"And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt".
"Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more."
LIFE THAT NEVER ENDS
People of all ages and races have cherished the idea of living forever so much so that it became a notional belief in most cultures. While this may be considered to be the greatest goal that people can seek it is far from being understood by most. Eternity has the meaning of having no beginning as well as no end. The great Creator, the God of heaven and earth as revealed in the Bible is the only eternal entity in the universe. He alone has had no beginning and will have no end.
When the Bible speaks of eternal life being granted to people (all of whom clearly had a 'beginning' at the time of their birth), it is speaking more of 'everlasting' life, a life that once granted will never come to an end.
It is only relatively few who are prepared to believe God and consequently few who will be saved. Jesus Christ said:
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matthew 7:13-14).
This, and many other Bible examples and statements, casts doubts upon world religions which claim the adherence of millions of 'believers'. The Bible teaches that salvation from eternal death is a highly individual matter, and that few have been, and are, prepared to accept the challenging requirements which God demands - the hard, narrow way of faith.
One of the other important Bible truths, that of resurrection from the dead, must be linked with this subject. The prophet Daniel makes it plain however, that not everyone who has died will be resurrected.
Daniel 12:2 "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt".
Jesus, in revealing one of the principal qualifications for eternal life, that of belief in him, also explains that Daniel's words about "everlasting contempt" for the unworthy simply means no life at all.
John 3:36 "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
WILL IT INDEED CONTINUE FOR EVER?
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life".
Jesus using bread as a metaphor of himself said;
John 6:58 "This is the bread which came down from heaven. He who eats this bread will live forever".
DOES IT COMMENCE AT THE TIME OF OUR BEING BORN AND
CONTINUE UNINTERRUPTED FROM THAT POINT?
No. Death is the complete cessation of life. It can only be revived through resurrection at God's behest.
Psalm 6:5 "For in death there is no remembrance of You"
Ecclesiastes 9:5 "For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing".
HAS ANY HUMAN PERSON RECEIVED IT AS YET?
Romans 6:9 "Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more."
HOW WILL THOSE WITH ETERNAL LIFE OCCUPY THEIR 'TIME'?
The clear teaching of the Bible is that those found worthy to inherit eternal life will work for ever more in the service of their God and Father.
Matthew 25:21. 'Well done, good and faithful servant;. I will make you ruler over many things."
Revelation 21:7 "He who overcomes shall inherit all things".
WHEN WILL ETERNAL LIFE BE GRANTED?
When Jesus returns, raises the dead and changes those worthy ones who are living.
1 Corinthians 15:52 "for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed".
Salvation from death (eternal life) is only available on God's terms. Just as God gave the children of Israel very definite commandments for living if they wished to be the recipients of his favour so there are requirements for us today. We cannot obtain the blessings of the future on our own terms.
Mark 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned".
Belief entails taking God at His Word in every detail, absolutely and without compromise.