Having eternal life is really, really great. John tells us that those who have it have overcome the world (1 John 5:4). James says it is a perfect gift (James 1:17-18). It is not an exaggeration to say that every believer should be grateful for that gift every day of his life.
I certainly don’t want to sound ungrateful, but it is very unfortunate that many (perhaps we should say most) Christians think that is all there is to the Christian life. They come to the Bible and conclude the purpose of the Scriptures is to tell us how we can “go to heaven.”
It is unfortunate because the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the New Testament does not deal with that at all. Instead, it tells us how to live after we already know we have eternal life.
If we simply took a step back, we would understand this has to be the case. Why would the writers of the NT write 27 books to tell people how to receive eternal life and then send 26 of them to people who already had it? (Only the Gospel of John was written to unbelievers.)
Have you ever heard a Christian complain about the sermons in his church in this regard? I certainly have. The complaint is that they go to church and every week they hear what they must do to be eternally saved. They then comment that 99% of the people in the pews are already saved. They then wonder why they bother to attend.
One could rightfully say that if the Bible was only written to tell people how to have eternal life, why should believers read it? If you already have eternal life, why study a book that tells you how to get it?
We can look at the Book of Romans as a study case. Many evangelists use it to tell people how to be saved. They evangelize, using the Roman Road, both verbally and in numerous gospel tracts.
But is it possible that the Book of Romans teaches us more?
No doubt it does. In Rom 5:9-10, Paul specifically says he is teaching something “much more.” In fact, he uses the words twice, once in v 9 and once in v 10.
In v 9, Paul talks about being justified and in v 10 being reconciled to God through the death of Christ. When we received eternal life as a gift by faith, we were also justified (declared righteous by God) and reconciled to God. In simple terms, when we were eternally saved, we quit being the enemies of God. We are at peace with Him.
But that is not the end of the story! There is “much more” that is available to the believer. As Paul discusses in chaps. 5–8, believers have the Spirit of God in them. They can walk (i.e., live) by the power of the Spirit. If they do, they will experience here and now the abundant life that Jesus spoke of in John 10:10.
But there is even more. In the process of walking by the Spirit, they can know that God even uses difficulties in our lives to conform us into the image of Christ.
But there is even more. The believer who walks by the Spirit will become a mature child of God and reign with Christ in the world to come.
Indeed, there is “much more” in the Bible than being told how a person can be saved from the eternal lake of fire. Being saved from that destiny is certainly good news. But the Bible is full of other kinds of good news.
One of the great things about Free Grace theology is that it points out these things. Once we know we have eternal life and are eternally saved from the lake of fire, we can see that most of the Bible teaches us about many other things. These things include walking by the Spirit, intimacy with Christ, avoiding the consequences of sin, and eternal rewards.
There is so “much more” in there.