Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 9, 1964
NUMBER 35, PAGE 3,10b-11

"That Ye May Know That Ye Have Eternal Life"

Robert H. Farish

Do you know whether or not you have eternal life? God has provided not only for you to have eternal life (John 3:16), but also for you to know whether or not you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13) Many fail to realize that it is possible for them to know that they have eternal life. Many others are not aware of the true ground or evidence whereby they can know that they have eternal life. Neither situation is what God wills for you or any man. He has provided for you to have eternal life and also for you to be assured of the fact when you do have eternal life.

The basic, persistent human desire, held in common by all men, is to live. No one willingly terminates even the life that now is until unbelief coupled with trials, sufferings and frustrations which characterize life on earth has driven him to utter despair. Even in that utter despair, he would be relieved of the compulsion to commit suicide if he could be brought to the assurance that eternal life was available for him personally. This conviction would enable him to solve the problems of "the life that now is."

Dave Garner is wrong in his observation that "those who believe in eternal life are the ones most frightened by the atomic bomb." Those who believe ("know") that they have eternal life do not live in terror of the threats to the life that now is. If those who believe in eternal life are the ones most afraid of the atomic bomb, how account for the action of those who, rather than renounce their Lord, in whom they had eternal life, chose to be thrown to lions or boiled in oil "and others were tortured, not accepting their deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others had trials of mockings and scourging, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonments: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were tempted, they were slain with the sword: they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and the holes of the earth...." Heb. 11:35b-38) These people knew that they had eternal life. Surely the faith of the martyrs is "living still" is some of us "in spite of" atomic bombs and all the propaganda and opposition of "science falsely so-called.'' For those who "know that ye (they) have eternal life" hydrogen bombs rattling holds no terror. With David, the man after God's own heart, such a one can say, "Yea, though I walk through the valley and shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me."

Let Him That Thinketh He Standeth Take Heed Lest He Fall

John wrote, "These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life." (1 John 5:13) The apostle Paul, by the same Holy Spirit, wrote, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." (I Coo 10:12) There is no contradiction; both are true and therefore harmonious. If you know that you have eternal life, you should he humble in that knowledge and put forward every effort to "keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." (Jude 21) The one who knows that he has eternal life and whose "assurance" is based upon proper evidence will not have the self-righteous attitude of the Pharisee and contend that because he has eternal life, he cannot lose it, but will "take heed" to himself to avoid falling.

By What Means May One Know That He Has Eternal Life?

The importance of knowing that you have eternal life has been indicated already; it is readily recognized by anyone who will think. The proper feeling of security which would dissolve guilt complexes, dispel fear and anxiety and condition children of God to "rejoice in the Lord always," would relieve doctors and hospitals for the mentally sick of the unbearable load in proportion to the extent that the sense of security prevailed in the population. The importance of the knowledge reflects the importance of how you can know that you have eternal life.

Perhaps you, like the majority of people, have been relying upon your feelings as evidence in the matter. Your feelings are not reliable; human feelings or emotions are nowhere in the scriptures assigned the role of guide, nor do your emotions reflect a true picture of your spiritual condition. Those at Laodicea thought they were rich and had gotten riches and had need of nothing; and failed to realize that they were wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. (Rev. 3:17) Their concept of their spiritual condition could not have been more wrong. The Bible teaches that man "deceiveth his (own) heart" (Jas. 1:26) A person who hears the word but fails to do is guilty of "deluding (his) your ownselves." (Jas. 1:22) These passages point up the possibility of one "thinking more highly of himself than he ought to think." (Rom. 12:3)

But this is not the only unreliable area from which people seek assurance of salvation — many people accept the authoritarian assertions of "their" church, preacher or lodge as the evidence or means by which they "know" that they have eternal life. This course is followed in spite of the many warnings in the scriptures against believing every spirit. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1,2) Note also the language of Paul to Timothy, "But evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." (2 Tim. 3:13) It is no compliment to the intelligence of men that the majority are, in religious matters, so extremely gullible. Satan can gain more followers through his agents who camouflage themselves as preachers of righteousness, than by all the openly-avowed atheists.

How then is one to know that he has eternal life? John answers this question — "These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, even unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God." (1 John 5:13) John wrote with the view of providing us with the sure means by which we can know whether we have eternal life or not. Do you have eternal life? What is written? Is your spiritual situation favorable in the light of what is written?

