What is Eternal Life?

"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

-             - John 17:3

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        Jesus here defines eternal life as knowing God the Father and Jesus Christ. The word “know” is speaking of intimacy instead of mere intellectual knowledge.

Jesus is stating that when we become thoroughly acquainted with His Word (John 17:17) in an intimate experiential way, then we will be delivered from all of our bondages because “all things that pertain unto life and godliness are given unto us through the knowledge of him that hath called us” (2 Peter 1:3). We cannot be free without revelation knowledge of God’s Word. “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom 10:17).

Revelation knowledge is distinctly different than knowledge acquired by learning. Simeon had not been taught by men that he would see the Lord’s Christ, but it was simply made known to him by God. The Holy Ghost is the one who imparts the knowledge (Luke 2:26, John 14:26, John 16:12-15). It is always truth (1 John 2:27) pure (James 3:17) and available to all believers (1 Cor 2:9-16, Col 3:10).


Eternal life is having an intimate personal relationship with God the Father and Jesus the Son. It is a present tense, possession of the believer. Eternal life is not just living forever. Everyone lives forever either in heaven or hell. Man is a spirit, he has a soul and he lives in a body. Though the body – the outward man perishes, yet the spirit and soul lives forever.

How can we be sure that we are saved? (Rom 10:9-10) When we accept Jesus as our personal savior and obey His commandments and live for Him then we obtain eternal life. It’s a life of joy, peace and total satisfaction. Only intimate relationship with the Father will satisfy us and fill the emptiness inside us.

(Jer 9:23-24) Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom………But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight,  saith the Lord . (2 Cor 10:17) But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

(John 15:1-10) Jesus is the true vine and we the branches as we abide in Him and His Word abides in us, we truly become his disciples. As we read His Word and obey Him, pray and speak of His wonderful works, we get to know him.

According to John 3:16, intimacy with God is what salvation is all about. Jesus died to purchase forgiveness for our sins, as sin was an obstacle that stood between God and us. But salvation is not only forgiveness of sins, it is the way to come back into harmony with God. Jesus did not die for us out of pity for our impending doom, He did it out of love for us (John 3:16), a love that longed to once again have that intimate communion with man that He had originally created man for (Gen 3:8, Rev 4:11)

Paul had given up everything that he might know Christ. (Phil 3:10, 11) “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death: If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead”.

This involved knowing Jesus resurrection power in the new birth (Rom 6:4,5). It also involved sharing His sufferings. This does not mean the sufferings He experienced for our redemption but rather the sufferings brought on by one’s allegiance to Christ. Further Paul’s desire was conformity to Christ’s death. Conformity is reckoning ourselves dead to sin the same way Christ is dead to sin while not denying that this may involve allegiance to Christ to the point of physical death. It appears Paul meant the death to the flesh – life that is experienced through a vital faith union with Christ (Rom 6:11, 17-18).


Paul said in Rom 12:2 that we are not to be conformed to this world but transformed through the renewing of our minds. Now he states what we are supposed to be conformed to. We are to be conformed to the death of Christ. This is speaking of reckoning ourselves dead to sin and all its effects upon us in the same way that Christ is dead to sin and all its effects upon Him (Rom 6:11).

Paul was dead to self through what Jesus did (Gal 2:20). He experienced this death by simply reckoning what had already happened through Christ to be so. A truly humble person is one who is Christ centered. Dying to self is not a hatred for self but rather a love of Christ more than self.

Paul’s “old man” (self) was dead through Christ (Rom 6:2-11). Now he was truly free to live, but it was not actually Paul who was living, it was Christ living through him. Paul had learnt the secret of victorious Christian living – It is not us living for Jesus, But Jesus living through us.


The law focuses on the outer man and tells it what it must do. Grace focuses on the inner man and tells it what is already done through Christ.

Those who are focused on what they must do are under law. Those who are focused on what Christ has done for them are walking under grace. The Christian life is not just hard to live. It is impossible to live in our human strength. The only way to walk in victory is to let Christ live through us.

We live by the faith of the Son of God – God’s supernatural faith (Eph 2:8) which came to us as a gift through hearing God’s Word (Rom 10:17).

Human faith is limited to believing only what can be perceived through our 5 senses. But the God kind of faith goes beyond what we can see, hear, smell, taste and feel. God’s kind of faith calls those things which be not as though they already were (Rom 4:17, Rom 12:3)

Paul further states that he is looking forward to the resurrection that will bring him into complete conformity to the likeness of Jesus Christ.

The expression “If by any means,” is not an expression of doubt on Paul’s part but rather a statement of humility. Paul is emphasizing the resurrection of the believer out from among the dead.

The word “attain” is translated from the Greek word “katantao”, which means “arrive at”. Paul is saying he had not arrived at the resurrection of the just yet, but that did not mean that he had begun. Salvation is the present tense possession of every born again believer (Matt 22:23) but there is a future tense fulfillment that will be consummated at the resurrection of the just. As long as we hold fast to our profession of faith (Heb 10:23, 1Cor 15:2) our place in the resurrection is secure. The resurrection from the dead which only those who have the saving faith in Christ will experience.

Our salvation is a continuing experience. We do not just put our faith in Christ one time when we are born again (John 3:3) and then forget it. It has to be a continual trust and dependence on Jesus for our right relationship with the Father. Until we are resurrected with our glorified bodies we have to hold fast the profession of our faith in Christ (Heb 4:14, 10:23). There is a perseverance that is necessary in the Christian life.



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