What is Eternal Life?

Open doorway, Jesus in the clouds.

John 17:1-3

I continue to hear so many people today talking of going to Heaven when they die, and it’s like they’re sure that Heaven’s where they’re going…yet they purposely neither have anything to do with God (or at least not the True God), nor believe in a final judgment. So I ask, “If you don’t want to have anything to do with the Lord now, then why would you even want to go and spend all of eternity with Him?”

I think one of the major issues is that the world has invented this image of Heaven as being a place where you go as a reward for being “good person”, or if you’ve never killed anybody. In their idea of heaven, there are clouds; they become angels, and if they do well as an angel, they’ll earn their wings; everybody’s playing harps; it’s like a fantasy-land place, or paradise, where “good people” go when they die.

I wonder if people also have an issue with the fact that there are only 2 places of choice to spend eternity? But either way, though the Bible doesn’t talk much about Heaven per se, it does tell us that it’s not in sync with the worldview.

John 17:3 asks the very question that everybody seems to be confused about, “What is Eternal life?” The answers given are:

  1. Knowing the only True God
  2. Knowing Jesus Christ (whom God had sent)

In other words, Heaven is where God is. Eternal life is knowing God. Heaven is a place for those who know God. But then the question raised is, what does it mean to “know” God?

In the Old Testament, the word “know” (or “knew”) is often used to tell us that a married couple had sex. But it’s not explaining a simple fling. People of God in the Old Testament only “knew” their wives. Notice for example:

Genesis 38: Judah’s first son, Er, was evil, so the Lord smoked him. So Judah told his next son, Onan, to “go into his brother’s wife and marry her…” But in verse 9, we read that when he had sex with her, he didn’t “know” her, but he “went into” her. This is also the case in verses 16 and 18 where Judah hires who he thinks is a prostitute. He asks to “go into her”. Then it said that that’s just what he did: he “went into her”. I believe that the reason for this change in words/phrases is because to know somebody was not just about sex, but having an intimate connection/relationship with them in a way that nobody else could.

The Church is the Bride of Christ…Jesus is the groom. To know somebody is intimate, as in marriage. Your relationship with your spouse (or future spouse), is (will be) intimate…as you grow together in your marriage, you come to know each other better than anybody else in the world, in every way.

Anybody who loves the Lord can tell you that it’s not just being familiar with the Bible, nor just being aware of God’s existence, but an intimate relationship between believer and God, created and Creator, child and Father. There’s constant communication, hanging out, learning about, bonding, venting, sharing, trusting, mentoring, becoming like, etc.

My Point:
If you don’t know God intimately now, then you won’t be experiencing Heaven later, for:

  • Eternal life = Knowing Jesus and the One True God
  • Knowing Jesus/God is relational
  • Eternal life is relational

So my question remains the same, “Why would you even want to live where God is for all eternity if you want to have nothing to do with God now?” But I also think I need to change it to, “What makes you even think that you’ll be able to go to Heaven when you die, if you refuse to know Jesus/God now?”

1 Comment

  1. In order to know Jesus, as Jesus Himself says is the way to have eternal life (John 17), we are to “grow in spiritual strength and become better acquainted with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18, Living Bible translation), “growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of His body, the church” (Ephesians 4:15).

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