[Papercut Press] 2000-06-10 - The Long Life, or a Life Worth Living

Genesis 47:9 So Jacob said to Pharaoh, "The years of my sojournings are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant have been the years of my life, nor have they attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their sojournings."

CNN has reported that the world's oldest man has revealed the secret of longevity (at least for him). The Carnegie, Oklahoma 110-year old man is the oldest in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Benjamin Harrison Holcomb says that he "always ate a big breakfast, cried a lot, rarely drank and never smoked."

There are three kinds of life described in the Bible: natural life, eternal life, and spiritual life.

  1. Natural life is fleeting. 1 Peter 1:24, "For all flesh is like grass, and all it's glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers. And the flower falls off." Part of living is experience with death. It is common to live as if death were far off, or only a possibility. Wisdom would have us conscious of the reality of the impending end of our natural life and thus live with a proper perspective that focuses on our eternal life and our eternal life.
  2. We also know that eternal life has begun. So eternal life has a double aspect. It is already, and not yet, at the same time. John 3:36 says, "He who believes in the Son has eternal life..." So we know that saving faith secures eternal life for us already. But we also know that eternal life also has a future aspect. There is a future aspect of eternal life. It is what Matthew 19:29 calls an inheritance. "And everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father or mother, or children, or farms from my name's sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life." Jesus, in fact, defined eternal life when He said in John 17:3, "And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."
  3. While we might focus our hope on eternal life, we should focus our whole person, all our totality, on our spiritual life. This spiritual life is founded upon and grounded in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” What are these new things? We know there are many, but here is a short list: Obedience toward righteousness (Romans 6:16-22), Walking by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16,25), Abiding Love (1 John 3:14), Spiritual Mindedness (Romans 8:6), and Spiritual Growth (1 Peter 2:2).

Those of us who have a hope of eternal life should work to develop the spiritual life. It is the spiritual life of the soul that ought to captivate our efforts, strivings, and struggles. The development of those aspects of the short list above, and other related Biblical strivings, are part of longing after holiness. And longing after holiness is one of the chief desires of a Christian. May God give us the ability and strength to long for the spiritual, keep the natural in perspective, and hope for the eternal realities of our lives.

Soli Deo Gloria,