Eternal life is the element of church life. Paul wrote that Christ came to save sinners, to those who believe on Him unto eternal life (1 Tim.1:15-16). We received this life at the time of our salvation. Then, after receiving this life, we have to lay hold on this eternal life (6:12). This is how we should go on in our Christian life. Then, by laying away for ourselves a good foundation as a treasure for the future, we are able to lay hold on that which is really life (6:19). This will be our transfiguration. Our past, present, and future as believers are all totally related to the eternal life.
Eternal Life: The Uncreated Life
Let us consider what eternal life is. Eternal life is uncreated life. God is self-generating. He is able to generate every positive thing. With God, there are no limitations. Miss Margaret Barber wrote a song (Hymn #671) which says, “Thou are my God – the all Sufficient One, Thou canst create for me whate’er I lack.” There is no need that God cannot meet; He is the All-Sufficient One. But here Ms. Barber has something even more profound, for she says, “You can create for me whatever I lack.”
In our human life, we have many needs. God, as the uncreated and creating One, creates for us whatever it may be that we need. God created my wife for my lack, and God created me for hers. God created a young man called Titus who would come to Cleveland, so God also created a particular situation in Cleveland to meet his need. We need to have the realization that
this uncreated life, this Creator God, is such a God. God Himself is uncreated. Yet much more, with Him there is the ability to generate anything at all, including our provisions. When we touch life, when we are in life, and when we are one with the Lord in life, we will find He is able to meet all our needs and to create and initiate all things for our sakes (Rom. 8:32).
Eternal Life: Self-Existing and Ever-Existing
Life is also self-existing and ever-existing. Self-existing means this life exists by means of its own virtue or ability. Ever-existing means this life can never be defeated. Nothing can beat this life, for this life is self-existing and ever-existing.
It Cannot Be Beaten Down
On the day we believed in Him, He came to us and we became joined to Him in one spirit. What is this life now in our spirit? It is the very self-existing and ever-existing God. This is why the Christian life is so wonderful, for regardless how you try to overcome this life, it cannot be defeated! If you try to starve it, it will not die. In fact, when we have forgotten Him, He generates to stir up something within you, so that something spontaneously flows out of you when you least expect it. It doesn’t matter to this life where you are at. If you say, “since this is the case I won’t pray anymore, just so I can prove that He is such a One in me.” Just try it; see if you can. I’m never afraid that people might argue with this life or try to test it; I am more concerned when people learn to ignore the operation of this life within them.
Many Believers Ignore the Sprouting Action of Life Within Them
Sometimes when your heart is filled with other things, it is possible to ignore this self-existing life that keeps on sprouting within you. It gives you a feeling. If your heart is hardened, you can be unresponsive to the feeling this life gives you. This doesn’t mean, however, that the self-existing life will terminate or disappear. After many, many years, He can still work within you. Sometimes, some of us are so concerned about a weak believer who backslides until he doesn’t even seem to be a Christian anymore. Did he lose his salvation? Some such people even question whether there is a God, and may even say they made a mistake when they prayed and that they didn’t really believe! Let me ask you which do you really believe – the eternal life, or what he says? You must realize that when God enters someone’s spirit as life, it does not matter what that person may think in his mind. It will not chase this life away. Even if a person who has received this life blasphemes God, God will not be moved. He is self-existing and ever-existing. One day God will remind that person that He is there, and the person will wake up!
Try to starve God. If you try to starve yourself, you can die after three days without water and perhaps seven days without food. But if you refuse to feed the Lord for years, He will not be harmed, for He is self-existing and ever existing. If you ask, “If that is so, then why am I so weak?” then I would answer, “He creates whatever you need, and you need to be weak so that you can eventually say that it was all His mercy.”
Eternal Life: Unlimited Life
This life which is God Himself is also unlimited. You don’t know how to restrain Him and you cannot confine Him, for He is unlimited. You cannot stop Him. He is eternal, and thus He is unlimited.
In this whole universe, there is nothing that is eternal except God. Even the sun is getting old. The earth is also getting old. Do you know why the Sabbatical year was instituted? To refresh the earth. The Israelites were told to let the land lie fallow after farming it for six years so that it could have a year to rest. You have to let the land rest for a year. This is why our environment is in trouble now; we use so much fertilizer instead of allowing the land to have its rest. We bypass the law. We also need rest, because our humanity is not eternal. The coworkers should have a year to do whatever they would like to do so they can come back a different person, refreshed. This is right according to this principle of the Sabbath rest. But I tell you, God never needs any rest and He never takes a rest, for He is eternal. If God were to take a nap, I don’t know what would happen!
Eternally Fresh, Never Old
The word ‘eternal’ is beyond our understanding because whatever we know of fades. A new home becomes old; a young person becomes old and anything that is so fresh and beautiful quickly becomes old. I do not like antiques; the younger and newer, the better. Antiques are for old men. I am surrounded by things that are becoming old and I inhabit a body that is becoming old, but I do have a God who is eternal and always fresh. Brother Lee wrote a hymn, “O Lord you are the evergreen” just to tell us how young and fresh our Lord is. He is always young and always fresh because He is eternal.
