ZOE-LIFE
(Back to Articles: Table of Contents)
(Printer Friendly Version)

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" (I Timothy 6:12 NASV).

Born Again
We've been Born Again! We have New Life! But do we Christians really grasp what we have? Our counseling experiences reveal that, too often, many of us do not. For sure, some know they now have a ticket to heaven. But they don't realize that this new life should thoroughly change their lives in the here and now. And so they go on living much like they did before they came to Christ, thus missing His fellowship and blessings.

Others find themselves in a continual fight with unbelief as they try to grasp this new life. Although they have already received the free gift, their unbelieving hearts persuade them that they must earn it through their good deeds. Falling into periods of despair and confusion, they are tormented by the evil one, who darkens their understanding and robs them of their inheritance.

And most of us, from time to time, become inattentive of the new life we've received in Christ. We neglect to meditate on it's significance and true dimensions. We forget to remember what it cost the Lord to impart it. Taking it for granted, we become dull of heart and slow to give thanks. Thus our joy and confidence erode away.

Therefore it is worthwhile to review what this New Life, this gift of God, is. In this article, we will look at what the scriptures say concerning new life in Christ. We will outline where it comes from, how it is given and received, and what difference it makes. We invite you, as you read this study, to meditate on the Word of God and to be encouraged and refreshed in His promises.

This New Life
First, let's turn to the lexicon. The Greek word for "life" is zoe. This is the root of the English words "zoo" and "zoology."  Zoe is used of the state of existing and being animate which is common to all mankind, whether saved or unsaved. For example, Paul says to the idol worshipping Greeks at Athens, "The God who made the world and all things in it...He Himself gives to all life (zoe) and breath and all things...for in Him we live (zao--the verb form) and move and have our being" (Acts 17:25-28 NASV). Zoe also refers to an individual person's life while on earth (Luke 16:25, Philippians 1:20, James 4:14). But in the Greek New Testament, zoe has a special meaning. It speaks of the life that is given by God through Christ Jesus to those who believe the gospel. In this usage, zoe is often modified by the adjective aionios [English: eon] which means "eternal", "everlasting", "of endless duration."

Scripture reveals that the source or fount of this zoe life is God the Father. Indeed, Jesus calls Him "the living [zao] Father" (John 6:57), indicating that zoe life is the very life that God has in Himself. Having life in Himself, the Father imparted this life to the Son: "For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself" (John 5:26 NASV).

In turn, the Son manifested this life to the world. Consider John's words: "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men, and the light shines in the darkness..." (John 1:4-5 NASV). Again, John says: "And the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us" (I John 1:2 NASV). Paul confirms John's testimony when he says that God's purpose "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" (II Timothy 1:9-10 NASV).

Jesus' foremost purpose in coming was to give zoe life to men, that is, to cause men to enter into and partake of the very life of God. "...I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly" (John 10:10 NASV). "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I myself will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:40 NASV). Again, "...Thou gavest Him authority over all mankind, that to all whom Thou hast given Him, He may give eternal life" (John 17:2 NASV).

Even before the ages of time began, God had promised to give zoe life to men: "...In the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago ["before the world began"--KJV], but at the proper time manifested..." (Titus 1:2-3 NASV).

Life For Death
Life was certainly man's great need, for mankind was without life because of sin. All had sinned and through sin, death had come. We all were dead in our trespasses and sins and in the uncircumcision of our flesh (Ephesians 2:1, Colossians 2:13). This death included alienation from God. We were "excluded from the life of God" (Ephesians 4:18 NASV), "without God in this world" (Ephesians 2:12 NASV).

Being dead in sin involved not only alienation from God but also opposition to God. "We were enemies" (Romans 5:10 NASV), "hostile in mind and engaged in evil deeds" (Colossians 1:21 NASV). Moreover, we were "foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our [earthly] life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another" (Titus 3:3 NASV). We walked in the futility of our minds, darkened in our understanding, in ignorance, because of the hardness of our hearts (Ephesians 4:17-18 NASV)

Clearly, because of man's sin and rebellion, his portion was a justly deserved death, not life. Yet God purposed to bring zoe life to the dead by causing death to fall on the only One who truly lived. At the cross, the penalty for sin fell on Jesus. Through His bodily death, the claim of God's judgement on sinners was satisfied. On the basis of the shed blood of His Son, God could pardon sinners and impart His very life to them.

A person receives zoe life as he responds to the gospel with repentance and faith. The gospel, called "the word of life" (Philippians 2:16), proclaims God's offer to exchange His zoe life for man's death. The gospel brings repentance: "God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life" (Acts 11:18 NASV). And the gospel brings faith: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgement, but has passed out of death into life" (John 5:24 NASV).

Through repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ, zoe life becomes man's portion. "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36 NASV). The scriptures abound with similar statements connecting faith and life. For instance, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16 NASV) Again, "...But these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name." (John 20:31 NASV; see also John 6:47, I Timothy 1:16, I John 5:1).

We pass from death to life at the moment we receive the gift of zoe life. "We know that we have passed out of death into life..." (I John 3:14 NASV). "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ..." (Ephesians 2:4-5 NASV).

Life in Christ
The zoe life which we receive is not a package that Jesus gives us. It is not something separate from Himself. Rather it is IN Jesus. "...But the free gift of God is eternal life IN Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23 NASV, emphasis added). "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" (I John 5:11-12 NASV, emphasis added).

In fact, the zoe life we receive is Jesus Himself, for Jesus IS life. "I am...the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies..." (John 14:25NASV). "I am...the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me" (John 14:6 NASV).

Thus Jesus becomes and continues to be our life. "For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory" (Colossians 3:3-4 NASV). "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live (zao), but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20 NASV).

Now and Later
Being made alive in Christ transforms the course and outcome of our lives both in this present age and also in the age to come. Here and now, we still dwell in a mortal body. But His life is manifested in and through our mortal flesh (II Corinthians 4:10-11). No longer do we live limited and bound by sin and flesh. This fleshly tabernacle is now indwelt by the power of an indestructible life (Hebrews 7:16). As we abide with Him and His word abides in us, we bear fruit: "He who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:4-5 NASV). Our hearts are changed: "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren: (I John 3:14 NASV). His righteousness and grace cause us "to reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:17 NASV). Thus our lives are metamorphosed as God works in us "both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13 NASV).

Yet, "if we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied" (I Corinthians 15:19 NASV). But this in not the case. For there will be a resurrection and in the resurrection, eternal life will extend to the sphere of the body. "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 [KJV--damnation]" (John 5:28-29 NASV). Jesus knows His own (John 10:14) and, on the last day, will raise those who have eternal life (John 6:54). No one will snatch them out of His hand (John 10:28). On that day, He will "transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself" (Philippians 3:21 NASV). And we will finally "be clothed, in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life" (II Corinthians 5:4 NASV).

So let us live now to the fullest by His eternal life, and be raised by it later. For we have been given "everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence" (II Peter 1:3 NASV). Let us not take this life for granted, be ignorant concerning it, trivialize it, forget it, neglect it, or turn it into cliches. Let us not doubt or disbelieve it, let it slip from our grasp, or surrender it to the enemy of our souls. Instead, let us consider what we have received and reckon on the zoe life of God who indwells us. Let us trust His promises, believe His word, and live by faith. Let us sow to the Spirit and from the Spirit reap eternal life (Galations 6:8). And as we abide in Him continually, His zoe life will cause us to grow and mature, and give us confidence in the day of judgement (I John 2:28, 4:17).

(Back to Top)

Call Metro (817)640-6440    Total Life Ministries    319 Osler Ste. 130 Arlington, TX 76010