Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
1 John 5:12
The name of this blog is SalvationLife. I wanted to name it “Salvation is a Life,” after one of Dallas Willard’s chapters in The Spirit of the Disciplines, but figured there’s probably some copyright person out there who wouldn’t like me doing so. Nevertheless, one of the things that I hope to be able to experience fully for myself, and also communicate to others, is, salvation is a life.
I understand this in a couple of ways: Salvation is not only something that happens to us at a point in time when we "asked Jesus into our hearts," or whatever kind of language your tradition puts around it. Nor is it only something that happens to us after we die, meaning that we get to go to heaven rather than go to hell. It is indeed something that disciples of Jesus have experienced in the past, and will experience in the future, but also something that we are meant to be experiencing today. It's the Wesleyan belief that "I have been saved. I am being saved. I will be saved."
The second meaning, which gives practical shape to the first, is that salvation is not just something that God does to us, in which we are completely passive subjects. Although we are utterly incapable of obtaining salvation (life) for ourselves, the Scriptures clearly indicate that we have a role. As Paul said, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you" (Philippians 2:12-13).
Or, in Dallas’ words, salvation is a life. It is meant to be lived, and it makes us alive.
John communicates this continually, almost to the point of being absurdly repetitive. He rarely writes of "being saved" or of "salvation," but constantly writes of "life.” Just to illustrate the point, I’ve listed below most of the occurrences of “life” and its derivatives in John’s writings. This doesn’t include references which obviously refer to life, but don’t use the word (like Jesus’ or Lazarus’ resurrections). Read through the list if you can, but just seeing how long it is will give you the idea that John (and the whole of scripture) really thought this was important. Notice how many times “salvation” and “life” could be interchangeable and still keep the meaning.
Since “eternal life” has been a misused phrase, contributing to our conception of salvation only pertaining to the sweet by and by, rather than the here and now, I’ve changed John’s uses of “eternal life” to “the life that lasts forever.” Otherwise, everything is a quotation from the NRSV:
- "...in him was life, and the life was the light of all people" (John 1:4).
- “And the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14).
- "And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have the life that lasts forever. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have the life that lasts forever" (John 3:14-16).
- "Whoever believes in the Son has the life that lasts forever; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God's wrath" (John 3:36).
- "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water" (John 4:10).
- "...The water that I give them will become in them a spring of water gushing up to the life that lasts forever" (John 4:14).
- "Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes" (John 5:21).
- “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has the life that lasts forever, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life. Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself” (John 5:24-26).
- “...those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:29).
- “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have the life that lasts forever; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40).
- “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for the life that lasts forever, which the Son of Man will give you” (John 6:27).
- "For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world" (John 6:33).
- “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35).
- “This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have the life that lasts forever” (John 6:40).
- “...whoever believes has the life that lasts forever. I am the bread of life.” (John 6:47-48).
- "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh" (John 6:51).
- "Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have the life that lasts forever" (John 6:53-54).
- "Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever" (John 6:57-58).
- “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63).
- “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of the life that lasts forever” (John 6:68).
- "...let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, 'Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38)
- “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
- "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:10-11).
- “I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15).
- “I lay down my life in order to take it up again” (John 10:17).
- “I give them the life that lasts forever, and they will never perish” (John 10:28).
- "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die" (John 11:25-26).
- “Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for the life that lasts forever” (John 12:25).
- “I know that his commandment is the life that lasts forever” (John 12:50).
- “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
- "In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live" (John 14:19).
- “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
- "...to give the life that lasts forever to all whom you have given him. And this is the life that lasts forever, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (John 17:2-3).
- "But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31).
- “We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the life that lasts forever that was with the Father and was revealed to us” (1 John 1:1-2).
- “Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light” (1 John 2:10).
- “the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever” (1 John 2:17).
- “this is what he has promised us, the life that lasts forever” (1 John 2:25).
- “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have the life that lasts forever abiding in them. We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another” (1 John 3:14-16).
- “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9)
- “...if we love one another, God lives in us” (1 John 4:12)
- “...God gave us the life that lasts forever, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have the life that lasts forever” (1 John 5:11-13).
- “...you will ask, and God will give life to such a one” (1 John 5:16).
- “He is the true God and the life that lasts forever” (1 John 5:20).
- “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever” (Revelation 1:17-18)
- “To everyone who conquers, I will give permission to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7).
- “These are the words of the first and the last, who was dead and came to life” (Revelation 2:8).
- “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
- “...I will not blot your name out of the book of life” (Revelation 3:5).
- “whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne” (Revelation 4:9-10).
- “...he will guide them to springs of the water of life” (Revelation 7:17).
- “...him who lives forever and ever” (Revleation 10:6).
- “...after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered them” (Revelation 11:11).
- “...They came to life and reigned with Christ” (Revelation 20:4).
- “...another book was opened, the book of life” (Revelation 20:12).
- “To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life” (Revelation 21:6).
- “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:1-2).
- “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life” (Revelation 22:14).
- “Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift” (Revelation 22:17).