‘“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life (John 6:63).”’
How Does the Dictionary Define Life?
My dictionary defines it as: ‘The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter. Animals and plants have the capacity to grow and to function in various ways, because they have life. They continually change and eventually die, but the lifecycle continues through the propagation of offspring.
God, the Word (John 1:1), created creatures with life in them, and He also created objects and matter that in themselves had no life. He made them distinctly different. For example, compare a gazelle to a rock, and it’s obvious a gazelle has life, but a rock is stone dead! The living creature can move of its own accord, but the dead rock remains where it happens to be.
Colloquially they are as different as chalk and cheese! However, in reality, chalk and cheese are not so very different, because, although cheese has life within it, i.e., living organisms; both chalk and cheese are unable to voluntarily move themselves from one location to another. And commonly they are subject to physical metamorphosis on account of the natural process of decomposition, but cheese decomposes quickly, and rock decomposes very slowly, over eons.
So, then, there are two physical types with life in them: the animalistic type, which is capable of independent movement, and the plant or vegetable type, which is bound to particular locations. Over time, both experience intrinsic *change, and commonly they eventually die.
The life that God originally gave to His created beings (Genesis 1:21; 2:19) continues to this day, and it is found in all living things. Species reproduce themselves, and occasionally they mutate, but their ‘sort’ (6:19 ) is fixed by their genetical makeup. Dogs are of the canine ‘sort’ , no matter how they are interbred by men; and they can never mutate to become other sorts.
Because of God’s mercy and providence, He continues to preserve and sustain physical life on earth (Hebrews 1:3).
John’s Gospel declares that Jesus is the ‘Word’, who was with God in the beginning; and, not only was He with Him in the beginning, but He was God (John 1:1, 2)! He always existed from before time, and, ‘In Him was life, and the life was the light of men (v. 4). He was Life and life was in Him (14:6)!’
Both the Father and the Son, who are One, are the givers of life, as this next text testifies: ‘“For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will (5:21).”’
But what kind of ‘life’ is this?
God gives ‘physical’ life to all living creatures. Without it they can not experience or know anything. They cannot feel things, they cannot see them, nor can they hear them, or taste them. But the ‘life’ referred to in the verse above is not this ‘common’ life that He gives to every living creature; it is the ‘everlasting life’ that is spoken of in John 5:24 and in 3:16, which goes as follows: ‘“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”’
This ‘everlasting life’ is quite distinct from organic, physical life, and it is brought into being by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8). It is ‘the gift of God’ that is given to recipients by His grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). The true gift is Jesus Christ Himself; for He is Life (John 14:6); He is the indescribable gift spoken of in 2 Corinthians 9:15.
So there are two types of life: physical and spiritual.
When a person is born through natural birth he first **experiences physical life, and according to God’s grace and favour he may be given new life by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8) who transforms his ***spirit, so that he becomes a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Not only does his heart beat because the ‘common’ spirit of life is in him, but because the ‘Holy Spirit’ dwells (2 Timothy 1:14) in him, and He can reiterate Paul’s words:
‘For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2),’ and he can take to heart the words of Jesus: ‘“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed (John 8:36).”’ He has the free Spirit of Life which is not received by works (Ephesians 2:9).
*God’s Tapestry of Change
***Mind, Body and Soul