Author: Ron Graham
Do We Already Have Eternal Life?
—Our promised inheritance
This lesson examines the fact that we already have eternal life and examines the argument that since we have it, and since it is everlasting, we cannot lose it. First we will look at this argument, then we will explain why it is unsound.
1 Eternal Life — Fact and Fallacy
John says, "The witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has the life..." (1John 5:11-12 cf John 3:16).
It is a scriptural fact that we have eternal life as a gift from God.
A false argument is made supposedly based on this fact. Here's how the argument runs:
By definition, what comes to an end proves not to have been everlasting. Therefore, once God has given someone eternal life, that person cannot possibly lose it —because to lose it would mean the person had it for a short time instead of forever.
Thus the life would prove not to have been eternal in the first place. Since eternal life cannot come to and end, once you have it you must always have it and cannot possibly lose it.
We now answer this argument...
2 Eternal Life Given — But Not Begun
The argument above would be a good sound argument provided that the Bible statement "God has given us eternal life" meant the same thing as "eternal life has already begun for us". However, these two statements are not equivalent.
The Bible statements, "God has given us eternal life" and "He who has the Son has eternal life" (1John 5:11-12) do not imply that our eternal life has already begun.
I can understand that you might think that they do, and it's my job in this lesson to point out that they don't. I'll start with an illustration. This doesn't prove anything, of course, but it does help you to understand the point I will try to prove.
Imagine I said, "On my birthday I was given a holiday in Spain". That would not imply that my holiday in Spain began on my birthday, would it? What it does imply, and what you would most likely infer, is that on my birthday I was promised a holiday in Spain, that the holiday had already been arranged, and that I had been given the tickets.
You would definitely not think that the holiday began the moment I was given it. Of course it's possible I was whisked off to Spain on my birthday, but it's also possible that I was given the holiday on my birthday and it began some time later.
The Bible shows clearly that we have have been given eternal life, but it has not begun yet. Note the following points.
Eternal Life Does Not Begin Until the Second Coming. Before eternal life begins for us, the second coming of Christ must take place, "Then the righteous shall go away into eternal life." (Matthew 25:31-33,46). This shows clearly that the righteous have not gone into eternal life yet, and will not do so until Jesus comes.
The Attributes of Eternal Life Are Not Yet With UsWe know that eternal life is still future, because as yet we lack many of its attributes...
- Eternal glory (2Corinthians 4:17-18)
- Immortal bodies (2Corinthians 5:1-5
- Being like the angels (Mark 12:18-25
- A crown of life (James 1:12 cf 2Timothy 4:8, Revelation 2:10
- New heavens and earth (2Peter 3:10-13
- Seeing Jesus as he is (1John 3:2-3
3 Eternal Life — Given as a Promised Inheritance
We Have Been Given Eternal Life in the Form of a PROMISE. We are heirs to eternal life in the same way that some children might become an heir to a fortune which is then held in trust for them until a future day. The children look forward to that day and wait for it in HOPE. Meanwhile three things hold true:
- They rightly regard the inheritance as theirs.
- They already begin to receive some benefits and grants.
- They diligently comply with all conditions laid down.
That's how we should regard the blessed hope God has given us. (1John 2:24-25, Titus 1:2, Romans 8:24-25, 1Peter 1:3-6).