The New Testament often refers to the resurrection. Obviously, we tend to think of this in physical terms; that is, life after death. But there is more to the concept than that. In fact, it can apply to each of us today, whatever situation we find ourselves facing.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.”1 He said this to Martha, whose brother had just died. When Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb, He not only demonstrated His divine power, but illustrated a truth that calls to us today.
How could He say that whoever believes in Him would never die? We all know that we each have our appointed day to leave this life. We trust that we will have eternal life in Christ, but how does that reach us in this mortal body?
Consider the exhortation of Paul to his fellow evangelist, Timothy. “Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called,” he wrote.2 He was telling this to a fellow believer. Was Paul suggesting Timothy die in order to “take hold” of eternal life? Of course not. He was pointing to a much greater truth. One that will transform our way of living if we can implement it.
Paul was reflecting the truth that through Christ, we not only have eternal life after we die, but we can have it now. John alludes to this concept when he warns, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”3 Was he suggesting that anyone who harbors hatred cannot go to heaven? No. We know that all can be forgiven if we will ask. Furthermore, the context of his statement applies to one who hates his brother in Christ. His assertions established three things: First, a believer can harbor hatred, which is vile. Second, eternal life should “abide” in believers. To abide means to continually be held in place, to remain, and to be present. Third, that holding to ungodly attitudes can cause the eternal life we should have now to escape us in this life. Thus Paul’s call to “take hold” of eternal life. It’s ours to take. We just have to abide in it.
In Christ’s prayer, He said to the Father, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”4 Can we know God now? Yes. Do we know Him through Jesus Christ? Yes. Therefore, we have eternal life now.
Eternal life enters us when we are “born again,” as Christ explained to Nicodemus.5 Spiritually, our “old man” dies and we are born into a new life. This is the resurrection we receive in the present. Lazarus was a physical illustration of a spiritual truth. We need not wait until we die to experience it.
So as we approach the birth a new year, let us also walk in this spiritual resurrection. Take hold of eternal life. It is the calling of every believer. It is the power of Jesus Christ to make every day new.
1 John 11:25
2 1 Timothy 6:12
3 1 John 3:15
4 John 17:3
5 John 3