Since you now possess this eternal One, if you feel old you should realize that it means you are short of God, for in eternity there is no oldness, no decaying, and no change. Before the creation God was as He is and after the creation He is still as He is, the same. Then some may ask, Why did God go through a process? He passed through a process for His economy, but it did not involve His becoming different in Who He is. The Son pre-existed creation, and when we were created, we were created in His image. God the Son existed in eternity. He was there in eternity without change, and in time He passed through a process for the sake of redemption. But He Himself never changed, for He is eternal.
As the Eternal One, God is Omniscient and Omnipresent
As the Eternal One, God is omniscient; which means He is all-knowing, and He is omnipresent, meaning He is present everywhere at once. He is unlimited. At the same time that He is in Los Angeles, He is also in Taiwan. There is no place He is not.
Furthermore, because He is eternal, with God there is nothing called time. He appeared to us in time to call us, but He Himself is the One who exists in eternity. In time we loved Him, and in time He deals with us. In time we go through all the processes. In time, eventually, we will say, “Lord, thank You that we have gained the crown of glory.” But do you realize, God would say, “That is what you experienced. It is not with Me.”
He Always Knows What We Are Going Through
Because of His omniscience and omnipresence, to all our problems and concerns, God can answer, “I know.” Remember how Jacob answered Joseph when Joseph thought Jacob didn’t know what he was doing when blessing Joseph’s two sons? Jacob answered, “I know, my son.” I like that word. You may ask the Lord, “How could you allow this to happen to me? Aren’t You aware?” God is always able to reply, “I know.” Some may cry out, “God, why is it like this?” God is able to reply, “I know.” Once you touch the eternal life, you are above all these things because, in this eternal life, there is the element of being unlimited. With this being unlimited there is eternity and there is the omnipresence. When you touch God, you touch the One who is here and who knows. You can even try to run away from God, but wherever you run to you will not be able to avoid God. God says, “Wherever you go, I’m there. If you want to enjoy Me, you can stay at home and it is the same.” Remember: our God is omnipresent. He is also omniscient. He is everywhere and He knows everything.
Eternal Life and Eternal Rest
What a rest you should have when you realize that you possess this eternal life. Lord, where shall I go from Your Spirit and where shall I flee from Your presence? (Psalm 139:7)” There is no need to make an effort to find God, for He is here already. Neither need you make any effort to run from God, for you cannot. And He knows everything about you, therefore He knows how to create whatever you need. The eternal life we possess is such a wonderful Person.
Today we need to lay hold an such an eternal life, until on that day we fully possess this life that is really life. This life that is really life is the uncreated life, it is the self-existing and ever-existing life, and it is the unlimited life with eternity. It is the life of the One Who is omnipresent and He is omniscient. He knows, and He is there.
Once you realize you possess such a life it should cause you to have a real restfulness. To lay hold on eternal life is not a doctrine. This life is not theoretical. To lay hold on life is not even an encouragement. It is a fact! There is such an eternal life in you. It is uncreated, self-existing, ever-existing, and unlimited. And in this unlimited life there is something called eternity. And in this unlimited life, you have the omnipresent One and the omniscience One. He is always there and He knows everything. Even in the middle of your improper behavior God is right there. God is sitting with you as you are watching television, and saying, “What a naughty boy.” God is there. Do we have the realization that we have such a Savior? This is our Savior. This is our Lord. We worship Him that He is the eternal life.
Laying Hold on Eternal Life
What does it mean to lay hold on eternal life? We were saved unto eternal life. Then we fight the good fight by laying hold on eternal life. Eventually in that day we will know what is really life. What does this mean? If you do not know how to experience Him and enjoy Him in this way, these verses will remain doctrinal to you. Praise the Lord, eternal life is here. And I’m so thankful, God is always here. And I’m so thankful, God knows exactly what is happening and what is the best for each one of us, and that He is able to create whatever I need. Actually God already planned out everything for us, we just have to walk in what He has planned and to take hold of this eternal life.
Divine Attributes Generate Corresponding Human Virtues
This eternal life is filled with many divine attributes. Usually we consider divine attributes and human virtues as two different things. Actually, divine attributes generate human virtues, and human virtues correspond to the divine attributes. What is the only way to be a truly virtuous man? By being filled with the divine attributes out of the eternal life. No matter how spiritual you are, when you are away from these divine attributes, your life cannot be virtuous. It is not easy to follow the Lord. This is why Paul told Timothy he had to lay hold on and gain the eternal life. If we do not do this, everything virtuous will be gone. But when you lay hold on eternal life, you enjoy all these divine attributes, and are able to live out a normal human life.
Our Living Must Come Out From Our Enjoyment of the Divine Attributes
You must realize that everything in your living must come from your enjoying and participating in the divine attributes. Your human living must embrace and be borne up by the divine attributes. In your daily life you should be constrained and moved by these attributes. Nothing of your talent, nothing of your ability, nothing of your capability, nothing of your smartness or brightness, and nothing of your education counts. They all have to go. A man that is useful before the Lord is a man filled with the divine attributes. These attributes must operate in you. They must be lived out through you. Such a living causes you to be a man of virtue. May we all experience being saturated with the Lord’s attributes.