Lesson Seven – The Inheritance of Eternal Life

The Inheritance of Eternal Life

Lesson Aim:  To show that one difference between our life in Christ today and our inheritance of eternal life at judgment can be understood by the fact that we will not need Jesus as our intercessor to God after we inherit life.


Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.  For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.  Matt. 7:13, 14

This life of which Jesus speaks is symbolized by the Greek word zoe.  In our last lesson we learned how faithful Christians will inherit the kingdom of God at Judgment.  The kingdom of God or heaven has a society and the life of that society is zoe.  In this lesson we will learn how Christians can do more than find life; we will understand how we can inherit the eternal life of God’s kingdom.

Eternal life does not mean a continuation as we are now; no, not even of our inner man.  There will be some changes happen to the “self” of every mature Christian at Judgment.  These changes must happen to the extent that we will not thereafter need Jesus as our intercessor before God.  We will study how changes will happen to faithful Christians at Judgment when we inherit eternal life.  The Apostle Peter said we will be perfected, confirmed, strengthened and established at some point after we have suffered for a little while.  Assuming these are some of our rewards at Judgment, then this is the explanation of what it means to inherit eternal life.

And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.  I Pet. 5:10

A review of the following lessons from this series may be helpful at this point: Part One, Lesson Three, “Truth About Life,” Part Four, Lesson Six, “Jesus, the Law of Life” and Part Five, Lesson Twelve, “The Law of Life.”


And Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life.’   Matt. 19:28, 29

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.  Jas. 1:12

In order to define our inheritance of eternal life, or our crown of life, we must make sure we have a clear understanding of the life which is symbolized by the Greek word zoe in the Bible.  Sometimes Christian teachers and preachers attempt to explain eternal zoe in such a way that it appears God is offering eternal psuche.  In other words, they put their emphasis on the eternal aspect of what we now have in a new body.  This is not only incorrect but it is an approach which will lead us far from an understanding of what we will have when we receive our inheritance of life eternal.

Unfortunately, we are generally much more attuned to psuche than we are zoe; therefore, we prefer to hope for eternal psuche.  God does not offer a physical life that will out last this age.  Still, many scientists are diligently searching for it and some religions offer an extension of physical life, even if it is for only one thousand years.  We must not think of eternal life in this manner.  The life faithful Christians will inherit belong to the same category of life Jesus had before He came to earth.  The life He illustrated while upon earth and the life He now has.  It is eternal, but it is also the quality of His being that is the “light of men.”  John 1:4.  In this we understand Jesus did not come to earth to illustrate His adeptness at executing the many feats possible for mankind to accomplish while in a physical body with the knowledge of good and evil.  He did show us the quality of His psuche was zoe.  In other words, Jesus did not come to demonstrate His ability as a carpenter.  This required the coordination of His mind and body.  This is what is meant by psuche life.  It requires a body and a spirit (Gen. 2:7).  He probably was a good carpenter, but this was not how He was the light of Christians’ lives.  The life He had that served as the law of life (light of life) is zoe, as in eternal life.

 We do not want to define eternal, but the word “life” as it is translated from zoe.  Eternal is translated from the Greek word AIONOIS and it means age-lasting; it outlasts any given aeon.  This does not help us with our understanding of zoe except to say it outlasts the ages.  Our question is, What do we have when we inherit life?”  To attain a correct concept of life, as in eternal life, let us note how Jesus used the Greek word psuche and zoe in the following scripture.

The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.  I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.  John 10:10, 11

If we insert the untranslated Greek word for life into verse ten we would read “that they might have zoe, and have it more abundantly”  In verse eleven we would read “The good shepherd lays down His psuche for the sheep.”  Jesus gave up His psuche in order that we might have zoe.  W. E. Vine defines these two different Greek words translated into the English word life in the following way:  “Speaking generally, psuche is the individual life, the living being, whereas zoe is the life of this being.  Zoe is used of life as a principle, life in the absolute sense, life as God has it.”

