Some Thoughts on Eternal Life

Does the Christian who knows Christ already have eternal life? Some thoughts.

District Leader, Colorado Conference

IN THE mosaic patterns of human thinking one can see many tangents and designs that seem to add beauty to the basic pattern of truth, but on closer scrutiny one can see that those tangents and de­signs contribute to its strength and beauty only when they become pillars to support the basic structure. If the orna­ments obscure the beauty of the pattern of truth and its tangents become appendages rather than supports, they then add little, if any, value to the genuine pattern of truth. For a long time religious beliefs have become adaptable to modification by the many hues that have come to play upon them. It takes consecrated vision to see the true pattern in the maze of all the figura­tions and designs of so many colors.

Likewise, in the most important matter of Bible truth and textual analysis one must be equipped with the "eyesalve" of God to make sure that zeal does not over­shadow true knowledge.

Religious beliefs today are of every hue imaginable, and they become lines that form figurations and tangents creating other irrelevant designs, thus obscuring the true pattern given in the passages of the Bible in question!

It is not only possible but unfortunately true, that at times textual interpretation by many adds insult to injury, especially if the texts or passages in question are not analyzed with the full picture in detail. The details that are and must be studied for a clear-cut and logical exposition are made available when we apply the five W's to the full context of the text consid­ered. It is a must always to become in­formed as to who the speaker is; and to whom he addresses himself; and why he sets forth his counsel, or otherwise; and many times the when is most essential to the theme; last, but not least, where com­pletes the picture of the setting!

This kind of a complete picture helps one to understand what the theme or sub­ject of the passage is in order properly to apply the analysis to the subject and not to a tangent. The theme, or subject, is the pattern of truth of the particular passage, and all the words and texts sometimes merely enlarge the text. But if we fail to see the subject, we are in danger of enlarg-ing the superstructure, thus overloading the text. In brief, if we dress up the addi­tional designs and ignore the true pattern (theme) then we detract from the intended message. This, in my evaluation, is the the­ological picture today not only in Europe but also in the United States.

Our friend, Walter R. Martin, is respon­sible for adding designs to the real pattern, thus making it more obscure. In his book The Truth About Seventh-day Adventism, on pages 118, 119, he gives a good exegesis on 1 John 5:11-13, but fails to complete it. He endeavors to convince his readers that the Christian who knows Christ already has eternal life and will continue to have eter­nal life. He continues by saying: "In the grammar and context of this passage eter­nal life (eionion zoes) is the present pos­session of every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and if the term eternal life does not include conscious fellowship then the whole New Testament meaning is de­stroyed."

I agree with this author that the word "hath" (echon) is in the present tense and that there is a conscious fellowship, but that fellowship is now, or when the person is alive, and not after that person passes out of existence. As a matter of fact, the word "hath" (echon) means "to have" or "to hold," as one might hold or have knowl­edge, faith, or practice.

Furthermore, the eleventh verse of 1 John, chapter five, declares: "And this life is in his Son." It is very clear that the life that is in His Son is "eternal life." He is the Life-giver.

It is by faith and practice and a mental conviction that we have eternal life when we have the Son. But this eternal life we have because we have Him; for it is clear that "eternal life" is in Him (the Son). Therefore the emphasis belongs there; it is not that eternal life is in the Christian.

Furthermore, we find that John was not teaching that Christians had a continuous eternal life; he was assuring his audience that that eternal life was conditional. We need not go very far in his writings to see that this is so. In his Second Epistle, verses 8 and 9, he said: "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son."In his Third Epistle, verse 11, he says: "Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good.-He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God."

It is quite clear that if John had taught that Christians already had eternal life when they received Christ, then he would not have found it necessary to warn them to abstain from evil. For he said, "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we re­ceive a full reward. Whosoever transgress­eth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God."

What a glorious and triumphant march would the cause of truth make overnight if all of us would strive to obtain the great­est promotion of all, to graduate from the school of zeal to the school of true knowl­edge.

 


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District Leader, Colorado Conference

August 1961

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