Going back to Holy Scriptures, in John 3:16
, we note the words “whosoever believeth in Jesus should not perish, but can have everlasting life.” This means that gaining the gift of everlasting life is conditional. If we are to “have everlasting life,” we need to believe in Jesus and obey him. --- John 3:36
You might wonder: ‘How is obeying involved? Did Jesus not say that “whosoever believeth in him” will have everlasting life?’ Yes, belief, or faith, is essential. However, it is important to remember that in the Bible, faith is much more than simply believing. According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, the word used by John in the original language signifies “reliance upon, not mere credence.” In order to have God’s favor, one needs more than a mental recognition that Jesus is the Savior. The believer must also sincerely endeavor to apply what Jesus taught. If there is no action, any profession of faith is hollow. “Faith without works is dead,” says the Bible. (James 2:26
) Put another way, what is required of the believer is that he exercise faith in Jesus—that is, he must live in accord with his belief and faith.
Paul explains the point this way: “The love the Jesus Christ has compels us, because this is what we have concluded, that one man [Jesus] died for all . . . And he died for all so that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised up.” (2 Corinthians 5:14
, 15) Sincere gratitude for Jesus’ sacrifice should move us to make changes in our life—from selfishly living for ourselves to living for Jesus, who died for us. That is to say, we need to give priority in our lives to practicing what Jesus taught. Such a change will necessarily affect our values, our choices, and everything we do. What will be the reward for those who do believe and exercise faith in Jesus?
The last part of John 3:16
expresses God’s promise to those who exercise faith in the ransom provision and live according to divine standards. God intends that such faithful ones “should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Different destinies, however, await individuals who benefit from God’s love.
To one group, Jesus promised everlasting life in heaven. He clearly told his faithful disciples that he was about to prepare a place for them so that they might rule with him in glory. (John 14:2, 3; Philippians 3:20
, 21) Those resurrected to life in heaven “will be priests of God and of the Christ, and they will rule as kings with him for the 1,000 years.”—Revelation 20:6.
Only a limited number of Christ’s followers would receive such a privilege. In fact, Jesus said: “Have no fear, little flock, for your Father has approved of giving you the Kingdom.” (Luke 12:32
) How numerous would that “little flock” be? Revelation 14:1, 4 says: “I saw, and look! the Lamb [the resurrected Jesus Christ] standing on [the heavenly] Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who have his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads. . . . These were bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.” In comparison with the countless billions who have ever lived, 144,000 individuals constitute just a “little flock.” These are described as kings, so over whom will they rule?
Jesus spoke of a second group of faithful ones who will receive benefits from the heavenly Kingdom. As seen at John 10:16
, Jesus noted: “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those too I must bring in, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” Those “sheep” look forward to everlasting life on earth—the same prospect that Adam and Eve originally entertained. How do we know that their future is earthly?
On numerous occasions, the Bible speaks of Paradise conditions to come on earth. To see this for yourself, you might wish to open your Bible and read the following passages: Psalm 37:9-11; 46:8, 9; 72:7, 8, 16; Isaiah 35:5, 6; 65:21
-23; Matthew 5:5; John 5:28
, 29; Revelation 21:4. Those verses foretell an end to war, famine, sickness, and death. They speak of a time when good people will have the joy of being able to build their own houses, cultivate their own land, and raise their children in peaceful surroundings. Does such a prospect not appeal to you? We have good reason to believe that those promises will soon be realized.