home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > APRIL 29th > ETERNAL LIFE IS NOT MERELY A MATTER OF TIME

Caleb was baptised a couple of weeks ago. Whenever we baptise a new believer we always ask them to share their testimony, and while each of our baptism candidates on the day Caleb was baptised gave inspirational testimonies, many people considered Caleb’s testimony one of the best they had ever heard.

Caleb is 11-years-old. He shared his story of being raised by a mum and dad who taught him the truth of God’s Word and to love God. He then shared that his testimony could be summed up by his favourite bible verse, John 3:16 — which is probably also the most favourite verse of most Christians today. In the years ahead, Caleb will come to increasingly understand more about the depth of his favourite verse—in deeper and richer ways. Of course, the beauty of John 3:16 is that it is plain and simple enough for even a young person to have their life changed by it. A child can well understand that in John 3:16 God is inviting all people to turn to His Son as their Saviour by simply trusting in Him and that this qualifies a person to avoid hell and to enjoy heaven for eternity

What Caleb will one day come to appreciate about John 3:16, is that when it refers to eternal life it is not just speaking about where a person goes after they die, or even for how long they will be there. Caleb will come to appreciate that eternal life is a part of the dimension where God dwells; it is where Christ ultimately dealt with all human sin, and that eternal life reflects each of God’s attributes.

The opening four words of this verse tell us something profound about God. It does not say, For the gods so loved. At the time John 3:16 was written, the Greco-Romans had already developed many mythical gods (some of which we find referred to in Acts 14:12-13). These man-made gods were selfish, capricious, vengeful, sexually immoral, and indifferent to the plight of humans. But the One and True God so loved. A few years after John had written John 3:16, he wrote to the Ephesian churches an echo of John 3:16 when he described this love of God and what it involved:

In this the love of God was made manifest among us,
that God sent His only Son into the world,
so that we might live through Him. In this is love,
not that we have loved God but that He loved us
and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
First John 4:9-10

While God is the subject of John 3:16, the world is the object of it. The pagan gods of the Greco-Roman world were largely territorial. But the God of John 3:16 is the God of the whole world. He alone is worthy and glory and the credit for creating everything. Unlike the territorial gods of the Apostle John’s gentile world, the True God actually cared for people—but just with mere sympathy—but with an unconditional practical love for all people: the world. While the pagan gods could be cajoled into assisting a human if the right sacrifice or ceremony was offered, the love that the True God has for everyone around the world (including those not yet born) even extends to those who despise Him and wilfully disobey Him!

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person
—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—
but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:7-8 

The false gods of the Greco-Roman world were not givers. They were takers. They demanded things of people. But the True God is a giver. The God of John 3:16 is not a minimalist giver. He is a generous, lavish, giver. All that anyone could rightly give Him is their thanks.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
James 1:17

It was claimed that the Greco-Roman gods sired earthly children after having sex with human women. Allegedly, Caesar Augustus was sired by Zeus. This is why, just above Caesarea-Philippi, near the beginning of the assent up Mount Hermon, there was a temple to Caesar Augustus where he was worshiped as the son of Zeus. But the True Son of God was not sired as the result of fornication or lustful misadventure by a wayward deity. He took on the form of a physical human (“a zygote”) with the genetic material of Mary’s ovum. She was a virgin when she miraculously conceived Him, and importantly, she was also a descendant of King David.

