The Hearing of Faith
To properly understand God’s economy, God’s plan, we must be clear concerning the eternal life spoken of in the Bible. The Gospel of John begins by telling us that in the eternal Word, who was God, was life and this life was the light of men (John 1:4). Throughout the book of John, life, the imparting of life, and the multiplication of life are mentioned repeatedly. There are over forty references to life in the Gospel of John and another fourteen in First John. In almost all these references, John uses a particular word for life, the Greek word zoe, which means “divine, eternal and uncreated life.” In Greek, the language of the New Testament, there are three different words translated into English as life: bios, referring to biological life, common to all living organisms; psuche, referring to the life of the soul or the psychological life; and zoe referring to the divine, eternal, and uncreated life of God.
The word zoe and the entire context of John’s Gospel speak of the eternal life, the divine life that can enter man to give him a second birth (John 3:6). In John 3:16, one of the most famous Bible verses, the Lord Jesus says that when we believe into God’s Son, we have this eternal life. The key to understanding what the eternal life is here is to see that it does not mean we will live forever in our human life or enter into heaven. For us to have eternal life means we have the zoe life, the life of God, which we did not receive by our first birth (John 3:1-6) but which we obtain when we believe into the Lord Jesus Christ (1:12-13).
Now this eternal life can be imparted into millions of people through regeneration.
The Lord Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and may have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Unfortunately, many believers mistake this verse to mean that when we receive the Lord Jesus as our Savior, we receive an enhanced or enriched human life so things on earth will be easier for us and “life” (as generally understood by people) will be better. This is not what the Lord Jesus meant, and this is not what the apostle Paul, a pattern to all believers, experienced (Phil. 3:17; 2 Thes. 3:9). In John 10:10, the Lord spoke of the divine, uncreated, divine life of God. For us to have this life, the Lord Jesus, in whom this divine life was embodied (1:4), fell into the ground and died (12:24), and in resurrection He became the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45b). Now this eternal life can be imparted into millions of people through regeneration (John 1:12-13; 3:1-6), and thus the eternal life of God can be multiplied in humanity (12:24). In this way, God can have many sons, not adopted sons but ones actually and literally born of His very divine life with His divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). These sons express Him not by a kind of imitation but through His life living and growing in them (Gal. 2:20; Phil 1:19-21).
This is the eternal life we receive when we believe in Jesus and that wants to grow in us (1 Cor. 3:6-9; Col 2:19). May we treasure this divine life within us and allow this life to grow and mature in us.
For further reading on this subject, please see The Knowledge of Life by Witness Lee, published by Living Stream Ministry.
From Issue No. 50, June 2002