Sunday 21 July 2019

Heaven should be our primary concern: Jesus's Main message is his offer of everlasting/ eternal life

What is the main thing that Jesus taught? The answer from the Fourth Gospel (the most authoritative scripture) is that he brought the possibility of everlasting or eternal life; by which Jesus meant our immortal resurrection to life in Heaven.

In brief, the core of Christianity ought to be knowledge of Heaven, and the implications of this knowledge for this mortal life (including what we need to do if we want immortal Heavenly life for ourselves).

In support of this; I have collected the verses that specifically reference everlasting and eternal life in the Fourth Gospel. 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 

The essential teaching is summarised in the final verse of Chapter 20, ending the Gospel proper: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.


Jared said...

From this quotes it would appear that belief is primary. Even the summary or last quote emphasizes that point.
The quote that says 'whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood' or similar words also appears to be related to belief. So belief is really important to our eternal destiny.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Jared - Well there cannot be a true separation; but for modern people I think it may be more natural and comprehensible first step to think of the nature of Heavenly Life and (setting aside at first whether they believe it is real) consider whether it is, for them, a desired destiny.

If resurrected immortality as active participants in a loving and creative environment is something that they would desire to have for themselves (and their loved ones), then at that point they can consider whether it is true, whether possible, what to do etc.

And that could be 'where Jesus comes in'.

Of course, for some people love, faith and trust in Jesus can and does come first; but that way of explaining has been around a long time, and apparently it does not work for many people.

Also, there is the example of Jesus himself. A fair bit of his teaching in the fourth Gospel focuses on 'explaining' (in parables and 'poetic' comparisons) the nature of Heaven and its qualitative superiority to mortal life, and doing so as it were Before he explains that He Himself is the path to this Heavenly life.

David Smith said...

And an actionable definition of "Believe in Me" is, in a nutshell...and here I get stuck. Believe that He lived, died, rose, and ascended? Believe that he is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity? Believe that He can give me eternal life in a risen state?

John 14:15 (If you love me, keep my commandments) seems more actionable, as long as I correctly parse and interpret which of the Master's statements are commandments. I can certainly take a shot at that, and get no end of suggestions, even if I limit myself to the Gospel attributed to John.

I am utterly and entirely sincere in asking this...

Bruce Charlton said...

@DS - You might read my mini-book Lazarus Writes to get a fuller explanation of what this means - - but you will also need to examine your own assumptions concerning the nature of the world; and recognise that it is your unexamined assumptions that make you feel that these words are false or irrelevant.

For example, Believe (for Jesus) is a complex and multiple word, more like a word in poetry than a technical term. It is like a child 'believing-in' his mother - this means something like loving, trusting, *knowing* that his mother loves him and has his best interests at heart; so that (n practice) he will do what his mother says even when he does not understand. It is in this kind of sense that we need to Follow Jesus; but as adults we must consciously choose to do so.

This entails that we need experience of a personal relatinship with Jesus, and must believe that this is possible and meaningful - whereas to most modern people that is nonsense (although a relationship with a divine being has Not been nonsense to most people who have ever lived, or to most people in the world even now).

And 'commandments' - you probably think of these as being like laws, or military orders; to be (passively) obeyed. But the concept is actually much broader. But Jesus (in the Fourth Gospel) gradually makes clear that this is wrong, that commandments to love cannot be understood as 'commands' - because real love cannot be compelled; but are something more like the basic principles that we must actively choose to live-by.

Ultimately we each must choose whether or not to align our-selves with God and creation. But before that choice can be meaningful, we need to know what is 'on offer'; and that has become impossible to understand for those who accept the materialism, positivism, scientism of mainstream modern life.

In other words, you - like most people - are trapped by several false assumptions, which you do not even realise are assumptions; you simply take them for granted or imagine they are 'proven facts'. Because there are *several* false assumptions, they cannot coherently be challenged one at a time; but you must develop a complex and multiple simultaneous insight. A kind of 'conversion'.

And only you can do this, and it must actively be done.