Eternal Life, Where?

The sphere in which one must he to have eternal life, is Christ the Son of God, for the life is in the Son of God — "And the witness is this, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." (1 John 5:11) How then does one get into Christ?

The will of the individual is involved. This is seen in the language of Christ — "And ye will not come to me that ye may have life." (John 5:40) The fact that "no man can come to me (Christ), except the Father.... draw him" (John 6:44) is in no way in conflict with the need and possibility of human determination and action. The way by which the Father draws in no way violates man's free moral agency, for God does not draw with a direct operation, which would be irresistible, but through words persuades and directs man to Christ where life is. This is the Holy Spirit's explanation — "It is written in the prophets, and they shall all be taught of God. Everyone that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me." (John 6:35) Men are drawn by God to Christ when they hear and learn from the Father. The order is: hear — learn — come.

One gets into Christ by obedience. "For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ." (Gal. 3:26, 27) This passage along with Rom. 6:3 teaches us that scriptural baptism puts one into Christ. No one has proper assurance that he has eternal life who has not been baptized into Christ.

The Sense In Which We Have Eternal Life Here And Now

In what sense does one "have" eternal life? This has to do with having here and now. That one may have eternal life in some sense, here and now, is evident from John's statement, "that ye may know that ye have eternal life." The distinction between the "life that now is and that which is to come" should be recognized. Note the following statement front Mark in connection with John's statement "that ye have eternal life." According to Mark, Jesus said, "But he shall receive a hundred fold now in this time, houses and brethren and sisters and mothers and children and lands with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life." (Mark 10:30) Material and temporal blessings coming to Christians here are accompanied with persecution but in the world to come he will "receive" eternal life with nothing to mar its enjoyment. There is a sense in which we 'have" eternal life here and now and also "receive" eternal life in the world to come.

Heirs Of God

We can have eternal life in hope here and now, but possess it in reality in the world to come. The Christian has eternal life now as an heir has the inheritance, that is, he has it in anticipation or prospect. The many passages of scripture on this point which are commonly ignored need to be studied. "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him." (Rom. 8:16,17) It has been previously established that: 1. we are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus; 2. that we get into Christ by baptism. Hence, it must be concluded that those who have been baptized into Christ are children. Now in this reference in the eighth chapter of Romans, it is learned that the children of God are the heirs of God, and joint heirs of Christ; therefore those who are baptized are heirs. This passage further teaches that this inheritance involves being glorified with Christ. But, for your own good, please observe that although one occupies the position of a child of God and thus is an heir of the glories that shall be revealed, yet his being glorified with Christ is conditional — it is if we suffer with him. One must be born anew, which is being baptized for remission of sins, in order to be a child of God, a new creature in Christ, but the final sharing in the glory of Christ is still conditional. This "if" proves the conditional character of the inheritance.

"Heirs According To The Hope Of Eternal Life" Titus 3:7

It is in hope that we are saved here and now. "For in hope were we saved: but hope that is seen is not hope: for who hopeth for that for which he seeth? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." (Rom. 8:24, 25) Those who are familiar with the nature of hope recognize that "hope that is seen," i.e., realized, is not hope. That which is realized or actually and irrevocably in our possession is not an object of hope. But it is "in hope" that we are saved. Hope of eternal salvation prevails and has real basis as long as one patiently (steadfastly) waits for it. These passages, along with many others, teach that the child of God has eternal life, here and now, in prospect. The child of God can "rejoice in hope of the glory of God."

"Now We Are The Children Of God"

The essential and fundamental factor in this glory is, being "like Christ." To be like Christ is to be "glorified with him" John wrote, "Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet manifested what we shall be. We know that, if he shall he manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is. And everyone that hath this hope set on him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (1 John 2:2, 3) The glory shall be revealed, eternal life is a gift but the purity upon which the gift is conditioned must be cultivated.

There are scriptures which speak of being "severed from Christ" and "fallen away from grace" (Gal. 5:4), of exercising restraint over the body to avoid being cast away. (1 Cor. 9:27) These and all other warning passages are significant and should be studied.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (I Peter 1:3-5)

— 417 E. Groesbeck, Lufkin, Texas