What's Behind Eternal Life?

When we talk about heaven—eternal life—how is it often portrayed? Eternity sometimes is thought of as:

  1. Floating on a cloud with harp and wings.
  2. A continuous worship service (with best music and preaching; of course the style you would like).
  3. A never ending Sunday dinner with family.

The list could go on; however, these are not the images we get from Scripture nor is it how Jesus defined it. Jesus, praying to His Father, defined eternal life in a deeper and more profound way, "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (John 17: 3)." To know God and His Son Jesus is eternal life.

A few years ago, my sons and I ventured up to Mt. St. Helens to climb her winter route to the rim's edge. While climbing the mountain we came across what we thought was the summit. As we approached the grand view, we were surprised to find this was a false summit and found ourselves looking up at the actual summit some thousand feet above us. The higher we climbed the more of the mountain was revealed to us. Much like hiking up a mountain, I think about knowing God the Father and Jesus His Son in a similar view: it will take eternity to grasp Who He is. Let that last sentence sink in for a moment. God is eternal in nature and we will spend eternity getting to know Him; the discoveries, beauty and majesty will never end!

Viewing eternity through the eyes of Jesus' definition stirs up wonder, awe, and joy in a way that the thought of playing my favorite X-Box game for eternity looks childish and woefully inadequate a description of eternity with God. In the Gospel of John, Jesus takes pains to show who He is to the people surrounding Him as well as those who read the Bible today. Linking Exodus 3:14 and the name "I Am" to various instances in the Gospel of John, we see Jesus is seeking to make Himself known as God; the God Who wants to be known and love His people.

He is the bread of life who satisfies in John 6:35. He is the light of the world who brings sight to the blind in John 8:12. He is the door to the sheep fold bringing salvation, freedom, and nourishment in John 10: 9. He is the good shepherd who knows His sheep my name and they follow Him in John 10: 11. The relationship started with Jesus in the here and now will continue into eternity; it just keeps getting better!

How have you thought about eternity? How have you thought about heaven? While the Old Testament Prophets paint a picture of life with God as active and meaningful, Jesus adds the bonus of knowing God the Father and Himself more and more on top! What's behind eternity is wonderful!

Vince Armfield