The Meaning of 'Life'
A man that I was working for at the time, about 15 or so years ago; asked me, kinda out of the blue, one day, “Charlie; what IS the meaning of life?”. Without really thinking about it, because at that time, I wasn't as mature as today; I replied; “Jesus is the meaning of Life!”. Looking back at that statement today, and thinking of the profundity and brevity of it, I can't help thinking, “where did that come from?”, but it is obvious to me, that God was guiding my steps from day one!
“What is the meaning of life?” is a well-worn phrase that many people, from all walks of life, have asked themselves, and others, over the course of the years. It it a question that, in all it's deeper meaning, could have 'eternal' consequences!
The Bible, I think that most of us would agree, seems to say that in Jesus only, is 'life' to be found!
Maybe the better question would be, and this is the subject of this paper; “What is life?”! Is 'life' simply physical existence; is it blood coursing through the veins, being pumped by a beating heart? Or is 'life' a spiritual reality, which comes only through a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?
I've said, in a previous paper, that I thought that national, physical ( after the flesh ) Israel was 'simply' a picture, or type, of the true 'Israel of God'! This statement was not meant, in any way, to demean the 'real' molding and making of the aforementioned people into His special people ( I Peter 1:7 ); for as Paul tells the church in Rome
( Romans 9:6 ), “ they are not all Israel ( spiritual, of God ) who are of Israel ( physical )”!
In the same way, the statement that I'm about to make, is not in any way to demean the trials and tribulations of this physical life; but I now believe that this physical life is 'simply' a picture, or type; of the spiritual life that only Christians have in Jesus!
Some may object to this, by saying, “ Well, even unbelievers have life”! I agree, but only on the 'physical' plane, and would even go so far as to say, with Paul, in Romans 7:9-11 and 8:10, 11; that physical life without Christ, is nothing but death! Paul further says, in I Timothy 5:6; that “she who lives in pleasure ( ie., for herself ) is dead while she lives”!
As you may have noticed; 'typology' has influenced me greatly in my writings, especially in the last few years! Typologically, therefore, I see this physical 'life' as a picture of the greater, spiritual 'life' in the same way that the 'Lord's Supper' or water baptism 'can' serve as a physical pictures of an inward spiritual reality!
According to Paul-Romans 6
In the first installment, I showed you what I think the meaning of 'life' is; now, let's take a look at what the apostle Paul thought it was.
In verse 4 of Romans chapter 6; Paul seems to equate righteousness with life.
“ Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so, we also should walk in newness of life”.
This is what I like to term, a 'biblical parellelism'; you see this a lot in Scripture, especially in the Psalms, but as I continue to read and study the Scriptures, I'm noticing it more and more everywhere!
Some might take the next verse; and I must admit that I was one of those, to be saying that we will be ( physically ) raised from the ( physically ) dead, like Christ admittedly was, but I think that, taken in the context of the spiritual reality that Scripture is meant to portray; Paul is merely echoing what he just intimated in the previous verse!
“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.
I don't think that Paul is here saying that if we have been baptized with water, we will ( or they would ) be resurrected in their physical bodies, like Christ was, but that if they had 'experienced' the baptism of the Holy Spirit, then they would also 'experience' the resurrection to Life, that Christ promised in John 14:6!
Paul ties the previous thoughts, in verses 4 and 5, together very nicely in verse 6;
“know this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin”.
Our 'old man', ie., our 'former conversation', or, way of life, was put to death ( buried ) with Him, or through Him, so that we may walk in newness of life, as 'slaves to Christ' ( 'we are not under Law, but under Grace' ), rather than slaves to sin!
Rather than give an exposition of the whole chapter, which maybe I should, but that is not my purpose here; I'll skip down to verse 11;
“Likewise, you also reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God, in Christ Jesus”.
I think that Paul is just reiterating his thoughts, by telling them, in other words, “work out your own salvation”, ie., prove it, show it, act like you believe, or 'practice what you preach'!
Paul ends chapter six, by saying that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”!
Paul, in verse 4 of chapter 7, re-articulates what he told the Roman church in verse 11 of chapter 6;
“Therefore my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another- to Him who was raised from the dead, that you may bear fruit to God.”
Again, it's hard not to give a full exposition here, but I believe that Paul is simply saying, as above, that we have died and been buried with Christ, to sin, that we may be married to, or placed 'under' another, and that our bearing fruit is a 'sign of life'!
Moving on, to verses 9 through 11; which are a bit hard to understand, I think, Paul writes;
I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 9 and the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death, 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it, killed me”.
I think that Paul here, is speaking of Adam the progenitor of the race, in a corporate sense, as a son of Adam; when he says that 'I was alive, once, without sin' Lets go back for a bit and see where he might get this idea from; In verse 8 of chapter 3 of Genesis, Moses implies, because it is not recorded here, that God had been used to walking in the midst of the Garden, presumably with Adam and Eve, yet on this particular day, the day of the Fall; they tried to hide from the presence of the Lord!
