Tag Archives: Eternal Life

John’s Jesus

Let’s read  John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

As you read this, understand that Jesus is the Word.  Let’s re-read the verse by replacing “the Word” with “Jesus”.

“In the beginning was Jesus and Jesus was with God and Jesus was God.” 

This leads us to two distinct conversations:  the first is the deity of Jesus and the second is his eternal existence, since he was with God in the beginning – before anything was made.

First – we are told that Jesus was God.  It is important that we understand this.  It is not that Jesus was a god – one of many gods.  To make it say this, you have to change the Greek language from which this was written.  Every Greek scholar that has translated the Bible properly has translated it to mean the same thing – that Jesus was God, not that Jesus was a god. See a comparison of Bible translations here: www.biblestudytools.com/john/1-1-compare.html.  The literal word-for-word translation would actually say “and God was the Word”.  There is only one God and there is no doubt that what was written was that Jesus was God.

Second – we are told that he was “In the beginning” – in other words, before anything was created, before anything else existed.  In the beginning, before anything, was Jesus.  The only One who existed before anything was created, before anything else existed, was God.  When we say that God is eternal, we are saying that He has always existed, that He has no beginning – that is the definition of “eternal”.  All things have a beginning, since God made all things.  Only God does not have a beginning, because only God is eternal.  As we think about these two things together, this should make sense to us.  Jesus was “In the beginning” because he was God.

Which brings us to John 1:3:

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Here we read exactly what we were just discussing – that all things were made in the universe through Jesus – nothing was made without him.  He is the Creator, along with the Father and the Spirit.  See Genesis 1:1-3 (BTW – Genesis means “the beginning”):

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

So we now see that God created all things, that Jesus was with God in the beginning and that the Holy Spirit was hovering over the face of the waters.  This is the Trinity.  There is only one God but we can see that the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all eternal, pre-existing, non-created persons who created all things.

It is Jesus and the Holy Spirit who the Father is speaking to in Genesis 1:26-27

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.

So Jesus is the God who created the universe, spoke it into being.  He created the greatest star, trillions of light years away from us and the smallest grain of sand here on this earth.

John 1:4 tells us that it is Jesus who has created life.

In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

He is where life came from.  He is the one who brought the living to life.  It did not happen by accident – it was the work of the Word, Jesus.

So we see that Jesus is God, that he is eternal, that he is the Creator, that he is the giver of life.  Now we head down to John 1:14.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Here we read that Jesus was not only God but that the Word became flesh.  This is what we celebrate at Christmas:  That God came down to be born as a man.  Isaiah 7:14 says:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

700 years before Jesus was born, Isaiah prophetically told us that this would happen when he wrote that a virgin would give birth and would call his name “Immanuel”.  Immanuel means God with us.  This verse in John reveals the fulfillment of this prophecy in the Word made flesh.  God born in human form. Philippians 2:5-11 tells us more about this:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

So we can see that Jesus is fully God but also fully man.  Why did Jesus become man? This was necessary because sin came by the first Adam, therefore it needed to be removed by a second Adam.  In other words, since it was a man who brought sin into the world, it needed to be a man who would remove it.  However, how impossible is it for a man to do this, since every one falls short of the holiness and glory of God (Romans 3:23), since nobody’s perfect, since we all have sinned?  Therefore only God Himself could do this since He is the only one who is sinless and perfect.  Do you see what a conundrum this is – that only a man could remove sin but only God is able to do this?  Yet that is exactly who Jesus is – the only one who is able to remove sin because he is fully God and fully man.

“Why would God do this?”  Only because of the Grace of God towards man.  Grace means to receive something that we don’t deserve, that we didn’t earn.  Jesus becomes a man because God has Grace towards mankind.  Recognize that man was not the only one to fall, that angels fell as well.  The greatest angel to fall was Satan.  He was one of God’s brightest creation.  However, Satan chose to try to become like God and went against God.  He sinned by doing so and brought one-third of the angels with him.  These bad angels, whom we also call demons, work against God every day.  Yet, imagine – if after centuries of going against God, sinning against the Holy One, one of these demons decided that he changed his mind.  He realized how futile it was to go against God.  He understood how evil his actions were.  He repented and asked God for forgiveness.  Would he now go into Heaven?  Absolutely not.  God has created the Lake of Fire, what we call Hell, for Satan and his demons (Matt 25:41) and there is no escape for them.

