The phrase "eternal life" appears about 12 times in the Gospels and about 30 times in the New Testament.
There is also talk of "everlasting <166> fire," and " everlasting <166> destruction". So there seems to be an eternity for us either way. The key to the meaning of the phrase may be found in the word "life".
In the first three gospels eternal life is equated by Jesus with keeping the commandments. Yet many bible tracts equate salvation with eternal life and state that it "is all about being "born again."
Wayne Turner and many others say:
- “Salvation is the supernatural act of God whereby we are born again (spiritually) into the Body of Christ. Salvation is not acquired through good deeds as so many believe, but rather through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.”
What he says here is true but also can be misleading. Salvation certainly could be classified as supernatural because it depends upon a supernatural grace but it may not be solely supernatural. Besides saving Israel from the bondage of Egypt and the afflictions of taskmasters and even their enemies, Christ himself saved many people from being blind, crippled, and even from death.
But all should know and understand that while works are not the cause of our salvation, they are the evidence of salvation. Like fruits works give us insight into the truth and honesty of our faith. Works allow us to know if our faith is real, and without works our faith is dead, not true and false.
Works are certainly an element of God's judgement according to what we read
Paul himself makes the importance of righteousness clear that:
- 1 Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
We know that according to Galatians 5:18 "... if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law."
But if anyone fall under any of these descriptions in 1 Corinthians 6, we know that one is not led by the Spirit and is not saved, and that one will not inherit the kingdom, no matter what they tell us about their supposed faith.
- Galatians 5:19 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
- Ephesians 5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
We should make note of the fact that the word salvation does not even appear in Matthew or Mark, and it is only once in John where it refers to the salvation of the Jews.
Jesus is clear about Eternal life (or 'life eternal'), and he also has things to say about everlasting life, plus he indicates the favor or the promise of life. Take, for example, Matthew 19:16:
- "And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?... but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments."
Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 19:18-19:
- "He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
And again we see these doctrines of Jesus concerning what he answers about inheriting eternal life in Mark 10:17:
- "...what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?... Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother."
- Mark 10:30 "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."
Repeated again in :
- Luke 10:25 "...what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live."
Repeated again in:
- Luke 18:18 "And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother."
As usual, John seems to treat the subject of "eternal life" a little different:
- John 3:15 "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."
This is where many preachers stop, but there is more.
John 3:16 "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."
Then John repeats with emphasis on believing in the "name" of the only begotten son of God.
- John 3:17 "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
So this seems to be a good argument for believing only, and again we are not in disagreement. The question is what does it mean to believe in the "name"?
The Greek word "onoma" is defined as "the name is used for everything which the name covers, everything the thought or feeling of which is aroused in the mind by mentioning, hearing, remembering, the name" which is "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved".
John tells us we must believe in "everything the thought or feeling of which is aroused in the mind by mentioning, hearing, remembering, the name" as Christ intended.
If Christ is in us, then we will have the same sacrificial nature of Christ and the LORD God who gave of himself that we might be saved.
This is just another way of saying what we see Jesus saying back in Matthew 19 when He was asked by the young man what more could he do to obtain eternal life.
- Matthew 19:21 "Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me."
The same is also seen in Mark 10:21 and in Luke 18:22. This idea of giving up all to serve the Lord opens a door that completes the discipleship of Christ. We need to stop doing our own will and seek to do the Lord's will. This is a life time process, not a one-time-in-the-mind thought of, "I have it made ... I am saved"!
If you believe in Christ, then giving up your life will become easy...
- John 5:39 "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."
Jesus is talking about the testimony of the Old Testament, because that was the scriptures then. The Pharisees had twisted the scriptures so much that, though they studied, they did not know what they read, and then they did not know Christ when he came.
Many Christians today might not know Christ.
- John 6:54 "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
This again is symbolic of taking on Christ's character deep within our internal self, which must manifest Christ in all that we do.
In the Old Testament it does not seem to mention eternal life or does it but with different terms?
- Colossians 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
- Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
- 2 Kings 2:11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, [there appeared] a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
- 2 Samuel 12:13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.
You will find the phrase "not die",
Yet these men died. When they say "not die", are they talking about an eternal life after death because they repent and sin not? Is it because they do the will of the Father??
Psalms 118:17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.
- Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
Life or death is a choice we make every day, and it has been this way since the time in the garden.
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- 166 ~αἰώνιος~ aionios \@ahee-o’-nee-os\@ from 165; adj AV-eternal 42, everlasting 25, the world began + 5550 2, since the world began + 5550 1, for ever 1; 71 1) without beginning and end, that which always has been and always will be 2) without beginning 3) without end, never to cease, everlasting
- 2222 ~ζωή~ zoe \@dzo-ay’\@ from 2198; n f AV-life 133, lifetime 1; 134 : : 1) life
- 1a) the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate 1b) every living soul
- 2) life
- 2a) of the absolute fulness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God, and through him both to the hypostatic "logos" and to Christ in whom the "logos" put on human nature
- 2b) life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, but after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions (among them a more perfect body), and to last for ever.
- Eternal Life
- Matthew 18:8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
- Matthew 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
- Matthew 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
- Matthew 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting <166> punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
- Mark 10:17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
- Mark 10:30 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.
- Luke 10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
- Luke 18:18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
- Luke 18:30 Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.
- John 3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
- John 3:16 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.
- John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life : and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
- John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
- John 4:36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
- John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
- John 6:54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
- John 6:68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
- John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
- John 12:25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
- John 12:50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
- John 17:2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
- John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
- Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
- Romans 2:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
- Romans 5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
- Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
- 1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
- 1 Timothy 6:19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
- Titus 1:2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
- Titus 3:7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
- 1 John 1:2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
- 1 John 2:25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.
- 1 John 3:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
- 1 John 5:11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
- 1 John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
- 1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
- Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
- From BibleTrack, The Plan of Salvation by Wayne D. Turner.
- Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
- Luke 20:38 For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.
- John 6:58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
- John 12:9 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.
- 1 Corinthians 15:16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:... 1 Corinthians 15:29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?... 1 Corinthians 15:32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
- Mark 12:27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.
- : Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
- Philippians 1:19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
- 1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
- 2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
- 2 Timothy 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
- Hebrews 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
- Revelation 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
- : Matthew 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
- Matthew 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
- John 10:38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.
- Acts 15:18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
- Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
- Titus 1:16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
- James 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
- James 3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
- Revelation 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
- Revelation 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
- Revelation 2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
- Revelation 2:19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
- Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
- Revelation 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
- Revelation 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
- Revelation 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
- : Matthew 16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
- Romans 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
- 2 Corinthians 11:15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
- 2 Timothy 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
- 2 Timothy 4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:
- Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
- Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
- Revelation 18:6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.
- Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
- Revelation 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
- Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
- Matthew 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
- Matthew 25:11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
- Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
- Luke 13:25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:
- John 4:22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
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Brother Gregory in the wilderness.