The Intimacy of Eternal Life-You Get Christ, Not Earthworm Jim

{A newly edited retread from the late great blog “Enabled by God.” May she RIP}

Eternal life is scary.

At least it was to me as a child. Every time I pondered for any amount of time about being somewhere forever, an incredible aching formed in the pit of my stomach. An aching that would persist to the point of either nausea or panic attack, until I drove all thoughts of immortality out of my mind for the moment. I understood heaven was preferable to hell as far as eternity went, but I couldn’t fathom being anywhere for forever, no matter how celestially blissful it may be. Even Earthworm Jim got old after you’ve beaten it for the seventeenth time, right? According to my concept of heaven, after a couple of years the monotony would be mind-boggling.

We get to run on streets of gold. But then what? We get to swing on gates of pearl. But then what? We get to hang out with our deceased grandparents, Moses, and maybe one of the band members from Creed. But then what? It all seemed a bit…..boring after awhile. As an atheist coworker told me recently, “I don’t want to imagine being anywhere forever. I’d die of boredom being in one place forever. Especially if there are no dogs there.” Chubby little nine year old Bryan would have wholeheartedly concurred with that statement (especially the dog part, which I don’t even think is true).

This gripping sentiment of fear was held way before I came to the realization that eternal life was Christological and God centered; and nothing like anything I knew on earth (Revelation 1:1). In a word, the prospect of eternal life was frightfully boring to me before I came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. After that happened, I learned eternal life did not primarily consist of an infinite quantity of time, but an intimate quality of relationship.

It was Jesus Christ Himself who graciously gave me a wholly adequate solution to my childhood dilemma in (John 17:3):

“This is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God and the Son whom you have sent”

Here I found Christ never meant for us to be enamored with streets of gold, seas of crystal, or gates of pearl; He wanted us to be enamored with Him.  A heaven of harps and cloud loitering satisfies not, but one vision of His blazing grandeur and glories will enrapture us for an eternity (Hebrews 1).

What Christ says about eternal life in his John 17 High Priestly Prayer would be altogether shocking and ludicrous to the passive bystander of His day. This is an average Jewish carpenter with no political clout, no royal entourage, and nowhere to even lay his head. And to his concerned disciples he gives this sure promise hours before He dies on an excruciating cross:

“After this, you will get to know my Father and me forever.”

The Islamic Extremist gets 72 virgins. The Hindu gets a better cultural status next time around. The cultist gets his own world and god-like state. The prosperity propagator gets his best life now and maybe a private jet. But Christ makes all of those false promises burn in the light of this one profoundly simple assurance:

“You get Me.”

“You get to know Me.” Clearly, this is a ridiculously audacious promise if we are talking about a mere Jewish man.

The greek word for “know” here is ginōskō, which is translated in three primary tenses:

1) to learn to know, come to know, get knowledge of perceive, feel

2) to know, understand, perceive, have knowledge of

3) Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman

To “know” God, in its fullest biblical sense holds much more weight than an introductory understanding of bible stories or an intellectual assent to a few orthodox doctrines.

We are called to an intimate knowledge of God, so much so the word is used interchangeably in Scripture with the way only a husband could physically “know” his wife.  You know, the way Joseph didn’t know Mary before Jesus was born? (Mat 1:25)  We are given the same type of relational status only it is eternally deeper than that of human marriage. This is a spiritual relational intimacy a holy God has granted us through Christ from the foundation of the world. This union is not only for super apostles and church leaders, it’s for any who belong to the bride of Christ. It belongs to all who are being washed in the water of God’s word. (Eph 5:25-28)

Paul called the heart of the gospel the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2Cor 4:4-6) You can find the glory of God in many places: Lightning storms, mountaintops and holding your first-born for the first time. But Paul says the highest point of the glory of God rests in knowing and beholding Christ Himself, His face, His person, and His work at the cross and resurrection.

