Eternal life is a concept many people don’t think about until it’s either too late or they’re laying on their death bed.
To understand what might happen after we die, we have to look at this through many different lenses.
The truth is, no one dies they just step through a door to the spiritual realm.
The question is which door do you step through?
Do your beliefs or the way you lived affect life after death?
This is a really important concept to dig into because if life goes on after our physical death…. then this is the most important question you or I can wrestle with.
It’s made even more important by the fact that most religions believe our actions and/or beliefs in this life will affect us in the next life.
I’m going to be a little more vulnerable in this post than usual.
The uncertainty, the unknown, and the fear of this pandemic has made me dive deeper into my beliefs about eternal life and start asking hard questions.
I thought maybe some of those thoughts would be beneficial to somebody else.
So I have no outline, I’m going to just pull on this thread and see where it takes us.
What is Eternal Life?
Eternal means something lasts forever.
Hence, eternal life means a life that goes on forever (even after physical death).
We’re not talking zombies and vampires here.
And until somebody finds the fabled fountain of youth (which is purported to give eternal life on earth), we’ll have to settle with the idea of eternal life in the afterlife.
Is Eternal Life Real?
This question has no answer that can be known for sure until we die.
Yes, I believe I know the answer for sure, but so does an atheist.
So death will reveal the answer (or it won’t if we cease to exist).
Asking this question is like asking all those other questions without definitive answers such as:
– Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
– If a tree falls in the woods, and nobody is there to hear it… does it make a sound?
– Why does quicksand work slowly?
– Are eyebrows considered facial hair?
You get my point.
We could go around in circles on any of these questions.
But if you’re here, I’m assuming your interested in learning what you can, so I’m going to share my thoughts on it and you can make up your own mind.
People often want to lean on science for spiritual matters.
There is a huge flaw with thinking that science can explain an alternative spiritual dimension though.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica (1), science is:
“Any system of knowledge that is concerned with the physical world and its phenomena and that entails unbiased observations and systematic experimentation. the study of the physical realm.”
This means the entire field of study called science, really isn’t set up to give us any answers to anything outside the physical realm.
If you study sound waves, gravity, air movement, brainwaves, etc…
These are all invisible forces but they are still a part of our physical reality.
The spirit world, if it exists is completely outside that reality.
To try to study it with the tool of science would be like putting a hammer on the shelf and saying “this is my new wireless connection”.
It just won’t work and it doesn’t make sense to try.
In addition, if there’s a God of the universe who designed everything (which I believe there is), we can’t force our rules on God.
We can kick and scream and throw a tantrum because we want the world set up differently, but it won’t change anything.
We must live, study, and struggle in the world as it was created.
If God created the universe with a spiritual dimension that is outside the laws of science (and invisible to science) specifically to be accessible only by faith…
Then there is nothing we can do to make it accessible by something else such as scientific study.
We must accept it as it is.
That being said, I think there are some other concepts that can give us some insight into the reality of eternal life.
The Concept of a Soul or Spirit
The idea of a soul or spirit that lives on after death is widely accepted.
Not everyone accepts it, but it is a part of many religions and belief systems.
Even those who are not religious but may consider themselves spiritual believe in the concept of a soul.
For example, people who go to fortune tellers or try to connect with the spirit world.
This wouldn’t be possible if they didn’t believe in the premise that once a person dies, their soul lives on.
All you need to know about this for this discussion is that if there is indeed an eternal life or existence after death, it is the soul or spirit of the person that moves on to this reality.
How does the Ankh Symbol for Eternal Life Factor in?
It’s also important to discuss the symbol for eternal life which is the Ankh.
Basically, it looks like a cross with a loop at the top.
The Ankh symbol dates back to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.
It was the symbol for “life” or the “breath of life”.
The Egyptians believed that people had eternal life and our journey on earth was only part of that life (2).
I believe the symbol is a great clue into the validity of eternal life and I’ll discuss that in the next section.
The important thing for now is just to realize that the idea of an afterlife and immortality for the soul goes back…. way back.
What About Jesus?
This character arrived on the scene 2,000+ years ago and he had quite a bit to say about eternal life.
As a historical figure, we know that Jesus was a real man and most that facts about his life are true as presented in the gospels.
I won’t go into this too much, but from a historical perspective, we have more documentation on Jesus than just about any other historical person in history.
That evidence comes from both Christian and also non-christian or secular sources (3).
So we know Jesus was here, what did he teach about eternal life?
John tells us that Jesus taught eternal life was available if you believed in him as the Son of God.For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16 Click To Tweet
The Problem with Jesus
Many religions claim to be able to show you how to get your ticket punched for eternal life.
In fact, most of them claim to have a way but also admit there are other ways.
The thinking goes, you have to find a way that works for you.
But Jesus said, this isn’t the way it works.
