What is the purpose of salvation? John 3:16(NLT) says, “For God loved the world so
much that he gave his one and only son, so that everyone who believes in him will
not perish but have eternal life.” We often use this scripture to proclaim, “God
came and forgave your sins so you could be saved and not go to hell!” However, a
closer look reveals that “not perishing” isn't the ultimate purpose of salvation
- Eternal life is!
Unfortunately, religion has reduced into the mind of most people
that eternal life solely means “to live forever in heaven.” When in all actuality
eternal life begins the moment you are born again. John 3:36 (NLT) is written in
present tense – not future tense. It reads, “And anyone who believes in God's Son
has eternal life. Anyone who doesn't obey the Son will never experience eternal life
but remains under God's angry judgment.” God gave the gift of eternal life and intimacy
in a present experience with God. Those who reject the Son will not see life. The
world in its darkness stands under God's angry judgment. (Romans 1-3). So, in essence,
if you are a believer, eternal life is now!
Jesus, the author of eternal life, said
in John 17:3(NLT), “And this is the way to have eternal life – to know you, the only
true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.” Eternal life is knowing God
the Father and His Son Jesus Christ! Knowing in the original language speaks of personal,
intimate, experiential knowledge. “Knowing” in this verse is used the same as “knew”
in Genesis 4:1, when it said that Adam knew Eve, who then conceived, and bore a child.
The most intimate of all relationships! Therefore, Jesus Christ died to produce knowing
Him and the Father intimately now in this life, not just in heaven sometime in the
Jesus gave His life so we can know Him in a close, personal way. If all you've
received is forgiveness of your sins, then you've missed the main purpose of salvation.
Complete salvation is being so intimate with God that He's closer than your best
friend and more real than your family. You're missing out on what eternal life is
all about if you're not experiencing this kind of relationship with God.
Sin was the
barrier that stood between mankind and God. So, Jesus took our sin upon the cross
and forever removed that barrier to restore us to a close, personal, intimate relationship
with God. This is eternal life and living in the now.