There is a kind of eternal life that will determine where we live eternally; there is another kind of eternal life that will determine how we experience it, both then and now.
According to Jesus and John, there is only one factor that determines our forgiveness and eternal relationship with the Father:
“. . . so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:15-16
“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:11-13
But Jesus also said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) This quality of life seems to be the issue that Paul is urging Timothy to seize with all his energy:
“But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance andgentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:11-12
Timothy already had believed and was a growing, fruitful Christian leader, his character and leadership skills worthy of Paul’s entrusting to him responsibility for the church in Ephesus. Although he should have confidence in his everlasting forgiveness and future life with God forever in heaven, Paul was urging him to zealously take hold of something more — a meaningful, fulfilled life of service in this world that would result in heavenly reward. This is a goal Paul himself also strived to keep before him at all times.
“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14
Lord, thank You for paying the penalty for my sin, a price I could not pay, to assure me forgiveness and eternal life with You. Now, motivated by gratitude for Your grace, help me to live every moment of my life energized passionately to “walk in a manner worthily of the calling with which I have been called” (Ephesians 4:1), a life that reflects Your eternal values.