God's promise of "everlasting life", to His children, is a continuing theme throughout the New Testament. From John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." to Rev. 3:4, "and there shall be no more death," the child of God is continually encouraged and strengthened by these promises of life without end. As we survey the passing nature of this world and our lives here; the prospect of eternal life is certainly sweet.
Much is said in the Bible about eternal life in the future (yet to be) sense; "the hope of eternal life" (Tit. 3:7);"the promise of eternal inheritance" (Heb. 9:15). And truly, those who love the Lord Jesus Christ may look with expectation to the future when that which is hoped for shall be seen and experienced in fullness (Rom. 8:24,25; 1 Cor. 13:9,10). Though a full realization and possession of this "everlasting life" awaits the followers of the Lamb, yet the Scripture just as plainly teaches that eternal life is the gift of God bestowed on His children in this present time. Our text (1 Jn. 5:11) says, "He hath given us eternal life". The Lord Jesus said, “He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (Jn. 5:24) "Whoso eatheth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life" (Jn. 6:54).
Because of sin, men by nature dwell under a curse. They walk in darkness, in the grip of spiritual death, and under condemnation (Gal. 3:10; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:1,2; Jn. 3:18). Their crying need is an infusion of life to overcome the deadness of their souls. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" Rom. 6:23).
Eternal life, in the Scripture, is descriptive not only of the quantity and duration of the promised gift of life; but of its quality and fullness as well. There are only two states "spiritually" which men can dwell in: that of "eternal life" with all its blessings, freedom and promises; or that state of eternal death with all its curses, bondage and threats. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (Jn. 3:36). When a man truly believes the gospel, eternal life has overcome his deadness, as Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "And you hath He quickened (made alive) who were dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1). Just as surely as spiritual death and God's wrath presently abides on the unbeliever, eternal life presently abides in the true believer.
A failure to grasp this important truth has led to many errors in modern religious thought. Two of the more prominent ones are exactly opposite each other in their conclusions, yet both stem from a failure to understand the fact that eternal life is the present state of the believer with present evidence of its presence:
Group A, obviously believes that eternal life is mere a promised future state to those who hold out faithful to the end. They fail to see the necessity for men to be given "life from the dead" in order to "lay hold on eternal life" (1 Tim. 6:12). They do not believe that the same life-giving power which raised Christ from the dead is the power which is needful to cause men to believe the gospel (Eph. 1:19,20). The scriptures plainly teach that this same power which enables men to believe, preserves them to the end. They are "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Pet. 1:5).
Group B does not openly deny the present sense of eternal life, yet in practice they do deny it. They say that men are saved by an act of their own will and that once profession of faith is made, a man has the promise of eternal life. Thousands who have made such "decisions" are given assurance of a place in God's kingdom, even though there is no evidence of spiritual life in them. The Scripture gives no such false hope to these 'nominal' professors. Rather, the promise and the hope of the promise are to those who have been given life, for, "God is not the God of the dead but of the living" (Mat. 22:32).
Eternal life is a person, Jesus Christ, "who is our life" (Col. 3:4). "For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us" (1 Jn. 1:2). To have eternal life and the promise of eternal inheritance is to be brought into living union with a living Christ, so that "Christ in you" (1 Jn. 5:12) is your hope of glory (Col. 1:27) because "He that hath the Son hath life" (1 Jn. 5:12). "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His"(Rom. 8:9). Christ is the living water. Those who seek that water shall never thirst for He becomes in them a well of Living Water springing up to everlasting life (Jn. 4:14). He is that bread of life which if any man eat, he shall live forever (Jn. 6:51). Oh, my friend! do not be deluded by pernicious lies and delusions which give men reason to hope for eternal life in anything but Christ. Be not satisfied with a profession of faith you made ten years ago, unless you can say with Paul, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal. 2:20). Profession of faith is of no value without a possession of the Son of God. "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (1 Jn. 5:12).
"We may know what Christ has done for us, by what He has done in us."
John Mason (1646-1694)
Very few subjects in the Bible cause the controversy which usually results from the teaching of predestination. Generally, the opposition to it falls into two categories:
Anyone who has ever studied the Bible knows that the term appears four times in the Scripture (Rom. 8:20,30; Eph. 1:5,11). Yet the same idea is conveyed in other passages where the word (to mark out or determine beforehand) is literally mentioned; the doctrine is taught throughout the Word of God and is synonymous with the doctrine of an absolute, sovereign, omnipotent God.
We must not do with this doctrine as the majority of 'churchgoers' do today and ignore it. Neither should we go beyond its Biblical context, into human philosophy and logic, or we shall wind up as fatalists. When we examine any doctrine, it must be examined in light of the counsel of God and the revelation of that counsel to men, the Bible.
The Bible knows nothing of a God who is not an absolute Ruler. "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). Either God has wound up this world as a child winds up a toy and then turns it loose to run its course and fall where it may, or He still exercises absolute control over all things and all events. The Scriptures say, "Our God is in the heavens, He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased" (Ps. 115:3) "I kill, and I make alive; I wound and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand" (Deut. 32:39). "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create adversity: I the Lord do all these things" (Isa. 45:7). Either all things and all events are in keeping with the will of God or they happen contrary to His will. "He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, what doest thou?" (Dan. 4:35). "The lot is cast into the lap but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord" (Prov. 16:33). If all things be done in accordance to his will, and the Scripture plainly asserts that they are, then they are set beforehand with Him, for He changes not (Mal. 3:6). "Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18). "Remember the former things of old: for I am God and there is none else: I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times the things not yet done saying, my counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure" (Isa. 46:10).
Now, I have purposely not dealt with the new testament usage of the word 'predestination' as it relates to the predestinating of God's elect unto salvation. For I have never known of any man, who has bowed the knee to an absolutely sovereign God, who has had any trouble receiving that gloriously Bible doctrine. And vice versa, I have never known of a man who could receive it in all of its glorious truth who has not bowed down at the Lord's footstool. Oh! my friend cease your rebellion against the Living God and magnify His name whose will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven, Stand not with the fatalists who say, "whatever is to be will be", but stand with the people of God who with one accord say, "whatever God wills to be, will be."