“He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in his own heart, but he who does not believe God makes him out to be a liar by refusing to accept God’s testimony of his Son. This is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is found in his Son.” -1 John 5:10,11Recently, I have been curiously pondering the belief that many hold of the natural and inherent immortality of the soul. What strikes me is it’s subtle, but effective ability to circumvent the work that God, through the revealing of His love, is seeking to accomplish in our hearts.
First, there is one point that must be clearly understood from the beginning or nothing after this will make sense. God is ever seeking, through the bright rays of Calvary, to convert us from our self-centered bent to His other-centered love.
“And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves,
but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf”. (2 Corinthians 5.15)
Now consider what happens when you interject the thought that the soul is naturally and inherently immortal.
Everything you do becomes tainted by the desire to convince God to let you spend eternity in heaven rather than hell. Therefore everything in your religious experience will be colored by the desire to be saved! That’s not conversion, that’s self-preservation and we will be destined to always live, ultimately, out of our own self concern for our eternal well being. And as Jesus stated, “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it . . .”(Luke 9.24)
But back up! What if the soul is not naturally immortal? The options left are immortality or death (I know . . . still very egocentric at first but keep watching).
” . . .that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” -John 3.16 [emphasis added]
“The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life . . .”-Romans 6.23
Without immortality of the soul, things begin at a different starting point. Pay close attention. In the beginning, Adam and Eve were created with immortality. Yet this immortality was forfeited when they sinned. “Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever'” -Genesis 3.22
Mankind lost their immortality! Adam and Eve could not pass on to us what they themselves no longer possessed. “In Adam all die.” -1Corinthians 15.22
So now we are faced with two options: Live forever or perish. We still begin the journey very egocentrically, but notice the hearts transformation as the truth of the Gospel begins to dawn upon us.
We begin to realize that we should be dead right now! We are not immortal! We have sinned! God warned us that “in the day” that we sin we are to die. (Genesis 2:17) Wait! I’ve sinned but I’m still breathing. Modern Christianity would tell us that the reason is because the soul is naturally and inherently immortal and can’t die, but the Gospel cries out a much different explanation! Look carefully at the verse we started with today. Before we exercise any faith on our part, before we respond to the “testimony” given of God’s son in belief or unbelief, that “testimony” is delivered to our hearing! The Gospel comes to us with news of what God has done first, before we have believed or disbelieved it yet! Why is this important? Because look what the news is!!!!! “That God has already given us eternal life!” -1 John 5:11
Before we ever believe or disbelieve, God has already given us eternal life!!! We should be dead! Yet we are alive, not because we are naturally immortal, but because Jesus died for us and rose again . . . all of us! Which means, if the options were eternal life or perish, God has already made a decision for every person that they will live forever! He has accomplished all that was necessary to make this happen for each of us! This is a gift! I know, I know . . . not everyone will be saved in the end, but listen carefully. If anyone is lost at last, it will not be because they did not do enough to convince God to save them! It will be because they threw away the salvation God had already so freely and generously given to all!
Watch what this does to our hearts. No longer is all of our religious duty colored by a desire to convince God to let us live forever rather than perish! Instead, our life becomes a poetic expression of gratitude, appreciation, and love for the One who so generously gave to us. Our entire life becomes centered in the desire to thank Him, to live for Him! Love’s goal accomplished! We “no longer live for ourselves but for Him who died for us and rose again.” Will you believe the gospel, dear reader? God has given you life when you should not be living today! His intension in the gift is that this life will never end, but He has left it up to you. Will you let the life He’s given you be eternal . . . or will you make it temporary?
“Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” Do you believe this?
“For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.”
– 1Timothy 4.10
I wish you God’s best this week!