Eternal life gives the believer reassurance about his/her destiny. To think in terms of eternity proves to be a difficult challenge for our finite minds. We all say that God is eternal, that is, He has neither a beginning nor an end. His existence is not related to or dependent upon time. And to those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, He has promised eternal life and blessing with Him. Like two sides of a coin the Scriptures inform us that our faith in Jesus Christ is firmly planted in the hope of eternal life. But how can we grasp such a complex and abstract idea?
Though the term is used throughout the New Testament, “eternal life” is a common expression in the Johannine literature (John 3:15-16, 36; 4:14; 5:24; 6:40, 47, 54; 1 John 2:25; 5:11, 20). The Greek adjective aiwnion (aionion) “eternal” comes from the Greek noun (aion) meaning age or period of time. In its adjectival use, certain dictionaries and lexicons define aionion as “without beginning and end, never to cease, (see Thayers and BDAG).
Literally, the phrase “eternal life” means “the life of the age to come” referring to an eschatological promise. Just like Daniel 12:2 alludes to a future physical resurrection when some will be raised to “everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt,” John also indicates that eternal life will involve a future resurrection. He writes, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40, cf. 6:39, 44, 54; 12:48).
On the other hand, eternal life is rooted in a present relationship with Jesus Christ. Though we will experience future blessings in the age to come time enjoying an uninterrupted fellowship with our God, we can enjoy those present eternal blessings in Jesus Christ today. John explains how eternal life is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. “Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent’” (John 17:1-3).
Not only will eternal life will be expressed in a future reality and a present experience, but eternal life is also a unified work of the Godhead. The security of our eternal life is accomplished through the work of the Triune God. When you think about your salvation, have you ever thought about Who was involved?
1. Eternal life resides in the Father:
“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” (John 5:21-24)
2. Eternal life resides in the Son:
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life…He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:15-16, 36)
3. Eternal life resides in the Holy Spirit:
“For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:8)
“By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” (1 John 4:13)