The Gift of Eternal Life

God wants to give us eternal life. But what will a life without end be like? Does the Bible give us a glimpse of what it will be like living forever in the Kingdom of God?

God created mankind for a specific purpose. We were not made after the animal kinds, but after the God kind. Mankind was created in the image and likeness of God Himself (Genesis 1:26).

Simply put, God is reproducing Himself! Unlike the animals, mankind can plan, design, create beautiful music, analyze complex problems, and so on—making us intelligent and creative like God. God did not give men and women this incredible mind power for just a temporary physical life. God’s ultimate plan is for us to use these abilities as spirit beings living forever in His Kingdom. Through Jesus Christ, we are given “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

If we respond to God’s calling through Jesus Christ—meaning if we repent of our sins and seek the righteousness of God (Acts 2:38; Matthew 6:33)—the character we develop will carry over into eternity. For additional study on why God created us, see the articles in the “What Is the Meaning of Life?” section of our website.

Grasping eternity

Eternity is a hard concept for us to understand. We live in a world where life has a beginning and an end. We are born, and we die. Yet God says He inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15).

The time-bound physical universe you and I live in was created by God, who has no beginning or end. Our minds just can’t comprehend that. God says our minds are presently very limited, and there is so much we cannot fully grasp, including eternity (Isaiah 55:9).

But even though we don’t fully understand eternity, we desire to live forever. God has put that desire in our hearts because His will is for us to become spirit as He is and enjoy eternity with Him.

Partaking of the divine nature

The spirit realm where God and the angels exist is unimaginably better than the physical realm we live in. It is so incredible that the mere presence, power and glory of spirit beings can overwhelm our frail human bodies. Of course, sometimes God muted His or the angels’ glory to allow people to interact. But consider these examples:

When Moses asked God to show him His glory, God said that no one could look upon Him and live (Exodus 33:18, 20). When God’s presence entered the temple during Solomon’s time, the priests could not physically enter the temple because of the brilliance and splendor of God’s glory (2 Chronicles 7:1-2). And when the apostle John saw in a vision the glorified body of Jesus Christ, he was so overwhelmed that he fainted (Revelation 1:12-14, 15-17).

Even the angels can be overwhelming to mankind. When an angel appeared to Daniel, the angel’s appearance caused him to faint (Daniel 10:5-6, 7-9). And when an angel came to roll back the stone at Christ’s tomb, the battle-hardened Roman soldiers shook with fear and also fainted (Matthew 28:1-4).

Yet God promises to give those who repent and follow Him new, glorious spirit bodies. “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2, emphasis added throughout).

It is only with new, imperishable spirit bodies that we can join God in the spirit realm. “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does corruption inherit incorruption. … For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:50, 53).

As we step into eternity, we will be changed into immortal spirit beings. Our physical bodies will be transformed into spirit bodies, sharing the brilliance of God’s glory (Romans 8:16-18). Our glorious bodies will shine like the sun in full strength (Matthew 13:43; Daniel 12:3).

When we are clothed with these glorified bodies, we will neither get tired nor need to sleep (Psalm 121:4; Isaiah 40:28). We will be strong, full of energy and feel forever young. We will never have to deal with the effects of an aging or disabled human body anymore. We can look forward to an eternity of being like God.

A life of work and recreation

A popular belief of modern Christianity is that those who have lived a good life will go to heaven when they die, play harps and just look at the face of Jesus for all eternity. But such a sedentary life is not what the Bible teaches. Rather, God’s Word talks about an incredible future that surpasses anything we can imagine!

Living in eternity is not going to be a life of doing nothing, nor will eternity get boring. Living in the Kingdom of God will be full of joy and pleasures.Living in eternity is not going to be a life of doing nothing, nor will eternity get boring. Living in the Kingdom of God will be full of joy and pleasures (Psalm 16:11).

For many of us, work can be difficult and tiring, and is often not pleasurable. The Bible explains that work became burdensome because of sin (Genesis 3:17-19).

Though work can be difficult, working is good, and God created man both to work and to do good works (Genesis 2:15; Ephesians 2:10).

Even God the Father and Jesus Christ work and plan to work in the future (John 5:17; Isaiah 62:11). God’s past work includes the creation of the vast universe for His purpose, and His present work includes bringing many sons and daughters to glory (Hebrews 2:10).

