How Will Everlasting Life Be Attained?
“HOW can everlasting life be attained?’ you may logically ask. ‘If that takes place there will have to be some big changes made.’ That is true. But by whom?
Medical men have long worked to make changes. They have increased man’s average life-span mainly by use of antiseptics and by better sanitation. The decrease in deaths has been most notable in the newborn and the very young.
But as a result of mere human efforts how much longer can you, personally, expect to live? The Encyclopedia Americana (1968 edition, under “Longevity”) reports:
“While man’s life expectancy at birth has almost doubled in [the more ‘advanced’] countries since the mid-19th century, his expectancy at the age of 60 has increased by only one year.”
In the book The Biology of Death author Raymond Pearl states that heredity is a major factor in the secret of long life. Pearl puts this truth in the half-humorous statement: “The best insurance of longevity is . . . a careful selection of one’s parents and grandparents.”
The plain fact is that today medical efforts are admittedly at a virtual standstill as to lengthening of the life-span. And now pollution of air, water and food is becoming more deadly every day, with the threat of shortening life. To whom, then, can one look for long life?
Look to the Source of Life
If one is looking for long life, is it not reasonable to turn to the One who gave man life at the beginning? Only the Creator would fully know all our needs and be able to satisfy them. The Bible says of him: “With you is the source of life.” (Ps. 36:9) “By him we have life and move and exist,” said the apostle Paul to the men of Athens.—Acts 17:28.
Is it not logical, then, to see what God has to say about life? His Word the Bible is the only source that makes any promise of everlasting life on earth or gives any satisfying hope for those who have already died.
At this point the thought may arise: ‘We have had the Bible for centuries. But still we do not see people now living on and on.’ Well, the Bible tells us: “For everything there is an appointed time.” (Eccl. 3:1) It identifies the time when life-giving benefits begin to flow to all obedient mankind. It shows that this time is at hand.
The first man Adam, our forefather, stepped out on a rebellious course of independence from God. He determined to go his own way. He wanted to ‘know,’ to decide, to judge for himself what was good and what was bad. (Gen. 3:5, 22) God has patiently let men try out their “independence.” But now man has reached the peak of trouble. And now is also the time that God has purposed to end wickedness, in this generation, and to bring about conditions in the earth so that those who desire can live forever.—Rev. 11:18.
Just how will he bring this about? When we go to God and his Word, we learn of the provision he has made for man to gain everlasting life.
Need for a “Corresponding Ransom”
Jesus Christ said that he came into the world of mankind that men might have everlasting life. (John 3:16, 17) But how could they gain everlasting life since all mankind inherited sin and death from Adam? Jesus explained: “The Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matt. 20:28) And Jesus’ apostle Paul said that God’s Son “gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.” (1 Tim. 2:5, 6) As you know, a ransom is the means for buying out persons from captivity or slavery. Christ Jesus gave his human life as a ransom to bring persons out of slavery to sin and death. (Rom. 5:21) That sacrifice provides the basis for restoring vital right relations with God, the Life-Giver. But why is Jesus’ sacrifice called a “corresponding ransom”? And how does it bring the needed relief for mankind?
In the case of Adam’s offspring not just any kind of ransom would do. It had to be a “corresponding ransom.” In what way? Well, what valuable possession did Adam lose for himself and all his offspring? It was human perfection. So the real ransom sacrifice would have to correspond to the perfect Adam and possess human perfection. Only thereby could the ransom satisfy God’s perfect justice that requires like for like, a ‘soul for a soul.’—Ex. 21:23-25; Deut. 19:21.
No animal could pay the ransom price, for animals are lower than man. They are not of equal value with man, and so it was “not possible for the blood of bulls and of goats [actually] to take sins away,” as the Bible says. (Heb. 10:1-4) And no man descended from Adam could pay the “corresponding ransom.” Why not? Because they were all imperfect. They all had inherited sin and death.—Rom. 5:12-14; Ps. 49:6-9.
So a perfect man was needed. God provided this need at tremendous cost to himself. As Jesus said: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son . . . For God sent forth his Son into the world . . . for the world to be saved through him.” (John 3:16, 17) How the love of God is magnified by this! For God gave the life of his Son, “the Son of his love,” his “only-begotten Son,” to provide the ransom price.—Col. 1:13; Rom. 5:6-8.
This required his Son’s becoming human to correspond with the perfect Adam. And God accomplished this by transferring his Son’s life from heaven to the womb of the Jewish virgin Mary. (Luke 1:26-37; John 1:14) Since Jesus did not owe his life to any human father descended from the sinner Adam, Jesus was born free from any inheritance of sin. He was, as it were, “an unblemished and spotless lamb,” whose blood could provide an acceptable sacrifice.—1 Pet. 1:18, 19.
New Life Heritage Through Jesus Christ
We belong to an imperfect family, with a heritage of death. The rule has been found to be scientifically true: Short-lived or diseased parents do not transmit the life vigor to their children that strong, healthy parents can. We need a new life heritage. We need regeneration. For that very reason Jesus came to earth. But how does the new life heritage come in?
