1 John 2:25

18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.
19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.
21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.
22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.
23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.
24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.
25 And this is the promise that he made to us – eternal life. 1 John 2:18-25

This is the promise made to us – eternal life. The Greek is aioniov aionios {ahee-o’-nee-os} – everlasting or never ending. The Greek for life is zoe zoe {dzo-ay’}, which is not psuche (intellectual or emotional) or bios (physical) but spiritual life.

There is so much to be said about this. Whatever zoe life really means, it means that our selves, our identities, will persist. It means that death has lost its sting, because it is not the final word about who we are or what is going to happen to us. Eternal life is an incredible promise! Think about what it would mean to you if you knew in a normal sense that you could not die. It changes the picture! No matter how miserable your circumstances became, if you knew you couldn’t die, you would have a constant assurance that you would pull out of the present difficulty and survive OK. Like Martha during her grief with Lazarus’s death, we tend to spiritualize things in a doctrinally correct way to cover our disbelief:

17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days.
18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off;
19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother.
20 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him; but Mary still sat in the house.
21 Martha therefore said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.
22 “Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”
23 Jesus *said to her, “Your brother shall rise again.”
24 Martha *said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies,
26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
27 She *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”
(John 11:17-27, NASB).

Of course, the really amazing thing here is that Jesus ACTUALLY resurrected Lazarus from the dead right then and there. Lazarus was not “spiritually” alive, he was actually alive. Even so, we want to take the promise of eternal life, and make it out to be a correct doctrinal position instead of a real hope. The real hope is this: I am going to live forever! My life, my interests, my worship, my mind, my song, my heart, my joy will persist beyond my earthly death on into a new and better and actual life. The person I am now, will take my memories and experience and will meet Jesus my savior! It isn’t just a fairy tale! Just like Lazarus was actually resurrected, I will actually live for eternity.

Furthermore, I have always tended to make the idea of “eternal life” out to be some quality that I receive in the here and now, like it is some kind of ether or substance – I receive “eternal life”. I used to only have bios and psuche life, I used to only be capable of eros and phileo love, but now I receive zoe life, and am capable of agape love. I think in some way this is true. However, a huge part of that is to walk with the realization that while I may lose some skirmishes along the way, I cannot lose. I am an eternal being. I am going to win! You might want to read my reflections on the movie “In Time” for more about this: Movie Reflection: In Time

So, the first thing we must do is to see this eternal life as the true prize that it is! It is like this: I could show you a document that secures your ownership of a vast inheritance. You are wealthy beyond all of your wildest imagination! However, you only see a piece of paper, full of legalese, which you really can’t be bothered to read. It doesn’t change the fact that you are the owner of a vast fortune, but it does inform the way you live if you grasp the idea that the paper conveys. We hear the words “eternal life” and we spiritualize them into complete meaninglessness. It is a correct doctrine we are supposed to adhere to; what could possibly be more boring? If we grasp the idea that we are going to win in the hugest way possible, that any earthly fortune is a pittance compared to what we have been given, that we are really going to live happily ever after, we would lead utterly different and much more fearless lives in the here and now.

It is also important to note that this is a promise which He made to us. I do not have to maintain the promise. If I could break this “covenant” I probably would. It isn’t a covenant. It is a promise. It doesn’t need my signature, it is a declaration with His signature. I only need believe it, to live in the light of it. It is a gift, not a burden.

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