Part of the reward of working is enjoying the fruit of one’s labor (Ecclesiastes 3:13). God enjoys the fruit of His labor (Isaiah 55:11), and we, too, will enjoy the fruit of our labor as spirit beings.

The apostle Paul tells us that the creation is “eagerly” waiting for the appearance of the children of God so it can be “delivered from the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:19-22). This will be part of the “restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21). Psalm 102:25-26 also speaks of this restoration, and its ultimate manifestation is in “a new heaven and a new earth” found in Revelation 21:1.

Living into eternity will involve lots of truly meaningful work. The Bible reveals that there will be no end to the increase of God’s government (Isaiah 9:10). So, whatever work we will be involved in will not be burdensome like it often is today, but will be enjoyable and rewarding.

Recreation will also be a part of our life as we live into eternity. Even God enjoys recreation. For example, we enjoy going to music concerts, and God, too, enjoys music. The angels often sing to Him, and He enjoys hearing us sing to Him as well.

A life of rulership

When God created Adam and Eve, He told them to “fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Later God said, “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it” (2:15). And God even brought the animals to Adam so he could name them (verse 19).

Mankind was created to have authority and to rule.

For now God has given mankind stewardship only on this earth (Psalm 115:16). But God’s intent goes beyond this physical earth. This earth is merely a training ground for something so much bigger that God has in store for us.

King David asked God this question: “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:3-6).

We have to first begin to be faithful stewards in small things before we can be entrusted to rule more. God intends to give man dominion over the entire physical universe by putting “all things under his feet”!God gave man rulership over this earth as a first area of dominion. We have to first begin to be faithful stewards in small things before we can be entrusted to rule more. God intends to give man dominion over the entire physical universe by putting “all things under his feet”!

Even now, part of the angelic realm’s responsibility is to help mankind—the heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:13-14). And into eternity the angels will be helping God’s glorified children who will then be greater in power and glory (2:5).

Concerning mankind’s future inheritance, Christ said, “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon [wealth, money], who will commit to you the true riches?” (Luke 16:11).

These true riches are things we cannot presently comprehend. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Note what the writer of Hebrews added after he quoted Psalm 8:

“But now we do not yet see all things put under him” (Hebrews 2:8).

As we step into eternity, things will be put under man’s authority that aren’t specifically spelled out in the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2). Perhaps that is because our limited minds can’t comprehend them now. Yes, the future promises to be amazingly magnificent indeed!

The saints’ unique place in eternity

Those God has called in this present age who have repented of their sins and followed God fully will have leadership positions when Christ returns.

These saints are referred to as God’s jewels, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, and future kings and priests (Malachi 3:16-17; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; 5:10).

They will be in the New Jerusalem, working with and dwelling with the Father and Son. They will even have specific titles and names given to them (Revelation 3:12; 20:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Matthew 5:5).

And as leaders in the Kingdom of God, these saints will serve God, Christ and the rest of God’s children for all eternity.

Even today, God’s chosen people have the seed of eternity dwelling in them through God’s Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2 Corinthians 5:1-5).

An eternity of unity

Unlike the world we live in today, there will be never-ending peace in the Kingdom of God (Isaiah 9:7). The Bible has a lot to say about the oneness of the Father and Son, and it is that same oneness in mind and spirit that God’s children are to have now (John 17:11, 20-26).

Those who will live into eternity will be one with God because they have willingly chosen to follow His commandments, which are simply a reflection of God’s nature (1 John 3:24).

Because there will be no self-serving attitudes, only oneness and a willingness to submit to God’s eternal authority, unity and perfect harmony will exist forever.

Yes, the God who inhabits eternity gave us life so we can share His glory and reign with Him as His children forever!

Take time to look at the night sky and ponder your future. Indeed, a glorious and unimaginable future awaits each of us when we step into eternity. And not only do we long for that day, even God looks forward to the day when He will say, “Come, … inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).

About the Author

Tim Groves

Tim Groves

Tim Groves attends the Jefferson, Georgia, congregation of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, where he serves as a deacon. 

He has been married to his wife, Teresa, for over 30 years. Together, they have two daughters and two sons and live in South Carolina. They moved there from Ohio in 1997 to flee the cold northern winters and allow him to do the things he really enjoys, like roaming though automobile junkyards looking for hidden treasures from times long past.

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