That’s a big reason why Jesus and Christianity is so problematic.
Jesus is recorded in John 14:6 as saying:I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (Jesus) Click To Tweet
If we want to get to the bottom of eternal life, we’re going to have to wrestle with the teachings of Jesus.
He was a man for sure.
But was he the Son of God as he claimed or just a man?
That is a very important distinction.
Often people bypass this question by labeling Jesus was a great teacher and never tackling the teachings of this great teacher.
Jesus as a Great Teacher & Wise Sage
C.S. Lewis was a prominent writer most widely known for his Chronicles of Narnia series.
He was also a devout atheist who set out to prove the that Jesus was not who he claimed to be.
This journey led him to eventually changing his mind about Jesus.
It also led him to the best insight into the claims Jesus made that I’ve ever heard.
In his book Mere Christianity (affiliate link), Lewis writes:
“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher… Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.”
Basically, Jesus said some things require us to either accept him as who he claimed to be or write him off as a madman.
Jesus and The Resurrection
This brings us to the hinge that Christianity and the ultimate answer about eternal life hangs on…. the resurrection of Jesus.
Was Jesus crucified?
Did he overcome death and resurrect himself?
This is a question for another article because I can’t possibly cover it completely here.
Like C.S Lewis, I once believed there was nothing after death.
After putting aside my biases, looking at the facts, and applying reason, I too changed my standpoint.
Besides, you have better odds this way and self-preservation goes a long way.
If you don’t believe Jesus and it’s true, you have an eternal life of damnation in hell coming your way.
That’s pretty risky, eternal life in hell.
On the other hand, if you do choose to follow him there is no risk.
If it turns out to be true, you have eternal life in heaven.
If it turns out to be a myth… you won’t care because you’ll cease to exist.
Either way, you win.
If this was a casino, you’d put your chips on Jesus every time.
It’s the best possible bet.
That being said, I want to lay out a few reasons I believe Jesus does indeed hold the keys to eternal life.
Jesus as The Only Way to Eternal Life
Point 1: The Cross
We already talked about the Ankh.
This is a symbol for eternal life that goes back thousands of years.
Jesus was crucified on a cross which is very similar to that symbol.
I think it would be difficult to pull of a hoax in which you claim to be the Son of God, get people to follow your lead, and then eventually are put to death on something that just happens to resemble the most widely known symbol for life up until that point.
On top of that, if this was a conspiracy, using the symbol of the cross would never have become a thing for the early church after this incident.
That’s because the idea of the cross would carry the same meaning as the electric chair today.
The only way you would use it is if it had some super-significance…. like… yeah, the government executed him, we buried the body, then he came back to life!
Point 2: Who found the Empty Empty Tomb
Also, if this were a conspiracy, the writers of the gospels would have never made up a story in which the first people to find the missing body were women.
Women were not viewed the same way during that time as they are today.
A women being the first person to find out the body was gone would be considered un-realiable.
That is precisely why it probably happened the way it did.
If it were a conspiracy, the facts would have been changed to be more palatable.
Point 3: The Lack of a Dead Body
One thing hasn’t changed since then.
When somebody dies, there is a physical body.
Let’s look at it through the lens of today.
Imagine for a moment you’re the leader of the most powerful country in the world at the time, the Roman Empire.
Now imagine executing who you have deemed a cult leader.
Then, his followers come back a few days later and say… actually, it didn’t work, he’s alive.
How hard would it be to disprove that claim?
It would be easy, especially in that time period.
You have to remember there were no coffins, just tombs with rocks in front of them.
All the Roman Empire had to do was exhume the body…. but the didn’t.
Point 4: The Roman Military Guard
That brings to a point I hear sometimes by people who are trying to make their argument work.
“Well, maybe the disciples stole the body”.
During that time period, the Roman army was the most powerful military presences in the world.
We know that this was something the government at the time considered to be a risk because they knew Jesus had said he would rise again in 3 days.
So Roman soldiers were sent by Pontius Pilate (the governor) to guard the tomb and make it as “secure as they knew how” (4).
This was an important point for me when I was struggling with the question of Jesus and eternal life.
I mean, let’s assume the U.S. Military set up a guard of anything and made it “as secure as they knew how”.
Is it even feasible to believe that myself and a bunch of friends could overtake the military (and do it so quietly that there was no proof or evidence it happened)?
Take me out of the equation.
Could a cult leader and a few followers do it?
During my time of self-searching, I did quite a bit of study on how a Roman guard was set up when they secured an area.
It was precise, it was their best officers, it was in formation, and they rotated sleep and watch so everybody was rested all the time.
I don’t think the disciples overpowered the Roman equivalent of the U.S. Navy Seals and got the body from the tomb without taking any casualties or leaving any evidence of their ultimate heist.
