The Way to Eternal Life

“LABOR not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life.” (John 6:27) “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, … and I give unto them eternal life.” (John 10:27,28) “And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.” (I John 2:25) “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.” (Rom. 2:7) “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom. 6:23) “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3) “Lay hold on eternal life.”—I Tim. 6:19

These are wonderful words of life! They present to us our hope that if we are faithful to the Lord, to the truth, and to the brethren we will lay hold of the crown of eternal life. But there is an effort involved. It is by “patient continuance in well doing” that we demonstrate our faithfulness. Our Master described us as the “good ground” of the parable and as “they which in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.”—Luke 8:15

We have heard the Word. We have been called out of darkness into light. We are in the light of truth. Is it not wonderful to have that heart assurance? It is truly wonderful to be in the truth!

One of the things about which the Lord’s people should have no doubt is laying hold upon eternal life. It is the path that leads before us. It is a way that leads to great riches, but there are certain things we must not let slip. Even though the way at times is narrow and rough and long, remember it is the way to eternal life—and we want eternal life.

Knowing God

The Master says in John 17:3, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” So we ask, do we know God? Do we know his spirit? Do we know our responsibilities as his sons, as members of his household? Our Heavenly Father has revealed himself to us through his Word of truth and he has given us Bible helps, Studies in the Scriptures, and through the gift of his Son and through his Holy Spirit has revealed to us the plan of salvation and redemption. Therefore, to know God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, we must know his plan—the divine plan of the ages. For his plan gives expression to his being. In Ephesians 1:9,10 his plan is called “the mystery of his will.” And we must know his spirit that we may emulate it.

A Christian may not know many things that the people of the world know. But that does not matter, for the world does not know many things that we know, and we know things that matter, too. Many things that the world seems to know are not true at all. The fundamentals of truth that we know which reveal God and Jesus to us lead to eternal life. Even the wisest of men are ignorant on many subjects. They do not know all that there is to know. So it should not concern us greatly if we, too, are uninformed on many things.

It is striking to find, however, that among other things, eternal life depends upon knowledge—knowledge concerning the Father and knowledge concerning his Son. The Rotherham translation reads: “That they may learn to know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” I John 5:20 reads; “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” I John 4:8 says simply, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”

Like God

Do we know God? Certainly this does not mean merely an intellectual acceptance of his existence, as acknowledged by many who are not in the way of eternal life. And yet this text asks, in effect, do we know God, our Heavenly Father? Do we know Jesus Christ? Do we seek to possess their spirit of love? Are we kind and merciful and gentle as they? Do we make allowances for others as we know God does for us? Have we a personal acquaintance with our Heavenly Father and with his Son—heart-to-heart communion with them? Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have confided in us, told us of their plans. We read, “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant.”—Ps. 25:14

“The fear [reverence] of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” (Prov. 1:7) That is true. The Bible tells us so. Have we only a head knowledge of the truth, the plan, or have we a heart appreciation of the plan so deep that it becomes to us a compelling motive to cooperate with God and with one another? This kind of knowledge does not come in a day. The knowledge of which these texts speak is the result of growth. We grow in knowledge and in grace as long as we walk in the way to eternal life. And we grow in knowledge through study of the Word.

Growing in Grace

We grow in grace by applying the principles of the truth to our actions and our attitudes. We also grow through prayer and communion. They play a part through activity in the service as we together proclaim the message of the kingdom. And in this growth the element of sacrifice must be present. The unity of spirit in the bonds of peace comes to us as we learn to know God and Jesus Christ and their spirit. All this leads to eternal life.

In John 14:21-23, the apostle tells us that acquaintance and communion with God is reciprocal; and verse 21 indicates that this reciprocal love will result in God’s manifesting himself to us. To manifest himself to us carries the thought of completely revealing himself—disclosing the very thoughts of his heart! And this he has done for us, and we can testify that this promise has been fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.

So all Christian fellowship is reciprocal. However, even earthly fellowships are reciprocal. Even worldly people know that to have friends one must be a friend. They know that one who has not learned how to be a friend has very few friends. One who insists that his friends must see all things exactly as he sees them has few friends. Many have learned to enjoy a warm relationship with others even though they mutually disagree on certain points. And our spiritual fellowship also must make allowances for our brethren on a few points of difference in order to enjoy the many things which we hold in unity. Christian fellowship, therefore, depends on certain Christian principles. It depends on unselfish love, of course. It also depends on Christian maturity. We are not discussing the fundamental doctrines of salvation, for on these we must contend earnestly, and vigorously defend these truths. But not all opinions relate to fundamental doctrines.

Paul had definite opinions, too, but he said, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” Some were trying to stir up strife and division, and in verse 10 of the 14th chapter of Romans he says, “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at naught thy brother?” Verse 19, “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and … edify another.”

Deeper Fellowship

Trials in the church are not new. They have existed since apostolic days, since Jesus’ day. But if we progress in knowledge and understanding as we should, and if we grow to be mature Christians, we will grow in deeper fellowship. We will progress toward a spiritually rewarding season of blessing. We think that is what the Apostle John meant when he said in I John 3:23,24, “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” May we be actuated by the Spirit of Christ!

Ephesians 3:14-19 reads, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”

As we walk in the way that leads to eternal life, one of the things we learn is that we cannot judge our brother’s standing with the Lord. We do not know how well he has learned to know his Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ whom he has sent. No one knows save him that receiveth it. He knows that the Father and the Son have come in to sup with him and to make their abode with him. I John 2:20 gives the assurance: “Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” This knowledge is given only to those who are the anointed.

There will be attempts to discourage in the time ahead. We have been tested along that line before. But let us not be discouraged. God has assured us of our anointing, and we know we have the truth. He has given us a wonderful promise—“And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.”

Thus we learn to know our Heavenly Father. Thus we learn to know his Son. Thus we learn to know the Spirit of the truth, and if we are in close harmony with the Father and the Son we will be in close harmony with the members of his body, and thus we will fight the good fight of faith and lay hold on eternal life.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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