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Volume 14, Issue 3: Doctrine 101

Star Wars Theology

Patch Blakey

Most Americans are well acquainted with the ever-developing and widely popular movie series produced by George Lucas, Star Wars. In this series, God is not a factor, but rather an impersonal force that permeates the universe, manifesting a "good" side and a "bad" side (however those terms may be defined apart from the Creator God of the Bible). This force is like a ubiquitous source of electricity, and all one need do is "plug into" to benefit from it. This makes for fascinating science fiction, but as theology, nothing could be further from biblical Christianity. Or could it?

Some Christians believe that their eternal security operates in much the same way as the force of the Star Wars movies. An example of this was provided by one Christian man who described eternal life as a train enroute to heaven with several stops along the way. A person could get on the train at one station and "have" eternal life, but then get off at another station, thus "losing" eternal life. This perception of eternal life turns it into a cold, impersonal "thing" that just exists, and if people are smart, they'll tap into it (or in the case of the previous train illustration, they'll get on board) by quoting the Jesus-come-into-my-heart mantra. In such a construct, eternal life is never personally possessed since it exists independently of those who partake of it, like the air we breathe or the internet. And, like the force, you have the ability to take it or leave it.
However, our standard for understanding eternal truths such as the doctrine of eternal life should not come to us from George Lucas movies or from our own vain imagination, but rather from the Holy Bible. We should seek to know what God has to say to us about eternal life in the Scriptures, and let that govern our thinking. So, what does the Bible say?
Jesus defined eternal life for us when He said, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). From Jesus' statement, we can see that eternal life is knowing the only true God, and His Son, Jesus Christ, who came in the flesh. So then, how do we know God that we might have eternal life?
First of all, we don't come to know God by asking Jesus to come into our hearts. This idea is a human fabrication. It was never preached by any of the apostles in the Bible, nor is it ever taught as doctrine to any of the churches in any of the epistles. It's just not in the Scriptures. It is a human tradition of modern evangelicalism just like buying indulgences was a tradition of the medieval Roman Catholic Church, neither has it any biblically justifiable salvific authority.
God gave Jesus authority over all flesh, and part of that authority was the power to give eternal life to those whom God the Father had given to Him. "As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him"(John 17:2). From this we see that possessing eternal life is the precursor to knowing God. And Christ gives eternal life freely to as many as the Father has given Him. Jesus does not dispense eternal life according to the dictates or whims of individual men. He does not bestow it on those who think eternal life is "cool" as opposed to spending eternity in hell. He gives it to a set group, a group determined by God the Father. These are the ones who receive eternal life, and so consequently, these are the ones who know God.
Eternal life is also described as a gift, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:23). And elsewhere, "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand" (John 10:28). In addition to being a gift, we should also note that Jesus calls it eternal life; that is, once bestowed, it is non-returnable. Just as its name implies, it is forever, eternal; that is, the possessor will never perish.
Since eternal life is a gift from God, it is personal. He knows those to whom it will be given. The recipients are not just some amorphous mass of unknown humanity, like the crowd that happens to wander into Disneyland on any given day. Eternal life is a gift from the Creator to specific members of His creation. The choice is God's, not man's, "and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48). And because eternal life is a gift, it is possessed for all eternity by those to whom it is given. It is an inheritance that cannot be taken away. "That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" ( Titus 3:7).
Eternal life is also a promise, or rather, the fulfillment of a promise made by God. "And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life" (1 John 2:25). God made this promise before the world began, and because God cannot lie, we can have confidence in its fulfillment. "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began" (Titus 1:2).
Far from being a cold, impersonal, self-perpetuating force that we choose to tap into or out of, eternal life is a phenomenal gift of love, promised before the foundation of the world to those whom God ordained should receive it for eternity as co-heirs with Christ, His Son and our Savior. God's gift far surpasses Lucas's force.

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