If Most Everyone Will Have Eternal Life with God Anyway, then Why Do We Need to Share the Good News of Jesus?

Recently we discussed whether those who have not heard the good news or who even follow other religions might receive eternal life and live in God’s community after death—even if they never became followers of Jesus during this lifetime. My conclusion was ‘Yes!’; they are included in the results of Jesus’ victory over death at his resurrection.

This suggests the possibility that everyone who ever lived might live forever in God’s community, though perhaps some could reject eternal life with God as an expression of their free will. Of course, this runs counter to the widespread and very vocal view that those who do not accept Jesus during this lifetime will be punished and tortured forever in a burning hell.

In fact, the primary motivations among those who believe in eternal punishment in hell seem to be 1) to do whatever is necessary to avoid hell for themselves, and 2) to warn as many other people as possible to become Christians and avoid hell as well. This is the impetus for reaching others through evangelism and missions so that they can ‘accept Jesus’, become Christians, and avoid eternal hell.

If their presumption of punishment hell were true, then this sort of action would be of the highest importance, but I do not share this view of punishment in hell. However, I do acknowledge that this issue raises an important question: If eternal life with God is already available to everyone…

Then Why Do We Need to Share the Good News of Jesus at All?

The good news of Jesus

I think this is a reasonable question to ask, and I think I can provide a reasonable answer. That we can live in the happiness of God’s community after we die is an important part of the good news of Jesus—but it is only one part. There are at least four additional points to the good news and they all pertain to this life—not life after death.

It is wonderful to learn that God is not angry, harsh, and vindictive toward us as some suppose; instead God wants to provide us peace, healing of our brokenness, and reconciliation with God, ourselves, and others (instead of alienation)—in this lifetime! God takes away our fear, guilt, and self-condemnation—in this lifetime! We are not asked by God to adhere to a list of legalistic religious rules but to love other people and to treat each other right—in this lifetime!

This is all good news and applies to us in this lifetime. Without hearing this good news, people will miss the benefits from it, and they are every bit as important as knowing we have eternal life after death. Some might point out, legitimately, that those who have not heard or who follow other religions do not necessarily think God is angry, harsh, or vindictive; they do not necessarily feel insecurity, brokenness, or alienation; and they do not necessarily carry fear, guilt, or condemnation.

This is all true. In fact, while an important aspect of Jesus’ teaching and example is to treat people with empathy, compassion, and care, most religions and philosophies teach very similarly—and this is good! However, there is an aspect of Jesus’ teaching of the good news that goes beyond all these things, and it is one in which all believers are expected to be involved; it is important—and it pertains to this life.

Loving Others and Treating People Right is NOT All There is to Following Jesus

Treating people with empathy, compassion, and care demonstrates a proper heart—no matter what the religion or lack of religion. Treating others with dignity, respect, and acceptance is among the highest expressions of humanity and is found among people throughout the world.

Of course Jesus emphasized loving others, and those who follow him should follow him in the way he treated people. But this is not all there is in following Jesus. An important aspect of the good news of Jesus involves what he calls the ‘kingdom of God’. The western world does not relate to the concept of ‘kingdom’ quite the way that Jesus’ audience would have. Were Jesus teaching today he would likely use a different cultural term—perhaps ‘community of God’.

The community of God is not a visible, organized movement but a loose network that expands through every nation and culture. However, the community of God is counter-cultural and part of its purpose is to speak to power, greed, and domination in the system—just as Jesus did in his day (and for which he was executed).

When Jesus told us we should pray that God’s kingdom come and God’s will be done—ON EARTH, I think he meant it. This is important work—in this lifetime! So I think, in addition to being able to look forward to life in God’s community after death, it IS important for us to share all these aspects of the good news with everyone in the world because they impact us, and the world, in this lifetime.

What is Our Role as Citizens of the Kingdom of God?

The expansion of the community of God on Earth is a major objective for all believers. But how are we to go about it? Specifically, how do we relate, as citizens of the community of God, to the cultures and political systems of the world? We will talk about that next time.

Articles in this series: Jesus, World Religions, and Eternal Life

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This entry was posted in eternal life, fundamentalism, God, hell, Jesus, Kingdom of God, love, resurrection, the Good News, witnessing. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to If Most Everyone Will Have Eternal Life with God Anyway, then Why Do We Need to Share the Good News of Jesus?

  1. Pingback: If Most Everyone Will Have Eternal Life with God Anyway, then Why Do We Need to Share the Good News of Jesus? — Jesus Without Baggage @JesusWOB | Talmidimblogging

  2. michaeleeast says:

    Bravo!
    Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
    Have a heart!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Patricia Bennett says:

    Hi Tim another great sharing, thank you. 2 NDE’s, Several OBE;s later the most striking aspect of ‘over there’ is indeed there are many mansions, (levels) and we choose the one that most resonates with our spiritual path and level of consciousness. Most striking though is the love of God for all is totally apparent, said love premeditates everything giving it vibrancy and life which is so beautiful and powerful that there are no words we have here to accurately describe it. For sure its hard to come back after you’ve experienced there. Both of the NDE’s occurred during surgeries, both times I was given my own personal reason that I needed to return, neither time did I want to leave just knew it was important that I go back, other’s would need help in their future that only I could assist with. It’s a choice, no force is exerted you just know that you can’t stay, your time isn’t yet that you indeed have more to do here in the physical for others because you FEEL the love of God that exists for all and you can no more turn away from that love than He can. Blessings and peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Patrick, thanks for sharing about your experiences. I have never experienced either one, and I really don’t know what to make of them.

