Now This Is Eternal Life…
by Jim Rower
Until recently, I would have said eternal life is living forever with God in heaven after my earthly life is over. That was until I read John Ortberg’s book, Eternity is Now in Session. Ortberg points out that eternal life is defined for us in the Bible, once and only once, by Jesus himself:
“Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” –John 17:3
Jesus’ definition is very different than the one I had in mind. Eternal life is knowing the one true God and knowing the one He sent, Jesus Christ. This “knowing” is not just book knowledge nor a mere familiarity, it is a deep understanding and intimacy. The Greek word for “knowing” used in John 17:3 is the same word used as an idiom by the Jews for sexual intimacy. Eternal life, then, is having a deep, intimate relationship with God the Father, and God the Son.
Ortberg also asserts that eternal life is not something we get in the future, after we die. If you believe into Jesus Christ, it is something you have now—you are already living in eternal life. John 3:16 says, “…that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The “shall…have eternal life” is in the present tense! We don’t believe now and receive eternal life later; we believe now and receive eternal life now! In each instance where John writes that believing into God/Jesus results in eternal life, he uses the present tense. We receive a deep, intimate relationship with God now! Our eternal life has already started.
As Ortberg puts it, “…eternal life isn’t just about the future. We can have it now. It’s not just about the there. We can have it here. Most important, it’s not something we simply receive through a transaction that arranges for our future destination. It’s something we experience now through becoming Jesus’ disciples, which death is unable to stop.”
Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of eternal life through your Son, Jesus. Thank You that I can truly know You now; that I can be in relationship with You and experience that eternal life even as I am still physically confined to this earth. Please help me to live continually in that relationship, overflowing Your love to everyone I encounter. Amen.