The truth that eternal life starts now should make a massive difference in the way you live.
No longer do Christians need to try to "measure up" for God--we can't anyway--but knowing salvation is secure and starts now takes you off the treadmill of trying to earn your way into heaven.
What a relief that is, but only if you put this knowledge to work. How do you make this truth real in everyday life? How do you begin an entirely new way of thinking?
It's natural to feel grateful for your salvation. It's healthy to praise God and thank him for his goodness and grace. But trying to repay God is a mistake. It's not a quid pro quo (something exchanged for something else) proposition.
When two people are deeply in love, they do nice things for each other not to put the other person in their debt, but because they want to bring joy into the other person's life. That's how it should be between God and his people.
By accepting that your eternal life starts now, you understand that you can't earn something that's already been paid for. Instead, you turn your efforts to glorifying God. You act like Jesus toward other people because you long to do what God wants you to do.
Gone is the misplaced need to earn even a small part of your salvation. Gone is the false motive of trying to impress God with your holiness.
Your motives become pure--to bring honor and glory to God--and your life becomes authentic. You're on the path of spiritual maturity.
While we cannot pay God back for our salvation, we can do the things he asks of us, which results in a life pleasing to God.
Jesus was point-blank clear in what he asks of us:
"Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me." (John 14:21, NIV)
is a post-salvation activity. We do it out of love, not because we're
trying to keep the law. No man or woman can keep the law perfectly.
That's why we need a perfect Savior who did.
Salvation is not a blank check to live any way we please. That mocks Jesus' suffering on the cross. Instead, he calls us to keep his commands. Because we all have an inborn sinful nature, that's not just hard, it's impossible. That's where the Holy Spirit comes in.
No one can live the Christian life through their own strength. It's only as Christ lives through us, by the work of the Spirit, that we can succeed. Keeping Jesus' commands is beyond us, but as we surrender our will to the will of the Spirit, he helps us obey.
There's one other thing. The apostle Paul spells it out:
"You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love." (Galatians 5:13, NIV)
When we serve one another, we serve God. Humility is our goal, not credit. The glory goes to God because it's only through him that we can serve with a pure motive.
Our natural inclination is to be served. To serve and help others is, at first, demeaning, but when we understand we are God's hands and feet in this life, carrying on Jesus' work, we realize that serving is a privilege. Above all, Jesus Christ was a servant.
The Bible teaches that your spirit is immortal. It will live forever.
If you're a Christian, you're going to heaven. Your body will die but your spirit will live on, and eventually you'll receive a new, glorified body like the resurrected body of Jesus.
This knowledge should fill you with a sense of confidence, not that you can sin and get away with it, but that you won't end with your physical death. You'll be alive--forever!
We've become cynical. Many of us singles have been hurt so many times that we have nagging doubts that our eternal life starts now. It seems too good to be true.
Outside Lazarus' tomb, Jesus addressed this very doubt:
"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:24-26)
Jesus is asking you and me this same question today. If we answer "Yes. Lord, I believe it," it will make all the difference in what we do. It will give us a confidence and joy that will last forever.