Gospel News · May - August 2015

very small size. Hovering over all those
worries is the fact that all this shall not last
long, in fact it lasts only a moment - in the
spectrum of infinity. “For our slight
mometary affliction accomplishes for us an
eternal weight of glory beyond comparison;
whilst meantime we do not look at the things
which are seen, but at the things which are
not seen. For the things which are seen are
temporal, but the things which are not seen
are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17,18). God doesn't
have long to prepare us for eternity - even a
lifespan of 100 years is nothing compared to
infinity. He therefore is very intensely at
work in our lives to prepare us for the eter-
nity ahead. Although day follows day and
even year follows year in an apparently
similar, repetitious style - through all that,
He is very intensely at work. We may not
always be able to attach meaning to event,
but rest assured that there is huge
significance to every moment and every
event in daily life. It’s a sense of meaning-
lessness, of insignificance, that is the root of
so much depression. But for us, we are freed
from that by realizing the brevity of our lives
compared to the eternity ahead; and
reflecting that therefore every incident
now is of eternal moment and intense
significance. We will not focus upon (the idea
behind the Greek translated “look at” in 2
Cor. 4:18) the temporal things, but upon the
things of the life eternal.
But every human being fears death. Everyone
lives their lives in fear of death to the point
of being in bond-slavery to it; yet in Christ we
have been delivered from that slavery (Heb.
2:15). Whilst we may fear the process of
death, just as the Lord did in Gethsemane,
we are free from the fear of death which
enslaves other human beings throughout
their lives; it's rather like being unable to
enjoy a holiday because from day one, you
are fearful about the holiday coming to an
end. But the believer lives without this fear
of endings, this unspoken angst about death
itself. Like David, we can walk through the
valley of the shadow of death without fear
(Ps. 23:4). Our interest in spiritual things and
in the Gospel doesn't just give us knowledge
of the possible chance of eternity. The good
news of the Gospel is that we have been
given it, that we will be there. Otherwise the
message of the Kingdom is hardly Gospel,
good news, if we have no guarantee that we
shall be there. To be freed from the fear of
death, this is good news so dramatic as to
radically transform human life and thinking
in practice, and turn the world around us
upside down.
Living Eternal Life Now
But the life eternal is not only ahead, at
some point further up the road; it’s not all
jam tomorrow. The Lord was asked what to
do, “that I may have eternal life” in the
future (Mt. 19:16). His response was (as so
often with Him) to attack the terms of the
question and invite the listeners to redefine
them. His response speaks of how “If you will
enter into life, keep the commandments.
(then you will have) treasure (right now) in
Heaven. Follow Me” (Mt. 19:17,21). The Lord
is effectively saying that our life of obedi-
ence now to the commandments, our
following of Him today, is already entering
into the life eternal. Instead of seeing ‘life
eternal’ as some far future experience, He
speaks of how we are to start living today the
kind of life which we shall eternally live. We
shall live for ever in obedience to God’s
principles / commandments - and we are to
seek to live like that today. We will spend
eternity following the Lamb wherever He
goes - and we are to start doing that today.
This is precisely the way John’s Gospel uses
the idea of ‘eternal life’. We can right now
start living the life eternal; we shall die, but
the gift of the Lord Jesus is the empower-
ment to live today the kind of life we shall
eternally live. In this sense we ‘have eternal
life’ here and now, in our mortality. And a
glance at the Greek confirms this approach -
the life aionos is the life of the aion, the age
- the Kingdom age. In this sense we ‘keep’
our present spiritual life ‘unto life eternal’
(Jn. 12:25). The future reality of eternal life
therefore ‘abides in’ we who live in love and
have the spirit of Jesus (1 Jn. 3:15).
Editorial | The Life Eternal