“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” – John 17:3-4
The work of Jesus was to bring glory to God by making a way for us to be reconciled to God. His perfect life, death, and resurrection completed the work needed for us to have eternal life.
Eternal life is not merely living forever. It’s not just an escape from hell. Nor is it simply being in heaven with a perfect body without sin, pain, or sorrow. It isn’t just seeing loved ones again or being rewarded for our works for the Lord. All of those things are wonderful blessings that are included with salvation and eternal life. They are worth looking forward to and should be cause for thanksgiving and praise to God. But true, abundant, everlasting life is found in relationship with God. It is knowing Jesus and through Jesus knowing the Father and receiving the Spirit.
We are eternal beings one way or the other, either with God or separated from Him. The “life” in eternal life comes from our connection and relationship with God. Truly knowing God brings life. Earlier in John’s gospel Jesus said,
“I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10b
To know God through Christ and to be known by God is to be loved by Him with the same love that the Father has for the Son.
“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” – John 17:25-26
In the midst of Paul’s famous teaching about love in 1 Corinthians 13 he writes,
“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” – 1 Corinthians 13:12
Paul is writing about love and that we only “know in part” now, but “when completeness comes, what is in part disappears” and we “shall know fully, even as [we are] fully known.”
Now we know in part how much God loves us, but in the future we will know fully.
This is eternal life, fully knowing God and through that relationship fully knowing His love.