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The following is a critical analysis of what it means to have eternal life through Jesus. The paper is divided into three parts where the first part will look into the various studies and their definition and reference to eternal life. The second part will deal with the aspect of obtaining eternal life. The final aspect will be on the analysis of obtaining eternal life and an overall summary of this writing.
Eternal life is a critical aspect of Christianity and it is the one of the foundational doctrines of Christianity exemplifying the life of Christ through His resurrection. Saint Paul in Romans says that Christianity would be doomed and it would be inexistent if Christ did not rise from the dead. This makes the eternal life a major theme of Christianity. Without eternal life and eternal perspective, it is likely that there would be no life at all and therefore eternal life is the foundation of Christianity.
This then takes us to the next point of this decision regarding the meaning of eternal life. This study will base its arguments from the Gospel of John 20:26-30. The Gospel was after the resurrection of Jesus and his ascension where he was revealing himself to his disciples. Earlier on, he had revealed himself to his disciples in the inner room but Thomas was not there.
When Thomas heard that the disciples had seen Jesus he refused to believe asserting that he can only believe what they were saying when he sees Jesus. When Jesus appeared to them, again, Thomas was there and Jesus showed him the scars where nails pierced him.
It was then that Thomas believed. Jesus was however quick to tell his disciples that blessed are those who believe even without seeing. Similarly, eternal life is not something that we can physically see and touch but it exists and blessed are those who believe of its existence even without seeing it (Neyley, 14).
The gospel about the issue of eternal life is the Gospel of John. According to the Gospel John was the disciple who Jesus loved. There are thirty-seven mentions of eternal life in the gospel of john and it seems to be his major theme expressed in his gospel and even in his letter writing of the book of revelation (Neyley, 16).
Eternal life is the unending existence of the human soul. It means that even after death the human soul will continue to live. This shows the immortality of the human soul (Barnett, 28).
Eternal life is also the resurrection of the body, the way Jesus resurrected with a glorified body with the marks of the nails that pierced him. This means that our bodies will resurrect in eternity and we will spend our lives with the savior (Barnett, 32).
The other aspect of eternal life, which is even more popular, is that of paradise. This is where those who will live righteously and believe in Jesus Christ will spend their time in heaven singing together with the angels. This view is however futuristic and it only describes of a world to come and not a world which exists. The dying thief crucified together with Jesus on the cross chose to believe him and Jesus promised him that they would be together in paradise.
Eternal life also involves an infinite happiness or joy that accrues to those who believe in Jesus Christ. It is the happiness and serenity engulfing the believer amidst of troubles and storms of life because they believe in God. This unending peace is the starting point of the everlasting life (Neyley, 21).
Jesus also described eternal life as knowledge of the true God and the Messiah whom he sent to save the world from eternal condemnation. This knowledge goes beyond mere acquaintance and it is in the deeper and practical interaction with God.
These experiences enable one to know the living God in a deeper way as a healer, as compassionate, a judge and as a father. This knowledge is eternal life as it results in the infinite happiness and blessedness. Without knowledge of God and eternal life, it is impossible to please God and be a partaker of eternal joy (Neyley, 67)
Eternal life is the restored relationship between God and us. This relationship was lost when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and God removed them while in the Garden of Eden. The sweet relationship where God would come in the evening and converse with them ended. However, eternal life is the restoration of this relationship as Jesus Christ bridged the gap that separated human from God through the atoning sacrifice of his blood. This interaction gives human beings the knowledge of the true and the living God (Thompson, 44).
Eternal life also about the new heaven and the new earth where the saints shall reside after the current earth pass away. The book of revelation exemplifies this where John concludes by depicting the New Jerusalem and how spectacular it shall be. It is the epitome of human life, an earth without sin and corruption where the sun and the moon will cease to exist and the owner of the city that is God will be the sun and there shall be no day all night in that city.
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It will be very spectacular as there shall be no weeping or crying or any form of trouble but only rejoicing and singing. The streets of that city are made of gold. The city will be made of precious stones such as jasper, sapphire and onyx. Twenty-four elders bowing and rising in bewilderment of God’s glory will surround the throne of God. Every Christian ought to look forward to getting into this city (Barnett, 22).
