The quality of vitativeness may be defined as the love for life. Life may be defined as animate existence, existence based upon the union of a body and life-principle. If the definition of life is limited to the life of souls – animal and spirit life – it might be defined as conscious existence, a definition that would exclude plant life, since no form of plant life has consciousness. Eternal life would mean endless conscious existence, except in God’s case we must add beginningless to this definition.
Mortal Versus Immortal Life
There are two kinds of life:
(1.) Mortal: Mortality may be defined as dieable, a condition in which death is possible, but not necessary. Man and angels were both created mortal. Had they been created immortal, they would be death-proof, they could not die; but Scripture, experience and observation proves that man can die, and the Scriptures teach that the impenitent angels will all die (Matthew 25: 41) (Hebrews 2: 14).
(2.) Immortal: Immortality is a death-proof condition, a condition that only Divine beings possess – God, Christ and the Church (John 5: 26) (2 Peter 1: 4). While angels are incorruptible, that is, decay-proof, Divine beings are both incorruptible and immortal. Human beings will have neither; the bodies of the restitution class will both decay and be mortal; hence to keep from dying they will have to continue to eat earth’s perfect fruitage to replace the decayed cells of their bodies.
God the Source of Eternal Life
God is the Source and the sole Giver of eternal life. He planned it, made all the provisions necessary for it and gives it to the faithful; and Jesus is the Agent through whom God gives it.
Eternal life is gained by a conditional process. The tentative right to eternal life on the various planes of being is given as a gracious gift by God; and the fixed right to eternal life on any of these planes will be given to fulfillers of these conditions. For example, during the Millennial Age Christ will place the human race under the law of duty love, and will gradually give the race life-rights. (Those life-rights include perfect bodies, earth, atmosphere, climate, health, food, drink, shelter, dominion over the earth, its contents and its pertinent laws of nature, social arrangements, education, companionship, worship, etc.) By the end of that Age He will give them the completion of those life-rights and the right to eternal human life tentatively; and if they obey faithfully amid the trials of the Little Season they will receive the right to eternal human life fixedly, while the unfaithful will forfeit their tentative right to eternal life and its life-rights.
Eternal Life with Eternal Joy
The joys of eternal life will be manifold in service and practicability:
(1.) The joys of the Christ class include their sight of, association with, and service of God and Christ; their possession of the Divine nature, heirship of God and joint-heirship with Christ; association with one another; the best of homes; the finest of reputations; and the privilege to be the leaders of all ranks of spirit beings, including all future creations. During the Millennium they will have the joy of restoring the obedient of the race to perfection and eternal life; and their eternal work will be to bring new orders of beings into existence and to develop them to perfection and eternal life (Isaiah 9: 7).
(2.) The joys of the other spirit classes lower than the Divine nature include their sight of, association with, and service of God, Christ and His Bride.
(3.) The joys of the restitution class will include perfect harmony with God, the Christ class and with one another; they will have a perfect dominion over the earth, its animal life and its natural laws; and they will go on eternally expanding their store of knowledge along all lines, bringing out new inventions and developing the arts to perfection.
Life is one of God’s most valuable gifts. Even on the human plane in imperfection, temporal human life is the most valued individual possession, as Jesus implies when He asks, “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul [life]?” (Matthew 16: 26). Aspirants for eternal life on any of its varied planes should endeavor with every power of being to obtain things of such great value as their lasting possession.