Published February 20, 2016

By John Aldworth

1 Tim. 6:12: Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good confession before many witnesses.

There comes a time in the Christian walk when we have to lay hold of God afresh. When we have to get a better grip on the reality of knowing Him. When we must take hold of our hope of eternal life so firmly that we stay joined to God for the rest of the journey. If just marking time and treading where we’ve always trod would get us there we would have arrived already, but we haven’t.

You see, it is not enough to know you are called. Timothy was called. So was Jacob and so were the disciples on the road to Emmaus. But as yet none of them had laid hold on eternal life. And the Bible stories and the Apostle Paul’s admonition tell us clearly that it was vital they did so.

But what, you might ask, is eternal life? John 17:3 has the answer as spoken by Jesus Himself:

And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.

Laying hold of eternal life then is laying hold on a Person, God Himself. And getting to know Him up close doesn’t happen without your making a choice and putting up a fight to do so. Of course, it’s the ‘good fight of faith’, not of works. But it does require striving, pressing and in a real sense grabbing hold of God. In essence, that’s what Paul told Timothy to do.

In Gen. 32: 6-23 Jacob is terrified of Esau’s coming ‘with 400 (armed?) men’. He sends drove after drove of camels, cattle and asses as presents and then sends his wives and 11 sons across the river while he stays back on the other side. Verses 24-26:

And Jacob was left alone and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when He saw that He prevailed not He touched (struck) the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint as He wrestled with Him. And He said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he (Jacob) said I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me.

Do you, do I, love and want God so much we won’t let Him go until He bless us? Even if it means having your thigh (or nose) put out of joint in order to hold on to Him? Like Jacob we need ‘dislocating’ to truly be one with God. That is, we need to be put out of joint with where we are and re-located, spiritually, to where God is and where He is going. We daren’t be left behind.

If you are saved, if you are experiencing God’s grace, then you are called. You know God’s destiny for you is that you should one day rule and reign with Him. But there is a condition. 2 Tim. 2:12: ‘If we suffer we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He will also deny us’. And there’s something else. We must also ‘lay hold on eternal life’ in the here and now.

To some extent eternal life is a synonym (a word that means almost the same) for ‘godliness’, meaning to be like God. Thus 1 Tim. 4:8 says: ‘…godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come’. In other words, steak on your plate while you wait, and more steak when you get there.

Laying hold on eternal life then for grace-saved Timothy was to be present-life experience. Heaven and the world to come was break into his heart in the here and now. And so it can for you and I. But you have to reach out and grasp it.

Just as Jesus’ disciples had to do on the road to Emmaus. Luke 24: 13-29 tells how the resurrected Lord drew near to Cleopas and another disciple as they walked and talked sadly of the Lord’s death.  Even when the Lord rebukes them for lack of faith (you see that’s where the real fight is) they don’t recognise Him. Jesus expounds scripture to them but his identity is hid from their eyes.

And then, as they near Emmaus (verses 28-29) the Lord ‘made though He would go further’:

But they constrained Him, saying, Abide with us, for it is toward evening and the day is far spent. And went in to tarry with them.

Had they not ‘constrained’ Him the Lord would have gone on his way, leaving them behind. But they laid hold on Him who is eternal life. Like Jacob they hung on until; they got the blessing; at supper their eyes were opened ‘and they knew him’.

The Apostle Paul in Phil. 3:8-10 was willing to suffer the loss of all things ‘that I may know Him’ as pressed ‘toward the mark for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus’. He was grabbing hold of God, laying hold of eternal life, as his life ‘drew toward evening’.

For us too time is running out. Many of us are on the last lap of life’s race and, dispensationally speaking, ‘the day is far spent’. The end of the dispensation of grace looms and we should be eagerly ‘looking for his appearing’ (Titus 2:13).  

High time then for us to lay hold on eternal life whatever the cost.