Putting the Focus on 3D Theology: Part 2
I. Eternal Life
Life, eternal life, God’s kind of life – we shouldn’t be surprised that such a life is multi-faceted, complex, and dynamic. This assumption is clearly demonstrated by the Scriptures. Natural life is much the same, and as a matter of fact, there are fascinating correlations to eternal life. As ought to be apparent, everyone on the face of the planet does in fact possess, in a sense, a quality that can be described as “life”. Human beings have the God given gift of pro-creation. Conception and birth bring forth a new “life” which is given unconditionally apart from the will of the one “life” has been bestowed upon. Resident in this new life are innate qualities that everyone, irrespective of who they are or what they do, is blessed with. Once initiated into “life”, the quality to which that “life” can attain is substantially dependent upon the individual himself. The degree to which one invests his life wisely will actuate a commensurate level of and capacity for “life”. There is, of course, senses in which people who are alive, nonetheless, cannot be described as having “life” wherein one is merely experiencing “dead” existence; though alive, one can be “dead” in experience in relation to the world and others.
Eternal life is a dynamic life principle with several facets. This life is bestowed unconditionally upon the one who receives it as a gift, through purposeful faith in Jesus Christ (faith in Him for its possession), in what is called regeneration, or being “born again” – this birth not being according to the will of the flesh or man, but by the will of God, Himself (Jn 1:12-13). Furthermore, eternal life is no static entity – it also conditionally relates to one’s experience of life, being a result of one’s earnest devotion to Jesus Christ (Jn 12:24-26). This life comes only as the return of one’s life investment.
1. Pertaining Guarantee
As it is “eternal life” and God’s life that is created by the seed of God’s Word germinating in the heart of the individual (Jas 1:18), this life is necessarily endless and unending (Jn 11:26, “shall never ever die into eternity” –Gk). Furthermore, God created man to live in a body – it wasn’t until a spirit was introduced to the body by the breath of God did man become a “living being” (Gen 2:7). Though regenerate man, under the curse of sin, is subject to physical death, he nevertheless, by virtue and necessity of the possession of “eternal life”, is guaranteed physical resurrection (Jn 11:25b). Finally, the one born of God, by necessary indication of this birth, is excluded from the final judgement – where those who are “dead” in relation to God are confirmed in this state of “death” forever (Rev 20:14b) having already been under condemnation (Jn 3:18).
2. Pertaining Potentials
Knowing God, which results in a crowning experience of life, is contingent upon several factors, that if left unfulfilled, will prevent a regenerate person from such fellowship. Love actuated in the believer is one condition of knowing Him. The same author who gave us John 17:3 also wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 Jn 4:7-8). In verse 7 and 11 of 1 John 4 the readers are instructed to love. There is no guarantee that the believer will love, and if he does not love he can neither have a dynamic experience of eternal life nor “know” God in this intimate sense. Love is not some ethereal, abstract notion. Love is laying down one’s life for his brethren (1 Jn 3:16b), helping his brother with material necessities (1 Jn 3:17); in reality it is having Christ’s commandments and keeping them (Jn 14:21)! Intimacy with God is only experienced by those who earnestly devote themselves to Jesus Christ.
The abundant experience of eternal life (both in time and eternity) does not come by way of a gift, as the primary and inherent guarantees do – unending life, physical resurrection, and exclusion from final judgement. No! This experience is the return on one’s investment of his life. This concept is famously illustrated in Mark 8:34-37:
...He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his life? Or what can a man give in exchange for his life?”
Certainly it should not be assumed at this point that God has not placed responsibility upon Himself in all of this. Firstly, it was He who initiated the familial relationship to begin with! Next, we are told by the Apostle Peter that God’s “divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life” along with “exceedingly great and precious promises” by which we “may be partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pe 1:3-4).
We will discuss these things more, and the implications of them in the next installment.
To be continued...
Antonio da Rosa