What is Eternal Life?

Eternal life is not the physical life of the body for we have this life only as long as the soul and spirit remain in the body. Death in Scripture means separation from the purpose for which a creature was created. Physical death is the separation of the inner man from the body. When this takes place one loses physical life (James 2:26). Eternal life is not the natural immortality or consciousness of the soul and spirit, for both the saved and unsaved exist forever and are fully conscious after physical death (Luke 16:19-31; Matt. 10:28; 17:3; Luke 20:38; 23:43; Phil. 1:21-23; 2 Cor. 5:8; Rev. 6:9-11; Heb. 12:23; 1 Pet. 3:4; John 11:24-25; 14:19). The soul exists and is conscious even though it is dead (Eph. 2:1-10; Matt. 8:22; 1 Tim. 5:6). Spiritual death is the separation of the inner man from God because of sin (Isa.59:2; Eph. 2). Eternal life therefore could not be the natural eternal life or consciousness of the inner man either in or out of the body. Eternal life could not be the eternal existence or consciousness of eternal souls in eternal Hell, for only the righteous have eternal life by abiding in Christ (John 3:15-18, 36; 5:24; 15:1-7; 1 John 2:24, 25; 5:11). Eternal death is the eternal “separation” from God (Matt. 10:28; 25:41, 46, Rev. 2:11; 14:9-11; 20:11-15; 21:8; Isa.66:22-24). Eternal life is the opposite of eternal death-eternal union with God (John 17:3; 1 John 2:24-25; 5:11-12; 1 Cor. 6:17).

It was Adam in his sinless spiritual state of life who was told “in the day that thou eatest thereof THOU SHALT SURELY DIE” (Gen. 2:17; 3:1-19). The Greek word for life is zoe and it is used in connection with eternal thirty times and everlasting fourteen times. One writer tries to prove that believers receive zoe life and that this is not the kind of life Adam had, but 1 Cor. 15:45 states that Adam had zoe (living) soul.

Others argue that Adam’s life was natural and forfeitable and not spiritual and eternal as is that of the believer today, but the word translated living is zoe and is used of Adam in the above passage. It is translated living in connection with God: “the living [zoe] God” (Matt. 16:16; 22:32; 26:63); “living [zoe] water . . . springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:10, 14); “living [zoe] bread” that gives eternal life (John 6:51, 54); “living [zoe] waters” referring to the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39); and “living [zoe] way” that leads to life (Heb. 10:20). Do God and all these things have natural and forfeitable life? If so, then that was what Adam had.

Eternal life was given to Adam upon condition that he would remain in union with God and not sin, and it was said that if he did sin he would die or be separated from God and lose that life (Gen. 2:17). Sin was the only thing that could and did take his eternal life away (Rom.5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:21, 22). Since Adam could have lived forever if he had not sinned, then he had eternal life. If he had eternal life he lost it by sin. If he could lose it by sin, then all other men who regain it can also lose it again by sin. What kind of fife was it that he lost the day he sinned if it was not eternal life, for according to Lesson Nine, Point VIII, 4, the penalty for sin was eternal death, thus he had to lose the opposite of eternal death, or eternal life.

It could not be merely natural life that he lost the day he sinned, for he lived 248,652 literal days after that day (Gen. 5:5). If Adam’s body did not die the day he sinned, then it must have been his soul that died and was cut off from living forever. Adam’s soul lost eternal life the day he sinned. Since it could not be natural life he lost it must be spiritual and eternal life, which was cancelled by eternal death.

Adam’s soul did not lose its own life or consciousness, or it would have ceased to function. The soul is the life of the body and the body cannot function without the soul and its life. It is certain Adam did not lose physical life for his body continued to function 930 years, therefore, it must have been spiritual and eternal life that he lost. Man’s natural life exists of itself separate and apart from God, for sinners continue to exist separate and apart from God (Isa.59:2; Eph. 2). Spiritual and eternal life cannot be given to man until he is resurrected from sins and united to God’s Spirit (1 Cor. 6:17; 12:12, 23; Rom.8:9; Eph. 2:1-9). This proves that spiritual and eternal life are something apart from man’s natural life.

If eternal life were a part of a man it could not be lost without his losing himself also. But as long as a thing is not a part of one it can be lost. The fact that eternal life is God’s life which is given to a person as something separate and apart from himself proves it can be lost. For if it is only in God that men have eternal life, then to be separated from Him is to lose that life. Since only sin separates from God (Isa.59:2) and causes death (Gen. 2:17; Ezek. 18:4), only sin can cause one to lose this life (Rom.8:12, 13).

Eternal life is the opposite of eternal death. Since eternal death is eternal separation from God, as proved in Lesson Nine, Point VIII, 4, eternal life is eternal union with God by the cancellation of the eternal death penalty. It is God’s life and it is never our life if we are not dwelling in God. It is ours only when we get into Christ and it is ours only as long as we abide in Him (1 John 2:24; 5:11, 12). It is therefore something separate and apart from us and is imparted to us only when we are saved and as long as we are saved. Christ is our life and we have it as long as we have Him (Col. 2:6, 7; 3:4; John 15:1-7). We are free from the death penalty as long as we live holy and free from sin. When we again go back into sin we incur the death penalty, we die again, and we lose the eternal life that is only in Christ. This will be proved by many Scriptures in Point IV below. If this separation from sin is only temporary the life with God will be only temporary, but if sin never again separates, then there will always be life with God and never again death through sin. The fact is that saved men can and do go back into sin that separates from God, proving eternal life can be lost.