Now; I said all that, to say this; Adam, from all appearances, and from tradition, was created without sin, yet, reading back in verses 16 and 17 of chapter 2, we see that God gave him one simple command, 'Don't eat', and Paul tells us that when this command came, sin revived, as recorded in chapter 3 and he died, and through him; all his progeny, including Paul!
Paul goes on to ask, in verses 13 and 14, whether the Law had become death; but answers his own question by stating that the Law was good, and that his sin was 'proved' by the Law, to be just what it was;' exceeding sin'! He explains why the Law was incompatible with his human nature; it was of a 'spiritual' nature, while his was a 'carnal' one!
When Paul lamentably asks, in verse 24, 'who will deliver me from this body of death?' , he answers his own question, again, by saying that Christ has, so that 'with the mind, he would serve the Law of God, but with the flesh, or the body, the law of sin.
We are all well aware that 'there is therefore now no condemnation those who are in Christ Jesus, to those who do no walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit ( of life )', which has 'set us free from the law of sin and death' as Paul writes in Romans 8:1 and 2.
In verse 5 here, Paul seems to differentiate between those who live according to the flesh, and those who live according to the Spirit, as, in other words, do David and Solomon, in the Psalm and the Proverbs and the book of Ecclesiastes.
In verse 6, however Paul comes to the point, I believe, when he says;
“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace!
I think what Paul is saying here, as in other places, is that for one to 'set their mind on the things of the flesh', or to live in, or for pleasure is nothing but ( spiritual ) death, even while one is ( physically ) alive.
In verse 10 of this chapter, Paul writes, after clearing up a seeming contradiction-that 'those who are in the flesh cannot please God', but that we are 'not in the flesh, but in the Spirit';
“And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life, because of righteousness”.
I think that the following verse is one passage that some like to point to for 'proof' for a physical resurrection:
“But if the spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you”
but I believe that, taken in context, not only with chapter 8 here, but also with the rest of what Scripture has to say on the resurrection; Paul is merely saying that God would, or had, given life to those who walk according to the Spirit ( those 'in' Christ ) , rather than those who live according to the flesh!
Paul further says, in verse 13 ( echoing the words of Christ in Matthew 16:25 ); that those who live according to the flesh will die, and that those who, by the Spirit, put to death the deeds of the body, they will live, cementing, or reiterating what he had said in the previous verse, and elsewhere in his writings, that if you live for yourself; it's not really life, but death: The only way to truly live, is in the Spirit!
“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”
Just one quick note on this passage: Paul intimates, indeed almost outright proclaims, as Jesus does in Luke 17:21 and John 18:36; that the kingdom of God does not consist of physical things, like eating and drinking, but of spiritual realities like righteousness through Christ alone ( Isaiah 64:6 ) and peace and joy!
I Corinthians 15
Again; this most famous of resurrection passages could bear a more thorough exegesis, but for the present; I will just make a few comments.
22 “For as in Adam all die, even so, in Christ, all shall be made alive”.
I think, rather than a physical meaning; Paul has a more spiritual meaning in mind, because he is echoing what he said back in Romans 8, verse 10, that our body ( flesh ) is dead because of sin, but we are made alive in the Spirit, once again emphasizing that the spiritual reality is of more import than the physical!
33 “Do not be deceived; evil company corrupts good habits”
34 “Awake to righteousness and do not sin.....................”
For the longest time, these two verses had me 'hornswaggled'; 'Why”, I asked myself, 'are these two verses smack-dab in the middle of a resurrection passage?'
When I began to look at things from a more spiritual point of view, taking my focus off the physical, I realized that these two verses are the turning point, or the point of differentiation, between Paul's discussion of Christ's physical resurrection, and our spiritual resurrection!
I believe that Paul is saying, not unlike what we've already seen; is that our resurrection, being the 'greater work' maybe, that Jesus talked about, in John 14:12, is also a realization, or awareness, within ourselves, that our righteousness, as Isaiah mentioned previously, won't 'cut it', but that we must awaken to the Righteousness that comes only through faith in Christ!
Skipping ahead to verse 42; Paul tells us that, “the body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption”.
Now, I know that a lot of people, including me, up until a couple of years ago, take this passage, and others like it, to be indicative of a physical resurrection, but I think that, when taken in the context of passages like Romans 8:6-10, and in Paul's other writings on this subject; it's fairly obvious, to me anyway, that he is speaking more of spiritual corruption, with which Old Covenant Israel was rife, rather than of our corruptible, physical bodies.
He goes on, in the next few verses, to reiterate this fact, using more of that 'biblical parallelism' I was talking about, and ending up in verse 44, saying that, “it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body', and verse 45, saying that “the first man Adam became a living being, the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.”
