The Only Way to Everlasting Life
“I am the way and the truth and the life.”—JOHN 14:6.
1, 2. To what did Jesus compare the way to everlasting life, and what is the import of his illustration?
IN HIS famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus compares the way to everlasting life to a road that a person enters through a gate. Notice that Jesus emphasizes that this way to life is not an easy one, saying: “Go in through the narrow gate; because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into [everlasting] life, and few are the ones finding it.”—Matthew 7:13, 14.
2 Do you get the import of this illustration? Does it not reveal that there is but one road, or way, leading to life and that it will require careful attention on our part to avoid straying from that way to life? What, then, is this only way to everlasting life?
Role of Jesus Christ
3, 4. (a) How does the Bible show the vital role of Jesus in our salvation? (b) When did God first reveal that mankind could gain everlasting life?
3 Clearly, Jesus has an important role relative to that way, as his apostle Peter proclaimed: “There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven [except that of Jesus] that has been given among men by which we must get saved.” (Acts 4:12) Similarly, the apostle Paul declared: “The gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) Jesus himself revealed that the only way to everlasting life is through him, for he declared: “I am the way and the truth and the life.”—John 14:6.
4 So it is crucial that we accept Jesus’ role in making everlasting life possible. Let us, therefore, examine his role more closely. Do you know when, after Adam sinned, Jehovah God indicated that mankind could enjoy everlasting life? It was right after Adam’s fall. Let us now examine how the provision of Jesus Christ as mankind’s Savior was first foretold.
The Promised Seed
5. How can we identify the serpent who seduced Eve?
5 Jehovah God identified in symbolic language the promised Savior. He did this when he pronounced sentence upon “the serpent” who had spoken to Eve and had tempted her to disobey God by eating the forbidden fruit. (Genesis 3:1-5) Of course, that serpent was not a literal snake. It was a powerful spirit creature who is identified in the Bible as “the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan.” (Revelation 12:9) Satan used this lowly animal as his mouthpiece to seduce Eve. Thus, in sentencing Satan, God said to him: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He [the woman’s seed] will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.”—Genesis 3:15.
6, 7. (a) Who is the woman that bears the “seed”? (b) Who is the promised Seed, and what does he accomplish?
6 Who is this “woman” for whom Satan has enmity, or hatred? Just as “the original serpent” is identified in Revelation chapter 12, so is this woman that Satan hates. Observe in Re 12 verse 1 that she is said to be “adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, and with the twelve stars on her head.” This woman represents God’s heavenly organization of faithful angels, and the “male child” to whom she gives birth represents God’s Kingdom, with Jesus Christ ruling as King.—Revelation 12:1-5, The Jerusalem Bible.
7 Who, therefore, is the “seed,” or offspring, of the woman, mentioned at Genesis 3:15, that will bruise Satan “in the head,” thus giving him a deathblow? It is the one whom God sent from heaven to be born miraculously of a virgin, yes, the man Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-23; John 6:38) Chapter 12 of Revelation reveals that as a resurrected heavenly Ruler, this Seed, Jesus Christ, would take the lead in the conquest of Satan and would establish, as Revelation 12:10 says, “the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ.”
8. (a) What new thing did God provide in connection with his original purpose? (b) Who constitute God’s new government?
8 This Kingdom in the hands of Jesus Christ is thus a new thing that God provided for in connection with his original purpose for humans to enjoy everlasting life on earth. After Satan’s rebellion, Jehovah immediately acted to undo all the bad consequences of wickedness by means of this new Kingdom government. When on earth Jesus revealed that he would not be alone in this government. (Luke 22:28-30) Others were to be selected from among humankind, and these would join him in heaven to share in ruling, and thus they would come to constitute a subsidiary part of the woman’s seed. (Galatians 3:16, 29) In the Bible the number of these corulers with Jesus—all taken from among sinful humankind on earth—is given as 144,000.—Revelation 14:1-3.
9. (a) Why did Jesus need to appear on earth as a human? (b) How did Jesus undo the works of the Devil?
9 Before that Kingdom could begin to rule, however, it was vital that the primary part of the seed, Jesus Christ, appear on earth. Why? Because he had been appointed by Jehovah God as the One “to break up [or, undo] the works of the Devil.” (1 John 3:8) Among the works of Satan was his inducing Adam to sin, which brought the condemnation of sin and death upon all of Adam’s offspring. (Romans 5:12) Jesus undid this work of the Devil by giving His life as a ransom. Thus he provided a basis for the release of humankind from condemnation to sin and death and opened the way to everlasting life.—Matthew 20:28; Romans 3:24; Ephesians 1:7.
