When I was in high school, I was in a one-act play that reached the state finals. Our last competition started at 9:00 p.m. on Friday evening, so as a Sabbath-keeper I wasn’t able to participate. “Can’t you miss church once?” one girl from our cast asked me, casually adding, “God would understand.”
The answer to her question would come to me years later: In reality, we are the ones who don’t understand God’s promise of eternal life. Fully understanding what that promise means should make eternal life our supreme goal.
Be a Pattern of Good Works
Do we really comprehend eternal life? It can seem ethereal and out of reach—after all, we’ve never experienced it. This physical life can seem much more real—tangible—than the promise of eternal life.
We know that eternal life is the gift that God gives us through grace (Romans 6:23), and we seek that gift through faith and action (James 2:24; Romans 2:6–7). Eternal life does indeed mean to live forever, because death is destroyed when God’s plan is fulfilled (1 Corinthians 15:54; Revelation 21:4).
The Bible reveals that, in order to receive this promise, there is something we must do now: keep the commandments (Matthew 19:16–19). Imagine someone promised you $10 million if you didn’t lie for one year. Your first thought every morning would probably be, I’m not going to lie today—because $10 million is tangible. You know of people who actually have that much money. The reality of the reward would inspire you—but it would not be easy to always tell the truth. The question then becomes, Is doing what’s right worth the reward?
Keep the Faith of Jesus Christ
The same question applies to the pursuit of eternal life. But how do we know eternal life is reality? Because someone already has obtained it—our Savior, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:20–23)! And He tells us that regardless of what we leave behind for His sake, we will receive a hundredfold more as a reward, “and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29–30). Paul wrote that the gift of eternal life is worth any hardship suffered in this physical life (Romans 8:18). Fully becoming part of God’s Family will fix literally everything suffered during this physical life—even death!
Is there something we can do to make eternal life more tangible to us? In 2 Corinthians 4:18, Paul says we should look for the unseen things, because they are eternal. How can you believe in things that are unseen? Hebrews 11:1 assures us that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is the key to making the invisible things of God real to us. Over time, our hope becomes grounded less in our fallible faith and more in the faith of Christ Himself (Galatians 2:20; Revelation 14:12).
As Paul tells us, “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). With this promise, we can know that devoting our entire lives to the goal of eternal life is worth it.