The Lord Is Your Life
By Greg DeGough

 Humans crave life, abundant and full. We crave life because God created us to live. Jesus said that the one who comes to steal, destroy, and kill is an intruder, an undesirable element in the world (John 10:1-10). We agree! Anyone who seeks our destruction and not our welfare is our enemy. Christ says of himself, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). God wants no one to perish (2 Peter 3:9). He wants everyone to live the fullest life possible. In this area, the desires of God and humans are parallel. Yet, despite this agreement, Jesus teaches plainly, “small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:14). If humans desire life, why will they miss the gate that leads to it? The Bible teaches that many will miss life because they misunderstand the substance of true life.

The Apostle Paul taught a crucial idea about life to the pantheists and polytheists of Athens. He described the Eternal God to the Athenian philosophers with the following words:

"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else" (Acts 17:24-25).

The Athenians’ life was not the result of an impersonal force, nor were they created through the conspiracy of aloof and unconcerned gods. Life is a gracious gift from a benevolent Creator who seeks the welfare of men through His limitless power. Paul continued:

From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:26-28a).

Paul and Barnabas reminded the idolatrous citizens of Lystra that God alone provides for our physical existence. As the Lystrans were making a sacrificial offering to Paul and Barnabas, the apostles cried out to stop them. Paul and Barnabas asked the worshipers to consider the testimony that God left concerning Himself. “He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” (Acts 14:17b). We do not have to reflect long before we realize that we do not control the rains or the seasons. One famine shows us that our physical life is only as sure as this year’s rain and next year’s harvest. Since God controls these necessary ingredients, He controls our physical life.

True Life in the Old Testament

God has revealed His life-giving power not only to pagans, but also to His chosen people. Moses reminded the Israelites of a significant lesson that God taught them during their wilderness wanderings. He said, “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3). It should have been obvious to the Israelites that their physical existence depended on God. They did not plant, cultivate, or water; yet they harvested manna six mornings a week for forty years. Manna was a type of food the Israelites never had seen before. There could be no question about its origin. When they wandered through the “vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land,” God also brought them “water out of hard rock” to cool their parched throats (Deuteronomy 8:15).

As Moses stated, God’s sole purpose was not to teach the Israelites that He provided for their physical existence and sustained them. God was showing them that life is more than food, as His Son taught several centuries later. He was showing them how futile mere existence is without His influence.

The Israelites were very sensual when they came out of Egypt. They came from a country of opulence. The meager fare of pilgrim life and the experiences in the wilderness did not please them. God still can reach sensual men through their senses, and He loved the Israelites enough to start with their physical needs and teach them a greater truth about life. He taught them about the life that is truly life. He made the fulfillment of physical needs conditional, based upon obedience to His commandments. In this way the Israelites would understand that their lives depended upon strict adherence to God’s requirements for life and worship. The positive reward for their continued obedience to God was incentive to keep following Him.

This is the overriding theme in Deuteronomy as Moses emphasized the importance of obeying God. Throughout that address he reminded the Israelites continually that their children, crops, animals, houses, possessions, food, etc., were gifts from God. If they wanted those gifts to continue, they must choose to obey God (Deuteronomy 6:1-12; 7:12-15; 8:6-18; 28:1-14). Moses reminded them that God was the caretaker of the land they were about to enter. He would continue His care as long as they continued their obedience (Deuteronomy 11:8-21).

God did not promise merely to withdraw His care from the Israelites if they were disobedient. He promised to pursue their destruction (Deuteronomy 8:19-20; 28:15-68). This placed a very heavy price on disobedience. The Israelites saw the mighty works God performed in Egypt to free them from bondage. As the Song of Moses described Him, their God was the One who blew back the Red Sea with the breath of His nostrils to let Israel cross on dry ground (Exodus 15:8-10). In the Psalms, Asaph expressed the awe that the righteous felt when they saw God’s power: “You alone are to be feared. Who can stand before you when you are angry?” (Psalm 76:7). The Israelites knew that their God was not an idol, a powerless invention of a human’s imagination. He is the Creator of heaven and earth. He is the all-powerful God. To obey Him means life and peace; to disobey Him means certain death. "Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He [is] God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations; And repayeth them that hate Him to their face, to destroy them: He will not be slack to him that hateth Him, He will repay him to his face" (Deuteronomy 7:9-10 KJV).

Giving physical blessings in return for obedience was the means to an end, not the end itself. God’s people could learn a valuable lesson about true life by keeping His commandments. At first they might obey, hoping for the promised material blessings. If they were faithful, they would see that obedience brought physical survival and a quality of life they had not known before (Deuteronomy 4:5-8; 6:25; Leviticus 19:2; 20:7-8). This raised life, as God promised it, above mere existence. Life was now righteousness and holiness produced by the obedience of faith. If the Israelites obeyed, they would realize that true life was not eating, drinking, and breathing; but living by faith in God. The Lord revealed that faith was the key to true life when He said in Habakkuk 2:4, “the righteous will live by his faith.”

God was teaching Israel two very important lessons about life. First, they must obey Him to receive the physical blessings necessary to physical life. Second, true life is not based on material possessions, but on how one lives toward God. These two lessons are subordinate to the greater idea that is common to both of them. That is, all life comes from God. So Moses summed up the law of God with this statement:

"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life..." (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).

True Life in the New Testament

It does not startle us when we move from the Law and the Prophets to the teachings of Jesus, for we find continuity with the teachings we have already noticed under the first covenant. Jesus says, “Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes” (Luke 12:23).

Today, Satan deceives many people by convincing them that life is mere existence, or living for temporal possessions and ideas. Even Christians fall into his trap. Surely they realize that their Lord has denied this idea about life. Jesus says, “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25).