The Bible’s explanation as to how this is accomplished is both simple and profound—even as the problem of mankind’s dying condition can be simply stated but is profoundly difficult to overcome. First, it should be recognized that at the time of Adam’s sin and his being sentenced to death, his offspring or race were all unborn in his loins and so all died with him. (Compare Hebrews 7:4-19; Romans 7:9.) Jesus as a perfect man, “the last Adam,” had a possible race of offspring unborn in his loins. And when he died innocently as a perfect human sacrifice, this potential human race died with him. Jesus had willingly abstained from marrying and producing a family of his own. Jesus dying as a childless man, his unborn human offspring justly counterbalanced all the race that Adam had reproduced till now.—1 Cor. 15:45; compare Romans 5:15-17.
So, by giving his human life, together with the potential of having children of his own, Jesus Christ bought “parental” life rights that Adam lost. He holds “credit” for those of Adam’s family who desire to draw upon it.
To illustrate how this satisfies justice, we might use the case of a man who has died leaving a large debt on his estate. His children are unable to pay the debt. But a friend with sufficient money redeems the estate from the dead man’s creditors and then divides out portions thereof as inheritance to those who are worthy children. In Jesus’ case, of course, it is not land or other material possessions that he redeems and grants to worthy ones but life, perfect human life.
By providing the “corresponding ransom,” Jesus repurchased all mankind descended from Adam so that they could become his family. He did this by presenting the full value of his ransom sacrifice to the God of absolute justice in heaven. He “entered . . . into heaven itself, now to appear before the person of God” on behalf of the world of mankind.—Heb. 9:24.
Jesus Christ can thus have children on earth, not by natural procreation, but by redemption of Adam’s offspring. This was foretold in Messianic prophecies that show that Jesus will have “offspring” as an “Eternal Father.” (Isa. 53:10-12; 9:6, 7) Jesus would not be an “Eternal Father” for his earthly children if they died off. So for this title to be true of him, the earthly children to whom he becomes father by means of his ransom will be given the opportunity to live forever on earth.
Therefore, by faith in Jesus Christ the dying children of dead Adam can transfer to the family of a Father who lives forever. This “Eternal Father” can regenerate their minds and bodies with life, and he can thereafter maintain that life vigor in them. (Rom. 6:23) Yes, by faith in Jesus Christ you can have a new life heritage. And this entire arrangement for a new life heritage manifests Jehovah God’s wisdom and his righteousness in a wonderful way. How so? In his perfectly balancing the scales of justice while at the same time showing undeserved kindness and forgiving sins.—Rom. 3:21-26.
Righteous Rule Also Through Jesus Christ
To enjoy everlasting life on earth in happiness man needs more than a new life heritage. He needs a new government. God has provided this also through Jesus Christ. This new government is God’s kingdom. For this kingdom Jesus taught his followers to pray: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.”—Matt. 6:10.
For God’s will to be done upon earth the present system of things must end. And the Bible shows that very soon now God’s kingdom will crush out of existence and replace all systems of man that now cause such grief. (Dan. 2:44) That time of destruction is described by Jesus as “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” (Matt. 24:21) After the destruction of this entire wicked system, God’s kingdom, ruling from heaven, will control all of earth’s affairs.
That heavenly kingdom will be the only government that earth will ever have after the end of this wicked system. Its administration will be far superior to anything men have ever devised. Ruling with justice and righteousness, it will work to bring benefits to all, not to just a few.
What assurance do we have that the ruler Jesus Christ will never permit corruption in high places? Because he has proved his subjection to the Creator. And he rules, not for his own glory, but for God’s, and for the benefit of earth’s population. Of him it is written that he ‘loves righteousness and hates lawlessness.’ (Heb. 1:9) The Bible speaks of his loyalty and the exalted position that he has been granted in these words:
“Christ Jesus, who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. . . . More than that, when he found himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake. For this very reason also God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name.”—Phil. 2:5-11.
Re-creative Work Under Kingdom
Even after the end of this system of things, the survivors of the “great tribulation” will still have imperfect bodies. Some will need restoration of diseased or missing organs. This healing of all mankind will take place during the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke of this time as “the re-creation, when the Son of man sits down upon his glorious throne.”—Matt. 19:28; Rev. 20:1-6.
So Jesus will do re-creative work from heaven. When he was on earth, we remember, he healed persons with every kind of disease and restored body parts and functions, such as withered hands and sight to those blind from birth. He even resurrected a man who was dead for four days. Some of his healing miracles he performed from a distance. So, from heaven itself, Jesus can do re-creative work in a complete way here on earth.—Mark 3:1-5; John 9:1-7; 11:38-44.
Gradually the human race will be brought to perfection. It will take time to bring perfection of life to all who desire it. Along with this will be the work of making the environment suitable for perfect humans, a place of delight.
Yes, the tent of God will be “with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be any more. The former things have passed away.” The former things with all their troubles will seem as out of place then as the future conditions that God’s Word describes may seem unreal now.—Rev. 21:3, 4.
So, everlasting life is attainable. It can be attained only by transferring from the dying family of Adam to a new life heritage by Jesus Christ, the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”—Isa. 9:6.
You can achieve what the scientific writer called “the best insurance of longevity,” namely, a choice of a new parent—the “Eternal Father,” Jesus Christ. He can infuse real life into you. This is your opportunity now. But is there something you must do to prepare for life everlasting under his rule?
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Living forever under present conditions may not sound appealing. But everlasting life in Paradise—would this not be an endless joy?
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Would it not be wonderful to welcome loved ones back from the dead?