Eternal life isn’t an endless number of years, nor that man have everlasting life. This definition was inherited from the Ancient Egyptians and transferred by the Jews to the whole world. This concept is incorrect because all creatures are mortal without exception, and God alone is immortal, “who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen” (1 Timothy 6: 16).
Jesus in the New Testament corrected the concept of the eternal life in the story of (Lazarus Raised from the Dead). When He went to the tomb late, Martha admonished Him saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus answered her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha replied, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11: 25-26)
Jesus Christ declares that He is the resurrection and the life, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5: 28-29). The voice of the Son of God is the cause and the reason for the resurrection. We see this happened when the Lord Jesus stood in front of the tomb of Lazarus, which his body had decayed already, and called in a mighty voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”. The voice of the Son of God has recreated Lazarus again. His voice is full of God’s life, gave life to the soul and the decaying body of Lazarus. It is Christ who will call for the dead, and they will live.
Jesus Christ is the life; He will give His life (God’s life within Him) to those who will receive the resurrection of life. Eternal life is the participation in God’s life. God gives us His eternal life through Jesus Christ, so we become partners in this life, which is God’s life. “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” (1 John 5: 11).
The New Testament teaches us that the eternal life is the life of God which we attain through Jesus Christ, because He is the Son of God, one with the Father in essence “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself.” (John 5:26) He descended from heaven and appeared in the flesh to give us His life.
“He looked towards heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17: 1-3)
What is the Meaning of “To Know You”?
To know here means the knowledge that leads to unity with Christ through love. The Son of God is the only One who knows the Father, reveals Him to us, and gives us His life. The knowledge that grants us eternal life, is the faith that leads to the acceptance of God’s love and the unity with Christ we live by.
How Can I Receive God’s Life in Christ (The Eternal Life)?
The Holy Spirit receives from Christ what He will make known to us. “He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”. (John 16: 14-15)
Here comes the role of man; the first step is to have faith in Christ. Having faith here does not mean just believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, died for our sins and abolished it, and overthrowing the devil at the cross. Satan also believes that Christ is the Son of God. He experienced His power over him when He crushed and stripped him of his powers and threw him in the abyss “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” (James 2: 19). Yet this kind of faith didn’t save him.
We must not confuse between the faith that is the confidence and trust that God listens to prayers “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrew 11: 1) and the faith in Christ that saves which St. John talked about in his gospel chapter one: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1: 12) To receive or accept him here does not mean “just believing”, but rather the acceptance that leads to the unity with Him.
What is the Meaning of Accepting Christ and Being in Unity with Him?
The key to accepting and uniting with Jesus Christ is man’s free will. Jesus cried: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I have longed to ... and you were not willing” (Mathew 23:37) He wants to get into you and have dinner with you, but He can only after you expel the evil habits, lusts, and sins that you love and nourish inside you. If you do not have power over it, Christ can save you from it. But you must choose with a sincere decision that you do not want it. You are dealing with the examiner of hearts, Jesus Christ, who sees that if you genuinely want Him and the eternal life, or do you want lusts and evil deeds of the devil as well.
First, you must make a sincere decision from the depth of your entity to have Jesus in your life. Second, the replacement of Christ must take the place of the devil, and the light has the place of the darkness inside you.
When you reach the point that you want, but you cannot here, God intervenes and expels the darkness from inside you, and Jesus enters to reside in you.
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem says: “The soul is saved first by the word”. The word “the soul” in patristic theology refers to the spirit of man. Man’s spirit gets saved first by the word of God, it is the word of God that Jesus talked about in the gospel of John, saying, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” (John 14:10) When we accept the word of God and obey it, we receive it because the word holds the power of the Holy Spirit, which penetrates our spirits and revives it. So, the human’s spirit is the first to receive the Holy Spirit.
The starting point is to accept Jesus in the Holy Spirit to penetrate my spirit. My spirit surrenders, accepts, and unites with the Holy Spirit. My will here receive the Holy Spirit through the word of God. This is the faith that leads to salvation “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelation 3:20). The true light that came to the world to enlighten every man must enter inside you and enlightens you.
The Signs of Having True Faith in Christ
The first sign is to love the brothers “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.” (1 John 3:14) If your heart is filled with love, and you can forgive those who oppress, curse, and mistreat you, then the life of God is inside you. However, if you cannot forgive, you do not have eternal life. If the Holy Spirit entered your soul and you received Jesus Christ, then there must be a sign of love because the ability of forgiveness determines if you love or despise.
Forgiveness means forgetting cruelty, which you leave from the bottom of your heart; “unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart” (Mathew 18:35)
The second sign is to have the peace of God in you “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27). When Christ is in you, God’s peace will be in you changing your life and triumphing over all your problems and troubles.
If you have received eternal life, the signs are that God’s peace is in you, that there is love and forgiveness for others, and be hateful of sin. If you didn’t have eternal life within you in this life, you would not have it in the afterlife. Eternal life is Jesus Christ; if He is inside you, you are in eternal life.