Near death experiences fascinate us. Whether it’s the recent books and movies Heaven is for Real or the earlier 90 Minutes in Heaven, we yearn for evidence for eternal life. Although the Bible says that, we often want more. But. Consider with me that we may short change the essence of eternal life.
Decades back I came across some words of Jesus, and they transformed my world view: “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
Jesus blew the doors off our typical belief that after we die physically then eternal life goes on forever. First, he put it in the present tense: is. Right now, not later. Second, he defined it: knowing God. Or, eternal life is a different quality of existence. In my second book, A Passionate Pursuit of God, I explored how the Hebrew word for eternal gets translated in different passages. This changed my perception of knowing God.
First, knowing God brings us maximum life. The word for eternal life is translated utmost, or maximum, in “Job might be tested to the utmost” (Job 34:36). Or, Jesus pushes us beyond complacency and comfort and mediocrity so that we might experience all that’s available.
Secondly, it brings pleasure. Particularly as a teen, I thought of God as a cosmic spoilsport who wanted to eliminate most pleasures from my life, but I had the wrong definition. Psalm 16:11 promises, “You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Or, knowing Jesus allows us the greatest amount of pleasures, pleasures that last without regrets and costs the next day!
Last, knowing God yields an ability to face all that life brings and to emerge victorious. Take a look at 1 Chronicles 29:11, “Yours, O LORD, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty,” where the word victory comes from the Hebrew word for eternal. Yes, we fight battles, and yes, we lose some. But knowing God allows us to win the war.
Granted, these three barely scratch the surface of eternal life, how knowing God changes our lives. But allow them to kick start a greater appreciation of what’s available, OK?
Kick Starting the Application.
Before this, how exciting was your concept of eternal life? How has it changed? If you’re a follower, do you experience these in your life to the degree you’d like? Why or why not? How can you deepen your intimacy with Jesus to gain more of these?
PS These thoughts come from an earlier book of mine, A Passionate Pursuit of God: How Knowing God Transforms Your Life. I have some copies left, for $10 which includes shipping. If you’d like one, just sent a check and your address, and I’ll send the book, autographed, until I run out.