The Forgotten Victory?

The biblical writer; Jude, who was commonly known as the half-brother of Jesus, wrote to his readers: “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:4 ESV) Like Jude, I felt it necessary to write about the resurrection as the forgotten victory because of the many erroneous theological ideas surrounding death that are currently popular among many who are supposedly of faith.

Now, before I present my contentions, let it be known that this is not an attempt to be judgmental or condescending, but rather I write in an effort to promote the biblical concepts that were delivered to the saints of old! Sadly, too much of what is being passed off as ‘biblical’ around many Christian circles and churches today is actually current cultural concepts in biblical façade!

For instance, not long ago, I observed a funeral service in which, before the closing of the casket, a crown was placed upon the head of the deceased! The theme of the minister’s message was that, after battling sickness, disease, and the many struggles of life, the dearly-departed had now gained the victory through death! The preacher said that although the person had battled cancer, they were now victoriously healed because they had a brand new body in Heaven! Now, that’s sounds encouraging and even comforting, but is it biblical? Well. . . .not exactly! Let me show you what I’m talking about!

First of all, contrary to what is commonly preached and believed in most Christian churches, the Bible DOES NOT teach that our permanent dwelling will be in the Heaven where God dwells! Now, the Bible DOES teach that those who die in the Lord are immediately in the presence of the Lord! Jesus said to the repentant thief on the cross: “Today, you shall be with me in paradise!” (Luke 23:43) The Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 5:8, talks about being absent from the body and being present with the Lord. Therefore, biblical evidence suggest, our loved-ones who have died in the Lord are presently with the Lord. However, even though they are with the Lord, they are not complete, they are not whole! Why? Because they are in a dis-embodied spiritual state! Their spirits are with God, but their bodies (the part of them that was sick, suffering, cancer-ridden, etc.,) are in their graves!

Sure! The Apostle Paul said: “For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Cor. 5:1 NASB) But the point that many miss is the fact that, that body is not received immediately after death! No! According to the Scriptures, we will not get our ‘new’ bodies until the Resurrection and the Resurrection will not occur until Jesus comes again! Consider another passage that is often read at funerals, but we miss the full message of it: In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, the Apostle Paul writes: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (KJV)

Let’s unpack this so you can see what I’m trying to say. The believers in Thessalonica were anxiously awaiting the Lord’s return. However, there were believers among them who had already died and those who remained were concerned that those who had died would miss the Lord’s coming. Paul wrote this section of the letter to assure them that those who had died would be caught up to meet the Lord just like those who are alive at his coming.

Paul said that when Christ returns, he will bring with him those ‘which sleep in Jesus.’ (v.14) But then he also says in verse 16, that the dead in Christ shall rise first! But wait a minute! I thought those who ‘sleep in Jesus’ and the ‘dead in Christ’ were the same people? So, how can Jesus bring those who sleep in him, with him when he comes, if those same people shall first rise from the grave before those who are alive are changed? If those who sleep in Jesus and those who will rise from the grave are the same people, how can they be in different places (with Jesus in Heaven and in the grave) at the same time?

Well, when Jesus comes, he will bring the disembodied spirits of the saved with him and their mortal remains will be raised immortal from the grave! The Bible calls this; the First Resurrection! It is at that point that victory over death will be achieved! No! The believer does not gain the victory over death at death; the believer will gain victory over death at the Resurrection!

Now, this raises another interesting question: If Heaven, in a disembodied state (the present state of those who have died in Christ) is indeed our ‘home’ or ultimate destination, then what is the purpose of the resurrection? I’ve always heard that the purpose of the resurrection will be so that we might be judged for the things we have done in the body. But think about it; the Bible says the angels will be judged and they don’t have mortal bodies as we have, so having a mortal body is not a necessary perquisite for judgment! So, what is the purpose of the resurrection? The purpose of the resurrection is so that body and spirit might be re-united, so that we might live as we were originally created to live!

And how were we originally created to live? Well, according to the Genesis account, humanity was made from the earth to have stewardship-dominion over the earth and to be sustained by the earth! When Adam fell, he didn’t fall from Heaven; he fell from the state that God had created him! Thus if the salvation plan of God is about restoration (by definition, restoration is a bringing back to a former position or condition), then Heaven cannot be our permanent dwelling because Heaven is not where we were originally created to live!

The only way for people go to Heaven is through death! And the only reason for the existence of death is because of sin! The Bible says; the wages of sin is death! And since sin and death were not part of God’s original intent and they are the only reasons people leave this world and go to another place, then in addition to what the Scriptures declare explicitly, implicit logic requires us to conclude that being in Heaven in a dis-embodied state was not God’s original intend for our eternal or ultimate destiny!

