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Cutting Through Religion to Explain Eternal Life

Updated: Feb 8, 2023


How the Bible Defines Eternal Life

The Bible defines eternal life as a gift from God that is received through faith in Jesus Christ. In John 3:16, it says if we put our faith in Jesus, we will never perish but live forever through faith. Eternal life is not just about living forever, but about having a personal relationship with God and experiencing His love, peace, and joy for all eternity. Eternal life is also described as being in Heaven, with God, after physical death. In John 14:2-3, Jesus said He would go (to Heaven) and prepare a place for all who love Him and return for us. This passage emphasizes that eternal life is not just an idea or concept, but a tangible reality.

Here are 12 (mentions) of everlasting life in the Holy Bible:

  • Jesus says whoever believes in Him shall have everlasting life (John 6:47).

  • Eternal life is promised to those who overcome the evil of this world (Revelation 2:7).

  • The good shepherd (Jesus) lays down his life for the sheep, and they will have everlasting life (John 10:28).

  • The gospel (Good News) message is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, leading to everlasting life (Romans 1:16).

  • We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and given the gift of everlasting life (Ephesians 2:8-9).

  • To receive everlasting life, we must eat the bread of life (John 6:50-51).

  • Believers in Jesus are promised eternity in the presence of the Father (1st John 2:25).

  • The Holy Spirit bears witness that we are children of God and heirs of everlasting life (Romans 8:16-17).

  • Eternal life is a gift and not earned by works (Romans 6:23). A good way to think about this is: “we do good works because we have eternal life and not to obtain it.”

  • Through faith in Jesus, we have passed from death to life (John 5:24).

  • Our hearts have been purified by faith for the purpose of living eternally (1st Timothy 1:19).

  • We are called to hold fast to the hope of life everlasting, which we have been promised (1st Timothy 6:12).

In summary, the Bible defines everlasting life and eternal life in the same manner. They are interchangeable in biblical language. The Holy Spirit bears witness that there is no other way to eternal life than Jesus Christ.

Who Received Eternal Life in Scripture

Scripture provides several examples of people who received eternal life through faith in Jesus. One of the most well-known is the thief on the cross who was crucified alongside Jesus. Despite his wrongdoings, he recognized Jesus as the Messiah and asked for forgiveness. Jesus responded by saying: "today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). This story shows that life in Heaven, which will never end, is available to all who believe in Jesus, regardless of their past actions.

Another example is the woman at the well in John chapter four (4). She had a conversation with Jesus and came to believe in Him as the Messiah. Through her faith, she received everlasting life. She also went on to share her testimony with others, leading many to Jesus as well (John 4:39-42). The Apostle Paul, who prior to meeting Jesus on the famous “Road to Damascus, was a zealot for Judaism. However, Jesus appeared to Paul (then Saul of Tarsus) in a vision and he accepted life!

Here are six (6) examples of people who received eternal life:

  • Jesus’ initial followers who walked away for their old life when Jesus told them to come and follow Him. We can have the theological discussion about whether Judas was saved, initially, but you get the idea.

  • The crowd who threw palm leaves before Him on Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. They said: “Hosana! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord”.

  • Ananias of Damascus who Jesus told to go and receive His newest convert: Saul (later Paul).

  • The Samaritan woman who had multiple marriages yet she believed in the Messiah.

  • The woman with the Alabaster Box. She washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair.

  • Mary, Jesus’ Mother and James Jesus’ brother! You had not thought of those, right?

In summary, people throughout the New Testament, who believed in Jesus as Savior received everlasting life. This, of course, is also true today.

Difference Between Everlasting Life and Eternal Life

Eternal life and everlasting life are often used interchangeably to refer to a state of existence that continues forever. This concept is often associated with the idea of an immortal soul and is seen as a reward for accepting New Testament biblical teachings.

Just an FYI: there are lifeless people in houses of worship as well. Let's not suggest that everyone who names Jesus is following Him. Nevertheless, eternal life and everlasting life are the same thing. Do not allow so-called “biblical scholars” to muddle something so simple. As in life, it is so in theology: sometimes more is just more.

For instance, and here is an example pulled from scholarly sources: “the key difference between the two concepts is that eternal life emphasizes the idea of an afterlife, while everlasting life focuses on the idea of life without end”. Uh, can someone help me with what, exactly, the variance in concepts is?

In summary, and as proof with respect to how short this section is, there is no difference between these two (2) concepts. As on old African American preacher once said: “stop letting these people make a fool out of you”!