Just a few notes on verse 44 and 45 before we go on: while traditionally, the phrase 'it is sown', is taken to mean that of our physical bodies, at death, being buried; I think that if we take a closer look at Paul's usage of the physical imagery of sowing seeds in the ground, the seed dieing, and then becoming something better, in verses 36 through 38, and his overall principle ( from verse 46 ) of 'first the natural, and afterward the spiritual'; we'll see that he is simply pointing out the fact that we 'must be born again' as Jesus pointed out in John 3!
II Corinthians 2
Beginning in verse 15; Paul is pointing out the difference between the believer and the unbeliever, or as Solomon points out so often in the Proverbs, the 'wise man' and 'the fool'.
“For we are to God, the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to the one, we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.”
Paul's point here, I think, besides obvious allusions, once again, to John 3; is first of all, that we are witnesses to all men, and second, that the physical life, lived without Christ, is no life at all, but is simply a spiritually dead person, headed for an irrevocably final death!
20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Here; Paul is simply echoing what he said back in Romans 6:4-6 and 11, and reiterating, in other words, what he wrote in Romans 7:17-23, that it is not in the flesh that we really and truly experience life, although I'm sure some would argue that point with me, but that we only experience true Life through the Way, the Truth, and the Life; Christ Jesus!
14 “Therefore He says, ' Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light'.”
Again, this passage may be taken in a physical sense, to be referring to a 'bodily' resurrection, and indeed Paul uses the language of Daniel 12:2 and Isaiah 26:19, but when taken in, not only the immediate, but of the rest of his writings; Paul is simply repeating what he has been saying all along, and I believe, what I've written in a previous paper; that our awakening from sleep, or rising from the dead, is merely speaking of the greater spiritual reality of being transformed, or changed, into His image, once again, and seeking His Righteousness, rather than our own, which is, as Isaiah says; are 'as filthy rags'!
8 “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for who I have suffered the loss of all thing, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if by any means, I may attain to the resurrection of the dead.”
This statement, in the context of the chapter, comes directly after Paul's bit of 'boasting' that he feels compelled to do, in light, I think, of Solomon's advice in Proverbs 26:5, and tells us that we should count all of our physical accomplishments, or inheritance as useless, in order to 'walk in newness of life', in Christ Jesus, and the glory of our spiritual inheritance, or life, in Him!
In the last two verses that I've quoted; Paul is again equating our attainment of the righteousness of Christ with life, not that Paul had already attained, or been perfected, but, as he says in verse 12, “I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has already laid hold of me', that is, life, and that more abundant!
11 “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.”
While this passage may not ordinarily be though of as a resurrection passage; I would argue that it is plainly as much so as I Corinthians 15, in that Paul reiterates here what he said already in Romans and I Corinthians, that we if we were buried ( as Paul puts it, 'since' ) with Christ, through baptism into His death ( think of the connotations of that! ), we have ( already ) been raised with Him!
According to Jesus & John
“But He answered and said, It is written 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'.”
The context of this statement being, of course, the temptation by the devil in the wilderness; this was Jesus' answer to the temptation to turn stones into bread, since He had fasted for forty days prior to, and in preparation for, this first recorded temptation that Jesus underwent during His human existence.
The temptation, as not just a human being, but also God, with the power to turn a mere stone into bread, for which He obviously would have been craving by this time, would have been great; but, not only did Jesus answer His tempter with Scripture, but reminded him that a man's life does not consist of physical things, like bread, but of spiritual truth, the word of God!
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about what you will eat or what you will drink: nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
This quote comes in the midst of Jesus' famous 'Sermon on the Mount', and just prior to the equally famous 'Seek first the Kingdom' statement. I think that when Jesus said that life is more than food and the body more than clothing; He was saying that, not only will our heavenly Father supply all our needs, when we focus on His (spiritual ) Kingdom, but also emphasizes the fact, as I've mentioned before, and will again; that true life is not physical existence, upkept by such physical things as food, drink, and clothing, but true life consists of seeking first His ( spiritual ) Kingdom, and His Righteousness!
Matthew 9:24 & John 11:11
“He said to them, 'Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping'.”
“These things He said, and after that, He said to them, 'Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up'.”
I have a few comments that I could make here, but begging your pardon; I would like instead, to pose you a question;
Why did Jesus, in both of these passages, say that these people were not dead, but sleeping?
“And do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. But rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”.
Jesus, in the context of this fearful, and yet comforting statement, is speaking to His twelve disciples before He sent them out to propagate His Word, and is simply reminding them, in my opinion, that their enemies could take their physical lives, but that they could never take their true life, or their soul; only the Creator, God, could do that!
Matthew 12:31 & 32
31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men,” 32 “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come.”
This passage, while wholly applicable only to His 1st century audience; tells me that forgiveness is synonymous with true life, while the lack thereof, as He says in the latter parts of verse 31 and 32, is death! This is reiterated in chapter 18, verses 34 and 35.
