Have you always thought of receiving eternal life in the future? We sing and pray of looking forward to having eternal life in heaven with God. But, the Bible teaches there is something more behind the concept of eternal life.
Faith receives eternal life right now.
Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24)
When the Bible speaks about eternal life, the word does not apply to a believer’s future citizenship in heaven. At the moment of conversion, a person receives eternal life. They have heard the Word of God and placed their trust in the completed work of Christ on their behalf. They receive the full benefits of what Christ won for them on the cross. They will not be judged, because a believer has already been justified for their sins.
A believer has eternal life right now, because their status in heaven is secure. There is comfort and peace associated with this status, because this status was not based on a reward, or something that was attained, but given to them.
“For the wages of sins is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
Faith is a gift from God. The forgiveness of sins is a beautifully wrapped present that God places into our hands. By receiving this gift, by believing in God’s promise, by trusting that Christ is the Savior, we receive the benefits by taking ownership of the contents inside. Forgiveness is in our possession because of what Christ has already given us.
I loved playing football as a young boy. Every day I played football in my next-door neighbor’s backyard. I loved the Pittsburg Steelers and had posters of Terry Bradshaw and Mean Joe Green on my bedroom wall. One morning, I was looking for something in my parent’s bedroom. I opened up a closet door and could not believe what I saw! It was a large box containing a football uniform! There were shoulder pads, football pants, a jersey, and… a football helmet. I was beyond excited. Not realizing that my birthday was only a few weeks away, I quickly went running to my parents and told them what I found. “I saw a box of football gear in your closet! Is that for me?”
My parents looked surprised at my discovery and slowly shook their head. “No,” they said. “I’m sorry, David. But that’s for your cousin, Bill. We are going to give it to him for Christmas!”
I was devastated.
With tears streaming down my face, I went into my bedroom and closed the door until the hot rush of tears subsided.
A few weeks later, all of my neighborhood friends gathered for my birthday party. After eating ice cream and cake, it was time to open presents. It was nice to receive a baseball from Richard and a comic book from Scott, but my parents saved their present for last.
My dad placed a large box in front of me. It was wrapped with white paper with tiny figures of football players. But I didn’t noticed that. With great anticipation, I threw off the wrappings and there it was! A football uniform completed with shoulder pads, football pants, a jersey, and… a football helmet!
Have you ever seen a ten-year-old boy glow with joy?
God gives us the gift of eternal life and he wants us to enjoy its contents right now. He wants us to see us glow with joy, because that gives him joy. He wants us to have peace and security in fully knowing our status of being acceptable to Him, because that is what He desires. He wants us to live out our lives as a reflection of His grace, because that brings Him glory. He wants us to tell others about this amazing gift, because that’s who God is.
Eternal life is not all about the future, but embracing the reality of our faith in Christ today and all that it means.
“Lord, Jesus Christ, I realize that quite often I don’t embrace eternal life in the present, but seem to look at only eternal life in the future. When the pain, pressures, and worries of life seem overwhelming, I tend to long for eternal life in heaven when there will be no more sin instead of embracing your presence today. Lord, renew the right spirit within me, so I can see the reality of what faith receives — your real Presence. Today. Thank you for reminding me of these truths from Your Word today. I live for you. I live in You. In your name I pray, Amen.
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