The words “everlasting” and “eternal” are used of:
1.1 God, Romans 16:26 “But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.”
1.2 The Holy Spirit, Hebrews 9:14 “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
1.3 The Lord Jesus Christ: 1John 5:20 “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”
John 17:3, 5 “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. … v5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
Man Is Unfit To Receive Anything From God
Romans 8:7-8 “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. v8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” The word “carnal”, otherwise called “of the flesh” refers to the sinful nature within the unbeliever. God says that such minds are hostile to Him and will not, and cannot, obey the laws that He gave for our best good. Consequently all such cannot please God and are not fit to receive anything from God.
God informs us how many of these are in the world in Romans 3:22b-23 “For there is no difference; v23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
God confirms that if we measure ourselves against His law that we stand condemned in His sight. Romans 3:20 states “… by the law is the knowledge of sin” and not how good we are.
Man is also spiritually dead: Psalm 51:5 “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.” It does not mean that David was born from immorality but that he was conceived and born a sinner.
John 6:53 “Then Jesus said to them, “… you have no life in you.”
Ephesians 2:1 “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” The effect of trespasses, which is going over the line, and sins which is falling short of righteous requirements, is that we are spiritually dead.
Everlasting\Eternal Life Is A Gift
Revelation 4:8 says “… Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty” shows how unworthy we are of receiving eternal life. And yet, on the basis of Christ dying for our sins, God is still prepared to give believing sinners the gift of everlasting life.
John 10:28 The Lord Jesus said “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
1John 5:11 “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.”
What Is Everlasting\Eternal Life?
The Greek word “aionios”, meaning perpetual, is translated either as “everlasting” or “eternal” and so this life continues forever after death.
1John 5:11 “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.”
1John 5:20 “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”
By means of this spiritual birth, God gave every believer a new life. This is an “eternal” or “everlasting” life which will never have an end. By this birth, God gave us a new nature-His own divine nature. 2 Peter 1:4 “by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” So at the moment of faith we, amazingly, become a sharer of the Divine nature. We have, therefore, two natures; we have our old, sinful nature which we received from our parents and we have a new nature which is God’s and so it cannot sin.
Eternal life’s quality is knowing and enjoying God the Father and Jesus Christ.
John 17:3 “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
Eternal Life’s Revelation
Who or where has eternal life has been revealed:
1. By Christ John 6:68 “But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
2. In the Gospel: 2Timothy 1:9-10 “… His own purpose and grace … but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
The Source Of Eternal Life
John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Being “born again”, or some similar expression, is the means by which we receive everlasting life. The Greek word for “again” is “anothen” and means “from above” which shows that “everlasting life” comes from God.
We are further told Who the source of eternal life is in John 1:12-13 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: v13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Born “not of blood” means a person does not become a Christian through nationality nor having Christian ancestors. Salvation is not passed down from parent to child through the blood stream.
“Nor of the will of the flesh” means a person can not make themselves a child of God by their own desire nor power in his own flesh to produce new birth. They cannot receive new birth through religious rites.
“nor of the will of man” no human being through their own energies can bring about this marvelous birth because salvation is “not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:9).
“but of God.” So the source of the new birth only belongs to God and to nothing nor anyone else.
This is further emphasized in 1John 4:9 “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”
When can a sinner receive eternal life?
In John 3:3, 7 the Lord Jesus twice informed Nicodemus of the necessity to “born again”. The Lord Jesus does not argue with Nicodemus about that matter, but kept this great necessity before him, that if he wanted to see and enter into the kingdom of God, he must “be born again.” So a person must be born again, which means to receive spiritual life, while on earth.
John 3:15 “that whoever believes in Him (the Son of Man v14 referring to the Lord Jesus Christ) should not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son (the Son of God the Father v35) has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
John 6:47 “Most assuredly, I (Jesus Christ v43) say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.”
Spiritual or New Birth
The new birth or being “born again” is in mainly in the writings of John but not limited to them.
The different descriptions that the apostle John gives to the new birth are: (a) “born again”, that is the spiritual life from above, John 3:3, 7. (b) “born of God”, that is the source of the new life, 1 John 5:1; and (c) “born of water and of the Spirit”, are the agencies or means to produce the new birth in the believer, John 3:5.
(a) Being “born again” means to receive a totally new life. The Lord Jesus helped Nicodemus to understand that this is a spiritual birth and not a natural one; “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit”, John 3:6. In other words, it is something inward and not outward. It does not alter our outside appearance but it revolutionizes our inner life. New birth does not make you good-looking or beautiful but, far more important, it puts the very life of God into you. This new life will change your entire way of living.
(b) Being “born of God” shows that, as said above, the origin of this new and eternal life is God alone. This eternal life does not come from the earth nor in any way from mankind.
(c ) Being “born of water and of the Spirit”. Many state that literal water is intended, and that the Lord Jesus spoke of the necessity of baptism for salvation. However, such teaching is against the rest of the Bible. Throughout the Word of God we read that salvation is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. Baptism is only for those who have already been saved and is not the basis of salvation. In Ephesians 5:25-26 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, v26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.” So the washing of water is the cleansing effect of the Word of God on believers. Also, 1Peter 1:23 says “having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” and James 1:18 “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth.” So the new birth starts by the use of the Word of God. Apart from God’s Word, we would be ignorant of our true spiritual condition and of God’s wonderful way of salvation. That is why it is important that the Word of God should be preached or spoken of in the Gospel to lost souls.
