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Eternal Life


In the Restoration Movement with which I am familiar, we were taught and believed that eternal life is a future gift rather than a present possession.   Eternal life would be given as a gift to those that overcame when Jesus returned to reward the faithful.  It is believed that Christ’s disciples do not have eternal life at the present time in this world.  There appears to be an on-going debate about this subject in the Movement.

What is the Scriptural evidence that eternal life is a future gift?

Several passages speak of the “hope of eternal life”.  It is argued that you cannot hope for what you presently have.  That conclusion would seem to make sense.

Titus 1: 2; 3: 7; Romans 8: 24.

Several passages speak of receiving eternal life in the age to come, when Christ returns.  We might conclude, therefore, that eternal life is a future gift. 

Mark 10: 30; Matthew 25: 45

Promise- 1 John 2: 25


What is the problem with such a conclusion?

There are a number of passages that appear to say that eternal life is a present possession.  We have a dilemma. Either we admit contradiction in the Scriptures, interpret the problem away or we find the solution that is consistent with all the statements about eternal life.  Most in the Restoration Movement say these passages mean “we have eternal life in prospect.”  They interpret the problem away.  The promise of eternal life is so sure we can speak of having it now.


Why is the possibility of eternal life as a present possession adamantly opposed?

It is thought that any such admission would lend support to the doctrine of perseverance of the saints. 


What is the Scriptural evidence of eternal life as a present possession?

           Colossians 2: 13


What is eternal life?

Eternal life involves quantity, never ending existence, but it also involves quality, life with God.  This leads to an interesting thought about eternal punishment.   John 17: 3


Why is this discussion important?


What is the nature of the life we have when united with Christ?

Surely this is eternal life.   1 John 1: 2


How is eternal life possessed?

God and the Son have life in themselves, we do not.  Jesus said, “I am the vine you are the branches.”  We have life as a branch has life.  As long as we are connected to the vine we share in the life of the vine.  If we become severed from the vine (through disbelief), then we are separated from that life.  The idea that the possession of eternal life supports the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is, I believe, incorrect


What then is the explanation?

Eternal life is one of the many paradoxes of the Scripture.  That which seems contradictory is nevertheless true.

Both are true.  We don’t have to reinterpret the Scriptures and explain one side away.  I like that.

Man is dichotomous (some would say trichotomous in nature).  But at least we know that there is an inner man and an outer man

The inner man (the spirit) was dead in trespass and sin, but when we come to Christ, Jesus makes him alive.   The inner man passes from death to life.  He will never die.  The inner man has eternal life as long as it is united with Christ.  Eternal life is a present possession.

The outer man (the body) is appointed once to die (physically).    When Jesus comes, all, both righteous and unjust, will be raised from the dead.  God will give life to our mortal bodies.  The bodies of the righteous will be changed in the twinkling of the eye to an imperishable body, fashioned like our Lord.  Then will life and immortality be brought to light.  Eternal life is a future gift.   Romans 5: 11; 1 Corinthians 50-58; 2 Timothy 1: 10 

There is much about Christianity that is paradoxical in nature.  Consider faith,  It is both a gift of God and response of man.  An “either or” approach simply will not do.  Similarly, I believe, eternal life is both a present possession and a future gift. 


Can we have confidence in Christ?

He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God in order that you may know that you have eternal life. 

1 John 5: 12, 13

And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.  The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  1 John 2: 3, 4

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love, does not know God, for God is love.   1 John 4: 7, 8

By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.   1 John 4: 13

How can we test ourselves? 

Do you have Christ?

Have you been baptized into Christ?

Do you believe in God and His Son Jesus Christ?

Do you keep His commandment?

Do you love God and your fellow man?

Have you received the gift of the Holy Spirit?


God bless.





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Last Update   09/26/12