We deeply desire to preserve our lives and yearn for long life. And God desires to give us abundant and eternal life! How can we find His fountain of life?
Scientists and philosophers have long recognized our strong drive for self-preservation—the human will to live—which many attribute to evolution. The Bible, on the other hand, says it is God who “put eternity in [our] hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and created in us a deep desire to live.
Professor Jay Olshansky, coauthor of The Quest for Immortality, noted, “As long as humans have existed, we have always desired to live longer. Every society, every religion, every culture.”
But, as Jonathan Swift is credited with saying, “Every man desires to live long, but no man wishes to be old.”
It’s like we all have been looking for the fountain of youth.
Ponce de León and the fountain of youth
Bill Bennett (no relation as far as I know) told the story of the fountain of youth in his American Patriot’s Almanac:
“Ponce de León . . . first came to the New World in 1493 with Christopher Columbus’s second expedition. He later conquered Puerto Rico and became its first governor. According to tradition, it was there that the Indians told him of an island . . . blessed with not only gold but a magical spring that restored youth and cured illnesses.
“In 1513 the eager conquistador sailed from Puerto Rico with three ships to find the island, its gold, and its miraculous fountain.”
He and his crew landed in Florida and claimed it for Spain, but “finding neither gold nor the mysterious fountain of youth, they returned to Puerto Rico.
“Eight years later, Ponce de León made a second trip to Florida . . . but the Spaniards soon found themselves at war with Calusa Indians who shot poison arrows. One of the arrows struck Ponce de León, and . . . the tough old conquistador soon died . . . So ended the legendary search for the fountain of youth” (reading for April 2, p. 109).
But Ponce de León isn’t the only one who has searched for long life.
You’ve probably heard of the technology gurus who are trying to hack life—whether seeking to upload their minds into a computer or preserve their bodies through cryonics till science can regenerate them, or simply using massive amounts of vitamins and drugs to try to lengthen their lives.
NBC News reported:
“Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and beyond are attempting to disrupt what has long been seen as one of the only inevitabilities of life: death.
“Computer scientists and artificial intelligence specialists are developing programs that allow people to theoretically avoid death, opening the door to near-everlasting life as well as a myriad of ethical and philosophical questions.”
Cryonics: how close are we to immortality really?
In 2020 CNET reported on Alcor, a company that charges $220,000 to freeze your body, or only $80,000 to freeze just your head. They had more than 150 bodies in deep freeze in the desert in Arizona! The hope is that science will someday be able to bring them back to life.
But, according to the CNET article, critics “say there’s no way to know whether cryonics adequately preserves the brain, because we don’t fully understand how the mind works, let alone how to physically preserve its complexity.”
For example, Ken Miller, codirector of the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia University, said:
“In my opinion, it’s at least thousands of years before we would know and really understand how the brain works to the point where you could take all the pieces . . . and put it back together and make a mind out of it.”“In my opinion, it’s at least thousands of years before we would know and really understand how the brain works to the point where you could take all the pieces . . . and put it back together and make a mind out of it.”
All the things humans have tried show our desperation to preserve our lives, but they don’t offer much hope for the common man. It seems even the millionaires today are exceedingly unlikely to reach even a fraction of the life spans the Bible tells us are possible—like Methuselah, who lived 969 years.
Realistically, from the human perspective, this life is temporary and death is inevitable.
How to become immortal
But the Bible takes a longer view, beyond what science can examine.
From the Creator God’s perspective, death is temporary. His desire is that everyone choose and have life—real, eternal, abundant life!
The God of the living
Some people seem to think God’s focus is on smiting people for sins. But the overall message of the Bible is that He is the God of life—His desire and purpose is to give life! He is not the God of death or the dead—but of the living!
In Mark 12 Jesus was answering a trick question that the Sadducees were using in an attempt to show that the resurrection didn’t make sense. They used a hypothetical woman who was married consecutively to seven brothers, who each died in turn. Whose wife—they asked—would she be in the resurrection?