(d) “By the Spirit” speaks of the Holy Spirit producing the new life in a person when he/she believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit not only brings about this change, but then He enters into the believer Ephesians 1:13 “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.”
It is noticeable that the Lord Jesus emphasized the absolute necessity of the new birth to Nicodemus, when He said, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:7)
Nicodemus was a highly religious person because he was “a man of the Pharisees” (3:1). Also during their conversation, “Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?” (3:10). So although Nicodemus was highly religious and known as the experienced teacher in Israel the Lord Jesus could see that he did not have eternal life. Without this, he could not see nor enter the kingdom of God. This is an example of the fact that nobody has never been born again as the result of a religious ceremony or of human effort or progress. Despite their religious exterior all such people remain spiritually dead until their new birth by the act of God which can only be accomplished by His Divine power.
The Result Of New Birth
John 5:24 says, “Most assuredly, I (Jesus v19) say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” The one who believes on the Lord Jesus not only receives everlasting life but is totally free from judgment because Christ has paid the penalty for their sins on Calvary, just outside of Jerusalem. So they have passed from living in the sphere of spiritual death to living in the sphere of spiritual life.
2Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
To understand this properly we must notice “if anyone is in Christ”. So it is the believer’s standing “in Christ” that is in view. In 1Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” shows that God views people as either being in Adam, that is associated to the old creation, or being in Christ which is being associated to the new creation. Being in Adam refers to unbelievers being spiritually dead but all those who have trusted in Christ are classed as being “in Christ” and made spiritually alive. Some have sought to make this verse say that everyone will be saved or the error of universal salvation. However it must be noted that the words “made alive” are never used of unbelievers and only about believers.
Returning to 2Corinthians 5:17 we find that the believer is a new creation.
Romans 6:6 “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” At the cross God took the old man, that I was in Adam, and finished him off by crucifying him with Christ at the cross. Then the Holy Spirit adds in Romans 6:11 “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” As God has finished off what I was in Adam at the cross, so I am to daily reckon that I am finished with sin and alive to what God wants in my life. Believers have died to the old man means that they are no longer linked with Adam, but are linked to their new head which is Christ. To live that out is the daily need of every believer. However being this new creation means a new away of judging life’s matters. Sadly “in me” that is not all true as yet because I still have the sinful nature in me called the “flesh”! But as I grow in the Christian life, I want my life’s practices to increasingly be like to my position that God has made me as a new creation.
Once Received Eternal Life Can Never Be Lost
John 10:26-29 “But you do not believe, because you are not of My (Jesus Christ’s v25) sheep, as I said to you. v27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. v28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. v29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”
So the moment anyone trusts in the Lord Jesus as their Saviour, He promises that He not only gives them eternal life but they will never perish, i.e. not loss of being but loss of well being. This means that such a person will never go to hell. To guarantee that the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, also puts His hand around them. Consequently neither the devil, nor his demons, nor any person nor even yourself, is able to pluck such a person out of Jesus Christ’s hand. What a wonderful security! But that is not all. At the moment of faith God the Father also puts His hand around the believer “and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” What a wonderful double security the believer in Jesus Christ has forever. There are a number of other verses that confirm this everlasting security as well.
The Evidence of the New Life
In 1John we are often reminded that, if we have been born of God, there must be evidence of this in our lives. New birth changes the way we think and live so dramatically that the new birth cannot go unnoticed. If there is no evidence of new life, then we have every right to doubt its existence! So what are these evidences?
a. 1 John 2:29 “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.” We know that in the family realm parents bear children who are like them. So the same applies to the spiritual realm. As God is righteous so all that He does is righteous. Everyone who characteristically practices righteousness evidences that they are therefore born of God. The true Christian does not continue in sin, 3:7-8, although undoubtedly he will commit sin, 1:10. New birth brings a new attitude towards sin.
b. 1John 4:7-8 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. v8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
Another evidence of new birth is that we love others who have been similarly born of God. To be found with the people of God is now one of our chief joys. We have discovered the fellowship of God’s family.
c. 1John 5:4 “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.” What is the world? The World’s system is, ‘That form of life which is organised on the assumption that all values are bounded by the horizon of life and death.’ So what does “overcoming the world” mean? By faith in the believer’s thought life he is able to rise above the perishing things of this world and to see things in their true and eternal perspective. The world no longer compels us to conform to its indulgence and lust like it once did. While it is a problem to the believer it does not attract and draw us in the same way that it once did. The believer realizes that the things which are seen are temporary and that the things which are not seen are eternal. Although it is not always easy, we are able to walk differently to this world’s tide of godless and selfish living.
It is good to be born of God and have eternal life. Let us determine to seek to live in such a way that the life of God, which became ours from the moment of our new birth, dominates and controls all that we have and are.