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What Is Eternal Life?

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
(Jhn 17:3)

What Is Eternal Life?

What would we say if someone asked us, “Tell me, what is eternal life? Define it for me. Describe it for me.” Most simply, we might answer that we shall forever miss hell and forever we get heaven. That is good. But it does not get at the heart of it. That is not wrong. But it is not eternal life itself. Everlasting heaven is certainly included. Eternal life is really so much more.  Just going on and on in existence forever—that is not eternal life.

Forgiveness of sins is also involved but is not the heart of eternal life either. Jesus tells us, “This is eternal life.” This is eternal life. He doesn’t merely say, “This is included in eternal life.” According to the very Son of God, eternal life is that they, people of God, might know God the Father, the only true God, and His Son who was sent. Coming to intimate acquaintance with God is what eternal life is all about. Building an on-going friendship and acquaintanceship.

Too many Christians, after meeting God, do not grow in acquaintanceship with God. And for some reason modern Christianity has become for too accepting of this trend, as if it were the norm. God never intended us to meet Him in salvation and then be strangers until we stand before Him in glory.

Jesus and His Bride

The marriage relationship is to picture the relationship between Christ and His bride. A man and woman do not marry and then go through life happily apart for years at a time, visiting only frequently enough to come to a vague recognition and catch up on the latest news. No, marriage involves really, really getting to know each other as servants. We should be filled with the Lord’s Spirit, abounding in grace, and serving one another while coming into intimate knowledge of the Lord.

…Just like a marriage is all about knowing our mate, so our relationship with God is a relationship of knowledge. We know our mates in order that by knowing them, we would bless them (not simply to use them). So it is with God. We come to know Him in order that we might bless Him. We never come to Him, asking to know that we might use Him; when we truly know Him we will, rather, seek to be used by Him. “This is eternal life, that they might know You, God the Father and the Son who was sent.”

Just as it would be tragic, pathetic, and heart-breaking for two people to unite in marriage and then never get acquainted after that, so the tragedy would be magnified by operating such in our marriage to He who is infinitely worthy of love. We are the bride of Christ. We met Him when He called us to His side. Our sins were forgiven and new life was ours. We were brought into the family. We were introduced to the Lord God Almighty. This is what eternal life is all about—“that they may know You.” Coming to know God in intimacy is the purpose and drive of eternal life.

This is an excerpt from Bob Hoekstra’s Grace for Knowing God which is also available in RealAudio format. Bob Hoesktra (1940-2011) passed away on December 20. He is now at his eternal home, in the presence of his Lord and Maker.