Jesus first explained that those who rise from the dead as spirit will no longer marry. Then in Mark 12:26-27 Jesus clinched His argument by asking, “Have you not read” in Exodus where God said, “‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?”
Obviously they had read that, but they missed the point Jesus made in verse 27: “He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken.”
God said, “I am the God of . . .” not “I was.” God is not only the Source of all life, but the God of the living!
How does the fact that God is the God of Abraham prove there is a resurrection?
First, recognize that throughout the Bible, death is compared to sleep (John 11:11; Acts 13:36; 1 Corinthians 15:6).
The message of the Bible is that “those who sleep in Jesus” will be awakened and raised in a resurrection at the return of Christ:
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:14, 16; see “4 Keys to Understanding the Afterlife”).
So Jesus knew Abraham is “asleep,” awaiting His return. But consider what the apostle Paul said when talking about Abraham’s faith:
If God promises it, it is as good as done.“God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did” (Romans 4:17, emphasis added throughout).
If God promises it, it is as good as done. If God says Abraham will live again, it is as if he is alive—there is no doubt that he will awaken from this short (from God’s perspective) sleep!
So God is the God of Abraham—and that means Abraham will be resurrected and demonstrate that God is the God of the living.
Moses recorded what the God of the living wants and how we should respond.
In Deuteronomy 30:19 Moses said, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.”
God wants everyone to choose life!
God wants everyone to choose life!God desires for all men to be saved. He’s not willing for any to perish. He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.
God says, “I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies . . . Therefore turn and live!” (Ezekiel 18:32). He wants everyone to repent and choose to obey His living laws—His way of life—the only way to eternal life.
He is not the God of death, but the God of the living.
The fountain of life
When we choose life, we choose the way that leads to a real fountain of life.
This metaphor is found several times in Scripture, representing different aspects of the way to eternal life:
- “He who despises the word will be destroyed, but he who fears the commandment will be rewarded. The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death” (Proverbs 13:13-14).
- “In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death” (Proverbs 14:26-27).
- Jesus offered the Samaritan woman at the well living water from the fountain “springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). John later defined the living water as the Holy Spirit (7:38-39).
God’s law, His wisdom, the fear of the LORD and the gift of the Holy Spirit are all aspects of this life-giving fountain of eternal life. God wants us to value these gifts and use them to change our lives. Study more about how to find and apply them in our articles:
- “Jesus and the Law.”
- “God’s Words of Wisdom for You.”
- “What Does the Fear of the Lord Mean?”
- “How Do You Know You Have the Holy Spirit?”
When we respond to God by seeking these things, we are stepping forward to drink from the fountain of life. This priceless living water can’t be bought or earned (Isaiah 55:1-2), but is the only thing that can truly satisfy our spiritual thirst.
God’s fountain of life produces the kind of life God wants us to have.
Life more abundantly
After Jesus healed a blind man, He was talking to a group of Pharisees who had seen the miracle, yet were unconvinced and did not understand. In His discussion, He contrasted the selfish approach of Satan and false religious leaders with His loving approach.
In John 10:10 Jesus said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
Jesus Christ gave His life for the sheep—for the forgiveness of our sins. He took our death penalty on Himself. He made it possible for us to have life—real, abundant and eternal life!
This physical life has its sorrows and troubles. But the life God wants us to have will be joyous, productive, safe and abundant.
We don’t have to search desperately for a fountain of youth as Ponce de León did. We don’t have to spend $220,000 to have our bodies cryonically frozen and preserved. We don’t have to upload our brains to the cloud.
Instead, we can turn to the God of the living, choose life, live as Jesus lived and anticipate the real, abundant, eternal life He desires to give us—and everyone who has ever lived. He is truly the God of the living!
Study more about the response God wants from us in the article “Choose Life! Your Most Important Decision.”