What the Ransom Accomplishes
10. How were Jesus and Adam similar?
10 Since the life of Jesus was transferred from heaven to the womb of a woman, he was born a perfect human, untainted by the sin from Adam. He had the potential of living forever on earth. Similarly, Adam was created as a perfect human with prospects of enjoying everlasting life on earth. The apostle Paul had in mind the similarity between these two men when he wrote: “‘The first man Adam became a living soul.’ The last Adam [Jesus Christ] became a life-giving spirit. The first man is out of the earth and made of dust; the second man is out of heaven.”—1 Corinthians 15:45, 47.
11. (a) What effect did Adam and Jesus have on humankind? (b) How should we view Jesus’ sacrifice?
11 The similarity between these two—the only two perfect men to have walked the earth—is underscored by the Bible’s declaration that Jesus “gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.” (1 Timothy 2:6) To whom did Jesus correspond? Why, to Adam when he was still a perfect man! The first Adam’s sin resulted in the condemnation to death of the whole human family. The sacrifice of “the last Adam” provides the basis for deliverance from sin and death, so that we can live forever. How precious Jesus’ sacrifice is! The apostle Peter noted: “It was not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, that you were delivered.” Rather, Peter explained: “It was with precious blood, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb, even Christ’s.”—1 Peter 1:18, 19.
12. How does the Bible describe the undoing of our condemnation to death?
12 The Bible beautifully describes the way that the condemnation to death of the human family will be undone, saying: “Through one trespass [Adam’s] the result to men of all sorts was condemnation, likewise also through one act of justification [Jesus’ entire course of integrity, culminating in his death] the result to men of all sorts is a declaring of them righteous for life. For just as through the disobedience of the one man [Adam] many were constituted sinners, likewise also through the obedience of the one person [Jesus] many will be constituted righteous.”—Romans 5:18, 19.
A Glorious Prospect
13. Why do many feel as they do about living forever?
13 This provision of God should make us so happy! Are you not thrilled that a Savior has been provided? When asked, “Does the prospect of living forever appeal to you?” in a survey once conducted by a newspaper in a major American city, a surprising 67.4 percent of the respondents answered, “No.” Why did they say that they did not want to live forever? Evidently because life on earth is now associated with so many problems. One person said: “I don’t relish the thought of looking 200 years old.”
14. Why will living forever be a complete pleasure?
14 Yet, the Bible is not talking about living forever in a world where people suffer disease, old age, and other tragedies. No, for as Ruler of God’s Kingdom, Jesus will undo all such problems caused by Satan. According to the Bible, God’s Kingdom “will crush and put an end to all” oppressive governments of this world. (Daniel 2:44) At that time, in answer to the prayer Jesus taught his followers, God’s “will” is to “be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9, 10, Today’s English Version) In God’s new world, after the earth has been cleansed of all badness, the benefits of Jesus’ ransom will be applied fully. Yes, all who qualify will be restored to perfect health!
15, 16. What conditions will exist in God’s new world?
15 To people living in God’s new world, this Bible passage will have an application: “Let his flesh become fresher than in youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor.” (Job 33:25) Another Bible promise will also have a fulfillment: “The eyes of the blind ones will be opened, and the very ears of the deaf ones will be unstopped. At that time the lame one will climb up just as a stag does, and the tongue of the speechless one will cry out in gladness.”—Isaiah 35:5, 6.
16 Just think: Regardless of our physical age then, whether we are 80, 800, or even older, our bodies will remain in radiant health. It will be as the Bible promises: “No resident will say: ‘I am sick.’” At that time this promise will also be fulfilled: “[God] will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”—Isaiah 33:24; Revelation 21:3, 4.
17. What accomplishments might we expect of people in God’s new world?
17 In that new world, we will be able to use our magnificent brain in the way our Creator meant us to when he designed it with unlimited learning capacity. Why, just imagine the marvelous things we might accomplish! Even imperfect humans have produced from the storehouse of elements in the earth everything we see around us—cellular phones, microphones, watches, pagers, computers, airplanes, yes, name any item. None of them were made from materials they brought from a faraway place in the universe. With endless life before us, the potential for creative achievement in the coming earthly Paradise will be limitless!—Isaiah 65:21-25.