When Jesus was confirming the description, he told his disciples that he is going to make mansions for them and when he will complete them, he will come back for them. This shows that eternal life is indeed real and existent. In order to depict how life after death looked like and to show the unbelieving Sadducees of the existence of paradise, Jesus narrated the story of Lazarus and the rich man and how Lazarus went to paradise and the rich man went to hell.
Eternal life is also escape from the forthcoming judgment from God on all sinners and those who refused to obey his commandments. Salvation is therefore the redemption from this judgment and obtaining eternal life instead of death. Eternal life therefore offers humanity a chance to escape from the wrath of God’s judgment that will pass on to all sinners and those who refused to believe in Jesus Christ.
The next part of this essay will then ask how then is eternal life obtained and how can one be in a position to grow in it. How does one obtain eternal life through Jesus? Jesus said that he is the way, life and resurrection. This means that he is the way towards eternal life. He is the mediator who mediates between God and us. By human effort, no one can attain the holiness, which God requires in order to grant eternal life. However, through Jesus God atones our sins and He accepts us as we are provided we believe in Jesus Christ.
Jesus Is Also The High Priest
The priests work in the temple and are involved in offering sacrifices to God for the forgiveness of the sins of people. Through forgiveness of sins, eternal life is attained. These sins are forgiven when the high priest offers sacrifice to God to redeem one from the eventual death which could have been because of the sins.
Sin is therefore a major hindrance to eternal life, as God does not accept sinners to inherit eternal life. Instead, God subjects sinners to eternal condemnation in hell together with Satan and his angels. Acceptance of Christ means confessing one’s sins to this high priest and then accepting and believing that He forgives sins (Daniel, 42).
The eternal life is also obtained through Jesus paid ransom for all those who would be interested in obtaining eternal life. He was flogged, and humiliated. He bore shame and ridicule even though he was the Son of God and was powerful enough to avenge himself so that no one interested in eternal life would have to go through the same crucifixion and suffering to obtain it. He became the ransom for sinners. Eternal life therefore accrues to everyone who believes in him (Daniel, 47).
Eternal life is a gift and not an offer. It is not something, which the human effort deserves or can attain. Its price is too high and that is why Jesus paid that price so that anyone who is interested in obtaining this life can have it. The only requirement for obtaining eternal life is by believing in Jesus (Daniel, 42).
All these lead to the next part of this essay, which is interrelated with the text in John 20:26-30, where the issue of what believing emerges. Thomas refused to believe what he had not seen, he insisted that he must see Jesus and his scars for him to accept that Jesus was alive and he had appeared to his disciples. However, when Jesus finally appeared and displayed his marks to Thomas he said that blessed were those who believed even without seeing (Dauphinas, 12).
The foundation of Christianity is faith. It is a very important aspect in Christian life and in the obtainment of eternal life. This is because without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrew 11; 1 describes faith as the substance of things which are hoped for, it is also the evidence of things which are not seen. Faith is therefore anchored to believing not only what is factual in that it can be touched or smelt by the five physical senses but also that which cannot be perceived by those senses (Dauphinas, 21).
Eternal life is therefore a gift to those who believe even what they have not seen or touched. This is because things of God need spiritual discernment and eternal life can only accrue to a person who is believing and able to perceive even that which others cannot see.
It is interesting that even the Father of Faith Abraham depicted faith by searching for a city whose founder and builder is God. Faith is therefore an important aspect in obtaining eternal life. In addition, faith does not believe what is seen faith believes even that which cannot be seen (Barnett, 28).
Faith permeates human existence in a number of ways, the first one being that even God himself when he created heaven and earth he created it from the unseen. He talked to a formless and dark universe and out of it; he created light and an orderly and organized universe with stars, moon, and planets (Thompson, 6). However, it is not easy for one to believe without seeing as humans are analytical beings endowed with mind and perceptions.