Living life for what this world has to offer is not living—it is merely existing. The result of that existence is death, not eternal life. Those who suffer God’s condemnation will exist forever, but we cannot call their existence “life” (Matthew 25; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 16:19-31; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 14:11; 20:10). One can only find life, as Jesus speaks of it, in a certain quality of living.

We sometimes make the same distinction between life and existence in our thinking. When we consider mere existence, we conclude that a person either does, or does not, exist. When we consider life, we make statements like, “That man knows how to live.” In saying this, we do not mean that the man knows how to breathe; we mean, “He knows how to make the most of life.” Some would say this of a person with wealth or high social standing. Does this contradict what we have been saying about the lack of value in human standards of living? No! We would never say that a person of wealth and power “knows how to live” if we believe his behavior is despicable. We know, deep inside, that life does not consist of what we have, but of how we live morally and spiritually. When we are honest about life and what it really is, we see another disturbing reality. We do not have life in ourselves, but death. We have not lived life by its true standard, God’s will.

Jesus, Our Source of Life

Jesus did not find us full of life when He came into the world. He found us dead in our transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13). We were offering the parts of our bodies “in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness” (Romans 6:19). We were living for pleasure and though we still existed, we were dead while we lived (1 Timothy 5:6). We were dead because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). God’s law brought the knowledge of what is “holy, righteous, and good,” but we sold ourselves as “slaves to sin.” Often, we wanted to do good, but instead we did the evil we did not want to do. Our cry was, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:7-24).

Jesus, the Savior, states His purpose for coming to earth like this: “I have come that they may have life” (John 10:10). He “gave himself a ransom for all men” (1 Timothy 2:6), dying on the cross as “an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). By this sacrifice He “obtained eternal redemption” for us (Hebrews 9:12). Redemption is “the forgiveness of sins” (Ephesians 1:7). God freely extends redemption to us “so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:21). God makes us righteous when He forgives our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ. Righteousness brings the hope of eternal life. Yet, it is not merely the death of Jesus that brings the hope of life. “Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us...because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Romans 8:34; Acts 2:24). When Jesus arose from the dead, He displayed His power of eternal life conclusively.

So, “the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6), because no one else has offered, or can offer, an acceptable sacrifice for the sins of humanity. Every person will receive the hope of eternal life if he accepts Jesus’ sacrifice (Romans 5:17) through the following conditions. He must believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for humanity, arose from the dead, and now reigns as Lord (1 Timothy 1:15-16; Romans 10:9-10). He must verbally acknowledge his belief (Romans 10:9-10). He must repent of his sinfulness (2 Peter 3:9). Finally, he must be immersed in water for the forgiveness of his sins (Acts 2:38). We must say without hesitation that the Lord Jesus is our life. Without His sacrifice we would still be dead in sin.

Jesus, the Lord of Our Lives

Tragically, for many the picture of life (especially eternal life) ends with their understanding that Jesus died in order to provide true life for a dying world. They act as if they can live a self-willed, superficial life devoted to temporary affairs and then flash a Christian ID card at heaven’s gates that will gain entrance for them into eternal life. They imagine that the only real difference between this present life and eternal life is never-ending existence. As we have noticed, eternal life is not mere eternal existence; it is existence with such quality that one can truly call it “life.”

John said that the quality of eternal life can abide in us now, while we are still earth-bound. If eternal life does not abide in us now, we are existing in death! He says, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who doesn’t love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:14-15). From this perspective, eternal life is not some mystical, future state that does not relate to our present existence. John taught that people can see eternal life in qualities that dwell in true believers now. They can see these qualities as confident proof of true life dwelling in the one who has them. John said that one purpose for writing his first epistle was “so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). The knowledge John spoke about is not subjective confidence that God will unconditionally give eternal life to all who profess faith in Christ. It is an objective knowledge based on God’s gift to mankind. “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12).

Do You Possess Life?

How can Christians know if they are in God’s Son where they can find eternal life? First, Paul tells us that we are baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3, Galatians 3:26-27). God’s Word mentions no other step but baptism that places us into Christ where we find eternal life. Second, John explains, “This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:5b-6). If we walk as Jesus did, we have life, for we remain in Him. Jesus did not come to earth merely to die so that we could have eternal life. He came also to show us how to live such a life that we might “keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25).

Life is Jesus Christ. He is the embodiment of everything that God proclaimed to man as the way of true life. His apostle plainly declares it:

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testified to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us" (1 John 1:1-2).

"In him was life, and that life was the light of men" (John 1:4).

"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent" (John 17:3).

"We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands" (1 John 2:3).

The only type of life that one can keep eternally is life lived in imitation of Christ Jesus. He is our life (Colossians 3:4; John 8:12; 10:27-28). If we have eternal life dwelling in us, others will see it in the way we live! Paul says it like this, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Eternal standards of living are the governing principles in this kind of godly life. Therefore, that life will carry over into eternity. Paul said to Timothy, “physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).

Those who want eternal life will only receive it if they let God govern their daily living by the eternal standards of life that Jesus Christ taught and exemplified. God has made no other provision for realizing eternal life. Even if those who reject these principles did enter heaven (which they won’t), they would not enjoy it. Heaven will be an eternity of living by God’s rules and principles of life, the same values that are so repugnant to the disobedient in this present life.


As God showed Israel that they had no life without Him, so He shows us the same today. We have no life if we do not receive the sacrifice of Jesus. We have no life if we do not imitate His example of life that can be kept eternally. Let us depend on the grace of God and practice true Christianity so that when others ask us, “Do you have eternal life?”, we may answer unequivocally “Yes!”  For, “we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20). The Lord is our life!

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