that overwhelming sensation of being overflowed with the LIFE of God? Most of us never do and, when we do, it seems to just come…and then it goes away. It almost seems to evaporate.

 

Why? It’s because of that “event mentality” that we talked about earlier: “It's time to worship God. Ok, we’re done now. Its time to stop worshiping God. See ya next time when we will worship God again.”

 

That stuff.

 

Am I saying that we aren’t to come to a building one to three times a week to worship together? No. Am I saying its wrong to have a regular scheduled private quiet time alone with God or a scheduled time to gather with another person in a kitchen or break room?

 

No. These are all good things.

 

What I AM saying is that, according to Romans 12:1…well, I’ll let Paul say it to us today:

 

“…I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1 – NASB)

 

When can we do this? How about all the time? As a lifestyle!

 

The day before His arrest Jesus spoke with His disciples:

 

“Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.” (John 16:32)

 

Jesus is telling us that BIOS life WILL happen to us and it will tend to divide us – from one another and from God. He also tells us that this would not happen to Him because the Father was WITH Him. WITH HIM.

 

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

 

Have you ever experienced that sensation of being scattered? I have. Sometimes, something that is so unexpected and devastating will happen to us and it’s like our soul becomes scattered.

 

In John 16:33 Jesus is also telling us that since we are “In Jesus” (another way of saying that we are born again) we will have “peace” which is the opposite of being scattered and divided. Think about it: how far away from us could Jesus ever be…if we really are IN HIM?

 

And in Him was life (ZOE), and the life was the Light of men.” (John 1:4). Then Jesus went on, giving us a totally different definition of “eternal life”:

 

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)

 

Coming to depend on the Father and Jesus and, in that way, knowing Them IS eternal life.

 

The Fall of Man in the Garden, followed by every, single rejection and wound placed into us through BIOS…through people and earthly tragedies and traumas, were all designed by the devil to steal LIFE from us. They were intended by satan to cause us to approach being children of the Most High God with an event mentality – usually causing us to resign ourselves to never taste eternal life until

AFTER we stop breathing this earthly BIOS air.

 

I speak to you today as your equal, my ETERNAL brothers and sisters, and I beg you: PLEASE join me in refusing to just exist from spiritual event to event, bound by the squares on a calendar that tell us that it is now time to work…and now it’s time to stop and now it’s time to worship…and now it is time to stop.

 

What a dreary life!!!

 

How about we resolve, here and now, that our entire lives…which will NEVER end…are to be one ETERNAL act of worship? How’s THAT for a spiritual event that is everlasting?

 

Will you? Will you join me in this? If so, you might want to pray something like this:

 

“Father God, I am tired of living from event to event, trying to find spiritual life in physical experiences. I repent of that and I commit to renouncing my own flesh. I choose to present myself to You to lead me into Your ZOE life. I want to walk in the Spirit, trusting in you as a lifestyle. When I fail to do this, I depend upon You to correct me and realign my way with Your way. Thank you, Father. I pray this in the beautiful name of Jesus. Amen”

 

In closing, I would like to share some things the Apostle John wrote as an encouragement to us:

 

“And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.” (1 John 2:25)

 

“These things I have written to you who believe (you who be living) in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, (RIGHT NOW!) and that you may continue to believe (be living) in the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)

 

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. THIS is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)

 

I hope this teaching was encouraging to you as well. Amen.

 

 

Pastor Mike McInerney       

Mike McInerney Ministries, Inc.

Decatur, TX

© March 7, 2020

 

 

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