If you are Christian, eternal life does not simply mean going to heaven for eternity. Eternal life means a never-dying spirit that has already sprung to life in you! In other words, eternal life starts NOW! Your life that lasts eternally in the next world is the same life that begins here in this one. When you die, only your body dies. Your spirit -- your eternal spirit that is the essence -- the deepest reality -- of who you are -- never stops existing. Never. You pass from one life into another one, with not a moment's gap in existence.
It does a great disservice to Christian ideas when heaven is simply some abstract place after death where we sit on clouds playing the harp. If I really thought that was heaven, I think I'd sign up for the other place. (I mean, forget harps. For me surely heaven is the place where the electric guitars are.) No, my friends, eternal life begins here on this earth when God's Spirit breathes into our Spirits the breath of life and our spirits spring to life for the first time, suddenly capable of living without sin. At that moment, they take on a completely different quality and kind of life. Plants are alive, but not in the way cats are. Cats are alive, but not in the way human beings are. Human beings without Christ are alive, but not in the way human beings with Christ are. There are different levels of life and when Christ comes into our lives, he gives us the best kind of life -- one that starts at that moment and never ends! It could be said that the Christ-follower is in heaven already, because they have already begun eternal life with Christ. And it could be said that the person without Christ is in hell already, because hell is simply the absence of God.
Life with Christ is heaven. Life without Christ is hell. And those things are true, no matter which side of this world you're on. Christians will inherit everything Christ has been given by God -- including spirits that are alive to God and will spend all eternity with him, starting right here in this world.
(From David Flower's Sermon "The Daily Christian Life II")
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