When a follower asked Jesus if he could go home to bury his deceased father, Jesus said, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead.” (Luke 9.60) From these words of Jesus, it is clear that the Bible contains two different concepts of life and death. The first concept of life and death concerns physical life. Here, “death” means the end of physical life, as was the case of the disciple’s deceased father who was to be buried. “Life” in that sense means the state in which the physical self maintains its physiological functions.
The second concept of life and death concerns those living people who had gathered to bury the deceased man, those whom Jesus called “the dead.” Why did Jesus refer to people whose bodies were alive and active as the dead? He meant that since they had not accepted Jesus, they were far removed from the love of God and were dwelling in the realm of Satan’s dominion. This second concept of death does not refer to the expiration of physical life. It means leaving the bosom of God’s love and falling under the dominion of Satan. The corresponding concept of life refers to the state of living in accordance with God’s Will, within the dominion of God’s infinite love. Therefore, even if a person’s physical self is alive, if he dwells apart from God’s dominion and is in servitude to Satan, he is dead as judged by the original standard of value. A similar conclusion can be drawn from the Lord’s words of judgment upon the faithless people of the church in Sardis: “You have the name of being alive, and you are dead.” (Rev. 3.1)
On the other hand, even though a person’s physical life may have expired, he remains alive in the true sense if his spirit abides in the Kingdom of Heaven in heaven, a realm in the spirit world where God governs through love. When Jesus said, “He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11.25), he meant that those who believe in him and live within the realm of God’s dominion have life. Even after their physical bodies have returned to the soil, their spirits enjoy life in God’s dominion. Jesus also said, “Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11.26) In saying that believers will never die, he meant that those who believe in Jesus during their earthly life will obtain eternal life not in this world, but in spirit, within the bosom of God’s love. They will be alive, both in this life and the next. Jesus’ words assure us that death, in the sense of the end of physical life, has no effect on our eternal life. (Exposition of the Divine Principle, Resurrection 1.1)
Eternal life does not mean that we merely exist forever in the spirit world. It means we eternally “live.” How do we cultivate such a life?
As human beings, each of us was created to be an object of God’s love—God’s beloved partner. God cherishes true love more than Himself. Hence, although God is the center of absolute and eternal life, His ideal of true love is even more absolute and eternal. It is the very core of God. We are the object partners of that true love.
How do we come to be in such a precious, eternal position? Love is the attribute that brings subject and object into oneness. Love unites a family. It unites the nation. In the unity of love, we can participate in anything our beloved does, follow him wherever he goes, and inherit everything he or she possesses. In the same way, we can inherit God’s eternal life. We can inherit God’s heart—his heart of love by which He longs to dwell within each of us and also in the creation. How precious it is to find such great value within ourselves!…
What joy! What amazing grace! What an unparalleled blessing! Now we can dwell in the same position as God. Now we can participate in God’s eternal love. (216:115, March 9, 1991)
[Originally,] human beings are born from true love, grow in true love, live in true love and die in true love. We are not meant to just disappear into a void. Since God, the Subject of all created beings, is eternal, unchanging and unique, we who are His partners of love should live eternally. This is the starting-point of the logic of eternal life. Life does not begin from life. Life originates from true love, not the other way around.
If God creates something He regards as most precious, would He discard it ten years or one hundred years later, or would He want to keep it for eternity? Obviously, He would create it to last forever. Thus it is with human beings. Would God create human beings to be born and die, and their death is the end? No, He created human beings to live forever. Why? They are the object partners of the absolute God, with whom He can share joy in absolute true love…
Suppose you were fleeing to a refugee camp; if you had a precious possession, would you take it with you or leave it behind? You would want to take it with you. Once in the camp, you would treasure it. You would not enjoy it for a few days and then throw it away. You would keep it until you die, and then bequeath it to your descendants for eternity. That is human desire.
It is the same with God, the Absolute Being. God is eternal, and He desires that His object partners, whom He loves, should live eternally. That is why human beings want to live forever. For this reason also, the absolute God never ceases to seek for His children. Each human being has the value of eternity. (290:143-44, February 18, 1998)
If God only liked humans for one or two days, or even for one hundred years, and then discarded them, it would not be true love. The more you love, the more you want to be with your beloved one. For this reason you sometimes find a man whose wife died young who never remarries, preferring to live alone until his death while treasuring some article of his wife’s clothing…
That is why God created human beings, His precious children, to live forever. However, for love to last forever, people should stand on the foundation of actions that can generate greater output force. In other words, as time goes by love’s power gets stronger, generating more give and take action instead of consuming energy. Hence, the lovers’ joy never ends, but only grows and develops more and more, to infinity. Such is the ideal world, the Kingdom of Heaven in which God dwells. (39:42)