Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:12).
What does it mean to “lay hold on eternal life”? Don’t believers already have eternal life? So why would we have to lay hold of it?
In the March 2017 issue of Berean Searchlight, Ricky Kurth explained it this way:
So what did Paul mean when he said that obeying his instructions would allow Timothy to lay hold on eternal life? Well, the first thing you need to know about this is that it is possible to “lay hold” on something you already own, as we see when the Lord said,
“What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?” (Matt 12:11).
In the scenario the Lord depicts here, the sheep is something that belongs to a man, but it can’t do him any good in the pit. He can’t benefit from its wool by fleecing it, or feed his family by dressing its meat. So even though the man owns the sheep, he must lay hold on it if he wishes to benefit from owning it.
In the same way, salvation is already yours by faith (Eph. 2:8,9), but there is no present benefit you can draw from your salvation unless you lay hold on it. If you are mired in a love of money and wallowing in the flesh, you’re laying hold on this life, not on eternal life. But if you flee worldly things and follow after righteousness, you lay hold on eternal life and can benefit from it now, in this life.
If you’re wondering how you can benefit from your salvation in this life, consider what Paul told the saints in Rome:
“If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom 8:13).
If you will “mortify” or execute the deeds of the body, you’ll live, really live—live it up, spiritually speaking. You’ll experience the untold satisfaction of knowing you are living a life that pleases Almighty God, and in so doing you’ll lay hold on eternal life now, in this life. Even the world knows that “virtue is its own reward.” So why wait to enjoy eternal life in the next life when you can live the rich and satisfying life you’ll eventually live in Heaven now, in this life? (Berean Searchlight, March 2017, pp. 7-8).
There’s more to the Christian life than being born again. That’s the first thing that should happen. From that point on you should grow in that life. Put another way, Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). There is an abundant life to be had now, an experience of deep fellowship, and intimacy with God now. But it is not something that will happen automatically. You must lay hold of what Jesus came to give you.