The first thing we need to understand and remember is that the gift of God is not the ability to live forever. In fact, by almost any definition of living most people would give, even those who go to hell will live forever. So the Christian message becomes, “Come to Jesus so you can live forever in happiness or you will go to hell and live forever in torment.” (Of course, this is just what some are teaching.) Notice that the good news is about the quality, rather than the extent, of living.
And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:46
Now, before anyone writes, I know that the Scripture often puts eternal life in connection with the future, particularly the afterlife. So I want to be sure to acknowledge that sense of the term, but there is so much more. When Jesus spoke with the woman at the well, she was puzzled that He spoke to her. He had asked her for water. But Jesus used her question to make a point.
Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10
The gift of God must be something more than living forever, right? In fact, it seems to be directly related to the person of Jesus. This isn’t the only verse, in fact it gets better.
…the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:2-3
The eternal life “which was with the Father and was manifested to us.” What was that? How could the disciples see living forever? They didn’t—they saw Jesus! Jesus is the eternal life that was with the Father and came to us. Eternal life is a person.
And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:20
“This is the true God and eternal life.” Eternal life is a person! Jesus is our eternal life.
Chew on that for a while…