What sense would it make for God to go through all of the trouble of making a physical-world, making man as a spiritual-physical being to live and exercise authority in that physical world only to completely abandon that plan and opt for man to live permanently in a purely spiritual state in Heaven after man messed up? That makes absolutely no sense at all! In fact, such a notion actually implies that God was so short-sighted that man’s sin caught God completely off-guard, proving God as incapable of finishing what God had started, making it necessary for God to implement an alternative plan for man to live eternally in Heaven as a dis-embodied spirit instead on earth as a spirit-physical being as God had originally planned!

But the GOOD NEWS the Bible shares is that God had made provisions for Adam’s sin, even before Adam was created! The GOOD NEWS of the Bible is that God’s original intent will ultimately be realized! With all of our doctrines and traditions, we’ve made complicated, what is actually quite simple! The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is the story about a kingdom given, a kingdom lost, and a kingdom regained! It’s the story of a good creation that went bad, but is being and will be ultimately restored!

Theologians call Adam’s sin in the garden; The Fall! Man ‘fell’ from the state God had created him! The consequence of that fall was and is death! What is death? Death is, in a sense, an unnatural separation! Physical death is the separation of the spirit-soul from the physical body! I call it ‘unnatural’ because it is not God’s original intent; death perverts and subverts the way God originally intended for man to exist! We often cite in marriage ceremonies what Jesus said: “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder!” Well, in a sense, that’s exactly what death does! Death separates (body and spirit) what God originally joined together! Paul said of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15:25-26: “For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (KJV) The resurrection will be the destruction of death! The resurrection will be God joining back together what death had put asunder!

God is working everything out to fulfill His original intent! His original intent was not for us to be with Him in Heaven, but rather for Him to be with us on Earth! He was originally ‘with us’ when He walked with Adam and Eve in the garden in the cool of the day! He was ‘with us’ in the person of Jesus; the Immanuel! He is ‘with us’ today in the person of the Holy Spirit! And one day, He will be with us as He originally was! For I read the Apostle John’s Revelation: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.” (Rev. 21:1-5 KJV) [bold italicize mine]

Yes! The victory that is most often forgotten on funeral occasions is the victory of the resurrection! In speaking of this victory, the Apostle Paul said the same things to the Corinthians that he said to the Thessalonians: “Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruptible body must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body must be clothed with immortality. When this corruptible body is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, death, is your victory? Where, death, is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:51-55 CSB17)

Half-Truths, Incomplete Stories and Bad Theology

When you go to court to testify or to be sworn-in as a witness, you are asked to solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth! Some years ago, the popular columnist; Paul Harvey would tell news and special-interest stories. The stories were always good and interesting, but the one thing that distinguished the show was the fact that Harvey would only tell half of the story before having a commercial break! After the commercial break, he would then tell the rest of the story!

Much of what I am hearing today in the church-world, in personal conversations, in ‘gospel’ music, and in social media reminds me of the court-room and the Paul Harvey shows: People are promoting ‘half-truths’ as the whole truth and are not waiting until after the commercial breaks to hear the rest of the story! As a result, there is a lot of bad theology being offered that is actually detrimental to wholesome spiritual development and true biblical faith!

Let me give you a few examples: Many are familiar with or have heard of Romans 8:28, which says: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (NKJ). Taken by itself, this verse seems to simply imply that if I love God and are called according to His purpose, everything that happens to me; the good, the bad and the ugly, is working together for good! That sounds fine, but the question that begs to be asked that most people don’t ask is: What is good? Well, Paul actually answers that question in the very next verse, where he continues his thought by saying: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29 NKJ). The complete thought is that all things (the good, the bad, and the ugly) work together for good to those who love God (and by the way, according to Jesus in John 14:21-24; to love God is to obey God!) and the ‘good’ is that they might be conformed to the image of Jesus! In other words, in the life of the one who loves God, all things are working together for the purpose of shaping and molding that person to be like Jesus! Now, the Bible also says that Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). In Genesis, we discover that man was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-28). Therefore, for the believer, everything is working together for the good, and the good is that the believer might be conformed to the image he/she was originally created to be; the image of God! The good is ‘to be like Jesus’ and to be like Jesus is to be like God originally created us to be! So, to only read and seek to apply Romans 8:28 without reading Romans 8:29 is to miss the purpose of all things working together for the good!

