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What do you mean by eternal life?

Most people think of eternal life as living forever in heaven. But it's more than that. Eternal life also is a here-and-now thing.   

Probably the best-known Bible reference to eternal life is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."   

In that verse, "eternal" translates a word in the original language that means "agelong." The idea is of life that never ends. It points to an afterlife where there is no death. But it also is talking about eternal life that we "have" right now -- not "will have someday."   

Jesus -- who God raised from the dead -- made a promise to people who have eternal life: "I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40). That gives you hope for the future, even if life right now is really hard.   

Eternal life means escaping the power of death. This life is ruled by death. Everything that lives will die. Physically, there is no way to escape it. But death wasn't the end of the story for Jesus -- God brought Him back to life. In the same way, death isn't the end of the story for us. The Bible says: "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).   

What eternal life is NOT is eternal death. John 3:16 says that people with eternal life will not "perish," a word that means "be totally destroyed." Matthew 25:46 talks about "eternal punishment" as the destiny of people whose lives aren't lived God's way. If eternal life is living forever with God, then maybe the opposite is dying forever, or maybe it's living forever apart from God.   

But eternal life isn't just something that starts after you die. It's also a here-and-now thing.   

"Eternal life" also refers to the quality of this life. Jesus said "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). "Abundantly," in the original language, means "more extremely." When ordinary life is routine and boring, Jesus gives you a new life that is Xtreme!   

Eternal life is God's own life, living in you. If you want to know what that means, look at the kind of life Jesus lived. Piercing insight into the most troubling and confusing problems people face. Strength to win the struggles with sin that people usually lose. God's miracle-working power that turns impossible situations into exciting victories.   

Eternal life is full and free, like a natural spring that keeps bubbling up fresh, cool water even in the time of serious drought (John 4:14).   

Most of all, eternal life is the kind of life that results from a close, loving relationship with our heavenly Father and His only Son. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:3).   

Eternal life is a life that is full and free and forever. It is peace, joy and assurance. It is comfort, strength and hope. It's never-ending life with God life in heaven after we die, but it's also abundant life here and now.   

It's the kind of life all of us really want. It's the kind of life we can never achieve. It's the kind of life God gives us for free when we finally admit how much we need His help.    

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