We are told our belief in God and Jesus Christ ensures us eternal life in heaven. This is a wonderful assurance to anticipate! It is a given fact that everyone eventually leaves this temporal life and enters the realm of eternity, beyond the limitations of time. You may be surprised to learn the eternal life Scripture speaks of is not what you think. We are waiting for a quality of life that is available in this life.
We note in previous writings how the “heavens of Scripture” do not speak of eternity, but of elevated life and authority on earth. See (blogs on The Heavens of Scripture). We will find our Bible improperly uses the English phrase ‘eternal life’ when Scripture actually speaks of a lasting “quality of spirit life.”
While we live in this earth, our finite minds are not able to grasp the full reality of eternity: “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” (a) [See end notes for Scriptures] The realities of our after-life are beyond natural comprehensions.
The only description that resembles eternal or eternity in Scripture is a description of God. He is “the only immortal invisible One” (b) that “inhabits eternity,” (c) as “the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” (d) God even says “heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool.” (e) The Scriptural references to the Eternal One however, do not define what our life will be like in eternity.
Scripture is a written record of God’s interaction with His human offspring and includes instructions for improving our lives in this temporal world: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” (f)
Our Bible allows us to read about God and observe examples of interaction with Him. Yet, some of the insight Scripture provides is hidden in our translations. The beliefs, concepts and perceptions of translators affect their choice of words. Jesus even chided the religious scholars of the day; “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God?” (g)
The realities of our after-life are beyond our natural comprehensions.
Life of Spirit Rather than Eternal Life
Despite perceptions, Scripture does not give us details about eternity. There is no word in the Old Testament Hebrew or the New Testament Greek for the English eternal, eternity, or everlasting. It is important to realize and remember, Scripture is God’s instruction for improving the quality of our lives in this world.
One example of hidden insight is found in the English word “life.” The Greek of Scripture specifies different aspects of life; bios (physical body), psuche (conscious soul), and zoe (spiritual life). These three Greek words are translated in our Bibles simply as life, hiding valid meaning and application.
Another example is the word “eternal.” The Greek aionios means; constant, ongoing. This word appears in Scripture 67 times. The KJV translates it as eternal 42 times and everlasting 25 times. Rather than eternal ‘without beginning or end,’ aionios speaks of ages, cycles and seasons, factors of created time.
So, what does Scripture actually mean when it says eternal or everlasting life? It speaks of our interaction with God and the improved quality of life that result. Clues of this truth are provided in the adjectives Scripture connects to zoe – spirit life: light of, word of, bread of, river of, water of, ways of, newness of, more abundant, and crown of. These adjectives describe the elements of spirit life that we can partake of today, qualities of heavenly life!
Scripture is God’s instruction for heavenly qualities of life in this world.
Times of Transition
History records many thousands of near death experiences where people seem to go beyond this life’s restrictions. They see houses, trees, and mountains leaving the impression that created natural things are in eternity. Many accounts note a point of no return that once crossed; returning to temporal life is not possible. So these are just precursors that verify physical death is not the end of our life.
Near death experiences are glimpses beyond temporal restrictions that begin to introduce us to eternity. Most of these experiences note a brighter light and more intense love than known in earth, yet full intensity is still distant. There appears to be a process we go through when natural ideas are still present, while perceptions transition into eternal. Scripture gives us at least three examples of such transition, of letting go of previous, while accepting new.
- Delivered from slavery, Israel learned to let go of enslaving ideas for new perceptions. (h)
- Following Jesus’ resurrection, perceptions of him changed from a man to the Spirit of God. (i)
- The newness of life God’s presence provides, transforms our thoughts and beliefs. (j)
The newness of life God’s presence provides, transforms our thoughts and beliefs.
Improving Quality of Life
When we read in our Bible “eternal life,” we should think “quality of spirit life,” which is produced by our fellowship with God. When a rich young ruler asked Jesus; “What can I do to obtain (have) this enduring spiritual life?” Jesus answered; “Believe, keep the Commandments, love God and love your neighbor.” (k)
The Light and Love of God is a force that enlightens and improves our thoughts. It transforms hearts, in part today and more fully in eternity. Whoever drinks…shall become in him a well of water springing up to spiritual life. (l) The qualities of spiritual life are identified as Fruits of the Spirit:
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (m)
The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. (n)
The enduring qualities of spiritual life, heavenly perceptions, godly attitudes and actions illustrate our levels of maturity!
The Light and Love of God is a force that enlightens and improves our thoughts.
Elevated Union with God
Jesus said; “This ‘is’ eternal life (quality of spirit life)…to know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” (o) Improved qualities of spirit life come from ‘knowing’ God, our experience with Him. The Epistle of John adds; “God has given us spiritual life…you have spiritual life.” (p)
The Scriptural ‘eternal life’ actually speaks of a ‘quality of spirit life’ that we are invited to partake of during this life, in this world. Although no one is perfect or fully mature, as we walk in close union with our heavenly Father, we can see our lives improve.
God offers to graciously lead and guide us through this life’s difficulties (q) because He is patient, compassionate and longsuffering. (r) The quality of our life in this world develops daily, line upon line, and precept upon precept. (s) As God’s influence becomes more complete in us today, it can be even more so tomorrow. We can interact with God right now and experience the countless benefits of an enduring quality of spiritual life today. Why wait?
We can interact with God right now and experience the countless benefits of an enduring quality of spiritual life.
a) 1 Corinthians 2:9; b) 1 Timothy 1:17; c) Isaiah 57:15); d) Revelation 22:13; e) Isaiah 66:1; Genesis 1:1, 14-18; f) 2 Timothy 3:16; g) Mark 12:24; h) Exodus 13:17; i) Acts 2:36; 20:26-29; Luke 24:15, 29-31; j) Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; k) Galatians 5:22-25; l) Matthew 19:16; Mark 10:17-19; Luke 10:25-27; 18:18-20; m) John 4:10-14; n) James 3:17; o) John 17:3; 1 John 5:20; p) 1 John 5:11, 13; q) John 16:33; r) James 3:17; Galatians 5:22 s) Isaiah 28:10;