Get a Life!
We’ve all noticed that human societies abound with philosophies about what it means to be human, where everything came from, what determines the future and what values we should live by. Since Jesus’ claims1 taken all together about these matters stand out as unique, I hope you’ll take a moment to consider the few presented here. After you get over the initial bad news, the good news could be the greatest you’ve ever heard.
Jesus affirmed that human life does NOT end when the body fails.
It continues. (John 8:51; Luke 16:19-31) Contrary to all the assumptions of secular sciences, the Bible claims that humans are both animal (physical) and spiritual beings. (Zech. 12:1)2 God gives a person a new body in which the senses, communication and memories are intact. (2 Cor. 5:1-2; Luke 16:22-24; John 11:43-44)
Jesus rejected the idea that “all roads lead to heaven”
Jesus taught that there are two, and only two, ends for each human after their body dies: life and destruction.
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13–14, ESV)
This view is not unique among world philosophies and religions, but it stands in stark contrast to the philosophy of secularism that is spreading throughout the world.
The life He talked about is a fully fulfilling existence that starts now and gets better as it extends forever after the bodies we inhabit return to the dust. It is called Eternal Life or living in The Kingdom of Heaven (or The Kingdom of God).
The destruction He referred to is faced after life in this body and is called the “second death”, (Matt. 10:28; Rev 2:11; 20:6; 20:14; 21:8)
Jesus claimed that every person is accountable to Him
For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. (Romans 14:9, NASB95)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:6, NASB95)
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21–23, ESV)
And He claimed this because of a unique authority:
Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:1–3, NASB95)
For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice… (John 5:26–28, NASB95)
Jesus taught that Eternal Life is a relationship with a living being whom we call God
In the John 17:1-3 quote above Jesus said Eternal Life is knowing God. In the Bible, the term “knowing” often describes an intimate relationship like marriage and the Greek tense of it there emphasizes that the nature of this relationship is continuous. It’s communicating an experience with God that lasts forever. Jesus made it more explicit in this statement:
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. (John 14:23, NASB95)
This eternal-life relationship has to become one of perfect unity
God created humans to live in fellowship with Him. If any creature is to have an eternal fellowship with a being whose nature is one of untarnished love, justice and righteousness, they must be willing to give themselves in full uncompromising trust in Him and relate to Him as He designed them to. At first people recoil at such absolute trust and submission because distrust has become part of our way of life.
It can be hard to accept, but Jesus wants us all to know that the one who created us is the only one in all existence who truly has our best interest in mind and is the only one who knows what is best for us – even better than we do ourselves. God wants us to live in fellowship with Him because He knows that it is the only way we can enjoy Him, ourselves and life to the utmost. Jesus communicated this desire for us in many ways.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10, NASB95)
For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:17, NASB95)
what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3, NASB95)
Not one human has ever trusted God that much3
Love does not demand its own way. so God gave every human a choice. No one has to live in fellowship with Him. The testimony of history is that we have all rejected our creator and told Him that we’ll live life on our own and according to our rules – and we’ve proven it with our words and deeds. Instead of representing God’s character in creation, the record of human independence, unrighteousness, injustice, greed and general insolence stands clear. There’s an ancient term for missing an intended target or goal, sin. Mankind has sinned.
Love may not demand its own way, but justice requires consequences. At the very beginning, God declared that the consequence for such sin as ours is death. In fact God considers most of the human race already dead (Ephesians 2:1–2). It’s like the human race is on “death row” awaiting execution with no hope of reprieve. The only escape is for someone to pay the penalty of death on our behalf – to die in our place. How could it be possible for any human to pay that debt on behalf of all humanity so we an have a chance to live in fellowship with God? That person would have to be infinite to pay for all mankind, human, and without sin. Only one human could.
