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Eternal Life Given

John 17:2 (ESV) – since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

Most of human experience is based on receiving reward for your merits. If you have the grades and score high enough on tests, you get accepted to top notch schools. If you have the skills and possess the personality, you climb the ranks at work and increase both your pay and position. If you’re athletic enough and have the needed skills to excel, you can make the basketball team or football team. Now, there are exceptions to this. Sometimes politics and who you know factor into these types of things. But, we live in a merit-based reward system. 

The kingdom of God throws this on its head. It’s not that Christianity doesn’t allow for a merit-based society like we live in. The Bible gives plenty of support for such a thing. You reap what you sow. The laborer is worth his wages. No, the issue isn’t that Christianity is against merit-based reward, it’s that Christianity’s gospel is not a merit-based reward. It is only those who receive the free gift that enter into the kingdom of God. Salvation is given as a gift, not earned. 

We read this in our passage today. Jesus is praying during His famous high priestly prayer. We read, “since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.” 

Jesus makes a very strong, but clear statement. The Father gave Jesus authority over all flesh (all humanity). The purpose in possessing that authority is to give eternal life to all the people the Father has given him. Jesus possesses a people, given to Him by the Father from all of eternity. In John 10, Jesus calls them His sheep. These people, sinners by birth, but chosen by God, are given to Christ. What does He do with them? He atones for their sins and buries them in His grave. He rises from the dead on the third day and justifies His own. He gives them eternal life. 

When do they/we receive it? When we hear the gospel and respond with faith and repentance. We believe like children. We open our hands and receive what Christ accomplished for us. We don’t earn anything. We don’t produce anything. We simply receive.

The free gift of eternal life is not merited by us. But the grace and kindness of God in saving us leads our hearts to respond in praise and gratitude for His mercies. 

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Reflection & Journal: 
- Why is it okay that we live in a merit-based society?
- What is the difference between that and salvation in Christ?
- How does this passage open your eyes to the mystery of salvation given to us in Christ?

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