Reader Input: Is there more to receiving eternal life?
Hi Friends! It’s been a while since I last wrote on this blog…. So much going on! It is interesting because of the things I do for my job, writing is right at the top of my list of favorite things, but one can only do so much writing. In this post, I’m seeking the help and counsel of those of you who are theology fans. Right now with One Eight Catalyst, I’m working on a short documentary that I’ll begin filming soon, and there’s a particular theological point that I’m wrestling with that I’m trying to work out for the new documentary.
The topic of the documentary is the 50 commands of Jesus we see in the Bible and John 14. Short summary: In the Bible, we see these 50 commands that Jesus gives to His followers, which He then follows up with two passages in John 14, the most poignant of which is found in verse 21, with Jesus stating, ‘Whoever has my commandments (commands) and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.’ Clearly we see in the Bible that obeying Jesus’ commands is a key way we show Him that we love Him. In the documentary, I’ll be examining this topic in a few important ways, as a way for us at One Eight Catalyst to be fulfilling our mission. Can’t wait to start the filming in the next weeks!
So for any of you who would like to help me with one theological topic here, I would be deeply grateful… Here’s the premise: In the Bible, we see a fairly easy entry point to eternal life through Christ, with three key verses as our guide:
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. -John 1:12
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. – 1 John 5:13
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life. – John 5:24
To have eternal life in Christ, we must receive Christ as Lord and Savior, believe in His name and we’ll have eternal life. We praise God for what Christ has done for us on the cross to receive this free gift! In my study, I’ve run across a concerning passage that I’ve been wrestling with, found in 1 John 2:3-6:
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
This passage seems to add to the passages about how to receive eternal life. We remember in the general principles of Biblical interpretation that ‘A doctrine cannot be considered Biblical unless it sums up and includes all that the Scriptures say about it (theological systems are only as strong as their cohesive and consistent parts.)’ According to the 1 John passage, how do we know Him? If we keep his commands. And if we don’t keep His commands, we lie about what we say our relationship with Him is and the love of Christ is not in us. Yikes! You can see why this passage in 1 John has caught my attention!
So here’s my working theory, which I could use your input, counsel and wisdom. According to John 5:24, we have eternal life by accepting Christ and believing in His name. As we then grow in that relationship, because Jesus is now our Lord and Master, as we mature, we want to obey His commands. This is a sign of maturity. As you give counsel on this topic, refer to Hebrews 6:1-8. For those that don’t grow toward maturity, John is addressing them in this 1 John passage, essentially saying, ‘You say you are in Christ, but you’re not representing Christ in your obedience to His commands in the same way you’re telling others about your relationship with Christ… You’re lying about this relationship.’ Because we know from John 14 that it’s those who obey the commands of Christ who really love Him.
What do you all think? Am I on the right track here? What else would you say about this? Is the 1 John passage saying anything extra about how to receive eternal life in Christ? Would there be a case where we can receive Christ, not obey Him, not abide in Him and still have eternal life? Thank you in advance for any input you all would have!