Book Excerpt: The River of Life
Now as [Jesus] was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit [aionios] life?”
This man isn’t asking how to go to heaven when he dies. He is asking about the new world that God is inaugurating through the life of Jesus, and how he can be a part of it. Jesus tells him to sell what he has and give to the poor—this will help bring about the messianic age—after which Jesus makes a bold and confusing promise: “and you shall have treasure in heaven.”
It’s confusing because we have somehow come to believe we must go to heaven to obtain this treasure! As Bible scholar N. T. Wright would say, if my wife tells me she has a cake in the oven for me, it doesn’t mean I have to crawl in the oven to eat it. That God has special treasures in a storehouse in heaven for us hardly means they will be sitting idle up there until we die.
No, “eternal life” is not about heaven.
–The River of Life, Energion Publications, 2014 by Lee Harmon