A Time When Life Can Be as Long as You Want It
ASIDE from taking reasonable care of our bodies, we have little control over the length of our lives. Jesus Christ asked: “Who of you by being anxious can add a cubit to his life-span?” (Luke 12:25) Honesty, morality and the exercise of self-control and love can help to preserve our life, but cannot ‘stretch it out.’
Jesus, when speaking of our helplessness to make our lives longer, was referring to this present life in which all mankind, due to imperfection, can look forward only to dying. This imperfection is due to sin. “Sin is lawlessness,” and is what causes people to do “little” or “big” lawless things. (1 John 3:4) And sin is not merely lawlessness against our fellowmen or against governments, but is lawlessness against God, the Universal Lawmaker and the one responsible for our lives. Therefore, sin works in us against our life, and as long as a person has sin, which reveals itself in human imperfection, he can never increase his life-span.
But God purposes a time when an individual can live as long as he desires, not by his own efforts, but by God’s arrangement.
Requirements for Long Life
Men of science overlook, not only the cause of death, but also the prime requirements for gaining everlasting life. Not only do we need natural food, but we must also have spiritual food to stay alive. Almighty God had this vital fact recorded in his Word, the Bible: “Not by bread alone does man live but by every expression of Jehovah’s mouth does man live.” (Deut. 8:3) When the Son of God, Jesus Christ, came to earth, he repeated that statement and also said: “Just as the living Father sent me forth and I live because of the Father, he also that feeds on me, even that one will live because of me.” “I have come that they might have life and might have it in abundance.”—John 6:57; 10:10; Matt. 4:4.
So, apart from Jehovah God and his spiritual provisions through Jesus Christ, there can be no indefinite continuance of life. To gain life, one must take in spiritual food or spiritual knowledge. In regard to living forever, Jesus said: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—John 17:3.
Besides spiritual food, man needs something else if he is to live forever. He needs to be relieved of the inheritance of sin and death. But how could this be done? God, in his love, arranged for his Son to give his perfect human life as a ransom. Jesus said that he came “to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matt. 20:28) He gave his perfect human life as a ransom to bring people out of slavery to sin and death. (Rom. 5:21) That sacrifice provides the basis for the restoring of vital good relations with God, the Life-Giver.
To benefit from that sacrifice, however, one must have faith in God’s Son and what he accomplished on man’s behalf, just as Jesus said: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16.
God’s Rulership Needed
People can exercise faith in that provision of God now, and may do so, but their life-span is not lengthened measurably beyond the average. Why not? Are the promises of God through Christ untrue? No, but it is because something else is needed. That is a government, the long-awaited kingdom of God, that will enforce God’s law. It must do away with lawlessness in the earth. It must abolish all man-made forms of government and bring in an entirely new system of things. Only in that way can an environmental “atmosphere” be created that will enable those who desire to live lawfully to do so to the full extent. Otherwise, we would have constant repetition of world history. The greedy and unscrupulous would continue to take advantage of the honest and upright ones.
But with the enforcing of God’s just and righteous laws in the earth righthearted persons will have protection. And with such conditions, it is logical that most people will see the advantages of living under such a government and will be happy to do the right thing. The Bible states the principle: “When there are judgments from you [God] for the earth, righteousness is what the inhabitants of the productive land will certainly learn.”—Isa. 26:9.
At the time that God takes action to remove this present system of things on the earth, do those practicing what is right according to God’s commands have to die? In other words, will they have an end to their life, or can they live on with an unbroken life-span? About what takes place at that time, we have Scriptural descriptions to answer our question. The prophet Daniel, writing of that time, said: “In the days of those kings [who would be ruling at the time of the end] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.” (Dan. 2:44) God’s government over earth will not change hands or come to an end. Those on the Kingdom’s side, on earth, will therefore receive its protection for survival. They do not need to be put to death. If they seek God’s kingdom and practice God’s righteousness, they can live as long as God rules the earth, which is forever.—Matt. 6:33; compare Psalm 37:37-40.
