God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 1 John 5:11
This is for everyone who saw the bible text above, thought “I know that one” but has never asked: what does that actually mean?
Let’s read on: “He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life”. 1 John 5:12
When I was a young churchgoer, that verse had me stumped. I knew that –
- I believed in God
- I read and believed the bible
- I went to church and enjoyed worship
- I prayed to God
- I wanted to be a good person
- I believed I would go to Heaven
BUT, when a friend showed me that verse, I realised I had NO comprehension of what it meant, in real terms, to “have the Son“. It worried me a lot that not having the Son meant that I didn’t “have life”. Would I therefore NOT go to Heaven when I died?
What’s The Difference?
On that same day my friend explained that I could meet and RECEIVE the Lord Jesus, and thus HAVE the Son instead of just knowing about him. That was news to me!
I had an external relationship with God, like the people of earth before Jesus died. I knew OF him but I didn’t KNOW him. He was WITH me, but not IN me.
On leaving his disciples, Jesus explained why he must go. It was in order to give them an even greater knowledge and experience of himself by the omnipresent Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Father and the Son.
There was a reason for that: By leaving them he was actually improving their relationship with him, providing a much more intimate and powerful experience of himself than before.
The Day of Pentecost
It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper [the Holy Spirit] will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you do know Him, ***for He abides with you and will be in you***
I Missed the Main Point
Now you see that in my own life I was a bit like the disciples, knowing about Jesus but not being ONE with him. I knew about the Son but I did not HAVE the Son. I believed IN the Son but not ON the Son!
Somebody said, the difference is this: you might believe IN a train leaving your local station because you read the timetable, but until you go to the station, buy the ticket and commit to the journey you are not believing ON the train.
So I came to see that I needed to receive the Lord in Spirit, to move from the experience the disciples had on earth in the Gospels, to their experience in the book of Acts. ***for He abides WITH you and will be IN you***
Receiving the Lord
When Jesus knew he was about to die and leave behind his disciples who depended on him, he did something strange. He took the cup of wine on the Passover table and said “Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” [Matt 26:27-28]
Of course every Jew knew that the blood of the ritual sacrifices purged them of sins, temporarily at least. However, they never DRANK that blood! It was an external cleansing only.
The blood was sprinkled, as in Exodus 24:8 So Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
But with both the wine and the bread used at the last supper, the Lord directed them to Drink, Eat!
The sacrifice of the NEW Covenant was not applied just to the outside but to the inside, to the heart, soul and spirit of man.
It was a sharing in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, a communion, a participation, a making-one in UNION with the Godly Sacrifice, so that it cleansed not just the outward appearance but the inward heart.
1 Cor 10:16
Is not the cup of blessing that we bless a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?
The disciples as they drank and ate were therefore knowingly participating IN the Son of God and WITH the Son of God. They were receiving the Son, being incorporated into him (IN-CORPorated means made into one body) and thus were also dying with the Lord and rising again to new life in him.
Eat My Flesh! Drink My Blood!
Earlier, Jesus had given the same message, but because his followers failed to understand it, many turned away on that day. Nonetheless we now see:
I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
Let me quote from another website:
The people came looking for another miracle of bread. But Jesus offered them the kind of bread they were not looking for.
Then he said, “And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:51).
This sounded like cannibalism. His listeners balked. He pressed it even further:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” (John 6:53–55)
The “Jesus for King” campaign evaporated. The people walked away, shaking their heads. The crazy man wants us to eat his flesh! They completely misunderstood what Jesus was saying. [Source]
Jesus explained that: “the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world”. John 6:33 and “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty”. John 6:35
It’s Not the Elements but What They Mean
I don’t want to get distracted into an argument about Holy Communion, so I will simply say that I’m not talking about real blood or real flesh here, and nor was Jesus at the Last Supper!
My point is this: unless we have entered into ‘communion’ with the Lord, that is, a sharing or participation with him in Spirit, then we do NOT “have eternal life”, for the life, as we see, is IN THE SON.
I do NOT mean attending a service of Holy Communion regularly!! I mean that we must receive the Lord in spirit as the disciples did at Pentecost, in order to HAVE the Son.
What IS eternal life?
When we read the words “eternal life” in the bible, do we think of it in terms of heaven? Or of going to be with the Lord? Or surviving the death experience so as to be “ever with the Lord”? These things are true, but it’s not what is intended by the eternal life that we receive when we have the Son.