Another horrendous example of this same exegetical error is found in the treatment of 1 Corinthians 2:9, where the Apostle Paul wrote: “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” ( KJV). Paul adapted Isaiah 64:4, which says: “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him” ( KJV). Oh! I can’t tell you how many songs I’ve heard or how many sermons I’ve heard, based on this verse, promoting the idea that the things God has prepared for those who love him are unimaginable! But most people would be surprised to know that was NOT the idea Paul was trying to get across! In the next verse; 1 Corinthians 2:10, Paul said: “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (KJV). Do you see that? Do you see how serious this is? When we say, preach, sing, and declare that eyes haven’t seen and ears haven’t heard what great things God has prepared for them that love him, we are NOT telling the truth! Why? Because Paul also said: “But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit!” I think part of the problem is that when most people read the Bible, their understanding is influenced by chapters and verses instead of by thoughts! The original biblical writers did not write using chapters and verses, those were added later on to help us find their thoughts! So, as we read the Bible, we must remember that a verse is not always a complete thought and the end of a chapter doesn’t necessarily mean the complete end of a conversation.

Now, I need you to read carefully at this point because I’m about to address something that is very egregious, but most who are doing it don’t even realize it! The idea of believers having the ability to ‘speak things into existence’ IS NOT BIBLICAL! That’s mystical, New Age, thinking! Let’s look at the ‘one’ verse where this idea comes from. Paul wrote in Romans 4:17: “As it is written: I have made you the father of many nations. He is our father in God ‘s sight, in whom Abraham believed– the God who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist” (CSB17). Note that Paul said that it is God who gives life to the dead! Paul said, it is God who calls things into existence that do not exist! In the Genesis account, the Hebrew word for God’s creative act is ‘bara.’ In all of Scripture, this word is only attributed to God! Only God can create something out of nothing! Man doesn’t have to power to ‘create,’ we only have the power to procreate and recreate! We cannot, nor is there really a need to ‘speak it into existence’ because everything we need is already in existence! We just need to learn how to use faith to bring to bear what God has already created and promised!

There are many more, but these are just a few examples of the many current popular theological ‘boo-boos’ that are being made! Often, these errors are the results of a lack of diligent Bible study and application of logic. Oh! How much more are the words the Apostle Paul wrote to his young protégé; Timothy, applicable to us in this day! “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth. But avoid all empty (vain, useless, idle) talk, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness. And their teaching [will devour; it] will eat its way like cancer or spread like gangrene” (2 Timothy 2:15-17 Amplified Bible).

Blankets With Holes

Have you ever witnessed or been a party to this scenario? You’re in a church service or at a conference and the speaker is giving a word of prophecy that goes something like this: “I decree and declare that this is your season to be blessed! Whatever you’re going through right now, the Lord told me to tell you that it is over! Your time of suffering is over! Your time of being the tail and not the head is over! Now, turn to your neighbor and tell them; ‘My time of suffering is over! My day of victory is here!”

Well, this sounds well and good, but there are some fundamental problems with ‘blanket’ declarations or prophecies such as the one I just described. First of all, when a speaker is speaking to a congregation of people, any and all broad declarations made similar to the ones I just described are always based on an assumption! The speaker assumes the people he or she is speaking to are in a position to receive what they say God is giving them! But more often than not, that is not the case! Let me show you what I’m talking about! It doesn’t matter what the prophecy may be, if a person is not in right-relationship or fellowship with God, they are not in a position to receive the blessing! For instance, if a person is living in known and open unrepentant sin; they are not eligible to receive the blessing! How can God bless mess? This is the main problem I have when people make blanket declarations; it gives a sense of false hope because usually the speaker does not express the conditions of the blessing!

Conditions of the blessing? Yes! Most blessings, particularly the ones that most people crave and the ones many ‘prophet-profits’ espouse, have conditions attached! I heard a choir singing about the fact that we are blessed in the city and we are blessed in the field! However, the biblical passage from which that song is derived says: “And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.” (Deuteronomy. 28:1-3 KJV) Do you see the condition? The passage does indeed say that Israel would be ‘blessed in the city and blessed in the field,’ but only ‘if’ they were careful to diligently hear and obey all of the commandments! Most of the promises of God contain an ‘if-then’ condition: If we obey, then God will bless! If we are in right-relationship or right-fellowship, then God will do this or do that! Even salvation is an ‘if-then’ condition! Romans 10:9 says: That ‘if’ thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, (then) thou shalt be saved.” (KJV) People say that God is a ‘forgiving God,’ but even God’s forgiveness is conditional! In order for God to forgive us, we must repent (turn from, forsake, change our mind) from the wrong offense! If we don’t do that, God will not forgive! Jesus also said in Matthew 6:14-15: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”(KJV) So, if we want forgiveness, then we must be forgiving!