When we became Christians we passed out of death into life, zoe (John 5:24).  It takes the phenomenon of the new birth to cause people to pass out of death into life.  This phenomenon can be explained by Bible teachers and preachers even as Paul explained it in Rom. 6:6-11.   John said, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren.  He who does not love abides in death.”  I John 3:14.  Love is an example of the high quality of life of those persons in God’s kingdom.  God is love.  Those who love know God (I John 4:7, 8).  Those who know God have eternal life (John 17:3; I John 5:20).  We have the law of life written on our hearts and minds; consequently, we are conforming to the image of Jesus (Heb. 10:16, 17; Rom. 8:29).

Death is a low quality of relationship between beings.  Those who abide in death do not love, they hate.  They do not follow the law of life in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:2).  They are sinners because they do not subject themselves to the law of life (I John 3:4).  People who are in the world follow death principles, just as Paul explained to the church at Colossae about themselves before they were born again.

Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.  For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.  Col. 3:5-7

Because these Colossian Christians were born again, Paul said, “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”  Col. 3:3.  This is the dynamic action God causes to happen in the new birth.  This is how He causes Christians to pass out of death and into life in Christ now in time.  There will be another time and place when God’s power will cause a dynamic action to happen.  It will be manifested between the time of faithful Christians’ physical death and when we “walk away” from Judgment with our inheritance.  In the Colossian chapter three context, it happened between verses three and four.  Please note how Paul passed over this dynamic action and went directly to a Christian’s situation after he or she inherited eternal life.  He said, “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”  Col. 3:4.

When we are revealed with Christ in glory we will have already inherited eternal life.  In order to understand what we will have at that time, we need an answer to this question: “What is the difference between the life in verse three and the life in verse four in Colossians, chapter three?”  This will help us understand our inheritance of eternal life.  Verse three is a description of Christians now in Christ.  Verse four describes us after we have received our inheritance of life.  In other words, the question that we want to address ourselves to is, “What is the difference between the life faithful Christians have now and the life we will inherit?”

One difference is clear; after we receive our inheritance, we will not need Jesus as our intercessor to God, our Father.  If we will not need Jesus, we cannot have our present potential to sin; however, evidently, we will still have the knowledge of good and evil.  Now, of course, Christians do need Jesus as our priest and sacrifice for our sins, although we have passed out of death and into life.  This is why Paul described the condition of the life Christians enjoy as “justification of life.”

For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.  Rom. 5:17, 18

We are heirs “according the hope of eternal life,” but we do not yet have our inheritance.  We are enjoying the benefits of a son of God in His kingdom because we have been washed, and now we are sanctified and justified (I Cor. 6:11).

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  Titus 3:5-7

The life zoe, we have now “in Christ” must be classified as a justified life because we still have characteristics of death as a part of our character.  Paul told the Colossian saints to work at putting off the following list of death traits.

But now you also, put them all aside, anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices.  Col. 3:8, 9

He told them to put on the following life traits.

And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone, just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.  And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.  Col. 3:12-14

At this point most of us would agree that we have neither put off all of death nor have we put on all of life; therefore, we must have justification of life in order to have passed out of death and into life.  Justification demands a justifier and this is one of Jesus’ present roles (Rom. 3:24-26).  If we will not need Jesus as our justifier after judgment, then something must take place at judgment to eliminate our need for justification.  Unless, of course, we are able to put off all characteristics of death, that is anger, wrath, malice, etc., before we die.  Again, most of us would agree we may not attain this level of spiritual growth.  If we could mature to the point of attaining our goal of developing like Jesus, this would mean we could live in our physical bodies with the knowledge of good and evil without sin.  In this case we would no longer need Jesus as our justifier.  We are aware of the absurdity of this kind of projection.  Only Jesus was able to live in a physical body with the knowledge of good and evil without sin.

What then will take place at Judgment so we do not need Jesus as our sacrifice and high priest?  What will God do to give us this glorious role?  When we have the answer to these questions we will have the answer to the question we asked previously, “What is the difference between the life Christians have now in Christ and the life we will have after we inherit eternal life?  Now let us get our answer.  The power of God will be manifested when He rewards or punishes Christians according to the equation we learned previously for stewardship judgment: OA + T = G.  We learn from the following scripture we will be recompensed according to our deeds.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.  II Cor. 5:10

In the following scripture Paul said God will render to us according to our deeds.  Render is translated from the Greek word apodidomi.  It means to give up or back.

