Over and over, scripture tells us that eternal life is available only through Jesus Christ. Jesus was asked on numerous occasions, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Thus, it is something to obtain, not something we already have. I mentioned John 3:16 and Romans 6:23 in my last post, which you may wish to read again with that idea in mind. Also, look at the following two verses:
- Galatians 6:8 - The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
- 2 Timothy 2:10 - Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
If we already have an eternal soul, and it’s just a matter of where we spend eternity (heaven or hell), then Romans 6:23 would probably read more like this: For the wages of sin is eternal torment, and the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Instead, the two concepts are juxtaposed against each other with that little word “but."
Granted, there are several places in scripture where an argument could be made for the eternal torment idea. Remember, the doctrine of eternal torment has been ingrained in the church for more than a thousand years. All of our modern translations are translated with that mindset as a basis. This is why you need to dig into the original languages, to see what they are really saying. Remember the unquenchable fire from my last post? Mark 9:45 says, “And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell (the word Jesus used was Gehenna), into the fire that shall never be quenched.”
Often it is our doctrinal filter; that is, what we already believe about something, that tells us what a particular verse is saying. Take this verse, for example: Matthew 25:46 – “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Your doctrinal filter can tell you that the flames will torment you forever, or your doctrinal filter can tell you that the punishment, destruction, is final – forever, the eternal effect of an act.
Yeshua didn't come to save us from hell, He came to save us for the kingdom, where we will live in immortality and enjoy His gift of eternal life. Turning away from sin and trusting in His shed blood is the ONLY way to obtain it.
Still with me? Part 4 can be found HERE.