[This article appeared in The Signs of the Times, April 8, 1897.]
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:1-5). The world did not see divinity in the humble Man of Nazareth. The only-begotten Son of the infinite God was in the world, and men knew Him not in His true character.
“In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). It is not physical life that is here specified, but immortality, the life which is exclusively the property of God. The Word, who was with God, and who was God, had this life. Physical life is something which each individual receives. It is not eternal or immortal; for God, the Life-giver, takes it again. Man has no control over his life. But the life of Christ was unborrowed. No one can take this life from Him. “I lay it down of myself” (John 10:18), He said. In Him was life, original, unborrowed, underived. This life is not inherent in man. He can possess it only through Christ. He cannot earn it; it is given him as a free gift if he will believe in Christ as His personal Saviour. “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). This is the open fountain of life for the world.
Giving his charge to Timothy, Paul says, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, the Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting” (1 Timothy 6:11-16).
Writing again, Paul says: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever” (1 Timothy 1:15-17).
Immortality Brought by Christ
Christ “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). No man can have an independent spiritual life apart from Him. The sinner is not immortal; for God has said, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). This means all that it expresses. It reaches farther than the death which is common to all; it means the second death. Men start back at this, saying, “Would you make man no more than a beast?” This is thought to be degrading. But what is it that elevates man in the sight of God? Is it his accumulation of money?—No; for God declares, The gold and the silver are mine. If man abuses his entrusted treasures, God can scatter faster than man can gather. Man may have brilliant intellect; he may be rich in the possession of natural endowments. But these are all given him by God, his Maker. God can remove the gift of reason, and in a moment man will become as Nebuchadnezzar, degraded to the level of the beasts of the field. This God does because man acts as though his wisdom and power had been gotten independently of Him.
Man is only mortal, and while he feels himself too wise to accept Jesus, he will remain only mortal. Men have done wonderful things in the intellectual world, but who gave them power to do this?—The Lord God of hosts. If in their fancied efficiency men triumph because of their own power, and glorify themselves, following the example of the antediluvian world, they will perish. The imagination of that long-lived race was only evil, and that continually. They were wise to do evil, and the earth was corrupted under the inhabitants thereof. Had they connected themselves with the One who is infinite in wisdom, they could have done marvelous things with their God-given ability and talents. But, turning from God, they chose to follow Satan’s lead, as many today are doing; and the Lord swept them from the earth, with all their boasted knowledge.
Humanity may be exalted by the world for what it has done. But man can lower himself very fast in God’s sight by misapplying and misappropriating his entrusted talents, which, if rightly used, would elevate him. While the Lord is long-suffering and not willing that any shall perish, He will by no means clear the guilty. Let all take heed to the words of the Lord. “Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people? Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Samuel 2:29-30).
God honors those who obey Him. “The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness,” said David; “according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me” (Psalm 18:20-22).
How to Obtain Everlasting Life
Only the believer in Christ can receive life everlasting. Only by continually feeding on Christ’s flesh and blood can we have the assurance that we are partakers of the divine nature. No one should be indifferent on this subject, saying, If we are honest, it is no matter what we believe. You cannot with safety surrender any seed of vital truth in order to please yourself or anybody else. Do not seek to avoid the cross. If we receive no light from the Sun of Righteousness, we have no connection with the Source of all light; and if this life and light do not abide in us, we can never be saved.
God has made every provision that His purpose in the creation of man shall not be frustrated by Satan. After Adam and Eve brought death into the world by their disobedience, a costly sacrifice was provided for the human race. A higher value than that they originally possessed was placed upon them. By giving Christ, His only-begotten Son, as a ransom for the world, God gave all heaven.
The acceptance of Christ gives value to the human being. His sacrifice carries life and light to all who take Christ as their personal Saviour. The love of God through Jesus Christ is shed abroad in the heart of every member of His body, carrying with it the vitality of the law of God the Father. Thus God may dwell with man, and man may dwell with God. Paul declared, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
If through faith man becomes one with Christ, he can win life everlasting. God loves those who are redeemed through Christ, even as He loves His Son. What a thought! Can God love the sinner as He loves His own Son?—Yes; Christ has said it, and He means just what He says. He will honor all our drafts if we will grasp His promise by living faith, and put our trust in Him. Look to Him, and live. All who obey God are embraced in the prayer which Christ offered to His Father, “I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26). Wonderful truth, too difficult for humanity to comprehend!
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Christ declares: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40). “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life” (John 6:47). “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever” (John 6:53-58). “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).