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Do You Really Want Eternal Life?

by on May 27, 2017

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This post is for anyone who describes him or herself as a Christian. Regardless of your denominational flavor, if you fall under the broadest umbrella of Christianity, I have a question for you:

Do you really want eternal life?

That might sound like a strange question. You may ask, “Who wouldn’t want to live forever?” Well, regardless of whether you think it odd, consider the question. While you’re pondering that, I have another one for you:

How much time do you spend seeking to know God? I’m not asking whether you go to church. For many, church attendance is simply a habit or a religious requirement. I’m asking about seeking God; making an effort to know Him. Don’t count your time at church unless you truly wake up on Sunday morning excited to meet with God. No one else will know your answer, so there’s no reason to exaggerate; just answer honestly in your own mind. How many hours in the past month have you spent trying to know God more, whether by reading the Bible, praying, singing songs about Him, etc.?

Most of us will probably think our number is too small. Whether we said zero, or ten, or even one hundred, we’ll look at the number and think it should be more. True as that may be, my purpose isn’t to beat you up, but to get you to make an honest assessment of your own love for God (or lack thereof, as the case may be).

Assuming you’re being honest, some of you will discover that, aside from semi-regular church attendance, you spend little to no time actually deepening your knowledge of your Creator. At the same time, when someone asks if you want eternal life, you laugh. “Of course I want eternal life, and I’m pretty sure I’ll go to heaven!”

If that describes you at all, then consider this: the Bible teaches that eternal life is a never-ending pursuit of God, where His people serve, worship, and adore Him. Consider John 17:3, when Jesus prayed to His Father and said, “This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. ”

Did you catch that? Jesus said the very definition of eternal life is to know God!

If you find Bible-reading boring, don’t ever talk to God in prayer, and only occasionally gather with other Christians in worship, then what makes you think you’ll enjoy worshipping Him with the saints for all of eternity? Again, this isn’t meant to be a judgment, but a loving challenge to stop pretending and really consider the motives of your own heart. Do you want God, or do you just want heaven? Are you excited about being with Him, or do you just like the idea of having your sins forgiven? Does your heart long to know Jesus, or are you only afraid of going to hell?

One preacher has said, “Everyone wants to go to heaven, they just don’t want God to be there when they get there!” Another wrote this:

“The critical question for our generation–and for every generation–is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?” John Piper, “God Is the Gospel”

Indeed.

I have a confession to make: I’m afraid of the dark. It’s not so bad that I sleep with the lights on or curl up in a ball when the sun goes down, but darkness just bothers me. When the days are shorter during the winter months, darkness wears me down and affects my mood. Because of that, I find the following verse comforting:

“The city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” Revelation 21:23

Describing the vision he received of the new heavens and earth, John said it will never be dark, because God Himself will be an ever-present source of light. That gets me excited! I can’t wait to be in the presence of Jesus for all eternity, basking in His glory. Can you say the same, or do you have a different idea of paradise?

Can you say with the apostle Paul, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8)? I’m not trying to set up some lofty standard that the only true Christians are those who are one hundred percent focused on Christ all the time. We can all grow weary or be distracted by things of the world. But the heart of a Christian has been changed, and we have come to see Jesus as our greatest treasure. Our Savior Himself said it would be so:

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44

The kingdom of heaven will be filled with those who joyfully cast all other pursuits aside for the sake of obtaining the one, great treasure…Him! To be clear, it is not our love for Christ that saves us, but rather His love for us. However, one of the great signs that a person has turned from sin and trusted in Christ is that they now love Him and pursue Him with their lives.

Here’s the real issue: if you have little interest in spending time with Jesus now, what makes you think you’re fit to be in His presence forever? Instead of paradise, Heaven would be dreadfully uninteresting to you, because it will be spent getting to know the God you have no attraction to. Do not be deceived, having no desire to know God is sure evidence that you are not headed for eternal life with Him. If you label yourself a Christian but don’t love Christ, then think about the Cross, and remember that He died to pay the penalty for sins like yours. Let your heart be broken and your mind be changed; humble yourself and call upon His name, pleading for mercy, and ask that He may grant you eternal life.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found;
call upon Him while He is near.
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord, that He may have compassion on him.” Isaiah 55:6-7a

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