Believing that there is life after death and that there is eternal life is not easy especially in the advent of information age where information, data and facts are the main sources of information and they are determinants of what is true or not. This serves to weaken belief about God and the existence of human life. However, it is important to note that belief in the existence of eternal life is the currency, needed for anyone to get the everlasting life (Thompson, 38)
Believing alone is not enough. James in the book of Hebrews writes that even the demons believe and they shudder at the mention of the name Jesus but they are not partakers of eternal life. For believing or faith to be of effect it needs accompaniment of actions that show what one believes in. Believe is a major component and it affects one’s actions and perceptions. A person’s belief affects the values that he or she upholds in life.
Believing in Jesus therefore means that one has to abandon the previous perceptions and actions and uphold the values, which Christ taught. It means abandoning a sin-oriented life and engaging a holiness oriented living. Without change in actions and behaviors, one cannot be comprehensively regard as having believed (Barnett, 28).
Eternal Life through Jesus
Eternal life through Jesus is therefore the eternal coexistence attained by believing that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of humanity and that he reconciled man back to God. This is important as it assures us of peace and that one can live harmoniously knowing that he will resurrect and live-forever in heaven (Daniel, 44).
Eternal life through Jesus puts Jesus at the centre and it gives no other room other than that of Jesus if anyone hopes to attain eternal life. It is worth noting that eternal life is a gift to the children of God. For one to be a child of God believing in Jesus Christ is imperative for one to obtain eternal life (Daniel, 42).
Eternal life of a Christian who believes in Jesus does not begin in heaven or once a person dies, it begins here on earth and it exemplifies the reason why Jesus came to earth. He came that we may obtain life and has it more abundantly. This implies that Jesus also came to make our existence on earth even better than it was.
This is because believing in his atoning of sins removes the guilt and self-condemnation that accrues to a sinner. Eternal life in Christ restores joyful living and interaction with God as it restores the joy of salvation. Once a person accepts Jesus, they receive the Holy Spirit who quickens their hearts and minds to walk in the obedience of God. Eternal life therefore begins in the present once person believes in God (Daniel, 64).
Eternal life begins when one accepts Jesus in his heart. Jesus said that he would come in him and abide in him. Jesus is the everlasting one abiding in one’s life and therefore whomever he is abiding in has eternal life. He further says that he is the way the truth and life. Therefore, believing in Jesus is the start of eternity (Moloney, 19).
Experiencing eternal life thereby starts in this life because of joy and inner peace experienced because of forgiveness of sins and having a good relationship with God. It comes about through the knowledge of Christ and believing that he is the ransom for our lives and that through his blood those who believe in him are entitled to live with him now and forever more (Moloney, 36).
The eternal life is therefore both futuristic and present. It is present when we take into consideration the joy and peace that the believers enjoy because of their relationship with God. This relationship begins as soon as one believes in Jesus Christ as the savior of the whole world. It is futuristic when we think of the new heaven and earth that are to come.
They are in preparation and therefore it is a future event but it will certainly happen after the second coming of Christ. This two aspects are however related and they all depend on the belief that Jesus is the savior and that he is the ransom of the sins of the world and whoever believes in him will not perish but will have eternal life (Moloney,88).
Jesus Christ paid for the eternal life through his painful death of crucifixion so that sinners and all unworthy human beings who could not attain righteousness by their own efforts can attain it through Jesus. Eternal life is therefore a gift attained by Jesus Christ with his blood and given freely to all who believe in him.
Eternal life is an important aspect of Christianity and one can only obtain it through Jesus Christ. Without Him, there is no eternity for anyone. It is therefore imperative for everyone to believe in Jesus and his ability to grant humanity eternal life. Eternal life without believing in Jesus cannot be real and it cannot be attained.
Barnett, Paul. Jesus & the Rise of Early Christianity. California: Sage, 2002. Print.
Daniel, Carson, The Gospel According To John, Apollos, 1991. Print.
Dauphinas, Michael. Reading John with St. Thomas Aquinas. Chicago:Bailey Press, 2005. Print.
Moloney, Francis. A Hard Saying: The Gospel and Culture. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2001.Print.
Neyley, Jerome. The Gospel of John. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Print.
Thompson, Robert. Three Views on the Origins of the Synoptic Gospels. Zondervan: California, 2000. Print.