The Man of God Takes Hold of Eternal Life
Compete well for the faith and lay hold of that eternal life you were called for and made your good confession for in the presence of many witnesses.
What is Paul referring to when he says, “lay hold of that eternal life?”
The last command that Paul gives Timothy before seeking to motivate him is to “lay hold of that eternal life.” What does Paul mean by this? Isn’t Timothy already saved? Yes, the “call” referred to is God’s effectual call to salvation, which happened when Timothy repented of his sins and followed Christ as Lord (Romans 8:29). His good confession probably refers to his subsequent baptism. But what does he mean by “lay hold of that eternal life?”
At times, Scripture refers to eternal life as something future and other times as a present reality. We see this in John 17:3 where Christ says that “this is eternal life” knowing God the Father and the Son. It is a present reality that we must seek and live out. This is exactly what Paul commands Timothy to do—to live out eternal life.
The word for “lay hold” can be translated as “‘to take hold of, grasp … sometimes with violence’ or to ‘take hold of, in order to make one’s own.’ This word was used by an angry crowd “seizing” Paul and dragging him from the temple (Acts 21:30). Timothy already had eternal life but he needed to seize it and live it out—he needed to live out his sanctification.
There are many aspects of this eternal life that we must seize and pursue with violence. We pursue these through spiritual disciplines like prayer, time in God’s Word, fellowship with the saints, confession and repentance, and service. We must take hold of peace instead of anxiety and worry. Isaiah said that God keeps at perfect peace those whose minds are stayed on him (Isaiah 26:3). We must take hold of joy, as we are commanded to rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 4:4).
The man of God must seize eternal life and live it out daily. He should accept nothing less than the promises God has given him. We see Paul’s pursuit in Philippians 3:12. He says, “Not that I have already attained this—that is, I have not already been perfected—but I strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me.”
Are you taking hold of eternal life? Eternal life is not just for eternity. It is a quality of life that God desires us to live now, but we must violently seize it. Are you living it out? The man of God seizes eternal life and lives it out now. One day it will be fully ours at Christ’s coming or the rapture, whichever happens first. Then our bodies will be glorified, and we’ll fully experience what we currently have in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).
How should one take hold of eternal life and seek to live it out now on earth? What aspects of eternal life do you feel God is calling you to grab hold of?