Jesus is the only one who satisfy God’s justice so anyone can have fellowship with God if they want it
Jesus spent a lot of time demonstrating and convincing people that He was sent by God and is fully God as well as man (Col. 2:8-9). One important reason for this is that it made Him the only one qualified to pay the penalty of death for humanity. The apostles Paul and John explained:
… there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:22–26, NASB95)
… and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2, NASB95)
For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17, NASB95)
He is qualified because He is an eternal being, one of the Godhead:
I and the Father are one. (John 10:30, NASB95)
“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, [ for claiming to be God] but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple. (John 8:56–59, NASB95)
And He [Jesus] is the radiance of His [The Father’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. (Hebrews 1:3, NASB95)
All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. (Matthew 11:27, NASB95)
[Father] I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:20–24, NASB95)
..who, although He [Jesus] existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,” (Philippians 2:6–10, NASB95)
There can be no way to earn favor with God by merit.
God gave a law to humans so they could see what He required and become aware that no human is capable of meeting His requirements through their own effort, but for millennia, people have tried to justify themselves through keeping ritual traditions. They seem to hope that if they are justified in their own eyes and others, they can be accepted by God, and still keep their independence. There are two problems with this.
God can see into our souls and is not fooled by the discrepancy between our outward behavior that other people see and our inner desires and thoughts that fall far short of the standard of His own character (perfect love, impartial justice, and uncompromising righteousness).
The second problem is that this behavior insults what God has done on our behalf. Since Jesus paid our debt of death in full, there is nothing we can do to improve upon or deserve His work. All we can do is trust in what He did.
Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. (Romans 3:27–28, NASB95)
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness [ and die by it ]. But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” (Romans 10:4–11, NASB95)
Jesus is the first human so far to be raised from the dead
His resurrection demonstrates several things. First it crushes the thought that a person ceases to exist when the body dies (1 Cor. 15:12). Second, it demonstrates Jesus superiority and authority over human life (Romans 1:4). Third, it provides a taste of what’s possible for those who will trust Him (Romans 6:5). The rest of that taste is that His spirit, the one we call The Holy Spirit will come to live in you now, to be there as your advocate, your helper if you allow Him to be. He is the down-payment on the future of everyone who follows Christ.
If Jesus’ teaching is true, then everyone is faced with a serious choice. You have to give up your life of independence from God in which you trust what you find comfortable and seemingly safe, to trust in what God says and demonstrate your trust by your choices, words and actions.
Perhaps you are wondering why anyone should do anything seeing that Christ has died so God can forgive us? John Piper once pointed out that no one cares about forgiveness4. Forgiveness is a means to an end. The goal in this case is the fellowship with God that humans are intended to live in. Christ’s death makes reconciliation possible. But reconciliation still requires a choice. God has demonstrated His willingness. The question is are we willing?
Truly, truly, I say to you … He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:24–26, NASB95)
Paul summed it up what it looks like this way:
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20, NASB95)
For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:40, NASB95)
Why should I consider this when Christians are so messed up?
The reason Christians are messed up is that they are forgiven sinners, not perfect saints. God prefers that we choose to trust Him, and even when we want to we have to train ourselves to actually act it out. So true Christians are working out a new way of living that is contrary to part of all of our natural inclinations. So when they realize they have acted in a way that is not worthy of God’s love and contrary to His nature they can agree with God that this is sin and be confident that God will never change His mind and rescind Christ’s payment for their sin.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9, NASB95)
We also must remember that many who claim to be Christian are following human tradition rather than walking in a spiritual fellowship with the person of God. God is not worried about them because His Holy Spirit is the one who works inside our spirits to bring us to the truth if we are willing.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; (John 10:27, NASB95)
Is there anything about what you’ve read here that has some ring of truth or of interest? If so, then perhaps you are hearing His voice in your spirit; pursue it by speaking to Him directly to tell Him you are willing to forsake your rule of your life and enter His Kingdom.Footnotes
- The Bible asserts that the Apostles were taught directly by Jesus, including sessions that occurred after He died and was resurrected. Their teaching is taken as a faithful representation of His. [↩]
- That’s at the foundation of the abortion issue between secularists and Biblicists. There’s an irreconcilable difference concerning the inception of “life” in a baby between a person who denies the spiritual nature of human life and one who affirms it because they fundamentally disagree on what it means to be human. [↩]
- Adam and Eve only did for a very short time. [↩]
- At the time I heard this he was talking about youth, but the principle applies to all. [↩]