What Does Jesus Say About Eternal Life

Jesus said: “whosever believes in me will not perish but have everlasting life.” Jesus is the source of teachings on eternal life as we Christians understand them. Much of these teaching revolved around “parables” which were easily understood by the hearers. According to the Bible, Jesus taught eternal life was not simply an extended period of physical existence. It was, rather, a spiritual existence that transcends physical death.

He emphasized the importance of living a faith, good works, and following God's will. He also spoke of eternity as a present reality, not just something to be achieved in the future. Through His teachings, Jesus encouraged His followers to focus on the spiritual realm. In the Parable of the Sower: Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is like a seed that is sown in a person's heart. If it is received with a good and honest heart, it will bring forth eternal life.

Here are interactions Jesus had with others concerning eternal life:

  • The Rich Young Ruler: Jesus told him that if he wanted to inherit eternal life, he must follow the commandments and sell all that he had and give to the poor. He refused and went away sad.

  • Feeding of the Five Thousand (5,000): Jesus said that those who eat of the bread He gives will have eternal life. That bread is his flesh, which He eventually gave as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.

  • Parable of the Good Shepherd: Christ taught that He was the good shepherd who laid down His life for his sheep and that His sheep will have eternal life.

  • Raising Lazarus from the Dead: Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and told those present that if they believed in Him, they would “never die”.

In summary, Jesus Christ taught that eternal (everlasting) life was available to all who believed in Him. Over the centuries, the religious crowd have attached many “stipulations” which stretch beyond the Words of Jesus. However, it boils down to simple faith.

Does Everyone Get into Heaven

The answer to if everyone gets into heaven is absolutely not. There are many who will argue that whether everyone gets in, or not, is a matter of biblical interpretation. That is a lie from the pit of hell! No matter one's biblical interpretation, no one can claim to accept the truth, without accepting it all.

Paul, in several epistles to various churches, explained that everlasting life was strictly based on belief in Christ Jesus. Of course, he was not the source of this conclusion it was Jesus Christ in the gospels. This is not the space to argue for or against “eternal salvation”, but it does bear explaining.

This doctrine teaches once you believe in Jesus, and no matter what you do, everlasting life is yours. For example, you can die in a shoot out with law enforcement, having murdered three (3) people, robbed a bank, and have Angels waiting for you, in a pool of your own blood, and get taken to Heaven. Umm?

Here are six (6) biblical examples of Jesus' teaching the exact opposite of "everyone gets' into Heaven":

  • He taught the importance of seeking eternal life by emphasizing God's love for all people (John 3:16). How can one get into Heaven if they refuse God's love then?

  • Christ spoke about living a life dedicated to God and loving others are essential for inheriting eternal life. (Matthew 19:16-17)

  • The Messiah taught that accepting Him as the Son of God, through faith, leads to eternal life. (John 6:40)

  • Our Lord also taught that following His commandments would result in having eternal life. (John 14:15)

  • The King of Kings warned against focusing too much on material things, as they will not bring eternal life. (Matthew 6:19-21)

  • He emphasized the importance of putting God's kingdom and His righteousness first, for that is what leads to eternal life. (Matthew 6:33)

In summary, the answer to if everyone gets into Heaven is no. This is only achieved through faith in Jesus, his death, burial and resurrection.

What is Everlasting Life Heaven Like

According to the Bible, Heaven is a place of eternal beauty, peace, and joy. It is where God dwells and where the righteous will spend eternity with Him. In Revelation 21:1-4, it is described as a place where God makes all things new, wiping away every tear and pain, and where there will be no more death.

Further, this eternal abode is a place of great light and splendor. If you can imagine, even the streets are made of pure gold. It is a place of great peace and harmony, where the residents worship God and live in perfect unity with one another. In short, heaven is portrayed as the ultimate fulfillment of God's promises to those who believe in Him.

Here are biblical examples of Heavenly descriptiveness:

  • The Bible describes heaven as a place where there is no sin or evil. (Revelation 21:27

  • It is a place of perfect love and harmony. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

  • In heaven, God's presence is constantly felt and worshipped. (Revelation 22:3-5)

  • The Bible portrays heaven as the ultimate reward for those who have lived a righteous life on earth. (Matthew 5:12)

In summary, Heaven is where all who believe in God, through His Son, Jesus, will live eternally through the granting of eternal (everlasting) life.

Header Image Courtesy of Karin Henseler @ Pixabay

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