If you only had one opportunity to minister to someone, what would you say to them? Yes, salvation is the goal for the lost, but I would like to share the meaning of eternal life with them. I would share this because most people do not know what the Bible really means when it talks about eternal life.
Someone may possibly say, “Eternal life is living forever” and that is correct because no one ceases to exist when they die. Everyone lives forever in either heaven or hell. So, the question remains, “What is everlasting life….real everlasting life?” This is particularly important. John 3:16 says this is the reason that Jesus came. “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.”
Many people have inaccurately thought that the goal of salvation is the forgiveness of sin to avoid hell, but that’s not what John 3:16 is saying. Sure, not perishing in hell is an important part of what Jesus came to do. He accomplished that by paying the debt for all our sins, past, present, and future, but there is more to it than this.
If forgiveness was all there is to salvation, that’s more than any of us deserve, and it would still be worth preaching. But salvation is much, much more than getting our sins forgiven so we can go to heaven instead of hell. Let me say it this way. If all you did was ask Jesus to forgive our sins so we wouldn’t perish in hell, then you are missing out on eternal life benefits while here on earth. God, the Father, sent God the son to earth because sin was a barrier that stood between us and a holy God. It had to be removed. Because of the cross we are allowed the opportunity of eternal life. Yes, we all want to go to heaven and live eternally with God, but what about while we are here on earth? What do we want? What do we need? When God is our Lord, we have benefits.
So, what is eternal life? Jesus defined eternal life for us in John 17:3. That verse says,“ And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” So then eternal life is knowing God the Father, and Jesus the Son. We must have an intimate, personal experience with God to truly “know Him”. You do not just say I believe in God…You must have a relationship with Him.
Many people believe Jesus died to forgive their sins and of course, He did that too, but they still need to have a close, personal, intimate relationship with Him. They think that is somehow reserved for heaven. We are supposed to have eternal life (close, intimate, personal relationship with God our Father and Jesus Christ His Son) right now as well. Jesus said in John 3:16 that God loved the world so much, He gave His only begotten Son so those who believed on Him wouldn’t perish but have everlasting life. If all you have done is believe on Jesus so you won’t go to hell, then you are missing out on the benefits that God wants to have with you right now while you are alive. God sent His son yes, to take away your sins, but also for you to have eternal life, and to have benefits you can’t have if Jesus is not your Lord and Savior.
They have told the world that the reason God sent His Son to die for their sins was so they wouldn’t perish, PERIOD. That excludes the true message of eternal life and intimate relationship with God as the goal of salvation.
Faith comes from hearing God’s Word (Rom. 10:17). We need to hear that Jesus came to bring us back into intimate relationship with God or we won’t experience it. Life is like…going to God and saying “forgive me”, but that’s it, I am not doing anything else and I will continue doing things my own way. It is like being stuck in one mode and staying there and missing everything else God has for you while you are on this earth. Many think that that their life does not begin until the die.
Many people, in the Bible, knew God intimately had this great relationship with Him. These believers turned the known world upside down with the truths of the Gospel. There were some Christians that knew their God so intimately that they sang His praises as they were burned at the stake. Do you realize that even in the midst of terrible atrocities Christians stood up and still did what was right. They didn’t compromise or take the easy way out of things…even to the point of death. The answer to everything we need in life….is a personal, intimate relationship with the Lord. And the good news is that our Lord wants you to have this more than you do. Are you ready to have that relationship? I am! Let’s do it!