What Does the Bible Tell Us about Eternal Life?
- Amanda Idleman Contributing Writer
- 2021 27 Jan
Humans are unique in all of creation in that we contemplate life after death. The animals haven’t filled the jungles with caution tape in an effort to avoid death… they are born, live, and die without the ability to consider a different fate. Humans differ from animals because we are acutely aware of our mortality. Death does not feel natural to us, it feels like a curse. As a conscious and reasoning creature, having to face the reality that we in this human form will come to an end feels unfair. I have asked many times the question: How do I live with peace with the knowledge that I have been born to die?
We all feel this tension and fear at some point in our lives. This is why stories of loss, death, disease, and other risks fill the headlines because we as people can’t help but look. Humanity is not at peace with our own mortality. The Bible explains our situation in Ecclesiastes 3:11 which says, “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart” (bold emphasis added).
If we are honest, existence without eternity is too short, too meaningless, and rubs against the truth we all feel when we stop to examine our own hearts. Thankfully, the God that made us has not left us alone. He wrote a story that we can read in the Bible that helps explain who he is, what we mean to him, and shares with us a glimpse into eternity.
What Is the Meaning of Eternal Life in the Bible and How Do We Get It?
Jesus, the Son of God, came to Earth in the form of a man so that we might believe and be saved. God knew that without a Savior, who could make up for man’s sinful nature, we were all doomed to an existence that would be forever be separated from the perfect God. Jesus, during his time on Earth, shared with his disciples insight into what God’s big rescue plan is for his beloved creation. In John 17:3 Jesus says, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." Eternal life begins here and now. Until the moment we pray the prayer of faith we are dead. When we come to know God and Jesus Christ his Son it is then that we are “reborn” and begin a new life as a part of God’s family.
Eternity begins with our conversation but extends past our physical death. Jesus explains to Martha in John 11:25-26 that he is the resurrection and life. Jesus goes on to say that if we believe in him you will live even if you die and those who believe never die. Jesus promises that when we pray a prayer of faith that invites God into our lives, we are promised an eternity with him in Heaven.
What Does the Bible Say about What Eternal Life Will Be Like?
Jesus even shares some of what we can expect to find when we meet him in Heaven. John 14:2-3 says, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” Jesus has prepared a home for us in Heaven where we get to exist with him for eternity.
In the book of Revelation, John who was one of Jesus’ closest disciples is given a glimpse of what Heaven will be like. Revelations 21:1-27 says, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also, he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
These words give us one of the clearest pictures of what God is preparing for us from the Scripture. We can rejoice in the fact that God has created a future in which death, sorrow, pain, and mourning will all have passed away for those who have accepted him as their God. The Bible does share a darker picture of what eternity maybe for those who reject God and his Son Jesus. Revelation 21:8 says, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
The Bible tells us that every person will have to choose if they believe in God and all who believe have been given eternal life in Heaven. The Bible warns those who reject God will spend eternity separated from him and will experience anguish. God has gifted us the power to choose our own future but along with that is a great responsibility. We must choose wisely.
Can Eternal Life Be Lost?
Revelation 20:11-15 describes a scene in Heaven in which a Book of Life is opened and in it, all humanity is judged by their deeds. When we come to the end of our lives when we meet Jesus there will be a moment in which our lives are judged by God. Basically, there is no way to fake it into Heaven. God knows your thoughts, motives, beliefs, and when you stand before him He will know what your choice is.
God wishes that none perish and all are saved (2 Peter 3:10). He is patient with us hoping that over the course of our lives we will choose life over death. If we want God, we can rest assured that he wants us. If we don’t believe, want nothing to do with his Kingdom, and have no desire to serve him… even if we once did… God respects our decision to reject him.
The Christian faith is described in relational, even familial terms. God is our Father, and we are adopted into his family as sons and daughters. If we are in his family, we are in. Nothing can separate us from his love (Romans 8:31-39).
Yet, from the beginning, the will of man has been protected and respected by God. Even in God’s perfect garden Adam and Eve were given the opportunity to choose obedience or to defy his instruction. Though the choices of man grieved God he did not intervene and stop them from feeling the effects of their choice to eat from the tree of life. God has allowed humanity to continue despite our disobedience. Throughout our lives, we much continue to choose him, and truly once we know him living a life without him feels almost impossible.
Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God has given us the free gift of eternal life with him. This is something that we surely do not deserve, and it is only by God’s grace that we are saved. Take a moment and thank God for rescuing us from what we deserve. If you do not know him, consider asking him to be your God, so you can begin to experience eternity on this side of Heaven.
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Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.