“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it”.
In this passage, Jesus echoed what He had previously said in chapter 10, verse 39, immediately following His injunction to 'take up your cross, and follow Me'. In context then, He is instructing those who would truly live: to deny, or put to death, their selfish ambitions, and to follow after Him, and His righteousness, as He said in verse 33 of chapter 6 of Matthew!
Matthew 18:8 & 9
8 “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, than having two, to be cast into hell fire.”
These two verses, besides being enigmatic and hard to understand; are probably among the most grossly mis-interpreted! If one was to apply literal, and traditional, meaning to these verses, not only do we see a somewhat sadistic picture of our loving Father, but we also have a conundrum before us; if we truly would follow Christ, and truly live; we must NEVER sin again, or else start chopping of those body parts that lead us to sin!
No; I'm not condoning suicide, or even self-mutilation ( as some I think, have ignorantly done ); I am saying, along with Christ and Paul, that we must put to death the deeds of the body, or we will never enter into true life, in Christ!
John 3:5 & 6
5 “Jesus answered, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
This statement Jesus made in answer to Nicodemus' question of how a man could be reborn. Nicodemus' question, as I've treated in another paper, was based upon his focus upon the things of this life, or the physical; and Jesus was telling him that, as He is recorded in the Matthew passage that was previously mentioned, as saying, 'Is life not more than food and the body more than clothing?', life does not consist merely of the physical aspects of 'this' life, but of the spiritual aspects of being born of the Spirit, to new life in Christ, where we take up our cross daily, and continually put to death the deeds of the body!
John 4:10, 13 & 14
10 “ Jesus answered and said to her, 'If you knew the gift of God,, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink',you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water”
13 “Jesus answered and said to her, 'Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water, springing up into everlasting life.”
These statements of Jesus', of course, come at the beginning of His discourse with and to, the woman at the well in Samaria. This woman, as we can see, had the same problem 'seeing' as Nicodemus did, in the previous chapter. She thought, at first, that this was a mere man, a Jew no less, that was saying that He could draw physical, material water from same well, or another even; that would quench a man's thirst for the rest of his physical life, but Jesus was telling her, as He told Nicodemus, that the water that He was speaking of was not mere 'water' like that which men could draw from a well, but that this 'water' was in fact, the gift of God, Himself!
Jesus goes on to say, as later in the Scriptures, that this 'water', or Gift of God would become a fountain of life within him, not only implying that he who received this Gift would inherit eternal ( spiritual ) life, but in my opinion, that this 'water of Life' would become in him a 'fountain of Life' to the 'world', or those whom God has given to the Son out of the 'world, those for whom Christ prayed, in John 17!
John 5:21, 24 & 25
21 “For as the Father raises the dead, and gives life to them, even so, the Son gives life to whom He will.”
In the first verse that I've quoted here, I was thinking that there could be a little of that 'first the physical, then the spiritual' connection going on here, but upon further reflection, I think that it's just another case of 'biblical parallelism', although I think that the idea that God's raising of the physically dead, from the widow's son ( of Zarephath ) to Lazarus to Jesus; was a 'type' of the spiritual resurrection that we 'experience' when we are born again from above, of and by the Spirit!
24 “Most assuredly I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.”
Jesus reiterates here, what He said in the last passage that I quoted; that those who receive the Gift of God, seek after His righteousness, and follow His commands, or Word, will have the true life, the life that never ends, for, as He says above, we have 'passed from ( spiritual ) death to ( spiritual ) life!
This may belong to another paper, but Jesus' words in the last verse ( 25 ); tell us plainly that the 'resurrection' that He is speaking of, that already was, at the time of His statement, is the spiritual resurrection that those hearing ( understanding ) His word and believing in Him who sent the Life had already 'experienced, and those who would yet experience it!
John 6:27, 40, 48-51 & 63
27 “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”
The context that this statement of Jesus', of course, comes directly after He had rendered the physical sign, of which He Himself was the anti-type; of the 'feeding of the five thousand'. The crowd had sought after Him because they had been physically satisfied by this miracle, and wished to be fed again, but Jesus told them, in no uncertain terms, that this 'sign' that He had performed was simply food that perishes, but rather, as he told the woman at the well, for the food which I 9 the Son of Man ) will give, so that you will never hunger ( or thirst ) again, but have everlasting ( spiritual ) life!
40 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes in Him may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Although this statement benefited primarily those 1st century believers to whom the statement was made, I think that it is applicable down through the ages, to those who, not only see, but perceive ( understand ) that Jesus is the Son of God, and trust in Him for that food that does not perish, or, His Righteousness!
48 “I am the bread of life.” 49 “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it, and not die..”