¶ Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:18-21

Significantly, it was not this event which made God a father. John 3:16 states that God sent His Son –  that is, God the Father was eternally the Father and therefore must have always had an eternal Son. He was sending His Son, not someone who would become His Son. Early in the fourth century there was a monk, by the name of Arius, who taught that Jesus was a created being and was formally Michael the Archangel. The Church called its second ecumenical council to discuss whether this was a heresy (a false and dangerous teaching). Eventually, it a young north African bishop’s assistant, Athanasius, who convinced the council meeting at Nicaea that Arius was wrong and this doctrine (which “Jehovah’s Witnesses” today perpetuate) was heresy. His arguments for demonstrating this included pointing out that if God is the Eternal Father, He must have had an Eternal (uncreated, always existed, self-sufficient) Son. The result of the council’s decision was the Nicene Creed.  The fact that God the Father had always been in relationship with His Son, and that together they had also share am eternal relationship with the Holy Spirit 

Do you say of Him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world,
‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?
John 10:36

John 3:16 announces a remarkable offer. Whosoever may approach the throne of God and seek mercy, pardon, and forgiveness for their sins! It doesn’t matter what anyone has done, how many times they have done it, who knows what they’ve done, or how many they have hurt, they can still come humbly before God and accept that the punishment they deserve has been paid for by Christ. As a result, they will live beyond the grave when Christ raises from dead all those who have turned to Him for pardon. 

For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son
and believes in Him should have eternal life,
and I will raise Him up on the last day.”
John 6:40

To believe in is to put trust in. For a Hebrew trust resulted in action. All anyone has to do to become a follower of Christ is believe in Him. The action this produces is confession of guilt and a request for pardon. This was assurance that Jesus gave the penitent thief on the cross beside Him. This thief clearly did not have any opportunity to do anything particularly religious to deserve God’s pardon in his final hours of life.

The consequence of rejecting God’s offer of eternal pardon is to eternally perish. C.S. Lewis described this rejection of God’s offer of salvation as being eternally confined to perpetual loneliness surrounded by others who were also eternally isolated from others in the doom of eternal loneliness and abandonment. But this need not be the case. But it is the risk that anyone takes in rejecting God’s offer of eternal pardon which can only be accepted in this life.

And these will go away into eternal punishment,
but the righteous into eternal life.”
Matthew 25:46

The kind of new life that a forgiven, pardoned, adopted, newly-identified, follower of Christ receives is described as eternal life. It is the kind of life that God enjoys. It is a life of perfect contentment, perfect fulfilment, perfect happiness, perfect peace, and perfect bliss. It brings a child of God into the full expression of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) for eternity. It is not about time or place –  but relationship with God. It is a dimension that only God and those He authorises can move into and out of (which explains how some heavenly creatures can be sent from God’s presence into this dimension of time and space). It also explains how Christ’s death on the Cross meant that He could eternally atone for the sins of mankind (even those yet to be committed) because He could present His life as an atonement for sin in the eternal dimension and then return into His lifeless-body on Resurrection Sunday in this dimension all those years ago. Yes Caleb, there will be much more that you will come to appreciate about your favourite bible verse over the coming years.

The beauty of John 3:16 is that it is so simple it can be understood even by a child; and yet, as a believer’s knowledge of God and His Word grows, he or she will come to discover that there is a wealth of spiritually-satisfying treasure to be mined! In its simplest form, Jesus died so that all those who turn to Him in trust will go to heaven after leaving this life. Dig a little deeper though, and you also discover that the eternal life on offer is not merely about a location (‘heaven’) or a duration of time—but a quality of life and status of existence that elevates the believer into a glorified state with God Himself (Rom. 8:17; 1John 3:2). Our lives are now the training ground for our status as co-regents and co-rulers with Christ over all of His redeemed creation (1Cor. 6:2-3)! 

But, as it is written,“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him”
First Corinthians 2:9

Your Pastor,


Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

1 Comment

  1. LYDIA

    It was the response to the last question, before Caleb was submerged into the baptismal water that touched my heart. A matter of fact expression of faith. You couldn’t have it shorter and you couldn’t have it sweeter.
    There is another little boy who I have met, a few years younger than Caleb, who loves Jesus so much too. He draws pictures of Him always. Not pictures of trucks but just Jesus and His life. He tells his classmates at school about Him too although he was surprised and shocked that none of them knew this Jesus when he first started school. I met him again a few months back and he is still at it, drawing pictures of the Jesus he loves totally. There is progression in the maturity, yet the love is still as real.
    To teach or not to teach about Jesus. Parents can do one thing or another but only one leads to life eternal.


