In the Book of 1 John, we see that “eternal life” is promised to us by the one who created us. He says that it is written, that he who believes in the name of the Son of God may know you have eternal life (1 John 5:13). But the question we have to ask ourselves is, “What does it truly mean to believe in Jesus?”
That little phrase “whoever believes in me” can be found throughout the New Testament. The most famous place where it is found is John 3:16. Have you ever watched a football game on television and saw people holding up big signs that said “John 3:16?” You know, I remember the guy who used to be the quarterback at Florida, named Tim Tebow. He used to wear black stick-on under his eyes to help against the glare of the sun. And he would write “John 3:16” on them so the TV cameras would pick it up. It was a good evangelization tool. John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” Believing in Jesus. What does it truly mean?
Each of us are created in the likeness and image of God. And because of that, on some level, we all yearn and desire life, truth and love. How do we achieve those three things in it’s fullness? Well, the answer is; “to believe in Jesus.” Why? Because Jesus is pure life, pure truth and pure love.
So, what about that statement from the 5th chapter of 1John? Well, let’s take a look at what John wrote in the chapters leading up to the 5th chapter. First, we see that he wrote over and over again, especially in chapters 2-4, that anyone who claims to love God and yet lives with enmity with his neighbor, is a liar and the truth is not in him. And then he says that anyone who claims to love God must walk as Jesus walked. John sets up a “moral” criteria to judge whether or not somebody has the true spirit of God. In other words, that they walk as Jesus walked, that they not live with enmity with their brother and that they love their neighbor as proof that they love God. It is on this basis that you are promised eternal life. It is not based on a one time conversion experience or some purely interior experience, but it is based on the moral transformation in the heart brought on by the spirit of God, bearing fruit and evidence of a moral quality of their life.
If we look to St. Paul from his letter to the Romans, he reinforces what John tells us; “For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified (Rom 2:12-13).”
So, if we want to have eternal life, then we must truly believe in Jesus, and that means that we should seek to love him as he loves us. In order to do that, Jesus tells us that we must pick up our cross and follow him daily.
Until next time, God bless.