51 “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever, and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”
Jesus pointed out to His audience that, although this 'manna', in the strictest and most literal sense, did come from heaven, it was still the food ( physical ) that perishes, because their fathers (ancestors ) were dead, whereas He was the true Bead (of life ) from Heaven, that would not perish, but gave everlasting life, so that they need never ' thirst', or seek after the food that perishes, again!
Jesus goes on, in the next six verses, to explain to them that, unless they partook of His Life, or His flesh, they would not have life, but would die as there fathers did, in the wilderness!
63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words which I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”
Here, Jesus simply reiterates, again, that the true life is that which comes from above ( spiritual ), and not that which comes of being born of the flesh ( physical ), for, as He told Nicodemus, 'that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and ( or but ) that which is born of the Spirit ( which alone gives true life ) is spirit!
John 7:37 & 38
37 “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.”
This statement Jesus made on the last day of the feast of tabernacles, a fact which is telling, in and of itself, to the assembled multitude, most likely made up of both Jews and Gentiles, in reiteration of the words that He had spoken to them in the previous chapter, saying, in much the same words that He spoke to the woman at the well, that he who would drink of Him, or listen to ( obey ) the words that He spoke; as I've said before, and will probably say again, not only would a fountain of living waters spring up within him, but out of him would flow those same waters ( the Life of Christ, true life ), to quench the spiritual thirst of a barren and dying, or dead, land!
John 10:9 & 10
9 “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
This passage, like others I've quoted, while more immediately relevant to His 1st century audience, maybe; is simply reiterating the fact that if we partake of Christ, and enter by Him, as indeed we must enter by Him; there is no other way, we will have true life, and that to the extent that we will never thirst or hunger again!
John 11:25 & 26
25 “Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And he who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
This saying of Jesus, of course, come right in the middle of the record of the 'resurrection' of Lazarus, and Jesus is pointing out, in answer to Martha's statement that she believes that Lazarus will live again ( resurrection ), that He is the resurrection! In other words, He was saying; Martha, resurrection is not a part of, or unto physical life; resurrection is believing ( trusting ) in Me, and My righteousness, unto eternal ( true ) life!
John 14:6, 19-21
6 “Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me'.”
Jesus made this statement to His disciples when they were asking Him where He would go, that they could not follow. He replied that they knew where He was going, and how to get there, but still, they were thinking of a literal physical 'place', and while He was going to a literal 'place, it sure wasn't physical; for He replied then, that they both, knew where He was going, and how they could follow. By saying that He was the Way to this 'place', He was simply telling them, as they should have remembered, that it was through Him alone, by 'partaking' of His Word, or Truth, that they would truly have life!
19 “A little while longer, and the world will see Me no longer, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day, you will know that I am in the Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and manifest Myself to him.”
Here again, in context, Jesus words were primarily for the comfort of His disciples, of the 1st century, but I think that as we can see throughout His teachings, that anyone, in any century, of any 'age', or epoch of Time; that believes on Him, thus partaking of Him, will have 'new eyes' with which they will be, and are, able to see spiritual Truth, and to partake of spiritual Life!
“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”
Jesus makes this most important of statements, which I think is the crux of life; near the beginning of His intercessory prayer for his disciples, for our eternal benefit. Knowing God the Father, and Him through the Son ( for they are One ) is the only way to true life, as we have seen in so many passages in this little study.
You can't get much plainer than that!
1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
John pretty much says it all here; In Christ, as the Mediator of creation, alone is true ( spiritual, eternal ) life to be found! As Peter said in Acts 4:12, 'There is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved.”; salvation=new life=true life!
I John 1:1-3
1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life- 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness, and declared to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us- 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.”
John expands his prior statement in his Gospel, adding a great more detail, by telling his 1st century audience, and through them, us. that not only was life in Him, and through Him, but He was that life that was manifested to John and his 'neighbors'!
I John 3:14
“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. “
John now tells his readers that love for the brethren in Christ is not only a requirement for true life; but that love for the brethren ( in Christ ) is what true, eternal life is!
I John 5:20
“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”
John wraps up his first epistle here, by telling his readers again, that not only are we given an understanding that He (life ) is in us, and we are in the Father, but that He and the Father are one God, and He is truly life itself!
II John 6
“This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.”
According to what John said here, in context with the rest of his writings, and indeed, with the rest of Scripture, on this subject; life, true life, that is, can be equated with obedience to His commandments, righteous, and love; in other words, Christ!
The Law & the Prophets
1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.”
In this paper, I have but one main purpose; and that is to discern the meaning of life!
I will not, therefore, go into any discussion of whether Moses is here speaking of the creation of the physical universe, or 'merely' His covenant creation, but simply try to show, as I've already stated, that God's physical creation, whether it be covenantal or universal, is simply a 'type' of His 'new', or spiritual creation!
