The last part of the Apostles Creed is the Christian teaching of eternal life. Christianity teaches not only everlasting life; but, also everlasting death. Eternal life and death are obtained at the resurrection.
Eternal life is a promise from God to His people who believe and have faith in Him. Those who do not have faith and do not believe in Christ will suffer everlasting destruction. This is a definite and clear teaching in the Bible.
Everlasting life and death
The Old and New Testament both teach that all humanity will either be raised to eternal life or eternal corruption.
“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”
(Dan 12:2 NAS)
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. “And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.”
(Mat 25:31-33 NAS)
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.. . . ”
“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;. . .”
“And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
(Mat 25:34, 41, 46 NAS)
The apostles taught that eternal life and death happened at the time of the resurrection.
Everlasting Life and Death at the resurrection
The Gospel of John states that eternal life and death happen at the resurrection.
“Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”
(John 5:28-29 NAS)
The product of our deeds leads us to either corruption or life.
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
(Gal 6:7-8 NAS See also John 4:36-38)
An illustration of this is the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus, where, at death, one went to paradise and the other torment.
“Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. “And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.”
(Luk 16:22-23 NAS)
Those who believe and follow Christ are those who obtain eternal life.
Eternal life is a promise to God’s people
Eternal life is a promise from God. It is not some “dangling carrot” to get people to obey Him. It is a specific promise to a specific people.
“And this is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.”
(1John 2:25 NAS See also 2Pe 3:13; Tit 1:1-3)
“… those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. ”
(Heb 9:15 NAS)
The promise is to those whom God calls to Himself not because of our works.
Eternal life is appointed to God’s people
Those who were appointed to eternal life believe in Christ.
“And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”
(Act 13:48 NAS)
“Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these bear witness of Me. “But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. “I and the Father are one.”
(John 10:25-30 NAS See also John 17:2-3)
Only Christs sheep hear His voice and they will have eternal life. God haters will not be included.
Eternal life is a free gift from God
Because of God’s mercy He freely gives us eternal life.
“He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
(Tit 3:5-7 NAS)
“But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
(Rom 6:22-23 NAS)
The Holy Spirit sanctifies us and brings us to eternal life. God is the author of our faith and good works.
“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ”
(Heb 12:2 NAS)
We can have eternal life through the faith God gives us .
Faith leads to eternal life
Only by believing in Christ can we have eternal life.
“The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the witness that God has borne concerning His Son. And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.”
(1John 5:10-13 NAS See also 1John 5:20)
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.”
(John 6:47 NAS See also John 3:14-18; 6:40; 5:38-40; 1Ti 1:16 )
No wicked or unrighteous person will have eternal life; rather, they will have eternal destruction.
Those who persevere will enter eternal life
Those who are God’s people will persevere and overcome all things even at the loss of everything.
“to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;”
(Rom 2:7 NAS See also Rev 2:11)
“Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
(1Ti 6:12 NAS See also Heb 5:9; Luk 18:29-30; John 12:25-26; Mar 10:29-31; Mar 10:17-22 NAS See also Mat 19:16-22; Mat 19:28-30; Luk 10:25-28; Luk 18:17-27;)
Those whom God granted eternal life confess Christ and keep the faith till death.
The Book of Life
Only those whose names are written in the Book of Life will have eternal life.
“Indeed, true comrade, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. ”
(Phil 4:3 NAS See also Psa 69:28)
“and nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
(Rev 21:27 NAS See also Rev 3:5; 13:8; 20:11, 15; 21:7)
The Book of Life was “written from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8 NAS).”
The description of Eternal Life
Eternal life is described as an imperishable paradise. God’s people will live in the house of the Lord accompanied by myriads of Angels singing in the New Jerusalem. There will be no more pain, sadness, or death.
From perishable to imperishable
Eternal life is coming from a perishable life to an imperishable life.
“For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
(1Co 15:53-54 NAS See also Rom 2:7)
“but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, ”
(2Ti 1:10 NAS See also 1Ti 6:14-16)
There will be no suffering, death or sadness. We will be in paradise forever.
“and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
(Rev 21:4 NAS)
There will be no death or corruption; but, joy and singing.
There will be Singing in heaven
In heaven, the angels and the people of God will sing and perform music continually.
“And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.”
(Rev 4:8 NAS See also Rev 5:9)
“And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth.”
(Rev 14:3 NAS See also Rev 15:3)
There will be joy and singing everywhere in the house of the Lord.
The house of he Lord
In God’s house, there are many places where we will dwell.
“Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. “And you know the way where I am going.”
(John 14:1-4 NAS See also Psa 23:6; 2Co 5:1; Phil 3:20-21)
“He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. ”
(Rev 3:12 NAS)
We will be living in the presence of the Angels and God.
Myriads of Angels in the New Jerusalem
Eternal life will be in the “New Jerusalem” that is in heaven.
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, ”
(Heb 12:22 NAS See also Heb 9:5 Eze 10:1-22)
“And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are those of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.”(Rev 21:10-12 NAS)
“And the material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone.”(Rev 21:18-19 NAS)
“And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. And I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple.”(Rev 21:21-22 NAS)
“And in the daytime (for there shall be no night there) its gates shall never be closed;”(Rev 21:25 NAS)
The site of the “New Jerusalem” is spectacular and beyond anything we would experience on earth.
Paradise and the Tree of Life
God’s paradise will be natural. There will be trees, water, fruit, and life everlasting.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.”
(Rev 2:7 NAS See also Luk 23:43)
“And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. ”
(Rev 22:1-2 NAS See also Rev 22:14-15 Gen 3:24)
The description of Eternal Destruction
On the otherside, those who do not believe in the gospel of Christ will suffer everlasting destruction.
Wrath upon the wicked according to their deeds
God’s wrath will come upon the unrepentant.
“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds:”
(Rom 2:4-6 NAS)
The wrath of God is finalized in the second death.
The lake of fire the Second Death
Immoral unbelievers who hate and break God’s commandments will suffer eternal death in the Lake of Fire.
“And if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the eternal fire. ”
(Mat 18:8 NAS See also Isa 34:8-10; Jud 1:7)
“And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire ”
(Rev 20:14-15 NAS See also Rev 19:20; 20:10)
“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone,which is the second death.”
(Rev 21:8 NAS)
The Lake of Fire is eternal torment that for some will be in the presence of God.
Tormented in the presence of God and the Angels
Those unbelievers of the worst sort, will be tormented before the Lord forever.
“he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
(Rev 14:10-11 NAS)
The Bible describes this as where the worm never dies.
Where the worm does not die
The Lake of Fire will never be put out or end.
“Then they shall go forth and look On the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm shall not die, And their fire shall not be quenched; And they shall be an abhorrence to all mankind.”
(Isa 66:24 NAS)
“And if your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.”
(Mar 9:43-48 NAS See also Mar 9:43-46)
Away from the presence of God
Eternal damnation is also described as being cast away from the presence of God.
“dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power”
(2Th 1:8-9 NAS)
“but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
(Mat 8:12 NAS See also Mat 22:13; 25:30)