Hope for the Living and the Dead
Another most encouraging prophecy is the vision that Jesus Christ gave to the apostle John. John actually saw a visionary representation of the people who will receive the protection of that Kingdom. He was shown a great crowd of indefinite number and was told: “These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation [the crushing and the putting to an end of world governments].” There John was told that God’s tent (of protection) would be spread over them, and that they would be led to “fountains of waters of life.”—Rev. 7:9, 14-17; compare Psalm 145:20.
How, then, can a person live as long as he desires under the rule of God’s selected King, Jesus Christ? It will be by his choice to live in willing obedience to the laws of that Kingdom government. An opportunity will be afforded also to those who have died in the past, and who will be resurrected, to show if they will accept God’s provisions under right conditions. The apostle John describes what he saw further along in the vision, saying:
“I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds. And the sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Hades gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds.”—Rev. 20:12, 13.
Those who then obey will gradually be healed of their imperfection. The same vision depicts the life-giving benefits of Christ’s sacrifice as flowing in a stream, and adds:’
“And on this side of the river and on that side there were trees of life producing twelve crops of fruit, yielding their fruits each month. And the leaves of the trees were for the curing of the nations.”—Rev. 22:1, 2.
This healing by the symbolic “leaves” will continue through the thousand-year reign of Christ until all those maintaining faith in Christ’s atonement sacrifice and who render obedience to him will have reached human perfection of mind, heart and body. (Rev. 20:4) The death produced by sin no longer will pull them down, for “the sting producing death is sin.” Then the death that we have inherited from our sinful forefathers will be no more. Then it can be said: ‘The last enemy, death, has been brought to nothing.’—1 Cor. 15:26, 56.
So, during the thousand-year period of the absolute rule of the kingdom of God, every individual on earth can choose to live on and on, or he can terminate his existence at any time he chooses. If he hates to do what is right and does not have love, respect and regard for his fellowman, and particularly if he does not appreciate the loving-kindness of God, he can choose to be disobedient. But he cannot continue living, for during this time those whose deeds disqualify them from being written in the “book of life” will be put to death permanently. They will be “hurled into the [symbolic] lake of fire,” “the second death,” from which there will be no resurrection.—Rev. 20:14, 15.
Hence, it is just as Moses said to the Israelites as they were about to enter the Promised Land, to live under God’s government there: “Choose life in order that you may keep alive.” We may now make a choice, not merely to prolong our present life, as those Israelites then could do, but to assure permanent life in a “new earth”—an unbroken life-span.—Deut. 30:19; 2 Pet. 3:13.
Is this not fully desirable? Certainly it is to those who appreciate life. But if a person cannot tolerate righteous conditions and insists on carrying on practices that bring harm to himself and his fellowman, he has no place in the “new earth” society.
Bible Knowledge Will Help You to Choose Life
It all comes down to the question: Do you want to live forever? You may not be able to do much toward your life now, except make it more purposeful, better and happier, while entertaining a hope for the future. But you can choose now how long you want to live in ‘the life that is to come.’ (1 Tim. 4:8) Choosing life now by taking hold of God’s instructions and provisions, you may be among the “great crowd” that survives the destruction of the present system of things, which all the evidence indicates is near at hand. Or you can join them in the righteous “new earth” by a resurrection.
To strengthen yourself to maintain a God-pleasing course in the midst of a frustrated, confused and corrupt world, you will want to identify and associate with “God’s household, which is the congregation of the living God, a pillar and support of the truth” in the earth. (1 Tim. 3:15) Those now looking forward to Christ’s Kingdom rule over earth are striving to live so as eventually to inherit life and are happy to help you in your sincere search to see from the Bible what is the truth that leads to life and what is the true congregation of God. Jehovah’s Witnesses devote their time and energy freely and voluntarily to assisting all seekers of Bible truth, that they may find the way to “everlasting life.”—John 3:16.
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Only by means of Christ’s ransom sacrifice can mankind be recovered from sin and death
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God has provided opportunity for endless life-span for those who have died
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During Christ’s Kingdom rule, obedient humans will partake of God’s provisions for eternal life, a part of which provisions are represented by the symbolic “trees of life”
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By study of the Bible with the help of others having faith in God, one can get the truth that leads to life