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Toronto Baptist Seminary & Bible College THE WELLSPRING OF LIFE; ETERNAL LIFE AS EXPERIENCED ON EARTH A Paper Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Course The Gospel According to John (John 103) by Shikaina Chandni B. Jacob April 2011 
 For what is more free than water; and what more beneficial, and more desirable than life? -John Bunyan 
 1 The apostle John proclaims in his Gospel, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”1, and throughout the ages this verse has been the resounding anthem for those who call themselves Christians, the followers of Jesus Christ. Stories of old tell of founts of youth promising immortality, myths and legends speak of heroes who go through glorious feats to attain such sanction. Life that lasts through the ages, such a thing would be a marvel. However, the eternal life the evangelist speaks of does not hold the same meaning as is these fables. The biblical concept of eternal life arose gradually in the Bible finding its central place in the New Testament as the promise of life after death. However, the bible also speaks of eternal life that can be experience on earth. This is discussed particularly in the Gospel of John. 2
The central emphasis of the Gospel of John lies in this eternal life experienced in the here and now. According to John life in the age to come is already made available to the believer through Christ. He expresses this heavily throughout his gospel using the metaphors of “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14); living bread that satisfies the world’s spiritual hunger (John 6:35–40); the light of the world who leads his followers into the light of life (John 8:12); the good shepherd who brings abundant life (John 10:10); the life giver who raises the dead (John 11:25); the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6); and the genuine vine who sustains those who abide in him (John 15:5). 3 























































 1
John
3:16
 2 D.N. Freedman, A.C. Myers, & A.B. Beck. Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans 2000. (429–430) 3 All Bible verses taken from the New Internal Version. 
 2 The central emphasis of the Gospel of John is eternal life experienced on earth and according to John the essence of this life is light. John begins his Gospel with the description of Jesus Christ as the Word bringing light unto all men. With this prologue John has set up the stage for the cosmic drama of salvation, drawing upon the age-old struggle between the darkness of death and the light of life. Those in the light enjoy the benefits of it, while those who remain in the darkness will inevitably suffer its consequences. As John not only emphasizes on the eternal life the light brings as the believer is granted access to heaven, what could eternal life on earth mean? Light describes a natural element that makes things visible. John is using light as literary element to describe the illuminating characteristic of the benefit of eternal life. We know we live in a dark fallen world. There is no denying the damnable state our world has fallen into. A quick flip through a newspaper, a quick glance at the television screen, or quick surfing through the Internet will reveal the desperate deterioration of mankind. Man is ruled by greed, lust, and violence, hating God, each other, and themselves. John 3:34-36 talks about the Judgment of God looming over the world, Don Carson says of the wrath of God described in this passage, “judgment has already been threatened, now it is alarmingly explicit.” The verdict for our sin has already been given and the Judgment has yet to be carried out.4 Christians and non-Christians alike feel the inevitable doom of mankind that even Hollywood reflects this. Disaster movies like 2012 and even zombie apocalypse movies have become popular due to the paranoia of the world coming to an end. Romans 8:20-22 describes creation groaning since the fall of 























































 4 D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, PNTC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1991) 214 
 3 man because the earth has plummeted into an unnatural state. Creation has been separated from creator, and thus the world is once again covered in deep darkness as it was in the beginning. However as in the first creation the new creation begins with the entrance of the light of Christ into men’s hearts. Though the earth continually turns to its impending expiration, the light of Christ comforts the Christian, and guides him back to the loving arms of God. The judgment hanging over the believer is removed in the case of his belief in the Son. 5 J.C. Masee beautifully interprets the radiance of Christ light in “truth, purity, holiness of character, chastity of speech, righteousness of conduct, tender compassion of feeling toward the needy, of steadfast firmness in adherence to the truth and of loyalty and devotion to duty”6 as the white light the guides us back to our creator. According to Masee, Jesus “brings light to life’s problems”; the way Jesus lived sets the standard of living or the principle of conduct for the believer. He is no longer groping in the darkness of the fallen world but is given a lighted path to the way of God: His (the believer’s) source of life is different, his realm of living is different, and his fellowship in life, his standard, his conduct and relationships are all different, owing to his separation from the world and the things of the world by virtue of his relationship to God through Christ.7 As he is daily guided by the light the believer experiences the benefits from a relationship with the father. A relation ship many coin, the fellowship in the light. The believer is assured that as they walk in dark world they no longer stumble because of they now have guiding light of Christ. They are given “Grace for grace, strength for 























































