Eternal Life: Exclusive and Inclusive


Isaiah tells the story of our lives: we are all like sheep who go astray.  We turn from the shepherd’s way to our own ways.  When we excluded God it took an amazing miracle of his grace and mercy to get us back. In fact, God has given us eternal life in Jesus…

11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
1John 5:11-12

The core of John’s teaching is reiterated at the end of his letter – God has given us eternal life in his son, Jesus.  If we have Jesus, we have life eternal.  If we do not have Jesus, we do not have life eternal.  What does it mean to have Jesus?  It means to have faith in him – to believe upon him for the salvation of our souls.

This is exclusive.  John is drawing very clear lines in the sand which are offensive to many who choose other paths.  This wouldn’t surprise John.  The good news of Jesus is often called a stumbling block.  Many people cannot get beyond the narrowness of the path.  They cannot get over how Jesus had to become a sacrifice for our sin.  They can’t get over the fact that they are sinners who need forgiveness.

In a smorgasbord world of religious diversity, we prefer to pick and choose our beliefs and create a faith which suits us individually.  Historic Christian teaching doesn’t base or build beliefs around the person.  In fact, in the Christian faith, once you believe, God will change the person miraculously as they are inspired by the faith. 

Jesus made a claim in his life that he is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one could come to the Father God except through him (John 14:6).  Luke records in Acts 4:12 that Jesus’ is the only name under the heavens by which we must be saved.  Again, this is exclusive.  We want to make it optional and self-directed, yet God knows that this is how we got into this mess. What do you mean?

Isaiah tells the story of our lives in chapter 53 of his book.  He says that we are all like sheep who go astray.  We turn from the shepherd’s way to our own ways.  God intervenes in this situation and takes all of our straying – the consequences of our missteps and mistakes and wrongs against God and others – and he lays them on Jesus.

God reveals that self-direction without his influence leads to sin.  And he reveals that he made a way for us to be forgiven for our sin.  Jesus came to earth as a man and died the sacrificial death on the cross for us.  By accepting his death for us, we are forgiven, and we are also restored to God’s original plan for us – eternity with him when we die.

Exclusive.  When we excluded God it took an amazing miracle of his grace and mercy to get us back. Exclusive, indeed.

All we have to do is respond in our hearts that we believe it and God’s forgiveness is available to every single person in the world.  Inclusive.

Inclusive, indeed.

Amen.

Marc Kinna

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