THOUGHTS FROM JOHN’S LETTERS

2 THE WORD OF LIFE

In 1John 1:1 – 3 John refers to Jesus Christ as ‘the Word of life’, ‘the life’ and ‘the eternal life’.

There is no doubt in John’s mind that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, the source of all life, and the giver of all life.

When John speaks of Jesus Christ as the source of life, this is true not only of physical life, but also, importantly, of ‘eternal life’:

‘And this is what he promised us – even eternal life’ – 1John 2:25.

‘And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life’ – 1John 5:11, 12.

‘I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life’ – 1John 5:13.

‘He is the true God and eternal life’ – 1John 5:20.

This truth that Jesus Christ is the source of life is repeatedly affirmed by John in his gospel:

‘In him was life, and that life was the light of men’ – John 1:4.

‘For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself’ – John 5:26.

‘For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world ... I am the bread of life... I am the living bread that came down from heaven.’ – John 6: 33, 35,51.

‘I am the resurrection and the life ...’ – John 11:25.

'I am ... the life’ – John 14:6.

‘Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent’ – John 17:3.

But, unlike our physical life, which we all have received from his hand, and which began before we were born, eternal life is not something that we can take for granted. It is not something that we are born with. Rather, it is something we are born without. The Bible teaches that because of sin, both the sin of our first ancestor, Adam (Romans 5:12), and our own sins (Ephesians 2:1 – 5), we are spiritually dead. We are separated from God, the source of spiritual life.

A change in our relationship with God has to take place before we experience ‘eternal life’, a change that is expressed in our response to Jesus Christ.

John puts it this way:

It is to those who believe in him that eternal life is given – John 3:16.

It is those who come to him who are permanently satisfied spiritually – John 5:35.

It is those who follow him who never walk in darkness but have the light of life – John 8:12.

It is those who believe in him who live, even though they die – John 11:25.

It is those who believe that Jesus is the Christ who are born of God – 1John 5:1.

It is those who believe in the name of the Son of God who have eternal life – 1John 5:13.

To know Jesus Christ is to know God (John 14:5 – 9). To believe in Jesus Christ is to believe in God (John 12:44). To see Jesus Christ is to see God (John 12:45). The flesh and blood Jesus whom John clearly remembers (1John 1:1 – 3) is none other than the true God (1John 5:20).

To have received Jesus Christ, to have believed in him, is also to have received eternal life. John puts it very clearly:

‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him’ (John 3:36).

©Rosemary Bardsley 2021