 5 Kruse, Colin G. John. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2003) 126 6 Massee, J.C. Eternal Life in Action. (New York, NY: Revell, 1925.) 40 7 Ibid, 70 
 4 strength, glory for glory, and such communication could not but produce the fullness of joy in the Lord.”8 The Believer experiences not only the promise of a heavenly home but is assured of a wholesome life in a fallen and partial world. One of the clearest expressions of Eternal life experienced on earth in the Gospel of John is in the Water of life discourse found in John chapter six. Indeed the masterpiece of creation reflects the wonder of its creator. Water as the sustenance of life, the source of nourishment for all living things, is the perfect metaphor for the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of those who believe. Bunyan affirms this connection between water is and the spirit, “what can here by water be intended, but the spirit of grace, that this poor harlot, the woman of Samaria wanted, although she was ignorant of her want, as also of the Excellency thereof?”9 John beautifully emphasizes our blatant need for the life giving spirit God by likening it to humanity’s most basic need; water. Carson interweaves this metaphor with Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones. Like those decaying skeletal waste, recipients of the breath of God or his living water receive a more meaningful existence.10 We must understand that we were created as beneficiaries of God’s love. We lost our standing to death because of our sin. Death was our separation from God. We became aimless wonderers on this earth, pursuing pithy dreams that never fulfill our real desire for the true God. This is why Bunyan writes, “He that thirtieth aright nothing but God can quench his thirst.”11 However, 























































 8 Ibid, 35 9 Bunyan, 5 10 D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, PNTC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1991) 198 11 Bunyan, 22 
 5 because of the work of Jesus Christ, with his Glorification on the cross, we have been given the Holy Spirit who now mediates for us sinners and brings us once more into the presence of God where we can once again be filled with his love. We have been given life in place of death. This is then our eternal life that with the realization of Jesus’ death on the cross we are forever reclaimed and are no longer separated from God. We can freely come into the presence of God because the Holy Spirit mediates us into God’s presence, and thus our inner most desire is realized and fulfilled. In his commentary on the Gospel of John, Kruse confirms the mediatory work of the Holy Spirit between the believer and God the Father. He acts as the bridge that not only connects the believer with the Father but also creates sense of intimacy between the two.12 David Crump makes an interesting comment about the mediation of the Holy Spirit; he says that the recognition we receive in the presence of god is “God within us recognizing Himself. And whatever else we may not fathom, we can always rest assured that this God of grace cannot disown himself.”13 We are able to come into the presence with God and share in the intimacy of the triune God because we are partaking of the being of the Holy Spirit. His work is an indwelling that identifies us with as belonging to God. Going back to Kruse, “this relationship that lasts to eternal life, and it is the human thirst for relationship with God that is satisfied in the here and now.”14 























































