For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The phrase “Eternal Life” appears several times in the New Testament; Jesus spoke often and in detail about eternal life, prompting Simon Peter to announce one day, “You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
What kind of life is this?
Let’s begin by remembering that our God is a living God, and that he is also eternal, that is, he has no beginning and no end. Therefore God, and the life that is in him, is never ending.
This means that eternal life is a life that transcends the limitations of time but it also indicates a type of life that is of a different quality to the life of this world; a heavenly life you might say.
Jesus Christ is central to this life. The Apostle John testified this about him: “He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20). It is no wonder therefore that Jesus Christ describes himself as “the bread of life” (John 6:35) and as the giver of “living water” (John 7:38).
The Apostle Paul emphasises that eternal life is a gift; no man has a right to claim it for himself. God is the one who gives it: “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
It is obvious from many places in the New Testament that although eternal life is a gift, that does not mean that we don’t have a responsibility to actively seek out this life. Accordingly, when Jesus spoke with the crowd who followed him after he miraculously fed the five thousand, he said, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life” (John 6:27).
In John’s gospel we read the most wonderful words explaining clearly to us that there is only one thing we need to do in order to receive this gift, and that is to believe:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
Iwan Rhys Jones, ‘Bywyd Tragwyddol’, taken from Geiriau Bywyd, published by EMW in 2017