Lyrics from the American rock band, Queen:
This world has only one sweet moment set aside for us. Who wants to live forever?
The flaming lips answered when they sang:
Everyone wants to live forever. Thinking that it'd be a lot better. Everyone wants to live forever, But no one ever gets it together
A pastor friend often tells people, "There are two options in the Gospel of John: eternal life and eternal death. Which do you want?" What a powerful question that proves the point. Countless novels, comics, and movies have explored this idea with characters who live forever. From the elves in Lord of the Rings to Thor in Marvel's Avengers. Audiences everywhere are obsessed with characters who have an endless supply of life. This is because we deeply desire to have more days. It's a big reason why we try to eat healthy, exercise, and take our medicine. Any opportunity to lengthen life by even a fraction is an attractive notion. We are addicted to life, and we just can't get enough. As someone more clever than I once said, "The high cost of living hasn't decreased its popularity." If 80 years of life is desirable, imagine how great a trillion years would be. In this section, we are going to explore what the Gospel of John teaches about everlasting life.
Previous sections have looked at the seven salvation statements in the Gospel of John. Each of these statements includes three components: (1) the obligation, (2) the object, and (3) the objective.
You’ll notice in the previous chart that Salvation statements of John contain three necessary parts. Each statement has an obligation (belief), an object (Jesus), and an objective (eternal life). Anyone who wishes to achieve the objective of receiving eternal life must fulfill the obligation, which is belief. The object of that belief must be Jesus. The objective of belief in Jesus must be to gain eternal life or an equivalent concept.1 If someone believes in Jesus for a different objective that belief does not meet the fundamental obligation.
Jesus acknowledged the fact that the objective of having faith in Him must be gaining eternal life. To a group of Pharisees he said:
…[C]ome to Me that you may have life. (John 5:40)
A friend said her pastor told her that coming to Jesus just to get into heaven turns Jesus into an idol. What a ridiculous idea. In the above verse Jesus presents His offer of eternal life as the incentive, the purpose, the objective of coming to Him in belief. I heard another guy once say, “In the beginning we all believe in Jesus for the payoff.” He’s exactly right. The objective of our belief is gaining eternal life. If you’ve believed in Jesus, but that belief did not include an understanding that you were receiving eternal salvation, then you haven’t yet believed in Him in the way that he prescribed.
Some people have believed in Jesus to fulfill a number of different objectives. I knew a guy who believed in Jesus for various miracles. He was convinced, at one point, that Jesus had turned the fillings in his teeth to gold. I’m not sure if he ever believed in Jesus for salvation, but he certainly was trying to believe in Jesus for other things.
A person might believe in Jesus for a new car, a wealthy lifestyle, or to heal them from an illness. If that is the only objective of one's belief in Jesus, they have not fulfilled the obligation present in the Gospel of John. One must fulfill the obligation of belief, the object of that belief must be Jesus, and the objective of that belief must be to receive eternal life or an equivalent phrase.
There was a guy who read one of my previous books and after reading asked me to meet him for lunch. He had a question about believing in Jesus for eternal life. He said, “When I first believed I didn’t know the phrase eternal life. I just knew that I would be in Heaven with Jesus when I died. Does that mean I didn’t really believe?”
“Of course not,” I said. “That’s equivalent to having eternal life.” It’s important to note that many phrases are equivalent to eternal life. If you’ve believed in Jesus so that you can go to heaven, be with Jesus after you die, enter the kingdom of God, or another equivalent idea, then great! You have eternal life.
What are you believing in Jesus for? If you want eternal life, then you need to believe in Jesus for that.
1 Such as: go to heaven, live forever with God, have salvation and many others.