Romans 6:23. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Grace is life. Eternal life. In Christ Jesus.
And so here in Romans 6:23 we have a summation of all of human existence. All of God’s redemption story. The purpose of creation, the cross, and the new creation. The reason for everything is that we might escape the wage of sin, and receive the gift of God. His own life.
The little Greek word that the Apostle’s use to mean the divine life. Christ’s life. Not bios (physical life). Not psyche (mental life). Zoe (spiritual life). Of these three words used to describe life in Greek, only zoe is used to describe God’s life. Only God has zoe, until he gives it to us by his grace.
Eternal life is not your human life forever. What a hell that would be. What living death. To be you forever enslaved to sin. That’s no gift. That’s the wage. God’s grace is not immortality; it’s his life joined to yours forever. Goodness forever. Not just being alive forever. Not just an eternity of trying to improve.
Sure, improving your bios or psyche is something that you can do. You probably have done it. Self-help. Anger management. 12 steps. Behavior modification. Psychology. Beach Body. Keto. But none of these solves the bigger problem that each of us faces – the wage of sin. Death. Those that are born sinners must be reborn. Rebirth is something that none of us could accomplish on our own. Only grace can bring it to pass. Only the creator can create something from nothing.
Zoe life only comes from God himself. This life was given to Jesus in the incarnation and then it was made available to us.
John 6:57. As the living [zoe] Father sent me, and I live [zoe] because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live [zoe] because of me.
Zoe life is only available by feeding on Jesus. That is, participating in his life by faith. Or, as Paul says, receiving it as a gift. This is everything that God has ever wanted for us. It’s the life he offered in the Garden through the Tree of Life. It’s the life he now offers in the person of Jesus Christ.
Eternal life is a big deal because death is a big deal. Slavery to sin is a big deal. Without the gift of eternal life, death is irreversible. Our life is not enough to overcome death. Our bios and psyche can’t defeat the finality of death. But God’s zoe life can. And did. Jesus subjected himself to death to defeat death. Now our death is reversible. Now it is a gift, an entrance into immortality. Our spiritual death (you died with Christ) and our physical death both bring about the very life that we all desire and strive after, but without the striving. It’s grace! It’s a free gift!
Paul ends one of the greatest chapters in the Bible with one of the greatest statements in the Bible – the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. This simple statement is the depths of the gospel poured into one phrase. Let us strive to know it, consider it, and present ourselves to God from it’s power. May we never trivialize it, or turn it into just another cliche. May we live from the fullness it promises and provides. May we abide in it and rest in the eternal security of “to live is Christ.”
1 Timothy 6:12. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.