Eternal Life isn't what I thought
Updated: Feb 7
Eternal Life. Ask any believer, and they will tell you that is an important phrase. One of the most important, in fact.
It’s in all the popular verses, like John 3:16. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
It’s on every Christian track or hand out- a guaranteed assurance that other faiths don’t have! Eternal Life!
It’s often talked about as the “prize” of our salvation. The thing we get from God, the item we can look forward to.
If you grew up in the church, it was a huge part of the “Jesus” conversation as a kid! Because Jeusus died- we get to live forever in heaven! Eternal Life!
If this phrase is SO important, the bedrock of our faith, and this huge thing we are living for as Christians, I would hope we would know the definition, right?
Finding Eternal Life in the Bible
I’ve been reading through the book of John for the last few months. Thanks to my friend Carmen, she has encouraged me to read through the book slowly, not skipping through stories I think I already know or flying by words that I’ve heard one million times. In fact, she even encouraged me to use a concordance and look up words I was unsure of in their original Greek! (You can see Carmen’s Bible-reading tool on the Simply Bible website).
As I read through the book of John, I noticed Jesus talked about eternal life A LOT. I counted 17 times! And then there is another 27 times in John where he says he gives life. At first, I wasn’t surprised. I know heaven and the thought of “eternal life” is so important, so of course Jesus talked about it a lot! But as I started reading through each of the 17 verses, I wanted to write down the exact definition of Eternal Life.
I opened my concordance and was ready for it to say “Heaven” or something like “Why are you looking this up? It’s life eternal, duh”. Instead, I was shocked.
What does it mean?
The Greek word for Eternal Life is “Zoe”. Here are the definitions of that Greek word.
- Fullness of Life
- A real and genuine life, active, vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in this world for those who put their trust in Christ
- After the resurrection to be consummated by a new body that lasts forever
The definition of Eternal Life is not just life forever after we die, it’s life now. It’s your kingdom come ON EARTH as it is in heaven. It’s a joyful, content, active life, right now. As Christians living today. THIS BLEW MY MIND. Eternal life wasn’t something I was waiting for, but something I could experience now?
Jesus gave another definition in John 17:3. He says “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Eternal life is knowing God. How did I not know this?
Relationship is the goal
As this new definition started to shake me up, I went back and read the other 17 verses in John where Jesus talks about eternal life. All of a sudden, I began to see Jesus didn’t come to get me to heaven, or clean me up because I was such a sinner. He wasn’t just looking at heaven and hell, hoping to get more people out of the flames. He was looking at my life, right now. He was looking for relationship, for a restored relationship between God and His people, knowing a personal relationship with the creator of the universe would be an incredible life!
The GOAL of all of this is knowing God. Not knowing what he did. Not knowing that he died. Not knowing Bible verses. KNOWING HIM in the closest and most intimate way possible. Through my regular time with God, my pursuing him like a real relationship, and my thirst for Him, I get to experience a whole new way to live. Eternal life.
While heaven is still something we look forward to and celebrate, the gift of eternal life means we get to experience God, right now.
This changes everything
I was a Christian for a long time before I understood this. I could have heard a sermon about this ZOE life. I could have read a book about it or talked to a friend about it… but I still didn’t get it. I was consuming Christian podcasts, radio, sermons, and books, but not directly interacting with the creator of the universe.
Christian authors don’t give eternal life.
Christian podcasts don’t give eternal life.
As we read over and over again in the Bible, eternal life is a gift from God through Jesus alone.
Until we intentionally seek and build a one-on-one, interactive relationship with God, we won’t experience the fullness of eternal life. This is exciting! If eternal life is "only" heaven, we just have to sit and wait around. If eternal life means knowing God here on earth, I am actively a part of that work, pursuing and chasing after Jesus with all I have. I am an active participant in experiencing eternal life!
Look up “Eternal Life” in the Bible and start to pray God would show you what it means to experience that in your life right now. This is a gift he gives, a relationship he literally sent his son for. Sweet friend, may you experience all the joy there is in eternal life, on earth as it is in heaven.
Want to learn more about being consumed by God? Join Hannah at the Akron Women on Purpose Conference - March 7, 2020!