Paul also called everything else a four letter word (in the original Greek) compared to the surpassing worth of the knowledge of Christ. (Philippians 3:8) That’s because Christ is the Alpha and Omega (Rev 1:17), who upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb 1:3), who sits on an unrivaled  throne as King of the universe (Isaiah 6:1), in charge of angel armies (Heb 1:7), with eyes blazing with fiery holiness (Rev 1:14), a voice that thunders like crashing waterfalls (Rev 1:15), who made all things as all things were made for Him (Col 1:16), and will righteously judge the living and the dead at the end of time (Revelation 19:11). And this all culminates at the cross, where He is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world for our sins (Rev 13:8).

Indeed, this is no mere Jewish carpenter.

Through Him we are called children and heirs of God (Rom 8:16-17). That means we get God; we are afforded the incomprehensible privilege of knowing this God through Christ. This is what we received when we received the gospel, and it all happened at the point of our conversion. Which means eternal life doesn’t begin when we die, eternal life begins when we come to know Christ. Eternal life isn’t just then and there, but it is a here and now reality for those who are in Christ.

In Christ alone, the glory of God is made manifest to us. In Christ alone, the blazing holiness of God is made tolerable and accessible to us. In Christ alone, the righteous Judge has become a righteous Father. In Christ alone, we can know God and not just know things about Him in a second-hand way.

In the life to come, we will be eagerly chasing down the unsearchable riches of His excellencies; and after an eternity we will not have even reached the foothills of the majesty of King Jesus and His kingdom.

Better than wealth, health, fame, sex, food, relationships, toys, self-esteem and all the glory of the world combined.

You get Christ.

Bryan Daniels

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Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

60 thoughts on “The Intimacy of Eternal Life-You Get Christ, Not Earthworm Jim”

  1. Timely for me, I just finished a book about cancer-kids and death and spent the last Sunday School class with my Sr. High discussing heaven – The message in all of it is that it is not about us, and our dogs and our cars and books and chocolate…that it is about God and what He has designed. Nice job and thank you.

    1. Just after this verse it does say that the Spirit gives us full understanding though 🙂 We have the mind-o-Christ! GLORY Just sayin’, that’s something that I celebrate along with my salvation.. gifts abound!!!

  2. What a greate message this is… In fact I wouldn’t mind re-bloging this later if you would grant permision. of course recognition would be given… up to you my friend.. Many blessings.. Bro Pat..

  3. I once remember a cartoon I saw of what was supposed to be ‘heaven’. There were a bunch of clouds with saints standing on it with a harp in hand and a halo on their heads. And the clouds were all numbered with the number ‘eight’. And one saint was asking his brother, “How are things”? To which the other replied -“Could be better”! The reason – there was another cloud above them numbered ‘nine’!

    I shared this, because this is pretty much the average Christian’s view of ‘heaven’. i.e a pearly gate, a street of gold, a harp, and lots of every best thing we know on earth.

    But your article is very GOOD AND ACCURATE! That is what heaven is about – knowing God! [see Jer 9:23,24]

    And here is another good quote –
    The saints in heaven will see God with the eye of the mind, for He will be always invisible to the bodily eye; and will see Him more clearly than they could see Him by reason and faith, and more extensively than all His works and dispensations had hitherto revealed Him; but their minds will not be so enlarged as to be capable of contemplating at once, or in detail, the whole excellence of His nature. To comprehend infinite perfection, they must become infinite themselves. 

    Even in Heaven, their knowledge will be partial, but at the same time their happiness will be complete, because their knowledge will be perfect in this sense, that it will be adequate to the capacity of the subject, although it will not exhaust the fullness of the object. We believe that it will be progressive, and that as their views expand, their blessedness will increase; but it will NEVER reach a limit beyond which there is nothing to be discovered; and when ages after ages have passed away, HE WILL STILL BE THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE JEHOVAH! (John Dick, 1840). Hallelujah!

    “Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued, investigation of the great subject of the Deity. The most excellent study for expanding the soul is the science of Christ and Him crucified and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity.” (C. H. Spurgeon).

    1. That’s fair; I def don’t want to over sexualize our knowing God (that would be weird) but I did want to intimate our knowing is and should be an intimate knowing. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. When I came to a saving faith in Christ, all the hymns I used to sing in the Baptist church suddenly made sense, and one verse from “Amazing Grace” really brings home a frightening thought of heaven for unbelievers, and a comforting, exciting realization for believers: “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.” Praise God, I will be in heaven, just starting out, just beginning to get comfy hanging out with my Savior… but… the unbeliever will be in hell, also just starting out…. and he won’t be comfy a’tall.

