“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” 1 John 5:13
The apostle John uses the expression “eternal life” idiomatically. He does it here in his first letter to the Christian Church and he also does it in his gospel.
When you use an expression idiomatically it means that you attach a meaning to a group of words, usually not more than two or three, that’s different than the meaning that the words would naturally have had when used normally. We know that John assigns a unique definition to the words “eternal life” because he tells us what he means.
This is very kind because people don’t always tell you what their idioms mean.
When I was in boarding academy, in Michigan, we had two or three students come to attend from Miami, Florida and they took pleasure in using their idioms, you could also call it “slang”, since slang is often common words used idiomatically, when talking to each other in front of other students. Their pleasure was largely derived from our confusion as to what they meant. They knew and we didn’t and they acted as if they possessed the sacred language of a secret society. Those of us not in the know found it a bit irritating.
But back to John and his use of the expression “eternal life.” In our focus text, the apostle associates the presence of eternal life with the Christians belief in Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of John, chapter seventeen and verse three, the apostle records Jesus defining eternal life with words, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
What’s clear from John’s usage of “eternal life” is that he’s not using it to mean living eternally. Rather he’s using to say that a person has a faith based relationship with God. Additionally, he’s using it to emphasize that if you have that relationship with God you have God’s promise that he will save you and that when he comes to take the redeemed to heaven he will, if necessary, raise you from the dead, so that you, together with the other saints, can also enjoy the reward of immortality. You may not have immortality today but since you have Jesus you have his promise of it. And for John, and Jesus, that’s enough to say that you have eternal life.
Many people are looking for assurance in this uncertain world. You won’t ever find more assurance than you find right here in this promise: The one who believes on the name of the Son of God has eternal life.
Do you believe?