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Eternal Life and Salvation

Eternal Life and Salvation

Postby steve » Tue Dec 26, 2017 12:44 pm

I received the following email question, and am posting my response for the forum readership, inviting improvement, correction, and general feedback.


Steve,

While reading through the Old Testament and the New Testament I sometimes encounter the phrase “Eternal Life” and, sometimes, the word “Salvation.” Do these two topics mean the same thing? or do the have a different meaning.

Dan




Hi Dan,

“Eternal life” is the life of Christ given to those who are in Him (1 John 5:11-12). This life is not only everlasting, but is of a different nature from our native life. It is the life of God imparted, by the Holy Spirit, to humans in order to make them children of God, and to enable them to become like Christ internally and externally.

Salvation is definitely a word that, at least, overlaps the meaning of this phenomenon, but when people think of "eternal life" merely as an endless extension of natural human life, then they usually are focusing only upon the post-mortem benefits of salvation.

While you will find no scripture speaking of "salvation" as, specifically, a rescue from hell, there are numerous passages mentioning that Christ saves (delivers, rescues) us from sin, from an aimless and unprofitable life, and from bondage to the sinful world (e.g., Matt.1:21; Rom.6:18, 22; 1 Peter.1:18; Gal.1:4).

The classic metaphor for salvation, in the teaching of Christ, is that of something that was "lost" as having been "found." In Luke 15, the examples of a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost (the "prodigal") son—all being recovered by the one who had lost them— are intended to represent such salvation.

Thus, "salvation" involves restoration, not mere rescue. In the parables, referenced above, the focus is not so much upon the loss felt by the lost object or person as upon the loss to the owner/father, and upon the rejoicing of that person upon the recovery of what was valued and missed.

In biblical salvation, what is recovered is the proper relationship between the believer and God Himself. This restoration involves the correction of all that was wrong in the relationship prior to salvation. It includes a life brought under proper subjection and obedience to Christ as Lord and King.

Salvation, thus, restores the Creator/creature relationship, in which the latter renders proper honor, worship and submission to the former. It also involves a trusting daily relationship, involving the acknowledgement of God's authority in the direction of all one's ways, and the presentation of requests to God with the expectation of their being granted according to His will.

In general, salvation reorients the entire life goals and values in accord with those of God Himself. The call of the Gospel is never represented in scripture as a call to go to heaven, but as a call to the kingdom and glory of God (e.g., 1 Thess.2:12; Eph.1:6, 12, 14).

As sin itself is described as having "fallen short of the glory of God" (Rom.3:23), so salvation restores in us the proper concern that God should be glorified in all that we do (e.g., Matt.5:16; 1 Cor.10:31). Anything less than this is less than what the Bible means when talking about salvation.

Blessings!

Steve Gregg
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Re: Eternal Life and Salvation

Postby dwight92070 » Thu Dec 28, 2017 3:01 pm

Steve,
I found your explanation very helpful. One comment: I don't see the words "eternal life" anywhere in the Old Testament, unless I am missing something. However, the word "salvation" is all over both the Old and New Testaments. I guess this makes sense because eternal life is in Christ and He didn't appear in the flesh until He came to bring the New Covenant. There's probably more to this truth that I don't see right now.

Dwight
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Re: Eternal Life and Salvation

Postby steve » Thu Dec 28, 2017 8:47 pm

The Old Testament does not, in fact, say much about eternal life.

Daniel 12:2 has the phrase.

Psalm 21:4 speaks of "length of days forever and ever that God had given to David. Though this probably is typical hyperbole, it could possibly be a reference to an early hope of immortality. The words "immortality" and "immortal" are not found in the Old Testament.

Psalm 133:3 also speaks of "life forevermore", though the context makes its meaning obscure.
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Re: Eternal Life and Salvation

Postby willowtree » Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:42 pm

In another thread earlier this year or maybe last year in a discussion about the use of the word 'eternal' it occurred to me that the descriptor 'eternal' may not refer such much to the length of time but to the permanence of the choice that determined our destiny.
Our life on earth affords us the opportunity to respond to the call of the gospel and make a decision that affects our lasting destiny. Upon death or the return of Christ that opportunity is over. The NT tells us that Today is the day of salvation, and Paul reminds us that 'he that endures to the end shall be saved'. Both emphasize that our life here on earth requires diligence and responsibility in respect to our eternal status. The descriptions of those destinies, including some parables, contain elements that when judgement is given, there is no further recourse for change.
I personally have a lot of difficulty in imagining what eternity is like if there is no concept of the passing of time - there is no day or night, days, months or years. I have much more concern about the permanence of the decisions I make and how it will affect a non-changeable future.

Graeme
God, who is Rich in mercy, made us Alive with Christ, Even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by GRACE you have been saved. Eph 2:4.
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Re: Eternal Life and Salvation

Postby dwight92070 » Fri Dec 29, 2017 2:12 pm

It appears to me that in the next life, there may be the "passing of time". Revelations says in one place that "there was silence in heaven, about the space of half an hour", suggesting time. The souls of those who were beheaded ask the Lord how long must they wait before He judges those who killed them, implying the passing of time. There will be "no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it", but it does not say that the sun and the moon will cease to exist. (Revelation 21:22-27) I may be interpreting these verses out of context, but that's how it appears.
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Re: Eternal Life and Salvation

Postby willowtree » Fri Dec 29, 2017 7:44 pm

hi Dwight,
We may indeed need clocks in heaven. My comment was more of a comparison than a definitive statement. Maybe I have been guilty of developing my theology from the hymn book - 'When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more...'
When the beheaded ones ask the question, it seems to me that they do so at a time when life is still being observed on earth, as the answer given seems to imply that. As for the silence in heaven for about half an hour, in my imagination I figured that would be about the time that Jesus said "I am headed back to the earth to get the remaining living believers and take care of sin for ever. Is there anyone who wants to come?" The silence descended because all the noisy redeemed took up the offer and went with Jesus (Rev 19). But I know this is heavy on imagination and very light on sound exegesis.

Graeme
God, who is Rich in mercy, made us Alive with Christ, Even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by GRACE you have been saved. Eph 2:4.
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