A Divine Gift: “I Give Unto Them Eternal Life”
This is one reason why we must believe in the eternal security of God’s elect - Eternal life is the gift of God! Eternal life comes to men as a matter of free grace! Man does not have eternal life by nature. Eternal life does not evolve from man’s sinful heart by some mysterious process of “spiritual evolution.” It is given to chosen, redeemed sinners graciously. It is performed in the heart by the power of God’s sovereign grace. The very word “give” forbids the idea that eternal life comes to men as a matter of debt or reward. “The gift of God is eternal life.” There was nothing in our hearts or conduct which caused God to bestow eternal life upon us (Jer. 31:3; Rom. 8:30; Eph. 2:1-4). And there is nothing in the believer’s heart or conduct which can cause God to take away his gift of eternal life (Isa. 54:10; Psa. 89:30-36). It is contrary to the nature and character of God to take away his gifts so freely bestowed (Rom. 11:29). This gift of eternal life is in no way dependent upon the contingencies of this present, mortal existence. As R. L. Dabney wrote, “God was not induced to bestow his renewing grace in the first instance by anything which he saw meritorious and attractive in repenting sinners; and therefore the subsequent absence of everything good in them would be no new motive to God for withdrawing his grace.” If we acknowledge that eternal life is entirely the gift of God, in no way earned by or dependent upon the goodness of man, it must be concluded that those to whom eternal life is given are eternally secure in Christ. This is the conclusion, not of mere human logic and reason, but of Holy Scripture (Eccles. 3:14). Eternal life must of necessity be eternal. I realize that “eternal life” refers more to the quality of the believer’s union with Christ than it does to the duration of his life. But it certainly implies a life of eternal duration. When our Lord says, “eternal,” he does not mean temporary. He means eternal! How can life be eternal if it comes to an end? If I have received from God the gift of eternal life, it is not possible for me, by any act of mine, or upon any grounds, to lose it and perish. “The gift of God is eternal life.” That which is born of God, the new nature created in us by the power of God, cannot sin and cannot die (1 John 3:5-9). The believer’s life must be eternal because it is a life in union with Christ. We who believe are so really and truly joined to Christ that we cannot possibly perish, unless he also perishes. We are truly one with Christ. He says, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” This union between Christ and his people is an immutable, indissolveable union. We are married to him (Hos. 2:19-20; Eph. 5:30). We are members of his body (Eph. 1:23). Can you imagine Christ with a maimed body? Perish the though! Yet, his body would not be complete if so much as one member were lost. The believer’s life in Christ must be a life of eternal duration, because we are preserved in life by the power and grace of God the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:14; 4:30). The Holy Spirit was sent into the world both to call and to preserve God’s elect. He is the Giver of life and the Preserver of life. The Spirit of God is the seal of the new covenant. A seal is a mark of ownership. A seal is that which keeps something legally secure. A seal suggests permanent freshness. A seal means everything is okay! God has sealed every believer in Christ by the grace and power of his Spirit.