Genesis 2:7 & 9,10
7 “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”
Without going into the Hebrew here, it is fairly obvious, to me anyway, that this 'breath of life' was simply consciousness, or what we deem as normal human existence. By no means can it be argued that Adam had true, eternal life, whether physically or spiritually, before the fall; because as we've already seen, in this study, and in Scripture itself; true, eternal life alone comes from a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, who interestingly enough, was typified, or signified, by the tree of life!
9 “And out of the ground the Lord God made made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 10 Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four river heads.”
Interesting language, used here by Moses, particularly when you think of Jesus words in John 7:38 and Isaiah 55:1, although I could not find any particular verse in the Scriptures that say that, per se! There are however, several places that intimate that, especially considering the Christian's relationship with Christ, and dependence on Him for any righteousness worth it's salt!
Genesis 45:5 & 7
5 “But now, do not be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here: for God sent me before you to preserve life.” 7 “ And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”
I think we'd all agree that Joseph was a type of Christ, and that the life that Joseph was sent to preserve was what we think of as physical life. Just as the Jews of Christ's day, and even the Romans, to a point, thought that by crucifying Him that they would squelch His purpose, so Joseph's brothers thought that they were getting rid of their pesky little brother, once and for all; but they were all just fulfilling God's greater Purpose; to preserve Life!
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”
As a child, I had no problem whatsoever with believing that our lives would actually be prolonged by obeying our parents, but as I've continued growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; I have come to see that, as I now believe; it's all about Christ, and our days upon the 'land' refers, not to physical life, upon some physical 'land, but to our spiritual life in Christ, or the 'rest' that still remained for those first century Christians that the writer of Hebrews addressed his letter to, in Hebrews 4:9!
I Samuel 16:7b
“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
This passage, while it may seem not to have much to do with my subject. it actually has everything to do with it, because the point, or one of the points anyway; is that we have a tendency to look at things that we can 'see', and thus place almost equal, or even more sometimes, importance upon them, to the extent that we focus more upon our physical life sometimes, or things of this life, than upon our spiritual life in Christ, and the greater spiritual truth that it brings!
“He shall be like a tree, planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth it's fruit in it's season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”
David here describes the happy estate of the righteous man, in very picturesque and symbolic language. This beautiful first Psalm of David's, tells us that those who trust in Christ, and His righteousness, will be 'planted' ( Isaiah 61:3 ) by the 'rivers of water'( Isaiah 66:12 ), and that their 'leaf', or life, shall never 'wither', or die ( John 11:25 )!
Psalm 16:10 & 11
10 “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will you allow Your holy One to see corruption. 11 You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
This passage is well-known as one of David's prophecies of the coming Messiah, or Anointed One, but it is also a prayer of thankfulness that there was more to life than just this physical existence, and that God would not not allow His holy ones, like David, to see corruption, although I daresay that David, and most or all of the Old Testament saints, did, in their physical death and burial; see corruption of their physical bodies.
I think that David is acknowledging here, that God had something else in store for His 'holy ones' than just this physical plane of existence that we know as life; and that one day ( aka. the 'last day' ) they would, once again, dwell with God!
“As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.”
As we can see, from Moses' writings in Genesis, that man was created in the image of God, I think that David realized that he had lost that image or likeness, when Adam 'fell' in the Garden, but that he would one day awake in His likeness and righteousness, to true life with Him!”
“For with You is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.”
In this Psalm, I believe that David is acknowledging that it is in God alone that we have life, not only on the physical plane, but on the spiritual as well, and that it is only in His Righteousness that we see light!
Psalm 37:5,6 & 18
5“Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. 6 He shall bring your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.”
In this Psalm, as we can see, upon further examination; David is comparing the fates, both temporal and eternal, of the righteous, or God's 'holy ones', in contrast to that of the wicked. David tells those of his 'generation' to commit their ways to Him, trust in His Righteousness, and He would bring it forth!
18 “The Lord knows the days of the upright, and their inheritance shall be forever.”
I believe that David is saying here, not only that God knows, or as he says elsewhere, has numbered our days; but that God has set His love on the upright, and therefore, in the words of His Righteousness, in the Gospel of John, they shall 'never die'!
Psalm 88:3-5 & 10-12
3 “For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to the grave. 4 I am counted with those who go down to the pit; I am like a man who has no strength, 5 adrift among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom You remember no more, and who are cut off from Your hand.”
In this Psalm of the sons of Korah, Heman the Ezrahite laments the fact that, in this life, we feel sometimes like we are ready to perish, and that we have no hope, like those whom the Lord has 'cast off'!
10 “Will You work wonders for the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise You? Selah. 11 Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave? Or Your faithfulness in the place of destruction?12 Shall Your wonders be known in the dark? And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?”
I think that, beginning with this passage, Heman is remonstrating with his Lord, reminding Him, as both David and Moses had done, that those who perish in the grave, with no hope of arising, cannot bring praise, glory, and honour to His name, or, as Paul said in I Corinthians 15:19, 'we are of all men most pitiable'!
