John 17: 3; John 5: 24
The promise of salvation is eternal life with God. We correctly think of this as life beyond death. But, based on scripture, I would contend that there's a part of eternal life that starts now.
In this blog series derived from my new book, "Live Like You're Loved" (available on CecilTaylorMinistries.com, Amazon and other book sites), we arrive at the chapter entitled "Live Like You're Eternal." It's a complicated chapter on a complicated topic that takes awhile to fully analyze and explain. Yet I see something very simple but overlooked in the Bible regarding eternal life. It may change the way you think about your life on earth.
There are two major questions we must answer about eternal life:
What is eternal life? What does it mean?
Where does eternal life take place?
Jesus answers both of these questions in the Gospel of John. In his last prayer at the Upper Room before heading off to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus says (John 17: 3):
"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."
By this definition, Jesus is saying that eternal life is a state of knowing God through the work and earthly presence of Jesus Christ.
To revive terminology from earlier in this series, "knowing" does not mean "knowing ABOUT God." It is "knowing God" intimately with heart knowledge, which is a key step in living like you're loved. It is taking the head knowledge that we've learned and turning it into a heart knowledge that we feel. It's embedding God and God's ways, learned from Jesus, within our souls.
When we acquire this heart knowledge, which is ideally one of the results produced by salvation, then we have achieved eternal life. Already. We can live eternal life today.
Now, that may sound presumptuous. But Jesus backs up the idea that eternal life begins on earth with another quote, from John 5: 24.
Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.
There is a lot of complexity to this phrasing by Jesus, which I discuss more deeply in the book and video study. But notice the tense that he uses in John 5: 24:
"Hears", "believes", "has eternal life" - Present tense.
"Will not be judged" - Future tense; there is a future day of judgment for those not saved.
"Has crossed over from death to life" - Past tense. It has already happened once you hear and believe!
Therefore, based on scripture, I believe and share that eternal life is not only in the future, but can begin on earth.
I realize that can be a jarring comment. In the book and video series, I explain much more to help you understand, including two useful analogies to fully grasp it.
But assuming it's true that eternal life can start here and now, how do you live like you're eternal? What does that look like? Again, that is a detailed topic addressed in the SAIL steps for the "Live Like You're Eternal" chapter. I'll share the overview in my Friday 7-Day Practical Faith blog right here on this same site.
Speaking of the words of Jesus, I've just dropped a podcast regarding some of our Lord's most famous sayings, the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5, 6 and 7. Over this podcast and two more, I will cover the most famous passages of the Sermon on the Mount in "The Himalayas of the New Testament Podcast: The Mountain with Three Peaks," Parts 1 through 3. Find Part 1 on Apple and Spotify by searching "Cecil Taylor Monthly Podcasts," or check it out at CecilTaylorMinistries.podbean.com.