One of the only passages of scripture I was familiar with as a child was John 3:16.
I could safely say, and with no exaggeration, that John 3:16 is by far one of the most popular verses in the bible, greatly known throughout the world by many people's, not only professing christian's. I also believe it is the most widely misunderstood verse by many people's as well as professing christian's.
John 3:16 says, "for God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Traditionally the scripture has been used to teach that Jesus came and died for our sins so that we wouldn't perish. In truth. This verse is saying that the real purpose of Jesus coming to the earth and dying for us was so that we could have everlasting life.
When I had revisited the verse after being saved I realized that my sin was a barrier that stood between me and this everlasting life.
I understood and knew that it is true that Jesus died for my sins, and it is true that when I professed and believed in Jesus I would not perish.
However, there was so much more to this gospel passage than that.
I was blown away when I understood that the real message of this gospel passage was that God wanted me, God wanted to give me everlasting life all along.
So what did that mean? What did Jesus mean by everlasting life? I knew enough about life at that time to have my own definition of everlasting life. That everlasting life simply meant living forever. However, I understood one thing about myself, that when I thought I knew enough to think I was right, I always knew that I, more than likely, did not know enough to know that I could be wrong.
The night before His crucifixion, Jesus was praying, He lifted up His eyes to heaven and He said, "and this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3).
He says that the meaning of everlasting life is knowing the father the only true God, and knowing Jesus Christ whom He sent.
That's what everlasting life is.
Many people think, along with myself at that time that everlasting life was just living forever.
However, through these verses I've come to see that it is a misconception to think that when a person dies, he ceases to exist.
I had this impression for years. I thought that if I died, my brain, because of lack of oxygen, would die and all my memories of who I was, my soul and my being would cease to exist.
This way of understanding gave me an uncontrollable fear that in turn I exhausted myself trying to find an answer to that fear, my self-imposed dilemma. I was looking for answers in Hatha Yoga practices, taking Yoga classes, even becoming an Asana teacher. There was a pose we had to do at the end of each Asana class, it was called "The Shavasana pose." Shavasana is a Sanskrit word that translates in English meaning, "corpse," or the corpse pose. It was meant to be a relaxing pose. However, it would bring me great anxiety because I pictured myself dead, and I saw nothing, I felt non-existence, and in turn great fear.
I was under a misconception that I believe is very popular in the world: the fear of dying. Not just dying, but that we no longer exist, and that's simply not true.
The spirit and the soul go back to God, our spirit, our souls, go back to God. Yes it is true that the body decays in the grave. But in reality, every person who has ever lived on the face of the earth will continue to live in spirit form.
So to say that everlasting life is living forever is partly right but not the whole truth.
Everybody lives forever, but John 3:16 makes it very clear that eternal life is not given to everyone.
It's given to those who believeth in Jesus Christ.
So I've also heard it said that eternal life then is living forever in heaven, versus living in hell.
However, eternal life is more than just living in heaven as opposed to hell. It is just what Jesus said it is in John 17:3, "eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ."
It is important to know God and Jesus not just with an intellectual knowledge. The word "know" is used throughout scripture to describe "relationship intimacy," which is a deep personal knowledge. It is the knowledge a wife would have about her husband or a husband about a his wife, a son to father and father to son and so forth.
This is the purpose of salvation. We make the choice to become saved, not just to live forever in heaven, as great as that might sound, but more importantly it is to have intimacy with God.
The real purpose of salvation is to have personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. There are multitudes of people who have cried out to God for the forgiveness of their sins, but have never had real intimacy with God as their ultimate goal.
When I was younger I was never taught salvation, the true meaning of eternal life or having a relationship with God, in church or at Sunday school. God was the man with the long white beard who lives in heaven and punishes little children who do wrong. Jesus was the man hanging on the cross over the altar and the Holy Spirit was the words you said at the end of your prayers, "in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." I, along with my other classmates, were done a great disservice.
However, He never gave up on me, even when the world had abandoned me and let me down. Jesus is there right next to us ready and wanting to catch us when we fall.
There are some people who are living in such a literal hell right now on earth, many are depressed, suffering from mental illnesses, many are living in poverty, dealing with strife, rejection, hurt, loneliness, they're dealing with failed marriages, failed carriers, death. In my opinion most people are just trying to survive in their worlds day to day.
There was a man at my job who would say, whenever I asked, "how are you doing?" He would reply, "another day, another dollar." I heard another reply sardonically, "I'm living the dream." Those answers scream out to ears that will hear, "I'm just trying to keep my head above water." People choose salvation, then make salvation something that deals only with the future. I'm saved so I'm going to heaven. The truth is that Jesus not only came to affect our eternal destinies, so that we can live forever in heaven. Jesus more importantly came, in my opinion, to deliver us from this present world.
"Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father."
Jesus came to give us intimacy, and a personal relationship with God the Father, TODAY.
Jesus came to bring us back. Jesus came to bring us close to Him, to have a personal relationship with Him. Jesus loves us. Jesus wants to know us personally. Jesus wants to give us a quality of life that is greater than anything we can obtain through any other source on earth.
Jesus put it this way in John 10:10, "the thief (when he says the thief, He is speaking of course of Satan) cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they (we) might have life, and that they (we) might have it more abundantly."
God wants to give us eternal life and an eternal life, is an abundant life.
I believe we need that today. That we not only need it but that we want it, we crave it, we desire it and we look for it in the world but it's not found in the world.
I searched for that abundant life throughout the world, through all it's false religions, it's false spiritualities and by all its secular sources. Yet, when I gave myself to the Lord that day, when I spoke out His name. He gave me the true meaning of eternal life, He gave me a life that I could never have imagined on my own because my mind was riveted in the world and it's remedies.
Christ died not only to forgive my sins. Christ died not only to forgive your sins, but to bring us close to Him.
If you don't know the Lord, you need to get to know Him and for that purpose. Speak His name and ask Him into your heart.
If you've already been born again, you need to go beyond just getting your sins forgiven, and enter into that everlasting life, and live the abundant life God wants for all of us with the Father.