Who will render to every man according to his deeds:  to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.   Rom. 2:6, 7

We have seen in our study of the blessings of physical death how we can attain our goal of immortality.  We will undergo a change in our bodies either through death and resurrection or a change when Jesus comes.  Now we will consider the other two goals listed above.  Glory is translated from the Greek word doxa, and it means the honor resulting from a good opinion.  Honor is translated from the Greek word time, and it primarily means a valuing.  Christians’ goals are to gain a good opinion from God and others and to be of value to both God and man.  We do this by conforming to the image of Jesus and walking in the same manner as He walked.

All of this involves an upgrading of our character, personality and performance.  We are now putting on the new self in the likeness of Jesus.  We will not completely attain our goal before Jesus comes again or before we die.  Because we “fall short of the glory of God” we will need help at Judgment, as we do now (Rom. 3:23).  Our reward must bring us up in character and personality to the fullness of Christ; otherwise, we will always need a Savior (Eph. 4:15).  Jesus will no longer be our Savior after Judgment; consequently, to receive the “crown of life” must mean God will render our character and personality to full grown spiritual maturity.  This is how He will recompense us at Judgment for our good deeds.

The foregoing hypothesis is in line with Jesus’ statement about our resurrection of life.  He said, “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds, to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”  John 5:29.  If we have already passed out of death and into life by our new birth, what did He mean by saying “to a resurrection of life?”  This could mean there will be no resurrection of those death traits within our character.  These death traits are the reason we need justification now in Christ while we work on putting them off.  If, at the resurrection and Judgment, we are raised with only the life qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, this would certainly upgrade our personality.  Also, we would no longer need a Savior.  We would have the life of the great society in heaven as our very own.  This  is what the word inherit means.

Faithful Christians have been promised by Jesus, personally, we will inherit eternal life.  If we will ever have zoe for our own we will need a reward.  We have a promise.  If we seek for glory and honor and immortality we will be given eternal life.  The result is we will have glory, honor and peace (Rom. 2:10).  In other words, at judgment we get what we now have as our goal.  This may be exactly what Peter is promising in the following scripture.

And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.  I Pet. 5:10

God will perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us in our character and personality.  We will be the kind of people we so much want to be now.  We will be like Jesus in that we will have the high quality of character and personality He showed us while He lived on earth.  Even though we are Christians most of us would not like to live eternally in a society with people who have the deficiencies in character and personality like ourselves.  We know about fellowship problems in the church.  But if we remain faithful until death and receive our crown of life, we will all be blended into the beautiful society in heaven.  This society in heaven has the cultural traits of zoe.  This is how we can inherit eternal life.  It will happen because of the manifestation of God’s power as He recompenses us for our good deeds.  A clear eschatological view of our resurrection, final adoption and inheritance will help us to be overwhelmingly conquerors through Him who loved us (Rom. 8:37).

Do not fear what you are about to suffer.  Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days.  Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.  Rev. 2:10

 Questions for Discussion

  1. To what extent will changes be made in faithful Christians’ lives at Judgment?
  2. What are the conditions that must exist in our lives, if we can hope to be candidates for an inheritance of eternal life – a crown of life?
  3. How do some explain our inheritance of eternal life in such a way it appears to be eternal psuche?
  4. In which category of life does the life we will inherit belong?
  5. How did Jesus use the Greek words zoe and psuche?
  6. What does the phenomenon of the new birth attain for the lost?
  7. Explain spiritual life and death.
  8. What is the difference between the life faithful Christians have now and the life we will inherit?
  9. What is the purpose of “justification of life” for Christians?
  10. What are Christians now putting off and putting on?
  11. Understanding we will not have completed the process of our answer to question ten when we die, what must happen at judgment if we will no longer need justification of life?
  12. What will be the basis for God’s rewards at judgment?
  13. Explain Romans 2:5-10 in relation to the aim of this lesson.
  14. What is the significance of Jesus’ statement when He said, “those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life”?
  15. Explain I Peter 5:10 in relation to our inheritance of eternal life.
  16. What is the value of a clear Biblical eschatological view of our inheritance?

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