What is this life to which Christ calls us?
His divine power has granted to us all things that
pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called
us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his
precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape
from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and
become partakers of the divine nature.
(2 Peter 1:3-4)
Christ calls us to eternal life through incorpation into
his own divine life. Jesus Christ, the Word of God, the eternally
begotten Son of the eternal Father-- God himself,
the creator of the universe, became one of us, a
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten begotten
from the Father, that is from the substance of the Father, God from
God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made,
consubstantial with the Father, through whom all things came to be,
both in heaven and those in earth; for us humans and for our salvation
he came down and became incarnate, became human (creed of the
First Council of Nicaea, p. 5)
By his becoming fully and truly one of us, our lives are
grafted onto his.
We come to share in his eternal life because we are given a share in
his divine nature.
This participation frees us from the corruption of sin, so
that we can live as God intended when he created us.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit
by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you
abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in
me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me
you can do nothing. (Jn 15:4-5)
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ
Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him
by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the
dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of
life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his,
we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We
know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body
might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.
This infusion of divine life frees us from the decay of death
I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me,
though he die, yet shall he live (Jn 11:25)
When Christ returns in glory at the end of time, the bodies of the
dead will be reunited with their souls (cf. 1 Thess 4:16-17). He
will give them according to their correspondence to the truth
manifested by their deeds (cf. Rom 2:6): those who have rejected truth
will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into
eternal life (Mt 25:46).
Christ will deliver us from the trials of this life for eternal
happiness with him:
Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the
hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your
impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time
into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove
the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day
with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never
end.[St. Teresa of Avila, Excl. 15:3.]"
Why is belief necessary?
The free choices of a human person have a radical (to the
root) effect on his or her existence. As creatures created in the
image of God, we have an obligation to seek out the truth and to help
others to seek it. Possessing spiritual souls, we humans can only be
fully joined to Christ by accepting the truth about him and realizing
that truth in our actions. Through belief, we acknowledge and take in
the truth of Christ-- that he is the Truth and represents also the
truth about man and what he is meant to be-- and act on that belief.
Scripture and the teaching of the Lord himself passed on
through the apostles tell us that, concomittant
to belief, is incorporation into Christ through baptism:
He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who
does not believe will be condemned. (Mk 16:16)
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and
the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)
The believer regenerated in the waters of baptism is an
adopted child of God after the resurrection of the dead, but also now
in this life, though in a mysterious and hidden way.
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called
children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know
us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children
now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that
when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
(1 John 3:1-3)
We come to share in Christ's divine sonship; we become other Christs,
or, since there is only one Christ-- Christ himself.
For in him the fullness of diety dwells bodily, and you have come to
fulness of life in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In
him you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by
putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ, and you
were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with
him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
(Colossians 2:9-12, cf. Romans 6:3-6)
For I through the law died to the law, that I might live to God. I
have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but
Christ who 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 gave himself for me.
Appendix: Further Scriptural Quotations
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view;
even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we
regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he
is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has
come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to
himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ
God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their
trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of
(2 Corinthians 5:16-19)
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy
of his call, and may fulfil every good resolve and work of faith by
his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you,
and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus
(2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)
Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were
not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was
to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died
through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the
free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded
for many. And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man's
sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but
the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If,
because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man,
much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and
the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one
man Jesus Christ. Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for
all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life
for all men. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners,
so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous.
- There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
- For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.
- For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
- in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
- For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
- To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
- For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot;
- and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
- But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
- But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness.
- If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you.
- So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh--
- for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.
- For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
- For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, "Abba! Father!"
- it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
- and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
- I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
- For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God;
- for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope;
- because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.
- We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now;
- and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
- For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?
- But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
- Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.
- And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
- We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.
- For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.
- And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
- What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us?
- He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?
- Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies;
- who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us?
- Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
- As it is written, "For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
- No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
- For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
- nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are also faithful in Christ Jesus:
- Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
- even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
- He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
- to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
- In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace
- which he lavished upon us.
- For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ
- as a plan for the fulness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
- In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will,
- we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory.
- In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
- which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
- For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints,
- I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,
- that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,
- having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
- and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might
- which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places,
- far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come;
- and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church,
- which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.
- I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
- with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love,
- eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
- There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call,
- one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
- one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.
- But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.
- Therefore it is said, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men."
- (In saying, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth?
- He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)
- And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
- to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
- until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ;
- so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.
- Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
- from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.
- Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds;
- they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart;
- they have become callous and have given themselves up to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of uncleanness.
- You did not so learn Christ! --
- assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus.
- Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts,
- and be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
- and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
- Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
- Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
- and give no opportunity to the devil.
- Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need.
- Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.
- And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
- Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice,
- and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
©The Augustine Club at Columbia University, 1996-2002
Last update: March 6, 2002