 12 Kruse,132 13 David Crump, Knocking On Heaven’s Door; A New Testament Theology of Petitionary Prayer. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006) 206 14 Ibid, 132 
 6 Jesus describes the work of the Holy Spirit as “welling up” from within the believer. There is a deep-seated inward satisfaction that ensues once a person partakes of this Living water of the Holy Spirit and is satisfied as he is filled with the work of the triune God. According to Carson, thirst for the living water is not merely quenched but is eliminated.15 The believer becomes both the beneficiary and the benefactor of the Holy Spirit, because as his life is transformed by the mediating work spirit an outflow ensues from him. As the Jesus connotes in his teaching about the true vine, those who remain in him bears fruit eternal fruit.16 The believer’s purpose in life can now be fulfilled; his longing for God has been satisfied. Kruse explains that the “welling up” of the spirit is a great reminder that our Christian walk is never merely cerebral, but in a greater sense it is a personal experience with our Creator. What could this overflow therefore mean for the believer? What are the tangible results of this satisfaction? The Gospel of John described the eternal life in the form of the nourishment of the Bread of Life. We partake of the thirst quenching water of life provided by the spirit but now we also partake of the daily sustenance we receive in the from the Bread of Life. John 6:35-40 describes the terms of this spiritual food. In verse thirty-five Jesus claims, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry”. Like the water of life there is a satisfaction that takes place within the person to whom this gift is bestowed. This satisfaction is irrevocable because it is eternal. The eating of Jesus’ flesh and the drinking of his blood here is not a sacramental institution but rather it is a description how the ingestion of the teaching of Christ transforms and 























































 15 Carson, 220 16 John 15 
 7 brings life to the learner.17Jesus as the bread of life is the Antitype to the Old Testament Manna. His teachings are of a meatier substance because it is direct knowledge communicated from heaven and it is also of eternal significance. The Old Testament Law was a temporary sustenance that was to be replaced with the main course of God’s personal Guidance. This contrast between the pharisaic teaching and Jesus the master teacher parallels the Good Shepherd metaphor found in John 10. As Jesus speaks to the Pharisees we see him describe himself as the Good Shepherd who takes care of his sheep. Jesus is draws a comparison between his good shepherding and the bad shepherding of the shepherd “thieves”. There are several Old Testament backdrops for this shepherd like leading one of which is Jeremiah 23:1-8 where we see the Lord promises a time wherein he himself would come shepherd his sheep Israel in place of their insolent shepherds or leaders who abandon them to wander. Ezekiel 34 describes the son of man reprimanding the corruption of the Israel’s Shepherds or rather their leaders and their failure to care for their sheep.18 Jesus in John 10 is therefore distinctly setting himself up as the antitype of these negligent shepherds and declaring that indeed he is the one to replace them. Unlike them, he takes precious care of all his sheep, guiding them continually, healing them, and strengthening them. The Holy Spirit resumes this ministry in the believer with Christ’s Glorification.19 Through this blessing of guidance we are assured of the love and care from a gracious Shepherd as we face the trials of daily living in the fallen world. 























































 17 Carson, 294-295 18 Kruse, 234-236 19 John 14:25-31 
 8 In verse forty-five to verse fifty-one Jesus expounds on the nourishment of the bread of life in terms of teaching or instruction. Those who are given this Bread of Life receive a “knowing” directly from God. Jesus is referring back to the Old Testament connotation of knowledge as seen in Jeremiah 31:34 where knowledge implied an experience, relationship, fellowship, and deep genuine concern. Even more profoundly, because of its verb from we see that the “knowing” implied here is in terms of extreme intimacy or rather in terms of sexual relationship between a male and a female like in Genesis 4:1. 20 Our daily sustenance is from intimate communion with God, because we now have direct access of him, his Holy throne of Grace, we have immense security. Though we continue to live in a fallen world, we can rest assured because we have daily saving guidance that will keep us from returning to our fallen state. It is therefore eternal life in terms of illumination as the Fourth Gospel’s prologue indicates of those who respond to the light become “children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God,” and from the abundance of grace “we receive one gracious blessing after another.” 21 Carson gives further insight on the provision of guidance enjoyed by those who received the eternal life. According to him, this “knowing” becomes part of becomes part of the identity of the redeemed as the redemptive pattern changes under the new covenant brought about by the fulfillment of Jesus as the Messiah. Under this new word order we are have been become part and parcel with the goal of the restoration of the 























