When the soul sins, it dies, or it is separated from God, and it forfeits the life of God by this sin, hence it loses the life it could have had eternally if it had remained in union with God and holy eternally. The sinful soul apart from God continues to function, but it is “dead” or “separated” from God whose life the soul enjoyed as long as it remained in union with Him. If it never becomes united with God again it remains forever dead and separated from God and the life which is eternal in God. This is why the soul suffers eternal death or separation from God (Mark 9:45, Isa.66:22-24; Rev. 14:9-12; 19:20; 20:10-15; 21:8). The continued life in Hell is not called eternal life for the same reason the sinning soul is considered dead while on Earth (Matt. 8:22; Eph. 2:1-9; 1 Tim. 5:6). It is not true normal life in harmony with God. It is only existing out of union with God contrary to the created purpose.

Men are considered dead to sin and Satan when they are separated from them and are in union with God (Rom.6:2, 7-13; 8:10; 1 Pet. 2:24) and they are also considered dead to God when they are separated from God and in union with sin and Satan (Rom.6:1-23; Eph. 2:1-9; Col. 2:13; Isa.59:2). Faith is even spoken of as being dead when separated from works (James 2:17-26).

If the soul loses its own life when it sins, then it would cease to exist, for to be separated from its own life means cessation of existence, and this the Bible never teaches by death, as seen in the above passages. In this case, there would be no need of a resurrection, judgment, or an eternal Hell.

The soul is not the physical blood, for the blood cannot sin of itself like the soul. The soul lives when the blood is gone and the body has decayed. If the blood were the soul then every time any blood is lost, part of the soul would be lost. When one loses his soul he loses himself, not merely the blood (Luke 9:25 with Mark 8:36). Sin proceeds from the inner man, not from part of the body (1 Cor. 6:18; Mark 7:19-21).

When God said to Adam, “Ye shall surely die,” he meant it and when He says to saved men today that the soul that sinneth it shall die, He means it. This applies to all men who sin and saved men today are no exception. Both Adam and Eve believed the first teacher of unconditional eternal security, the devil, and lost eternal life. So it is today with all who sin and believe the modern lie of the devil that sinning-saints cannot be lost.

Eternal life does not make us members of the Deity, for we would then be equal with God. If we were members of the Godhead we could not sin, because God cannot sin; we could not make mistakes, because God cannot make mistakes. We would be absolutely and eternally holy and would have all the qualities of Deity. We know this is not true of human beings who are in Christ, so they cannot be members of the Deity. If they are not members of the Godhead when they receive eternal life, then eternal life is not their own life, and therefore, it remains God’s life as long as they are in union with God. They are in union with God until sin again separates from Him (Isa.59:2; Rom.8:12, 13; Ezek. 18:4; James 5:19, 20; Gal. 5:19-21; 6:7, 8).

Jesus is the only begotten Son of God who has all the qualities of Deity and who is a part of the Godhead. He has self-existent life by virtue of being a member of the Deity (John 5:26; 1 John 5:7, 8; John 3:16). Men are merely adopted sons and live as long as the penalty death is not passed upon them because of sin after they get into Christ.

If this is true, then the teaching about security that men in Christ cannot die again regardless of how much they sin is wholly false. Similarly, the idea is false that one can lose fellowship but not relationship. What good is relationship if one goes to eternal Hell and suffers the penalty for sin that he would have suffered had he never been saved? As we shall see in Point IV below one can lose eternal life and be lost. In Point VII below we shall see that eternal life is given us upon the condition that we remain in Christ by living free from sin and rebellion against God. We shall see in Point V below that eternal life has been lost and that Lucifer, many angels, demons, and men who were at one time in God’s grace or favor are going to spend eternity in eternal Hell regardless of sonship, fellowship, and relationship with God. When fellowship is lost, relationship means nothing. All angels are called “sons of God” (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). Fallen angels are still “sons of God” but many of them are in Hell today (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6, 7) and all of them will finally go to Hell regardless of sonship (Matt. 25:41). Not one passage in Scripture ever hints that a man may lose fellowship because of sin and still retain relationship with God and eternal life in Heaven.

Why do not men who teach this doctrine give simple Scriptures that prove their point; that is, furnish Scriptures that do not need to be twisted in order to get the desired meaning? Why don’t they give some concrete examples in Scripture where men have lost fellowship and died out of fellowship and have gone to Heaven? Such Scriptures and examples cannot be found and this is the reason they do not quote them. Why would God want to take free moral agents to Heaven who choose to be out of fellowship with Him? Why would God have fellowship with creatures in Heaven that He cannot fellowship on Earth? Surely they have committed sin, or they would not be out of fellowship. Where is there one statement that God is under obligation to take such men to Heaven when they die out of fellowship? Where is there any Scripture that He is obligated to bring them back into fellowship before they die? Suppose a man is suddenly killed before he has a chance to regain fellowship, as has been true of many? Is God obligated to fellowship him just because he dies? Would not God be broad enough to fellowship men while they are alive in sin if He has to do it when they die in sin? It is inconceivable that God will fill Heaven with such creatures who are out of fellowship with Him. If He will not fellowship them on Earth He will not do it in Heaven and there is no Scripture that obligates Him to ever do so.