It’s been said that the only two things in life that are certain are death and taxes. The dark humor aside, we all feel the looming inevitability of time’s steady march. There is no escaping it, though we spend millions each year attempting the feat.
All this, of course, bears testimony to the ineradicable longing, implanted in every human heart, for eternal life. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says God “has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Death is a curse (Gen. 2:17) from which all people long for deliverance. We think, for example, of the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17 who asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Yet, though we long for life, we do not turn to the living God to find it. In John 5:39, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for searching the Scriptures because in them they thought they had eternal life, yet, though those very Scriptures spoke of Him, they would not come to Him for life.
How foolish we are. God is the Living One, who has all life in Himself. To whom else should we turn for life? “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Ps. 90:1–2). If the attribute of infinity teaches us that God has no limits of space or power, the attribute of eternity is its perfect complement. It teaches us that God has no limits of duration or time. It is not simply that God lasts forever, as though He were merely capable of enduring without end the unceasing succession of moments. Rather, God’s eternity means that He is not subject to time, does not move through time as a creature must. He is “the Alpha and the Omega . . . who is and was and is to come” (Rev. 1:8), “the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (22:13). He stands above and before everything. When the beginning began, He already was. When the end comes, He shall endure unchanged.
This is as true of Jesus Christ as it is of the Father or the Holy Spirit. In John 8:58, Jesus declared, “Before Abraham was, I am.” “I am” is a purposeful echo of the divine name, which derives from the Hebrew verb “to be.” God is the great “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex. 3:14). This means that God possesses self-existence, independence, and the power of being in Himself. He is the One to whom all things are alike present, who is unconstrained by time. While creatures must all say, “I was, I am, and I will become,” only God can say, “I am,” and mean that who He is is precisely who He has always been. There is no “becoming” in God. Jesus of Nazareth, John 8:58 teaches us, is this great “I am,” who “became flesh, and dwelt among us” (1:14). This means, as Hebrews 13:8 reminds us, that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. That is why He is the fountain of eternal life. We need look no further than to Christ, whom the Father has granted to have life in Himself (John 5:26), that He might give eternal life to all who believe in Him.