This is right and proper.  If someone were to murder your loved one, it would be a wicked judge who said, ”You are guilty of murder, but I forgive you.  You do not have to go to prison.”  If a human judge knows that it is right to punish a murderer and send him to jail, how much more must God do so, who is the most righteous judge and by nature must do what is right?  You might say, “But I’ve never murdered” but God says in Matt 5:21-22:

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

The bad angels will go to hell because it is what they deserve and it is also what we deserve because we too want to be like God, to have control, to do our own will, to think that we are right and that He is wrong.  We too sin against the Holy One every day.  Yet, if we repent and ask God for forgiveness, God will forgive us.  Why?  How?  Because Jesus did not become fully God and fully angel.  Jesus became fully God and fully man.  Why?  Here, we turn to John 3:16.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Here we learn how God so loved the world that He gave His only son so that any who believe will not perish but have eternal life.  Let’s spend some time in this verse to break down the major points: 1-God so loved the world; 2-He gave His only begotten son; 3-All who believe in him will not perish but have eternal life.

We ask the question again – “Why would God forgive us and not the angels?”  Because that is how much He loves us.  He loves us more than we can think or imagine – it is beyond our understanding.  Some people, perhaps yourself, might die for someone who loves them, but who would die for someone who hates them?  More than that, who would give their only son for someone who hates them?  For that is who we were – people who hated God.  We proved it by neglecting His law, doing our own will, believing that we are right and He is wrong, turning our backs on Him and ignoring Him most of the day, even though He is watching over us every moment of every second of the day.  A child who did that to their parent would be a hateful child.  A worker who did that to their boss would be a hateful worker.  A person who did that to their God would be a hateful servant.  Yet this is the Love of God: He loves us so much that He would give His only begotten son to die so that we could be with Him forever.

Our second point is that Jesus is the son of God in a way that we are not.  Jesus is the same as the Father in the same way that a natural born child is the same as their parents – they have the same genes, the same eyes, the same laugh, etc.  They’re made of the same stuff, the same substance.  Sometimes, we like to say that we are all children of God.  Here we turn back to John 1:12.

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

Not everyone is a child of God.  Only those who receive him are given the right to become children of God.  What does it mean to receive Jesus?  The rest of verse 12 explains – those who believe in His Name.  This means that we need to believe the things that we’ve spoken about up to now – Jesus is the eternal, Creator God who gave life and who also was born as a man to take away the sins of the world.  Not everyone is a child of God.  Only those who believe in Jesus.

Let’s come back to John 3:16, and look at this third point.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Those who are His children, those who believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  We can have eternal life by believing in Jesus.  The other option is to perish.  To perish means to not have eternal life in Heaven but instead to live in Hell, in the place that was meant for Satan and His demons.  It is not the place that God created for men.  For men, He created Heaven and wants everyone to be there.  But He has given us a choice:  do we want to be with Him and give up our lives and our control and our will to Him and make Him God, Lord, Master?  Or do we want to continue to hold on to those things and keep trying to be god ourselves?  God gives us whichever we choose. If we choose to be with God, He will bring us into Heaven.  If we choose to be god ourselves, He keeps us away from Heaven, where He is, and allows us to go to the only other option – Hell.  We enter into heaven by receiving Jesus, believing all that we have just discussed about him.  We enter hell by rejecting all that we have discussed and continuing to try to enter heaven by our own efforts.

Think about what you’ve read.  Pray about it.  We urge you to give yourself over to Jesus, to allow Him to be your Lord.  If you do, let us know because we are praying for you.

What Good Thing Must I Do to Get Eternal Life?

Matt 19:16-26

Eternal life.

To some, it is a fantasy – something to give us false hope.  To others, it is a reality of what is to come after we die.  With all the books and movies about what happens after we die, it becomes obvious that most people recognize that there is more to life than this earthly body.  In all my discussions with people, even here in liberal-minded New York, I’ve never spoken to anyone who does not think they are going to heaven after they die.  And this makes sense to me.  After all, if we are just accidents that happen that somehow received life on this earth, then how did we get our reason, our love for beauty and art, our concern about our legacy after we die?  Where did the information in our DNA come from – that which somehow transformed some ape-like creature into a human being (since information means that someone with intelligence put it there – we would never look at an encyclopedia and assume that it was put together by accident, but by someone who had intelligence, and our DNA information is much more complex than a simple encyclopedia!).

Most of us believe that after this life here on Earth, there is a continuation of our life.  We call that eternal life.  But there is an implication with the phrase “Eternal Life”.  The implication is that if we are going to live forever after this life, we will do that somewhere.  Yes, there are some who believe that we get sucked into some cosmos-gathering where we become part of something else (Trekkies would call it the Borg).  But most of us know that there is another Place that we go to.  In America, most of us call that place “Heaven”.  Yet – those of us who know that there is an opportunity to go to Heaven after we die, also know that there must be a way to get to Heaven.  In other words, not everyone is going to go to Heaven but only those who know how to get there.  The implication is:  if you don’t know how to get there or you don’t succeed in doing what is necessary to get there, you will end up somewhere else – and though many people don’t like to think about it (who would?), we actually realize that as much as we don’t want it to be true, the answer to that question is, that we end up in Hell.

