Meditations in 1 John : 62 : Source of Life
1 John 5:11-13 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. 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 is strong on testimonies. We’ve seen it from the outset of this letter and now he refers to testimony again and again here – six times in verses 9 to 11. Remember what a testimony is – a record of what someone has seen or heard, what they know because they witnessed it. Now, says John, this is what I know because it has been conveyed to us: “God has given us eternal life.” Perhaps because we see this so often in the New Testament or we’ve heard it said so often, we take it for granted, but it is a question that worries people throughout the world: is this all there is? What happens after death? According to the testimony of the New Testament, for the believer at least, life carries on and has no end. That is what this says.
But, might come the question, how can this be? Why should life carry on after death? Is it automatic? Is it just how things are, or is it conditional? Back comes the answer: “this life is in his Son.” What does that mean? It means that Jesus is eternal, as part of the Godhead for God is eternal, He has no beginning or end (and yes, our minds cannot grasp that concept but that doesn’t stop it being true). So when we became a Christian, as we’ve noted many times in these studies, He puts his own Holy Spirit into us and we are united with Him. Our spirit is knit together with His.
So when John goes on, “He who has the Son has life,” he means that he (or she) who has received Jesus into their life has Jesus ‘life’ (eternal life!) in them, because he has been dwelling in them throughout their time on earth since they became a Christian. His presence in them takes the real them (the real us is more than just the body) on after what we call death when the physical body stops operating. We often refer to our ‘soul’. That is the personality aspect of our spirit and so the real me, that is more than just the physical body, continues to exist, linked with Jesus’ spirit, after death. In fact it goes on and on. This is eternal life, life without end.
Does this happen for everyone, someone might ask. No, is John’s answer, “he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” If you have not received Jesus into your life, if you have not received his Holy Spirit into your very being, you do not have this eternal energy within you to take you on into eternity. Is there nothing for this person, therefore, after death? Do they simply cease to be? No, the Bible indicates that each and every one of us will have to appear before God after death and account for how we have lived.
For those who have rejected God’s overtures to them throughout their lives, there is a clear indication that there is nothing about God or living on in His presence that would appeal to them, and therefore He conforms to their wishes and they cease to live in His presence. The concept of hell is quite clear in the New Testament, as either a place of exclusion from God’s presence or a place of destruction (views differ). The graphic pictures that Jesus painted of it, simply scream at us, you don’t want this! Who, in their right mind, would reject the wonder of living in the presence of wonderful God in a most glorious existence? Only someone who is so blinded by sin and self-centredness!
But there may be believers who are uncertain about their future, which is why John continues, “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.” i.e. if you are a believer, if you have invited Jesus into your life, realise that this does mean that you have eternal life. After death you have the wonder of an incredible life continuing on with no restrictions of Sin, Satan or Self. There, united to God, you will enjoy the wonder of all the goodness that God brings to you without restriction. It is, in reality, beyond our comprehension, at this moment. It is rather like a blind man trying to understand colour. We hear or read the words of the New Testament, and our minds scrabble to grasp the wonder of it. But it will be ours and it will be wonderful!