Therefore, I would like to suggest that many of the ‘blanket prophecies’ that are being declared are blankets with holes! The prophecy may or may not cover you! Here’re another insight to consider: Let’s just supposed the prophecy is that the Lord is going to immediately bring you out of a certain bad situation. But, it could be that you’re in that situation because of some foolish decisions you made and the Lord may choose not to immediately deliver you from your ‘mess’ because He wants you to have time to learn the message (lesson). So you hear the prophecy and you think your day of deliverance is near, when in fact, it might be awhile!

There are countless factors you should consider before you accept a blanket declaration as being from the Lord. Although it might be a blanket-declaration, it might not cover you because of the ‘holes’ in your life! It might not be for everybody, just some! Therefore, be leery of prophets, profits, and others, who are quick to utter blanket decrees and declarations, because more often than not, those decrees and declarations are blankets with holes!

What is the Kingdom of God?

Recently, a friend posted on his Facebook page the poster you see above. I replied to his post by saying: “Good admonition! The problem is that most modern Christians have no idea what the Kingdom of God is!” Now, the irony of that reality is that the main theme of the ministry and life of Jesus was the Kingdom of God! The Kingdom of God was the subject of every one of his sermons! The Kingdom of God was the object of every one of his teaching sessions! The demonstration of the power and presence of the Kingdom of God was purpose for every one of his miracles! Yet, those who claim to follow him today, know very little about the Kingdom of God as he presented it!

Now, I hope you noticed what I just said: I said, “Those who claim to follow him today know very little about the Kingdom of God ‘as he presented it!” Most of what we think we know about the Kingdom of God today was gathered from the writings of theologians (Early Church and modern) and from ideas in art and culture, but what did Jesus say about the Kingdom of God?

As I write this, I am reminded of the frustrations I experienced as a young teen, helping my father in his work. My father was a greens-keeper at a golf-course and in the course of his work, he repaired and worked on small engines and the equipment used to maintain the course. When I first started working with him, during the summer-breaks from school, my frustrations stemmed from the fact that I was a little slow in remembering the names of the tools he worked with. For example, when my father would have his hands full working on a machine, he would ask me to bring him a Phillips-head screwdriver or a crescent-wrench. More often than not, before I got the hang of it, I would bring him a flat-head screwdriver or a pair of vice-grips instead! It was really frustrating for me to be rifling through the tool box, not knowing exactly what I was looking for! Often, when I couldn’t figure it out, I wouldn’t bring him what he asked for, I would just bring him what I thought he asked for!

Well, that’s the way it is with many Christians today! They really don’t know what Jesus meant when he said: “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. . .” And since they don’t really know what he meant, they just go by what they think he meant! Just like the difficulty I experienced when looking in my father’s toolbox, it’s difficult to look for or even find something, when you don’t exactly know what you’re looking for!

So, what did Jesus mean when he said; “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. . . ?” Well, I finally learned the tools my father needed by the process of elimination. In other words, even before I found out what vice-grips were; I found out what they weren’t! Therefore, let’s first look at what Jesus ‘did not mean’ when he talked about the Kingdom of God. Now, there were times when he did, but most of the time, when Jesus was talking about the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven, he WAS NOT talking about the Heaven we most often talk about! I remember as a young Christian, when I first read Matthew 6:33, I just assumed that Jesus meant that our first priority should be; to seek to live a good life so that we might go to Heaven after we die! But that is not what he said and that is not what he meant!

Most often, when Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God, he was talking about the sovereign rule or the authority of God; the realm of God’s rule. In the preaching and teachings of Jesus, the terms; Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven were not primarily referencing a place or location, but rather the act of ruling or the state of submission to God’s rule. Therefore, to ‘see’ and to ‘enter into’ the Kingdom of God in John 3:3 and John 3:5 are not references to seeing and walking through the pearly gates after death, but rather, to perceiving, understanding, and submitting to God’s sovereign rule in one’s life now! Note the tenses, Jesus did not say; ‘will not see’ or ‘will not enter’ (future tense), he said; ‘cannot see’ and ‘cannot enter’ (present tense). Now, there were times when he referenced the future aspect of the Kingdom of God. In the parables, he talked about the angels separating the wheat from the tares and separating the good fish from the bad fish. He talked about going away and preparing a place for us in John 14; that was future tense.

So in summary, here is what the Kingdom of God is from what we have discussed so far:

          The Kingdom of God is the sovereign rule of God.

          The Kingdom of God is a present reality.

          The Kingdom of God is a future hope.

Now, I don’t want this post to be too long, but I just want to focus on the aspect of the Kingdom of God as a present reality before I go. While traditional Christianity has done a good job of presenting the Kingdom of God as a future hope, it has done a very poor job of presenting the Kingdom of God as a present reality! The reason for that might be because it seems to be hard for people to wrap their heads around the reality that the Kingdom of God is not one or the other, but rather, the Kingdom of God is both! The Kingdom of God is indeed the culmination of history when God shall subdue all evil and sin, death and sickness will be no more and we will reign with God throughout eternity. Yes! That is the Kingdom of God! But the Kingdom of God is also, the sovereign rule, authority, and power of God working in and through the lives of His people for the purpose of His will being done presently on earth as it is done in Heaven! You see, the problem with traditional Christianity is that only one aspect of the Kingdom of God has been presented! We’ve done a great job in preparing people to die, but we have ignored the fact that there is one thing everybody must do before they die; they must live! We’ve done a great job in preparing people for life in the here-after, but we’ve done a dismal job in preparing people for life in the here-and-now! The Gospel that Jesus preached was like the candy I used to eat as a kid, called; Now-and-Later. But the gospel we preach makes the same mistake we made with the candy when we were kids! Although the actual name of the candy was and is: Now ‘and’ Later, we called it:  Now ‘or’ Later!  Jesus preached a ‘now and later’ message, but the message of most modern preaching is ‘now or later!’ And that message has no appeal to a person who is struggle to make ends meet and to survive in life! It’s really no real consolation to know that things will be better after they die; they need some relief now! The Gospel of the Kingdom of God that Jesus preached addresses that need! In Mark 10:28-30, we read: “Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” (Mk. 10:28-30 KJV) Did you read what Jesus said? He said; ‘now in this time. . . and in the world to come. . .” The real Gospel, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, the Gospel Jesus told us to actually preach is the now ‘and’ later Gospel!

 There is a lot more I could say about what the Kingdom of God is, but if I keep going, you will quit reading! But read Matthew 13 in your Bible. In that chapter, you will discover several examples of what the Kingdom of God is and what the Kingdom of God is like; now and later!

Eternal Life: Not Just a Lay-a-Way Plan!

One of the first Bible verses that many of us learned was John 3:16, which, according to the King James Version, says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Jn. 3:16 KJV) The same verse, in the English Standard Version (ESV) says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (Jn. 3:16 ESV) The terms; ‘everlasting life’ and ‘eternal life’ are synonymous; the KJV says ‘everlasting,’ while most of the modern translations say; ‘eternal.’ In the Greek text, it is the same word, which literally means; ‘without beginning and end, that which always has been and always will be 2) without beginning 3) without end, never to cease, everlasting.’

Now, I used the term ‘literally’ because although the definition talks about not having an end, the term is used, in most cases in the Bible, not to signify the length of life, but rather, the quality of life! When you really think about it, the truth of the matter is this; everyone who has ever lived, will actually live forever! The big question is; where? For you see, when the Bible speaks of death, it is not talking primarily about annihilation or a cessation of existence, it is talking about separation! The Apostle Paul described the condition of the Ephesian believers before they became believers as that of being ‘dead in your trespasses and sins.’ (Eph. 2:1) In 1 Timothy 5:6, Paul described a widow, who was living in luxury as being ‘dead while she lives.’ In each case, the primary meaning of death was separation. Physical death is the separation of the human spirit and soul from the body. Spiritual death is the separation of a person from correct fellowship and relationship with God. Eternal death is the eternal separation from the fellowship and correct relationship with God. According to the Bible, everyone of us came into this world DOA; dead on arrival. The most important thing in life is the race against time! For it is of the utmost importance not let death (physical death) catch you dead (spiritually dead)!

