What will eternal life be like?
"What will eternal life be like?" This is an unusual question at first glance because it seems to be asking about something that is yet future, and thus, assumed, cannot be known. But eternal life is not a state that is future only; it begins in the here and now, and then continues.
To better understand this concept, we must first ask the question, "What is eternal life and how is it obtained?" All people will have eternal life. It is just a matter of where you will spend it - heaven or hell. This article will focus on eternal heaven. To read more about hell, click here.
One of the major speakers of eternal life was Jesus. In His final prayer before His arrest and trial, Jesus prayed for His disciples: "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent" (John 17:3).
Again, the Apostle John wrote in his first epistle: "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son" (1 John 5:11).
Eternal life in heaven is received through knowledge of God, the Father, and is contained in His Son, Jesus Christ. We obtain this gift of life through salvation which God offers to all by the death and resurrection of His Son. When Jesus was massacred, beaten, humiliated, and crucified, the penalty for our sins was fully paid and we were given the opportunity to be reconciled to God. We receive this privilege by simply believing; God extends life to us when we have faith in what His Son, Jesus accomplished on the cross.
This life begins at the moment we believe. We are immediately transformed into new creations and a new existence, now lived in fellowship with God, begins. This is the origin of the Christian's eternal life; we now have the presence of God with us at all times to guide us and direct us and help us to live according to the new standards and principles found in His Word.
But what will eternal life be like? Although this life begins in the present and is blessed by God, we are still living on the earth and subject to earthly hardships, sorrows and disappointments. We take refuge in the presence of God while the promises in His Word comfort and sustain us. But this life that we have obtained is everlasting. It will extend beyond the boundaries of this earthly existence, indeed beyond time and the grave. So while we may suffer adversity here and now as foreigners in a strange country, we have hope of a better day.
Yes, Christians suffer as foreigners in a strange land because our new existence is lived in contrast to those around us who continue to live in darkness without the life of Christ. The apostle Paul fully understood this, for he writes in his letter to the Corinthians, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable" (1 Corinthians 15:19).
But our hope is not only in this life; we look forward to the time when we will live unencumbered by our mortal bodies and life's untoward circumstances. Eternal life in its ultimate fulfillment will be lived in the joyous presence of the living God, forever. We will be transformed into beings that are immortal and incorruptible; no longer need we fear sickness, pain or death. Even greater than this is the expectation of being like the Son, an unimaginable concept, but yet the truth offered to us in God's Word. "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2).
Eternal life for the believer is the glorious, endless experience of our inheritance that we share with Jesus Christ, for we are "joint heirs" with Christ. We shall live for all eternity to reign as kings and priests, finally worthy to behold the face of the God. And, as the Apostle John concluded, "Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure" (1 John 3:3).
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