  5. …beautifully written! …and much needed wisdom, as, just recently I heard a lovely woman, who has been serving God for almost 7 decades, worry if she will see her pet in heaven. There was a time for speculation, doubt and the worry that comes with that in the beginning of our walk with Christ, but there is a lack of maturity and maybe even faith for us as mature believers to ‘worry’ about our pets, which may I say is different from worrying for our children and their salvation.

    1. Thank you Rodi and indeed; At some point we need to get past whether all dogs go to heaven and be satisfied with the aweinspiring Lion Of Judah who will be the main showstopper…

  6. “After that happened, I learned eternal life did not primarily consist of an infinite quantity of time, but an intimate quality of relationship.” What an incredible statement that expresses the heart of God for relationship with His creation. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Shoot, you mean all my harp lessons are wasted (LOL, just joking) You are right, if Jesus, our Carpenter, is building a place for us it’s going to be perfect, and I’m sure that Heaven isn’t the ending, but the beginning of something even more new and exciting. I am eagerly anticipating.
    Heather

      1. Sorry, don’t play harp – wish I did though. In fact, my legal name is Shirley – I prefer being called Heather for many, many reasons. My sister named me after Shirley Temple – I don’t sing, don’t dance, have no rhythm, and no cute short curly locks. The only one who likes me singing praises is God, and I suspect even he must wince at my tone-deafness. But He loves me and overlooks a multitude of deficiencies. 🙂

  8. I noticed a comment or two about whether dogs will go to heaven. I am a dog lover and have had dogs all my life. I am even a professional dog trainer and adviser. There has always been more than one pet dog in my house since my childhood. 

    But let me say this. The dog according to the Bible is an unclean animal. At least in one scripture in the New Testament, God compares the dog to the backslider and places it on the same level with swine! “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” [2Pet 2:22]

    And the Lord said, “Give not that which is holy to the dogs, and cast not your pearls before swine”. Yes I know that He was referring to the Gentiles. But there was a reason that He likened the Gentile to the dog. The dog, like the swine is an unclean animal!

    So will my dog go to Heaven? If it does, God would have changed its nature as He changed mine. It will not be the same dog that goes around licking its backside, licking its vomit and go around sniffing people’s crotches, etc!

    And there is a possibility that God could change the dog as we know it. For many animals will be changed in their nature – The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. Etc  [Isa 65:25]

    But the dog as we know it right now cannot enter! For there shall not enter into His kingdom anything unclean or that defileth! [Rev 21:27]

  9. I once had a child tell me that he didn’t want to go to hell, but he thought heaven would be boring. From the point of view of a Christian counselor, I know the closer a people are to Jesus, the more content they are. For many, they see heaven as a place where there will be no more fear and shame. If they could only get the message from their head to their heart that Jesus already took our fear and shame on the cross. The just need to trust Him enough to give it to Him an not take it back.

  10. I’ve got to share this with my mom–we’ve talked about this before. Thanks for reading my blog and Christ’s blessing on you!

    –I am so glad it’s not just harps. 🙂

    “You get Me.” AMEN!

  11. Oh beautiful! Just a beautiful post about eternity! I thought the same, too, before I knew Jesus. He is indeed the prize for all eternity.:) Really loved reading this!

  12. If we knew what we would be experiencing in the Kingdom with Jesus in eternity (because we aren’t staying in Heaven…we’re coming right back down here in our new physical bodies!) we would literally die from overwhelming joy…can you imagine? Our imperfect bodies and minds can’t behold the glory of God because it would fill us so thoroughly with emotions of love and joy and everything good, that we would cease to live any longer…which was the reason God couldn’t show Moses His face, lest he die from beholding His glory! Craziness. I’m a little scared (in a good way), but excited all the same. I can hardly wait 🙂

  13. Truly inspired! I remember having the exact same thoughts when I was a kid. You reminded me of the story of Gomer, Hosea’s wife. God is the husband to His bride, the church.

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