      Like

  4. newtonfinn says:

    Thumbs up, Tim, on “the Community of God” as an apt updating of the original concept of the Kingdom taught and lived by Jesus! And thanks, Patricia, for sharing some of the lessons of your NDEs and OBEs, lessons which seem to be remarkably similar without regard to the times or cultures in which the experiences occur. I respect the fact that Tim is open to, but not yet convinced by, these sorts of experiences, as are many other followers of Jesus. But having read a great deal about them, I have come to believe that they provide genuine glimpses of the afterlife that God has created for us all. I don’t mean to harp on particular verses (a dangerous practice), but Jesus told the thief, being crucified with him, that TODAY they would be together in paradise. Likewise, Jesus’ parable about the rich man and Lazarus indicates that one enters different levels of the afterlife (heavenly or hellish) upon death, depending on how one lived one’s life. That said, I have never read about any NDE that includes the lesson that we will be eternally stuck in any hellish realm, but rather that spiritual progress forever remains open to us. Tim’s next blog will apparently address this crucial issue of how we are to live in this world as a member of the Community of God, and THAT is where the rubber meets the road, far more than in our various speculations or conceptions of spiritual realms beyond understanding. Can’t wait to read Tim’s thoughts on this subject and perhaps put in my two cents. If you have the time, Patricia, and are so inclined, it would be instructive to me and many others if you would elaborate a little on the difficulties of coming back. Quite a few near death experiencers seem to encounter formidable challenges in finding meaningful places to fit back into this world after leaving paradise (however briefly they might have been there). I would love to hear more about the difficulties you allude to, but only if it seems appropriate and comfortable for you to share them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      “Tim’s next blog will apparently address this crucial issue of how we are to live in this world as a member of the Community of God, and THAT is where the rubber meets the road, far more than in our various speculations or conceptions of spiritual realms beyond understanding. Can’t wait to read Tim’s thoughts on this subject and perhaps put in my two cents.”

      Newton, I agree that this is where the rubber meets the road! I look forward to your ‘two cents’, which are always much more valuable than that!

      Liked by 1 person

      • newtonfinn says:

        Tim, thanks for the encouragement to continue posting on this wonderful blog. I look forward to each new entry and so often feel inspired to enter into the conversation you have begun. I know that the NDE stuff is peripheral to the thrust of Jesus Without Baggage, but I just stumbled this morning upon a series of rather well-done videos that shed considerable light on this fairly common experience and its possible spiritual implications. I hope you don’t mind if I simply provide a link to these videos for those of your readers who may be interested. I promise to leave the subject there and turn my attention to grappling with following Jesus in the Community of God. The LAST thing I want to do is deflect this blog away from its all-important focus on learning to understand the real Jesus and the meaning of genuine discipleship.

        http://www.victorzammit.com/evidence/nde.htm

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Newton, I have found you contributions to be helpful–not distracting. I am always happy to see your comments.

          Like

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  10. Drew says:

    I wonder if belief in eternal life (in a literal sense of continuing to be an experiencing subject that preserves the identity of our earthly embodied selves) might be part of the harmful baggage of belief in Jesus. It wouldn’t be as severe as the harmful items you emphasize on this blog, but, since we don’t know if eternal life is really true or what it’s like, there could be a harm in the way that belief in eternal life prevents us from reasoning correctly about the nature of life and reality, and also in the way it affects our earthly priorities. Of course if Jesus says without equivocation (for instance, outside of metaphors that can be read in a contrasting way) that we have eternal life, then belief in eternal life wouldn’t be baggage, so much as something Jesus really did say. But if the belief that we live eternally is based solely upon reports of Jesus’ resurrection, this would not be part of Jesus’ teachings, strictly speaking, so we might be able to view it as baggage. (Honestly, I’m not a Bible scholar, so I don’t know if we can be sure that Jesus says that we have eternal life, even if we trust the reports of what he says – I’m guessing you’ve addressed this in another good article on your blog.) But aside from Jesus’ teachings, why does it matter? Wouldn’t it be better just to be okay with going away forever than holding onto an idea of eternal life that we don’t even really understand? I can see why the message of love matters (which you can get in other religions), but why does eternal life matter?

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Drew, you raise a good question. I don’t think we can know for sure if there is life after death. I have dealt with this for a long time and concluded that there is sufficient cause to accept the possibility of Jesus’ resurrection and consequently life after death. But if this is not the case my life would be no different; I am perfectly okay with okay with going away forever

      I think you are right in saying that belief in eternal life after death CAN be a harmful belief. There are many believers who are so invested in the idea of ‘heaven’ that it overshadows other, more important, aspects of belief and their current life. I don’t think we can be dogmatic on this issue. Of course, for those who believe in eternal punishment in hell, they are further motivated to cling to the resurrection and eternal life in ‘heaven’.

      I do have another article on Jesus’ resurrection that might be relevant.
      https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/alternative-explanations-for-the-resurrection-of-jesus/

      Like

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