Well, that’s enough about death, the purpose of this post is to talk about life! More specifically; eternal life! Now, what most modern believers do not understand or have otherwise failed to incorporate into the practical reality of their lives, is the fact that eternal life is a present-possession of every believer! If you are a true believer in Jesus, you will not get eternal life when you die and leave this world; you have eternal life now! Jesus said in John 5:24: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (NKJ) John, the Apostle wrote in 1 John 3:14-15: “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” (NKJ) Most ‘religious Christians’ don’t read the Bible correctly! They believe they will gain eternal life when they die! But the truth of the matter is; if you don’t possess eternal life now while you live, when you die, it will be too late! Those same ‘religious Christians’ also believe they will enter the Kingdom of God when they die, but according to the Bible, a person is either in the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of darkness; right now! Paul wrote in Colossian 1:13: “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” (ESV) Note the tenses! Paul didn’t say: “He ‘will’ deliver us. .” He said; “He ‘has’ delivered us. . .” Paul didn’t say that God ‘would transfer’ us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,” He said that God ‘has transferred’ us to the kingdom of His dear Son! The sad reality is the most Christians are not aware of this awesome reality! They have placed their hope in a delayed lay-a-way plan wherein they only hope to receive eternal life and enter into the Kingdom of God; after they die, in the sweet by-and-by! But that is NOT what the Bible teaches! The good news of the Gospel is that those who believe in Jesus, have eternal life; right now! Those who believe in Jesus are in the Kingdom of God; right now!

Well, what is ‘eternal’ or ‘everlasting’ life? As stated earlier, although the literal meaning talks about the length of life, the biblical emphasis is not on the length of life, but rather on the quality of life. Jesus, who is the Life, gave this definition in his high priestly prayer in John 17:1-3, where we read: “Jesus spoke these things, looked up to heaven, and said: ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you gave him authority over all flesh, so that he may give eternal life to everyone you have given him. This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and the one you have sent– Jesus Christ.” (Jn. 17:1-3 CSB17) According to Jesus, eternal life is knowing the only true God and the one He sent – Jesus Christ! Now, we should note at this point, that ‘knowing’ in the Bible does not signify a mere intellectual exercise, but ‘know’ or ‘knowing’ in the Bible, denotes an intimate close relationship! (Such as in: “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain. . .” Gen. 4:1 KJV) Therefore, Jesus defined eternal life as an intimate relationship with God the Father, through His Son; Jesus Christ! Eternal life only comes through and by way of the One who said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn. 14:6 CSB17) Do you really ‘know’ Jesus? If you do, then you have eternal life right now! This eternal life is the life Jesus came to give, according to John 3:16 and John 10:10. Eternal life is Jesus living His life through us by way of the Holy Spirit, according to the Apostle Paul’s words recorded in Galatians 2:20.

Oh fellow believers! We have such a great salvation, but the sad reality is that too many believers die with most of their food still on their plates! They die without ever scratching the surface of the depth of provisions God had for them in this life! They are like the story I read about a couple who saved all of their money to pay for a cruise. They had never been on a cruise before! In fact, prior to this cruise, they had never even left their small home town! Well, after they boarded the ship, during the entire cruise, they never ventured out of their room! Every day, they sat in their room, eating the sandwiches they had packed, looking out of their windows at the ocean and at other people who were enjoying themselves on the ship. Since, they never ventured out of their room, when the captain learned of their absence from all of the ship’s functions and festivities, so he sent a steward to check on them, for he feared they might have died during the voyage! When the steward knocked on their door, he was amazed to discover the couple had been happily secluded in their room for the entirety of the cruise! He asked them why they had not partaken of the amenities and festivities of the ship. The couple replied that they couldn’t afford it! The steward asked to see their tickets and after inspecting their tickets, he was almost speechless! He explained to the couple that when they paid for their tickets, every meal, every amusement, every show, and every amenity was also included in the price of their tickets! The sad reality was, by the time the couple discovered this, the cruise was over and the ship was returning to port!

Well, that’s the way it is with many Christians today! They have packed their lunch and they are eating in their rooms because they believe their only reward will come after they die and go to Heaven! They have not read Romans 8:32, where the Apostle Paul said: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (KJV) They don’t realize that over two thousand years ago, every blessing was bought and paid for on Calvary’s Cross! The Apostle Peter reported: “His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Pet. 1:3 CSB17) Yes! Everything we need for this life, God has already provided! It’s all included in ‘eternal life!’ Jesus said: “So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat? ‘ or ‘What will we drink? ‘ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt. 6:31-34 CSB17) Freedom from worry and anxiety is included in eternal life! Seeking the Kingdom of God and his righteousness is eternal life! All these things (the things we need in life) being added is included in eternal life! What is eternal life? Eternal life is the abundant life! It is the life of intimate communion, fellowship, and relationship with God the Father through Jesus the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit, who resides in every believer! When is eternal life? Eternal life is now . . .and later!