We read that “As the Father has life in himself; so has he given to the Son to have life in himself.” [John 5:26]
Clearly this does not just refer to human life, nor to life in Heaven because Jesus was on earth at the time. And, what does it mean that the Son can GIVE this life to those who believe in him?
Nicodemus [John 3:1-17] also did not understand. He said to Jesus, how is it possible to go back into your mother’s womb and be born again so as to have this spiritual life you speak of? For Jesus had told him that without being born again, being born a second time “in spirit”, a person could not see the Kingdom of God.
He said, “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” [John 3:5-6]
So Jesus was offering to provide a NEW kind of life, a spirit-born life, which the bible calls “eternal life”.
There are actually three words for ‘life’ in the Greek New Testament. [See Here]
1. Bios, in Luke 8:14: “…anxieties and riches and pleasures of this life.” This Greek word refers to the life of the physical body and is where we get the word biology.
2. Psuche, in Matt. 16:25: “For whoever wants to save his soul-life shall lose it.” The Greek word here refers to the psychological life of the human soul, that is, the mind, emotion, and will. It is where we get the word psychology.
3. Zoe, in John 1:4: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Here the Greek word refers to the uncreated, eternal life of God, the divine life uniquely possessed by God.
This word “life” in the bible is translated as ZOE.
The tree of life in the Garden of Eden signifies the divine, uncreated, incorruptible, indestructible, eternal life of God—the zoe life. And in the Garden, God gave this tree of life to Adam as food. This was before Adam fell and sin entered the picture.
Although Adam was sinless, he possessed only the human life; he did not have the life of God. God’s intention was not just for Adam to be sinless, but even more, for Adam, representing all mankind, to take in and share His eternal life. [Source]
The Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden
We Are All Dead
So you see, although we are alive in a human sense, we are all DEAD because Adam robbed us of the ZOE life of God which is eternal, everlasting, powerful, healing, cleansing – and all things necessary to know and love God.
Then Jesus the Son of God, possessing this ZOE life within himself, called us to SHARE it (for he is the Tree of Life), to feed of him, partake of him, to be incorporated into him – in another similar metaphor – to become a branch that is part of the VINE of God. And dying, he enabled us to receive his ZOE life within ourselves just as he himself had life within himself.
The Vine and the Branches
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
A vine is not separated into a trunk and individual branches. The vine IS the branches!
We are not joined into Christ like individual pieces stuck onto a stem, but we are PART of the living vine, we ARE the vine, just as we ARE the Body of Christ – living members.
Thus, Jesus is saying that by becoming part of himself and sharing the same sap, the lifegiving ZOE eternal life that is flowing constantly through him, we also have that same ‘sap’ flowing through ourselves – thus inevitably producing fruit.
Those who appear to be branches but in truth have no divine life in themselves, who HAVE NOT THE SON are dead branches, not genuinely part of the Vine. They do not bear fruit, but become lifeless and barren.
They may even appear to be good church-going, God-believing people who read the bible, but as Jesus warned:
“You pore over the Scriptures because you presume that by them you possess eternal life. These are the very words that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.” [John 5:39-40]
The life of the flesh is death.
Without the ZOE eternal life of God within us, we are dead while we still live! Death produces nothing but rotten fruit. Whereas the life of the Spirit of Jesus – when allowed to flow unhindered – produces good fruit in abundance, such as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control [Galatians 5:22-23]
This is a natural process, just as fruit WILL appear on a healthy branch of any fruit tree.
(Just how much energy, sweat and toil did that apple go through to appear on your tree? None! It appeared as a natural product of the sap flowing through the apple tree!)
Come to Me
So to anyone who is struggling, to anyone who doesn’t KNOW the Lord Jesus in truth, to anyone who desires to have the Son so as to have eternal life: Look up, believe, ask for the “promise of the father” [Acts 1:4-5] and RECEIVE him in fullness and in reality, because this is the promise of NEW LIFE and LIFE IN ABUNDANCE without which nobody can truly know victory and blessing.
Romans 8 Life Through the Spirit
Therefore, there is now **no condemnation** for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. …
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you.
***And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ***. [read that one more time!!]
But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your MORTAL bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you….
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
[and] The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.