He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life. —John 3:36
Something possessed by every Christian, but not enjoyed by all, is Eternal Life. Let’s have a little Bible reading about the life of God as given to us.
In the third chapter of the Gospel according to John, the Lord Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again, or from above. It isn’t enough to be born of the flesh, we need to be born of the Spirit of God. We need to be born into God’s family. In so being born into God’s family we receive God’s life. He says, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Then the last verse of chapter three reads, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” I suppose you know that wonderful 24th verse of chapter five: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
Now I think definitions are in order. What do we mean by saying, “eternal life,” “everlasting life”? Are we just talking about its duration? I hardly think so. In fact, the Lord Jesus is defined in the second verse of the first epistle of John, and. again in the 20th verse of the last chapter of First John, as “Eternal Life.”
The life of God is seen in a Person. When the Lord Jesus Christ lived here among men, when He was here on the earth, He was God manifest in the flesh. And the life of God is eternal life. The Lord Jesus Christ is eternal life. That’s why He says, “He that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
Now let’s look at it from this viewpoint first of all. You and I do not have this kind of life by nature. God created man in the first place, capable of enjoying God, having fellowship with God. He was right with God, but something happened. God isn’t responsible for the condition man is in today. We’re like this because of sin. And we’re told in Ephesians 2:1, “And you hath He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” In the fourth chapter of Ephesians we’re said to be “alienated from the life” that is in Christ. That’s why the Lord Jesus said, “Ye must be born again” or “from above.” We do not have the life of God in us by nature.
I don’t believe in the dogma, the doctrine, of the universal Fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man, for the simple reason that it is not taught in the Bible! I know that there is a sense in which we are all related because we’re all created of God, but we’re not the children of God except by faith in Christ Jesus according to the book of Galatians. In fact, the Lord Jesus said about some who were very religious—religious leaders—”Ye are of your father, the devil.” In that same second chapter of Ephesians, He says we were all “by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Quite evidently, we cannot be the children of God and the children of wrath, the children of the devil. So we need God’s life.
Christ, Himself, is the source of this life. He is the source of all life. He is the Creator of all. The first chapter of John establishes the fact that everything was created by Him and through Him. In the fifth chapter of John, He made the stupendous claim that the Father hath given to the Son to have life in Himself, even as the Father hath life in Himself. That’s why the Lord Jesus is named (in the third chapter of Acts, verse 15) the Prince of Life. He is the Source, He is the Prince—the Ruler. He is the One from whom we must receive life.
Now, how do we receive life? I know there are some who believe we receive eternal life by baptism when we are little babies, but what does the Word of God say?
First of all, we’re told in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” We read together in John’s Gospel that we receive eternal life by believing in Him.
I like the way it’s put in the first chapter of John. In the 12th and 13th verses he tells us as plainly as words can tell us, “But as many as received Him,” (the Lord Jesus) “to them gave He power [or the right] to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born…” You and I are born when we receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour.
Now what does it mean to receive Him? If you were ill and a doctor were brought to your bedside and the doctor said to you, “I think we can fix you up all right if you’re willing to follow my course of treatment,” and you say, “All right, doctor, you take over.” What have you done? You have accepted a doctor.
In marriage you accept a life mate. It isn’t so difficult to understand this. You simply receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour. In other words, you put your trust in Him. You put your confidence in Him. You depend on Him. He says, “As many as received Him, to them gave He power [or the right] to become the sons of God…”
When we receive the Lord Jesus He gives us assurance that we do have eternal life. First John 5:13 says, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life…” Maybe you didn’t know that. Maybe you just thought that God had forgiven you. Maybe you didn’t really know that you do have, at the present moment, eternal life. Well, read First John 5:13 and then believe it and thank God that you do have at the present moment, eternal life. And having it, we are to enjoy this life by feeding upon Christ who is the Bread of Life. You see, when a baby is born he has life, but he doesn’t have much development yet. He doesn’t know very much, he can’t do very much. That life which is just as real in a tiny baby as in his father or grandfather has to be developed, it has to grow. That’s how we come to have life abundantly.
The effects of eternal life are always of interest to us. First of all, a new relationship has been established. Because we have the life of God in our souls, we are the children of God. We don’t know yet what we’re going to be like “but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him …” the reason being that we are like Him now. We have the same life of God in our souls that Christ Himself possessed.
With that comes a new standing. Because we are the children of God, we have a new relationship to God, we are able to come into His presence and speak freely to Him and call Him our Father. Now, of course, with this new relationship comes a new safety. It’s wonderful to be bound up in the same bundle of life with Him.
With that new life comes a new nature. Galatians 2:20 tells us that we have been “crucified with Christ: nevertheless,” says Paul, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”
This new life even fits us for the new sphere. We could never go to heaven as a mere human being, but when God takes us to heaven He is going to fit even our bodies for that new place. All of this is because we are now the children of God. We have God’s life. A new fellowship has been established. We have fellowship with Him because we have the very life of God in our beings. He understands us and we understand Him, and we have fellowship together. Christ, who is our life, one of these days is going to appear, and then we are going to appear with Him in glory. Let’s thank Him for this wonderful possession of the life of God.
Our Father, we do thank Thee Thou hast given Thy Son for us, and in Him the very life of God in our souls. We thank Thee we belong to Thee. We ask Thy blessings now, in our Saviour’s precious Name. Amen.