 20 W.A Elwell & B.J. Beitzel (1988). Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988) 725 21 John 1:16 
 9 world.22 Thus as it is written in John 16:23 we are able to approach the father directly and ask him to supply for our needs so that our Joy which has now found its source in the fulfillment of the redemptive plan would be complete. We have assurance that God is concerned and is willing to grant our physical needs along with his concern to take care of our spiritual growth. As we commune with God and experience his love and provision we cannot help but be engulfed by the inner life of the triune God. With our heavenly communion, our focus shifts from the temporary matter of this earth to the eternal glory of heaven. Our priorities change as we see the bigger picture of God’s all surpassing sovereignty. David Crump talks about this transformation in discussing the nature of the Work of the Holy Spirit in regard to petitioner prayer. According to him when we become Christians, “rather than immediately delivering us from our weaknesses, the Spirit endows us with a divine perspective, eternal promises, faith to persevere, and the gift of prayer to a heavenly father.” Communion with God results to the alignment of our perspectives to his. Our plans reflect his ultimate plans, our goals reflect his eternal goals, and as thus he gives us the faith to persevere and grants our desires. Kruse explains that what Jesus is essentially saying John chapter sixteen is that after his resurrection the disciples will learn to pray inline with Jesus purposes for human kind, and thus God would give it to them. 23 It would be to simple to assume that what is being said is that everything we ask for would be granted, God is not a genie, we must take into account God’s sovereignty and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the 























































 22 Carson, 545 23 Kruse, 330 
 10 Redeemed. Because of the indwelling of the spirit our priorities have been transformed to reflect the coming of the Kingdom of Christ on earth. Is as if we live in the glory of heaven though we live on earth. While we have the assurance of help, it does not negate our facing difficulties in this life. Jesus tells his disciples in John 15:18, “If the world hates you keep in mind that it hated me first.” Servants of Christ should expect to face persecution because the prince of this world has unleashed its hatred on them for the sake of their master. The more we strive to fulfill our duties in Christ, the greater an adversary we become for the devil. We become a magnet for his atrocities. According to Crump: “The spirit frees us while our flesh imprisons us. The spirit’s gift of prayer becomes a lightning rod of whatever doubts and fears cripple believers in their journey towards faithful, emotional, psychological, intellectual, spiritual dependence on God as Abba. In our humanity no believer ever knows precisely what to pray; in fact, the more thoroughly the Spirit of adoption cleanses us of fear, the more powerfully our conscience grasps that prayer, the spirit’s gift, becomes the field of our greatest struggles. Prayer is the focal point of brilliant illumination as well as bleakest darkness, the schoolroom where we finally comprehend that we have never known anything at all.” 24 Our struggle in this world has everything to do with our inner struggle with our sinful nature. As crump explains, it is ironic that the more we spend time in prayer communing with God, the more the holy spirit transforms us the more we struggle with our inner fears. The work of the spirit is both a crippling and empowering action that drives us to 























































 24 Crump, 205 
 11 dependence on God. Thus we are like soldiers called to war, constantly being trained and equipped to so that we may be ready to face every battle. When one becomes a Christian he is adopted into the family of God. The life in the age to come is already made available to the believer in the present age. The believer is able to come into communion with the triune God even in his earthly setting. The fellowship allows the believer the benefits of transforming power of the Holy Spirit allowing him to live out his heavenly purpose though he is yet on earth. Jesus life and teaching becomes a beacon for the follower, illuminating his way that he would no longer grope in the darkness of a sinful world, and guides him into the presence of the Father. Thus eternal life is not just a promise of eventual glory in heaven, but is also given as sustaining grace for the believer as he walks the dark earth. 
 BIBLIOGRAPHY Bunyan, John. The Water of Life; or, A Discourse showing the Richness and Glory of the Grace and Spirit of the Gospel. Swengel, PA: Reiner, 1788 Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991 Crump, David. Knocking On Heaven’s Door; A New Testament Theology of Petitioner Prayer. Grand Rapids: MI: Baker, 2006 Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1988. Freedman, D. N., Myers, A. C., & Beck, A. B. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000. Kruse, Colin G. John. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2003. Massee, J.C. Eternal Life in Action. New York, NY: Revell, 1925.