Eternal Life
John Telgren

God has chosen to give us the scriptures in order to strengthen our faith. Therefore they are important for eternal life. There is perhaps more scholarship, more background study, archaeological study, linguistics, etc. on the Bible than any other ancient book. As important as Bible study is, there is a caveat to it all. Many Jews were meticulous in scripture study and were zealously devoted to them. Listen to what Jesus said to them.

"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me" (Jn 5:39).

Their devotion to the scriptures was admirable, but they left out what held it all together. The scriptures point to Christ. God did something remarkable with his word. In redeeming the lost to himself, he drew them to himself not through more words, but through the word become flesh (Jn 1:14). God's ultimate revelation is spoken to us in his Son (Heb 1:2), which is how God speaks to us in these last days. Jesus, who is God in the flesh, has "explained" God (Jn 1:18). He has manifested God's name, God's character, God's being. To know Christ is to know the Father (Jn 14:7, 9).

Many would say that the goal of our faith is eternal life. The Jews thought that they had eternal life in the scriptures. However, Jesus says this about eternal life:

"This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, who you have sent" (Jn 17:3).

Eternal life is about knowing God. Knowing God is through knowing Christ. No wonder the scriptures testify of Christ. He is life (Jn 11:25; 14:6).

This should stand as a warning to any serious Bible study. Christianity is not merely about neat doctrinal or theological statements. It is not about good scholarship. It is not about memorization of scriptures. All these are important and indispensable, but are not the goal of Christianity. What must be avoided is the inadvertent elevation of the scriptures above the one who inspired the scriptures. What must be avoided is a type of idolatry that is most difficult and most deadly. This type of idolatry could be called "bibliolatry."

The scriptures are to lead us not to the scriptures, but to Christ. The scriptures are to guide us in pleasing our Lord. Christianity is about relationship; It is relationship first and foremost with our Lord, and secondly with our neighbor. It is no accident that God's ultimate revelation was in the flesh, not in more words. God is inherently relational because God is love (1 Jn 4:8).

I believe that a sound, biblical faith goes beyond mere doctrinal formulas. The scriptures are a tool of the Holy Spirit to bring us to Christ, through whom we can grow in our knowledge of the Father, who is love. Therefore, our faith is rooted in love for the Father and love for our neighbor. Everything that is taught in scripture hinges on love (Mt 22:36-40), which is a reflection of the character of God. Therefore, a sound faith is a relational, serving, and caring faith rooted in the love of God. This is knowing God. This is life.