I was listening to another Piper Sermon this morning and I knew I needed write this down and study it and make it part of my own understanding to share with others. I listen to Piper sermons devotionally because his words draw me to Christ in a tearful, making me love so much more, and that is such a good thing.
But there is more to the motivation for writing these particular notes. Piper is a Calvinist and I am maybe a three point Calvinist. So in the intramural debate between Christians on this subject we would be on opposite teams but at the same school. What I heard in this Sermon was a list of the Stages of progression to Eternal Life. And these stages necessarily include how a person gets Eternal Life in the first place. Everything he said, I could agree with completely even given my three point Calvinist stance. (I don't like using that term to describe me but it makes my point most plainly in this context.)
Stage 1. Eternal life is in Christ.
In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
Jesus said, "I am the way the truth and the life."
If we are going to find Eternal Life, we must look to Christ and find it in Him.
Stage 2. Eternal life comes to us through the word of Christ.
(Peter talking to Jesus) "To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life"
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God ... and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us
We can only know about Eternal Life through the words of Christ, and what he taught.
Stage 3. In the hearing of the words of eternal life, God draws people to Christ.
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him
This is the wooing and drawing of God, without which no one would by nature choose Him.
But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
Some will resist this wooing even though they have heard the words.
God must give you a measure of faith to be able to see Jesus and who He really is.
Is that regeneration, or we still talking about God's drawing, beckoning people?
Stage 4. We receive eternal life through believing in Christ.
When we hear the words of life, and use that measure of faith that God has given us to act on God's drawing power, and believe in Jesus, we receive him into our lives and with him we receive eternal life, because he is eternal life.
John 15:5 (NKJV)
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
It is the vine that has the sap of life which can course through the branches giving them life. If the branches are not attached to the vine, they are dead.
Stage 5. In believing we have eternal life NOW, not just in the future.
John 5:24 (NKJV)
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
This is not a future event but an event that occurs at the moment of hearing Jesus' Word and believing it. In the above verse, both words that speak of possessing eternal life and passing into life are present tense not future!
Stage 6. This eternal life is a personal relationship with God the Father and God the Son.
John 17:3 (NKJV)
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Eternal Life is not an insurance policy against death and hell. Eternal Life is all about knowing God and Jesus intimately. And that does not happen in an instant. It will take an eternity to know the fullness of God.
Stage 7. Eternal life is not interrupted at death.
John 11:25-26 (NKJV)
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.
Stage 8. Eternal life will be made complete when our bodies are raised from the dead and reunited with our spirits.
John 6:40 (NKJV)
And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
There is a period of time when we will not have our new ressurected bodies if we die before the rapture. We will enjoy the presence of Christ in heaven in our spiritual bodies.
Romans 8:23 (NKJV)
Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
We will eagerly wait in heaven for that day when we are reunited with out perfected ressurected bodies.
Stage 9. Eternal life will last for ever and ever.
Have you ever worried about getting bored in heaven? Don't worry, it will take an eternity to discover all the beauty, majesty, wonder, and splendor of God and all that He is. And it will take an eternity to fully grasp the depth and height and width and breadth of God's Love.