Was it a, “It’s My way or the highway” kind of thing?
I suppose you could take it that way but I don’t think that’s what He was trying to do.
Jesus wasn’t talking about how to get to heaven as much as He was stating that the only way we could enter into the same fellowship that He has had with the Father from eternity was by being placed in Him.
Of course, you get heaven too, but that misses the whole point.
Religion is about various ways and means to get to heaven. Christianity isn’t a religion in this sense.
Christianity isn’t about a way to heaven, it’s about entering into Christ’s life, and living it from heaven on earth (Matt.6:10; Eph.2:6; Gal.2:20; Phil.3:20).
So, going to heaven when you die and living forever does not define the way and life Jesus was talking about.
Furthermore, the Christian life is not about following particular doctrines, rituals, or even believing the Bible, though they all can play a part in it.
The main point of the Christian life is about entering into this Divine Fellowship that John invited us into with the introduction to his first epistle (bold-type added):
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” (1 John 1:1-4)
The first thing we need to see is that the “Word of Life” is not the Bible! It’s the Word of life that was manifested! Jesus Himself is the Word of life.
Jesus is not only the way to the Father, He is the life!
Jesus was in Divine Fellowship with the Father from the beginning (also John 1:1). When God the Son became a Man, He became our way into this same eternal union between the Father, Son and Spirit.
Jesus defined eternal life for us, for we now know that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us.“ Jesus had eternal life while walking on the earth because He was in the Father (John 8:29; 14:20). He existed both in heaven and on the earth at the same time (see John 3:13). He was the author and prototype for the new creation being—us!
This is why the incarnation of Christ is the most important event in human history. It is the whole point of redemption–our adoption (Eph.1:4-5; Gal.4:4-5).
Here’s what John was inviting us into...”that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
This fellowship with the Father is what the Bible calls eternal life.
Let me say it another way. When Jesus ascended to the Father, we ascended to the Father. He is at the right hand of the Father now, and we are in Him! I will use the Matryoshka nesting dolls on the left to illustrate. Jesus is the open doll and you are in Jesus!
We were placed in Christ, which is why Jesus is the only way into this Divine Circle of God. In other words, in order for a human being to be placed in the Godhead requires being placed in a Divine human being.
This is also why religion cannot give us eternal life, no matter which one it is. Including, when we make Christianity a religion. That, alone, doesn’t bring us into this Divine Fellowship.
I’ve said this many times on this blog. Eternal life isn’t about a place, it’s about a Person. It means that we’ve entered into the same life-giving communion with the Father and the Son in the Spirit that they have enjoyed since before the foundation of the world (Bold-type added):
“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)
“At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” (John 14:20)
“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:23-24)
These aren’t just poetic words or metaphors. They actually mean something wonderful. But it takes eyes of faith to see it. And “that day” is the day the Holy Spirit reveals it to you.
And when you finally do see it, everything changes! Your whole little world will be turned upside-down, or should I say, right-side-up. You will feel like you’re living for the first time because you’ve entered into His great big world!
The Greek words for “eternal life” are instructive. They are αἰώνιος ζωή. Most people get the first word…
Eternal = αἰώνιος (aiōnios): without beginning and end, that which always has been and always will be.
But this word for “life” is not our biological life. There are other Greek words for that. Here’s what ζωή means…
Life = ζωή (zōē): of the absolute fullness of life…which belongs to God.
Therefore, eternal life means that we have entered into God’s very own life, which exists outside of space and time. We can only do this by being placed in Christ.
Beloved, this is where you are, and what’s in you, whether you know it or not.
Jesus is the only way into this Divine Fellowship with the Father, Son and Spirit.
Jesus is the truth of God. As Bill Johnson has said, “Jesus Christ is perfect theology.” What is like Jesus is like God; whatever is not like Jesus is not who God really is.
Do you see it yet? Jesus, eternal God the Son, became God-inhabited flesh so that we could become God-inhabited flesh. So that we could have life from the place of this eternal fellowship in heaven, expressing the Father’s heart, as Jesus did, on the earth.
Beloved, don’t let anyone cheat you out of this absolute fullness of life with empty religion. This is the life the Father has meant for you—a life filled with the fullness of God and great joy!