So then, we come to this question posed in the Title of this  post – “What Good Thing Must I Do to Get Eternal Life?”  This is the question that is asked of Jesus by a man now known as the “Rich Young Ruler”.  In our passage in Matthew 19:16-26, Jesus answers this question for the Rich Young Ruler (who will be known to us as “RYR” moving forward) by giving Him some important Truths and showing the man the state of his spirit.

What we see immediately is the heartfelt desire of the RYR.  He really does want to know how to get to heaven.  It is important to him that He does whatever is necessary to gain entrance.  He doesn’t want to have spent his life without the knowledge of what was needed to have eternal life in heaven, without having done all he could to get there.  So he goes to the one person who he knows has the answer to this.  He goes to Jesus.  Most people in the world today know that the answers to their questions about eternal life come from Jesus.  That is why every major religion in the world either has Jesus as part of their faith system or at least talks about him.  Many Jews think he was a great Rabbi (though not the Son of God).  The Muslims think he was the Great Prophet (though, like the Jews, not the Son of God).  The Hindus think he is one of the gods in their pantheon (though not the Savior).  The Buddhists think he is a BodhisattvaNo other person has had the impact that Jesus has had in the Spiritual life of mankind.

The RYR also knew this and held Jesus in the same high esteem as all these religions of the world today.  The RYR seeks him out, as we all today try to seek him.  He bows to him, as we also do today.  Yet even as highly esteemed as Jesus was held in the heart and mind of the RYR,  the RYR does not receive Jesus’ teaching nor does he receive Jesus himself.  Jesus gives him the invitation to “follow me”, but the RYR goes away sad, sorrowfully, grieving.  This sorrowful departure, along with Jesus’ conclusion of the matter (“It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven”), lets us know that all the good things the RYR did was not enough.

It is important for us to recognize that the RYR did everything right.  He followed all the commandments that were given, that we usually think of as the things that we need to do to get into Heaven (Matt 19:18-19) – he did not murder, steal, commit adultery, lie or slander and he honored his parents and loved his neighbors as himself.  If any of us did all those things today, not only would we think we are headed for heaven, but the world would have such a high regard for us, that we would be world-reknown (see: Mother Teresa and Gandhi as examples – and interestingly, most people would have a hard time thinking that those two in particular are not in Heaven).  However, Jesus is clear that doing these things was not enough.

Jesus used this question – regarding all the good things he had done – to show the RYR that although he had done all those things, it was not enough.  He also needed to give up all his riches.  Why did Jesus add that to the list? (And once again, notice how Mother Teresa and Gandhi also gave up all their riches.)  Because Jesus was actually making a point to the RYR – “Give up that thing that you hold more dear than God”.  In other words, Jesus was telling him that even though your actions towards others is perfect, if your heart has a love higher than God, then you are not good enough to enter into Heaven.  If there is something that you hold onto more than God, something you won’t give up and allow God to come first, that “thing” is an idol and you cannot enter Heaven because of it.  The RYR could not give up his riches – they were more important to him than God was.  Because of this, he fell short of entering Heaven.  He preferred the riches of this world than to be with God forever.

This teaches us that entering Heaven is not going to happen just by doing a bunch of good things.  It shows us that entering Heaven is not going to happen just because we really want it, really desire it.  It shows us that seeking out Jesus and hearing what he has to say is not enough. The RYR did all these things and went away sorrowful.  If we want to enter Heaven, we must give up all our idols and put God first in our heart.  If there is anything – riches, career, children – anything that we put above God, we cannot follow Jesus.  Without following Jesus, we cannot enter Heaven (John 14:6).

As much as Jesus wants him to enter into the kingdom, Jesus does not chase him or try to convince him to change his mind – he accepts that most people are not going to receive him.  He is not going to force Himself on anyone.  Jesus allows us to make our own choices.  This includes where we will spend Eternity.  Just like the RYR, we have a choice:  Will we give up our idols and recognize that Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior, who gave himself for our salvation (Phil 2:5-11, Romans 10:9) or will we walk away sorrowful because we don’t want to give up our idol, this thing that we have placed above God?  If we choose the first, it will lead to Heaven.  If we choose the second, it will lead to hell.  It is our choice.  We cannot blame God and say we did not know.  Jesus just told us.

Choose wisely.  Go with God…