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)!
“That I may know Him!” Fancy that! The apostle who was struck from his horse by the radiant glory of Christ while on the Persecutor’s Road to Damascus; the apostle whom the resurrected Christ appeared to in a vision and spoke directly to him (Acts 18:9-10); the apostle whom Christ used to raise people from the dead and to heal many people miraculously; and, the apostle who testifies that he was caught up to heaven and saw things too wonderful to reveal — this apostle gets toward the end of his life and states that he doesn’t yet know Christ the way he should! This apostle, the apostle Paul, toward the end of his life begins to see his life and his troubles in the light of eternity. And I am thus assured that in this light many of the problems that we face today will fade from our gaze and vanish as we fix our eyes on the Source of eternity’s Light.
A brush with death will sometimes have a dramatic effect upon a person. It can (and has) cause(d) people to re-evaluate their priorities and reset their life on a completely different course. This phenomena has been the basis for several Hollywood blockbusters including, Big Fish (starring Albert Finney, Ewan McGregor, Danny DeVito), and Meet Joe Black (starring Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt) are two great examples. But it’s not just the stuff of movies. Throughout history there have people who have had a brush with death which has shaped them to live a life without fear and accomplish extraordinary things. Examples include Martin Luther, who nearly died in a storm and cried out to God to save him (he is now the second most written about person of all time), and Winston Churchill who nearly drowned as a child. How differently would you live if you knew when you were going to die?