God Who Offers Eternal Life

The eternal life God offers to human beings is God himself. Yet God, although infinite and eternal, does not overwhelm or absorb us, but instead he gives himself to us, to be with us forever, to be in us, and to teach us everything. Because the eternal life God offers is God himself, if we wish to understand it, we need to understand something about who God is.

As Christians, to understand God, we look to Jesus. Jesus calls God his Father, and he himself is God’s only begotten son [John 3:16] conceived by the Holy Spirit [Luke 1:35]. Clearly Jesus is a different person from the Father and the Holy Spirit, and he refers to them throughout the Gospels as persons distinct from himself [John 1:32-33, 2:16, 3:8, 3:35, 7:39, 14:26, 15:1, Mark 8:38, Luke 1:35 and may other places]. Yet Jesus does not claim to be a separate god, as Ares is the son of Zeus, or Thor is the son of Odin. Jesus asserts God is one [Mark 12:29]. He says that no one knows the Father except the Son [Matthew 11:27, Luke 10:22], and no one sees the Father except the Son [John 6:46]. No one can come to the Son unless drawn by the Father [John 6:44], yet no one comes to the Father except through the Son [John 14:6]. The Father and the Son are one [John 10:30].

And there is more. Jesus uses for himself [John 8:58] God’s name as given to Moses [Exodus 3:14]. Jesus tells his followers the Father will send the Holy Spirit [John 14:26] and yet, without contradiction, Jesus himself baptizes with the Holy Spirit [John 1:33], and he personally breathes on the apostles, saying to them “Receive the Holy Spirit” [John 20:22]. Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will be sent “by the Father” [John 14:26] and also that Jesus himself will send the Spirit [John 15:26]. None of this is contradictory because Jesus is not a separate god, nor is the Holy Spirit a separate god. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all one God, and all of these things are consequences of their one-ness, their unity.

Jesus directly explains his unity with the Father in a conversation with Philip, one of his apostles:

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. [John 14:8-11]

Jesus’ mention of “works” here is a reference to the many miracles he performed, ranging from healing the sick, freeing the possessed, and raising the dead, of which Philip himself is a witness. Jesus knows it is difficult for Philip to understand that while Jesus prays to his Father and speaks of his Father and clearly is a separate person from his Father, that Jesus is yet one with the Father. To see Jesus is to see the Father.

The truth of three divine persons in one God is called by Christians the Trinity, from trius, Latin for three-fold. While three persons in one God may be hard to understand, as Jesus explained to Philip, it is yet so. Jesus’ explanation to Philip does not relax either the three-ness of the divine persons or the one-ness of God. Jesus simply points out that in the same way as miracles, which are things that seemingly cannot happen, do happen before Philip’s eyes, so three persons in one God, a thing which seemingly cannot be, is yet so. We should not be surprised: God is who he is, whether or not we find the details easy to understand.

Easily understood or not, the truth of the Trinity, three persons in one God, is vital to understanding how God can give himself as eternal life to us. Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit, are all one God. God wants us, human beings who follow Jesus, to share in his unity. Jesus prays to his Father these words:

The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, [John 17:22]

To make it happen, the Father sends to us the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus:

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. [John 14:26]

And yet this same sending of the Spirit is not just an act of the Father, it is also an act of Jesus himself:

When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. [John 15:26]

Jesus sends the Spirit to be with us and be in us:

This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. [John 14:17]

This gift of the Holy Spirit is eternal:

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. [John 14:16]

Let’s put this together. God sends to us himself, God the Holy Spirit, to live in us and to be with us forever. He is sent to us from God the Father and by God the Father. He is sent to us by, and in the name of Jesus, who is God the Son. Through God the Spirit, living with and in us, we share in God’s being, his unity, through the unity of the Spirit with Jesus and with the Father. This, then, is eternal life: God gives himself to us, to make us one as God himself is one.

What, then, are we to do with all this? My advice is simple. in Jesus, God offers us himself. Say Yes to the offer. Learn what Jesus is like. Listen to him. Follow him. Trust him. He will do the rest. God will be ours forever, and we his. We will never exhaust his goodness.

Agapios Theophilus

Agapios Theophilus

Agapios Theophilus is the "nom de plume" of a catholic layman who has loved Jesus from when, as a young boy in the 1970s, he first learned about him. His First Communion, at the age of seven, was the happiest day of his life, and he celebrates its anniversary each year. He lives in a large city with his beloved wife, two wonderful children, and an affectionate orange and white cat. He has no formal qualifications whatsoever to write about Jesus: he writes only because he has been given the great gift of knowing and loving him, and he would like others to come to know and love him too. See Agapios' posts at https://sites.google.com/view/agapios-theophilus and follow Agapios on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/a9apios

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