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Domestic violence, sexual assault, date-rape, sexual trafficking of minors, marital infidelity, street-gang violence, illicit drug abuse, high rates of suicide, increased ‘deaths of despair’, homelessness, are all major problems in our culture right now. Governments regard these issues as matters of justice (punishing offenders) while agencies regard these issues as matters of social justice (helping victims). Both are valuable but neither are equipped or positioned unilaterally to solve the causes of these growing problems, and many in both of these sectors believe that it can mever be solved. But I believe they can be. And I need your help. To achieve this, I propose two outrageous, yea – ridiculous – strategies. They are outrageous because they are simple (although not easy); and, they are ridiculous because, to materialists, these are just fanciful, idealistic and supernatural nonsense. However, I have history on my side. It will involve men and women, young and old. But I particularly need all men to read what I am about to propose and for them to share this with other men and together with everyone else help me to bring about the biggest social and cultural revolution our country has ever seen.


Perhaps I was a little unfair to this gentleman though, because it is a well established fact that all men are born with selective hearing (as every wife can testify to) and perhaps this may sometimes spill over into incidents such as the one I just recounted(?). But I also suspect that some women have a similar deficiency.

A few years ago the kids and I were a little concerned about Kim’s hearing difficulties. As it turned out, one day outside a shopping centre that we had just arrived at, there was a government sponsored mobile hearing clinic. We urged the reluctant Kim to go in and have her hearing checked. Much to the utter shock of myself and our children the clinician told Kim that she had “perfect hearing”! This then proved that even women may be able to imitate the innate ability of a man to produce selective hearing 🙂 Therefore, there is a high likelihood that both men and women are equally subject to hearing difficulties.

The problem with any hearing difficulties is that it inevitably leads to the far more serious problem of misunderstanding. Misunderstanding is at the heart of nearly every relationship problem that anyone will ever face. Misunderstandings due to mis-hearing or mis-communication frequently leads to disputes that if not handled correctly, which it is mostly not, is likely to lead to relationship breakdowns. But there is a different – almost secretive – way to deal with misunderstandings. Let me explain by using several pictures that will make my point. 


Mark Lowry is normally comedic. But his now classic Christmas song is no joke! It presents baby Jesus as the eternal God the Son, the creator of heaven and earth, the Saviour of the world, the Redeemer of all humankind who turn to Him, the all-conquering Lamb of God, and the Great Judge of all people, the I AM. The event of His miraculous conception is known as the incarnation (God becoming human). But the incarnation was not Jesus the Christ’s first entrance into our world. In fact, it is as though He felt a divine right to enter our world any time He chose. These various appearances of Jesus prior to His incarnation are referred to as theophanies (appearances of God) or more particularly as Christophanies (appearances of God the Son). I want to highlight one of these in particular…


We have all seen parents abruptly terminate conversations with other adults to keep an eye on their children. Children can wander about easily. They could get involved in acts that are detrimental to themselves. Parental instincts, often reflected more in the mother, is one of those protective gifts that ensures children are kept safe.

THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 6 – The deGorified Newborn The ReGlorified Lamb of God

One of my favourite stories of concealed identity hiding in plain sight is from Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, Les Miserables, where the escaped convict, Jean Valjean, is pursued for years by now retired Inspector Javert. As it turns out Jean Valjean, who had changed his name to M. Madeleine has now become a successful business man and the Mayor of Toulon. Javert arrives in Toulon and is immediately recognised by Valjean. But Javert does not recognise the now clean-shaven, genteel aristocratic Mayor of Toulon as his nemesis. But when he observes the compassion of M. Madeleine he recalls the time in prison when Jean Valjean had also displayed a similar extraordinary compassion for unfortunate fellow prisoners. The more he observed such acts of kindness and generosity from M. Madeleine the more Javert became convinced of the true identity of Madeleine. There is something about this idea of concealed identity that comes from the story of Christ. The prophet Isaiah foretold that when the Servant of the LORD would appear He would be largely unrecognised – there would be no form, no beauty, that we would desire Him (Isa. 53:2). But how on earth was this possible? How in God’s Name  could those who were created by Him in His image not recognise Him for who He was? The answer to this great puzzle lies in one word: the kenosis.