“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
The Psalmist realized, even before Christ quoted it, that man can only harm us in this life, or body; but cannot touch our true life, which is in God and Christ!
“My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word.”
Although David felt, from all the trials and persecutions that he underwent in this physical life, that he was no better than a dead man, he realized that it is God who alone can give revival, or new life, to this 'body of death,', which is destined to 'return to the dust from which it came'!
“This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life.”
This was David's comfort, and should be ours, that even though we feel overwhelmed, even to the point of death, sometimes; by our trials and tribulations, which Paul told Timothy 'must come', God has given us that true life, which nothing and no one can take away!
“Revive me according to Your lovingkindness, so that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.”
Realizing that he could do nothing once his life was over, and his physical body was relegated to the worms, David pleaded for his life, so that he could continually praise Him, and keep His statutes.
Psalm 119:92 & 93
92 “Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction.”
93 “I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have given me life.”
David expounds on what he told us earlier, in verse 50, by saying how God revives us, or gives us new, or true, life; by enabling us to keep His word, which Word is Christ, and His righteousness!
“I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.”
I think that the Psalmist here realizes that, although he has gone astray, as we all do, from the words of life; God will bring him back because he trusts that it is in those words alone, that he has life!
“The Lord preserves all who love Him, but the wicked He will destroy.”
This might be a little hard to explain clearly, but I believe that what the Psalmist is saying here; is that the Lord gives life ( true life ) to those who love Him, and show that love in the Way that we see it described in passages like Galatians 5:1, Romans 13:8-10, etc, but destroys those who do not love Him, even though they think that they are alive, for they are dead while they live, as Paul said in I Timothy 5!
Proverbs 2:18 & 19
18 “For her house leads down to death, and her paths to the dead; 19 None who go to her return, nor do they regain the paths of life.”
In the context of this statement; as throughout his Proverbs, Solomon is warning his son, and us, to stay away from the immoral woman, or person, as the case may be; by contrasting the two different paths that we need to choose between in this physical existence; the path that goes to the dead, in this case, to the house of the immoral woman, and the path of life, or the righteous Way!
“She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her.”
In this beautiful and short passage, of which, in context, Solomon is speaking of the glories of wisdom, which is typical of Christ; he compares wisdom to true life!
“For the commandment is a lamp, and the law is a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life.”
Solomon's father had previously written, “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Solomon is simply reiterating that fact here, and further emphasizing the fact that 'whom the Lord loves, He corrects, just as a father, the son in whom he delights ( Proverbs 3:12 )'.
Proverbs 10:11 & 16
11 “The mouth of the righteous is a well of life, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked.”
This brings to mind passages like John 7:38, and Revelation 21:6; but it seems like what Solomon is saying here is that, if one's mouth is not made useless by wicked works, it is made a well of Righteousness!
16 “The labor of the righteous leads to life, the wages of the wicked to sin.”
Here, Solomon seems to be saying that if one is not controlled by, or 'under' sin; he is truly alive, thereby equating sin with death, and righteousness ( through Christ ) with life!
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.”
Back in chapter 3, Solomon wrote that wisdom was 'a tree of life'; but now he writes that our fruit, or obedience to God's commands, are a 'tree of life! Really, he is only reiterating what he had said before, because we know, that it is only through Christ, the true 'tree of life' and 'fountain of living waters', that we can 'bring forth fruit'!
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.”
Not to stray from the purpose of this paper, or to cause any to stumble; but I think that this statement can and must be applied to the hope that the saints under the Old Covenant, from Adam to Zacharias, from Abraham to Paul, had; and that was the coming Parousia of the 'desire of nations', Jesus Christ!
Proverbs 14:12 & 27
12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but it's end is the way of death.”
Solomon is simply telling his readers here, that to follow our natural desires and inclinations, leads to nothing but death, he implies by this, that when we follow Christ's, or God' Way, we will have life.
27 “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.”
Like John ( or rather, vice-versa ) in his 17th chapter, Solomon reminds his readers that , ultimately, it is through a saving knowledge of God, or Christ alone, that we have partaken, and do partake, of the fruit of the 'tree of life', which IS Christ!
“Understanding is a wellspring of life to him who has it, but the correction of fools is folly.”
Here again, Solomon likens understanding ( wisdom ) to true life, and further, that, the opposite of understand, or wisdom, is to 'answer a fool according to his folly', it's a waste of life!
“By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.”
It is a normal human tendency to 'physicalize' passages like this, and say that if you are poor, and without the physical wealth of this 'world' that one is either being 'chastised' by the Lord, or not one of His; but I think that Solomon is simply saying that the true riches, honor and life come from above, and are not the physical 'things' of this life, but are part of the greater spiritual reality that I spoke of earlier!