18. Why will life never be boring in God’s new world?
18 And life will not be boring. Even now we look forward to our next meal, although we may have eaten tens of thousands of meals. In human perfection, we will enjoy to a heightened degree the delicious produce of the Paradise earth. (Isaiah 25:6) And we will have the eternal pleasure of caring for earth’s abundant animal life and enjoying its spectacular sunsets, mountains, rivers, and valleys. Truly, life will never become monotonous in God’s new world!—Psalm 145:16.
Meeting God’s Requirements
19. Why is it reasonable to believe that there are requirements for receiving God’s gift of life?
19 Would you expect to receive God’s grand gift of everlasting life in Paradise without any effort on your part? Is it not reasonable that God would require something? Surely it is. God does not, in effect, just throw the gift at us. He extends it to us, but we must reach out and take it. Yes, effort is involved. You may ask the very question that the rich young ruler asked Jesus: “What good must I do in order to get everlasting life?” Or you may frame the question the way a Philippian jailer did to the apostle Paul: “What must I do to get saved?”—Matthew 19:16; Acts 16:30.
20. What is an essential requirement for everlasting life?
20 On the night before his death, Jesus showed a basic requirement when he said in prayer to his heavenly Father: “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) Is it not a reasonable requirement that we take in knowledge of Jehovah, who made everlasting life possible, and knowledge of the one who died for us, Jesus Christ? Yet, more is required than simply taking in such knowledge.
21. How do we show that we are meeting the requirement of exercising faith?
21 The Bible also says: “He that exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life.” Then it adds: “He that disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.” (John 3:36) You can show that you are exercising faith in the Son by making changes in your life and bringing it into harmony with God’s will. You must reject any wrong course that you may have been following and take action to do what is pleasing to God. You need to do what the apostle Peter commanded: “Repent, therefore, and turn around so as to get your sins blotted out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the person of Jehovah.”—Acts 3:19.
22. What actions are included in following in Jesus’ steps?
22 May we never forget that it is only by exercising faith in Jesus that we can enjoy everlasting life. (John 6:40; 14:6) We show that we exercise faith in Jesus by ‘following in his steps closely.’ (1 Peter 2:21) What is included in doing that? Well, in prayer to God, Jesus exclaimed: “Look! I am come . . . to do your will, O God.” (Hebrews 10:7) It is vital to imitate Jesus in agreeing to do God’s will and dedicating your life to Jehovah. Afterward you need to symbolize that dedication by water baptism; Jesus too presented himself for baptism. (Luke 3:21, 22) Taking such steps is completely reasonable. The apostle Paul noted that “the love the Christ has compels us.” (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15) In what way? Well, love moved Jesus to give his life in our behalf. Should that not compel us to respond by exercising faith in him? Yes, it should compel us to follow his loving example of giving of himself in helping others. Christ lived for doing the will of God; we must do likewise, no longer living for ourselves.
23. (a) To what must those who receive life be added? (b) What is required of those in the Christian congregation?
23 That is not the end of the matter. The Bible says that when 3,000 were baptized at Pentecost 33 C.E., they “were added.” Added to what? “They continued devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to sharing with one another,” Luke explains. (Acts 2:41, 42) Yes, they met together for Bible study and association and thus were added to, or became a part of, the Christian congregation. Early Christians regularly attended meetings for spiritual instruction. (Hebrews 10:25) Jehovah’s Witnesses today also do this, and they would like to encourage you to attend these meetings with them.
24. What is “the real life,” and how and when will it be realized?
24 Millions now are following the cramped road leading to life. Staying on this cramped road takes real effort! (Matthew 7:13, 14) Paul indicated this in his warmhearted appeal: “Fight the fine fight of the faith, get a firm hold on the everlasting life for which you were called.” Putting up this fight is needed to “get a firm hold on the real life.” (1 Timothy 6:12, 19) That life is not the present life of aches and pains and suffering brought upon us by Adam’s sin. Rather, it is life in God’s new world, which will soon be realized when Christ’s ransom sacrifice is applied in behalf of all lovers of Jehovah God and his Son after this system of things is removed. May all of us choose life—“the real life”—everlasting life in God’s glorious new world.
How Would You Answer?
□ Who are the serpent, the woman, and the seed of Genesis 3:15?
□ How did Jesus correspond to Adam, and what did the ransom make possible?
□ What can you look forward to that will make God’s new world so enjoyable for you?
□ What requirements do we need to meet to live in God’s new world?
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For young and old, Jesus is the only way to endless life
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In God’s due time, the old will return to youthful vigor