Andrew, on occasions, used to wistfully say, “You know, all I really want is…” then he would say some ephemeral pleasure, like ‘a drink of coke’, or ‘quiet’, or ‘to get something finished’. So, one day I decided to ensure that his greatest desire (‘all I really want’) was met. This time all he ever wanted was a coffee, so I bounced up and brought him the best cup of coffee I could make and added a little yummy treat to compliment it. A few days later he once again said, “All I really want…” and I interrupted to finish his sentence for him … “was the cup of coffee that I was able to make for you the other day. I bet it was the best ever. I’m so glad I could meet that greatest desire you have.” He never said, ‘All I really want’ again!


THE LORDSHIP of JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 5 – He is the Creator of Heaven & Earth and all things Visible and Invisible
While the pagan religions in the days of the patriarchs, judges, and kings of Israel, all conceived of their gods as territorial, the God of Israel, Yeshua, declared that He was the Creator of all things and that He was Lord of Heaven and Earth. And He still is.

Freedom in Christ encompasses Freedom FROM and Freedom FOR

God offers freedom to those who turn to Him in faith, and this, as Pastor Andrew says, deserves a Toyota jump. It is worth celebrating. The freedom the New Testament speaks of is not just any old freedom. In Romans 8:21 Paul speaks of ‘the glorious freedom of God’s children’ (NET). In the same way you might savour a piece of chocolate as it slowly melts in your mouth, allow your spirit to savour the meaning of the freedom that is yours in Christ in all its richness. This single word freedom is densely packed with meaning, and we benefit from taking time to unpack just a little of what it means for believers.


Throughout the Old Testament, God made certain promises to the patriarchs (Abraham, Issac, and Jacob/Israel) that their descendants, the nation of Israel, longed to see fulfilled. These promises centred on having a holy Homeland and a Messiah. Over the centuries that followed their expulsion from their Land which sent them into exile into Babylon initially and then into Persia, the Israelites became known as Jews. Their expectations of how these divine promises would be fulfilled became greatly embellished with powerful military overtones.

THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 3 – Before He was Incarnate, He was the Eternal LBefore He was Incarnate, He was the Eternal Lordord

For those unfamiliar with the story of the Bible who may be seeking to remedy that unfamiliarity, I would recommend that they start reading in the New Testament. It is there that they will be introduced immediately to Jesus who is the central character of the whole Bible. For many novice readers of the Bible who then attempt to read the Old Testament of the Bible (its first 39 books), it initially seems like they are reading a completely unrelated story which seems to describe a completely different God. But with a little patience and persistence the reader will begin to suspect that this is not a different story but is in fact the prequel to the New Testament. Then a strange supernatural thing happens as they continue to become acquainted with the lives of the patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets, as these characters interact with enemies, giants, angels, strange heavenly beings, and GOD Himself. The reader begins to see in a similar way to what a photographer could not previously see clearly until his camera’s focus was adjusted to make the picture clear — the GOD who created, acted, spoke and judged, frequently referred to Himself as ‘us’, ‘we’, ‘our’, and at times seemed to have conversations with divine characters identified as ‘the LORD’ and ‘Me’ and ‘His Spirit’ (Isa. 48:16). And this all begins to sound very reminiscent of the GOD described in the New Testament as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. With a growing knowledge of the Bible and hunger to understand it, the follower of Christ discovers that literally for thousands of years prior to this day there have been many many others who have also walked the journey of discovery through the mysterious pages of the Bible and have each made a startling discovery about the human Jesus’ pre-existence throughout the pages of the Old Testament.