Proverbs 23:13 & 14
13 “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. 14 You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell.'
I think that the most popular explanation of these first few lines here, and maybe the more succinct; is that if we discipline our children, it won't harm them to the point of death, but it looks like, in the last verse, that Solomon is touching upon the greater spiritual truth of the matter, by saying that, not only will our children not die if we discipline them correctly ( in the fear of the Lord ), but that they will not be relegated to hell if we do!
Proverbs 24:19 & 20
20 “Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the wicked; 20 for there will be no prospect for the evil man; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.”
Obversely, I think Solomon is pointing out here, that if we do not envy the wicked, and thus try to emulate them; we will and do have a prospect ( hope ), and that our lamp, or life; will never be put out, or extinguished!
1 “And in that day you will say, 'O Lord, I will praise You; though You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me. 2 Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for YAH, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.' 3 Therefore with joy, you shall draw water from the wells of salvation.”
In the context of this hopeful and beautiful passage, Isaiah is recording God's words to the idolatrous physical descendants of Abraham, but I believe that we, as spiritual, and therefore, the truer descendants of Abraham, can also discern the greater spiritual truth of this passage, which, in the last few lines, should bring to mind other 'spiritual' passages like John 4:13,14, John 7:37,38, and Revelation 22: 1,17, among others in the Old Testament writings!
“He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken.”
While John quotes from this passage in his Revelation, using very physical language ( and there IS a great physical truth here ), Isaiah, I believe, is using this same physical language to describe the greater spiritual truth that, for the believer, or the inhabitant of 'this mountain', there IS no more death; God has wiped away every tear!
“Your dead shall live: together with my dead body, they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust; for your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.”
In this very familiar 'resurrection' passage, Isaiah prophesies of the coming New Heavens and New Earth, also known as the New Jerusalem, or the Church ( catholic and invisible ) reminding them of the fact that Paul laments, in Romans chapter 7; that though, through the Law, they are dead, yet in the New Jerusalem, or the New Covenant-Christ, which Isaiah later records in chapter 65, God will create ' a rejoicing, and her people a joy'; in very poetic and flowery language, Isaiah says that they will live, prophesying, in a sense, Jesus' own words in John 8:52, and John 11:25 and 26!
“He will dwell on high; his place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; bread will be given him, his water will be sure.”
We've already seen, I think, from the passages that we've covered, both in the Old and New (er ) Testament writing, that the words 'water' and 'bread' are often indicative of the true life that we find in Christ alone; and the prophet, in this passage is telling his readers what will befall those whom God deems worthy, through Christ, to 'dwell with the devouring fire' and with 'everlasting burnings', in other words, with Christ and God in the spiritual New Jerusalem!
“Indeed, it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness; but You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back.”
This beautiful passage comes in the midst of king Hezekiah's prayer of thanksgiving to God, after that he had recovered from a life-threatening illness, and while I will admit that the life that he received back again from the Lord's hand was his physical life; I think that Hezekiah realized that, as with our spiritual life, it is given to us because 'He has cast our sins behind His back'!
“I will open rivers in desolate heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.”
Here again, the Author describes the blessed conditions of those inhabitants of the hew heavens and new earth, or heirs of the New Covenant, in very physical language, which is typical of, as we've seen; the true life which comes through Christ alone!
Isaiah 43 19 & 20
19 “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the desert and rivers in the desert. 20 The beast of the field will honor Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen.”
In language reminiscent of the Exodus, God assures His people that, in the coming Restoration that will be brought about by Messiah, they will be fed, not only through miraculous events, but also with the true life that, as John says, comes from the 'pure river of the water of life', or, Christ and His Holy Spirit!
“For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.”
Once again using very picturesque language to describe a spiritual truth; God revealed through Isaiah, what He would do in the last days,un-veiling the Life, or Light of the world, His Son Jesus Christ!
1“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. 3 Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you-the sure mercies of David.”
In language that John re-uses in the Revelation, God describes, yet again, in language reminiscent of the description of the land of Canaan ( 'the land of milk and honey' ), and attesting to the fact that, throughout the Old Testament Scriptures in particular, wine is a symbol for blessing; the fact that our righteousness is not true righteousness ( as Isaiah says later in chapter 64, verse 6 ) and therefore our life ( physical existence ) is not the true life that only Christ in God gives; but that we need to partake of that spiritual food, that we cannot buy, and that He freely offers; in order that we might have life, and that more abundantly!
Although there is much more that could, and probably should be said here, I think I will end here by saying that I hope I have at least shown you a hint of the meaning of life, that our physical life is not the true life, but that it is only a physical picture, representing a greater spiritual reality, that is; life in and with Christ!
I would also encourage my readers, not to take me at my words, but to be a Berean, and study these, and the surrounding Scriptures, to see for themselves if that these things are so!
For His glory,
and in His service,