Point 5: Witnesses Galore
There were a ton of witnesses.
Counting the disciples and specific named people, historical texts and documentation points to a total of 516 people who witnessed Jesus alive after the crucifixion (5).
If this was a court case and 516 people testified to seeing the defendant do the crime, he or she would be convicted.
It’s simply too much evidence to ignore.
I was an alternate juror on a murder trial that went on for weeks.
The guy was convicted and there weren’t anywhere close to 500 witnesses.
Not even close. If I had to guess (this was a few years ago), I would say there were less than 10.
Those 10 didn’t see it happen but saw him immediately after the incident and what they saw and heard pointed to him as the culprit.
516 people is a lot of people to be in agreement.
It’s a bigger number than you think when you’re talking about corroborating a story.
Point 6: The Flaky Disciples and the After Party
This was the final nail in the coffin for me.
People are people and most people lack courage.
Especially if they don’t believe in something.
I’ve lived long enough to know how people behave.
Let’s assume Jesus and his merry men were actually a cult led by a crazy man, as C.S. Lewis says he would have to be if he wasn’t the Christ.
What actually happened.
The Roman government got one of his followers to betray him.
They took Jesus into custody and then executed him very publicly.
As soon as Jesus was taken into custody, the followers ran away like little pansies.
They didn’t want to be associated with him in any way.
The one who betrayed Jesus tried to give back the blood money and then committed suicide.
3 days later, the followers tried to convince everybody he came back from the dead.
I believe the facts I discussed up to this point already point to the resurrection being true and accurate.
But let’s assume for a moment you don’t buy it.
All this just isn’t enough evidence for you.
If this was the end of the story, we would just have to disagree.
But to me, the next part is the strongest evidence of all.
What Happened After Jesus Resurrection
After the alleged resurrection, Judas (the betrayer) killed himself, and the other followers (aka disciples or apostles) decided to change their story.
They started going around and boldly spreading the message that Jesus rose from the dead.
Now, at this point the Roman government decides they’ve had enough.
We crucified this Jesus guy and his entourage are trying to claim he came back from the dead and that he is, in fact, the son of God.
Of course, as I already mentioned, they never produce a dead body as evidence that the followers claims are a lie but they do take action.
They basically start to tell these followers, “Hey, you saw what we did to Jesus… Shut your mouth or you’re next”.
You would think these 11 remaining disciples who ran away like cowards when Jesus was arrested, would stay silent, shut up, and move on.
The cult’s been disbanded, they were hosed by a charismatic leader, and now they feel stupid.
100% of them suddenly become emboldened for the rest of their lives.
They refuse to shut up or shut down their teachings.
In fact, they ramp it up and try to take their message into every crevice of the known world.
In the end, all 11 of them were put to death for failure to comply and keep their mouths shut.
In fact, history and tradition document Peter as being crucified upside down because he said he wasn’t worthy of being killed in the same manner as Jesus Christ.
Let’s look at the ramifications of all this.
If the followers stole the body or this was some elaborate hoax, there’s absolutely no way 11 people would stick to a story they know is a lie and not falter from that story even if they are put to death for it.
If you’re offering torture and death, you’d be hard pressed under normal circumstances to find 11 people who wouldn’t change their story even if it was true.
They say that torturing people for the truth doesn’t work because studies have found that people say whatever they think the torturers want to hear in order to live and make the pain stop.
Why didn’t this happen in this situation?
How did 11 seemingly normal (and historically cowardly) men flip a switch in their brain and suddenly be sold out to something all the way to the point of being killed for it?
Well, my humble opinion is that there was either some crazy time-traveling Tony Robbins Jedi mind tricks going on here or….
Jesus was the Son of God, sent to earth to redeem us of our sins and give us eternal life.
What you believe is ultimately up to you, God gives us total freedom to choose redemption, salvation, and eternal life… or not.
Lastly, I want to share some scriptures on this and encourage you to read them and just listen.
Listen for God and pray that God will reveal himself to you.
You can pray this prayer,
“God, I don’t know if you’re real. I don’t know if Jesus was your son or if I’m confused… I need your help. If you are real, please reveal yourself to me.”
Then listen for God to move in your heart.
It is no accident you are on this page.
It’s a divine appointment.
Eternal Life Scriptures and
Bible Verses About Eternal Life
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) Click To Tweet 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. (John 5:13) Click To Tweet For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23) Click To Tweet
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:28-30)The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:17) Click To Tweet
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3)So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 2:18) Click To Tweet
We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. (John 5:20)And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (1 John 5:11) Click To Tweet Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Tim 6:12) Click To Tweet Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. (John 3:36) Click To Tweet
If after reading all this, you want to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, and by doing so recieve the eternal life he has promised, let me show you how to do that step by step.
Jason & Daniele
Questions? Feel free to email me at the address below: