Now, we know that eternal life is a gift in response to faith in the Lord Jesus. It is a gift, but that is not the end of the story. When it has been given, it becomes the battleground for the rest of the experience of the Christian; right through to the end, that very life is the battleground of all true Christians. If it can by any means be neutralized, made inoperative, arrested, Satan will do it; that is his object. On the other hand, the Lord’s object is to make us, with Paul, ‘know Him, and the power of His resurrection’, in ever greater fullness. If ever a man knew the power of His resurrection, it was Paul, through many, many deadly conflicts, terrible battles and deep experiences; and yet, in his last writings, right at the end of his long, full experience of knowing resurrection upon resurrection, he still says: ‘That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection’ (Phil. 3:10). It is as much as to say: ‘I don’t know all that there is to know of that yet. I know a lot, but there is much more to know of that yet.’
And to Timothy, much about the same time, Paul writes: “Lay hold on the life eternal.” That is where I would put the emphasis. Do not just passively rest upon the fact that through faith in Jesus Christ you have eternal life. Remember that, from day to day, that life is to conquer; it is to be the basis of your very survival, it is to be the very means of your daily overcoming. It has to be the ground of your physical life, as well as your spiritual life: for your body, you must lay hold on that life; for victory, you must lay hold on that life. Would that we knew more about this in our prayer gatherings, really laying hold for victory, laying hold for the overthrow of the enemy; this positive taking hold, in spirit, of life. This is the battle; this is the very nature of things. In all this terrible welter in which we find ourselves, we have not, on the one hand, to accept it as inevitable, things being as they are; nor, on the other hand, to have a merely passive faith that, in the end, the Lord will triumph. Between those two, there is all this in the Word of God about our being positive, about our laying hold; about our attitude on the one side, of refusing; on the other side, of laying hold of God’s end.
The Lord save our fighting spirit, and ‘teach our hands to war, our fingers to fight!’ (Ps. 144:1)