“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
There are two contrasts in this verse:
– Sin pays wages, God gives a free gift
– Death results from our sin, eternal life comes from Christ Jesus
Death entered the world because of sin. God warned Adam and Eve that if they disobeyed him and ate the forbidden fruit, they would surely die. But they disobeyed, sin entered the world, and death followed like a contractual salary payment. All human beings are infected now by sin, and therefore all human being die.
But God loves us so much that we don’t have to do anything to obtain the gift of salvation. As we saw yesterday, while we were still sinners with nothing to commend us to God, Christ died to save us. Salvation is a free gift that we just have to accept through faith in Jesus.
And having been saved, there’s an immediate result (progress in becoming a better, godlier, person) and an ultimate result – eternal life.
Romans 6 has much more about this, but consider v22-23, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
And eternal life isn’t a disembodied, mystical continuance. It is a resurrection. Just like Jesus rose from the dead three days after his crucifixion, we will rise again. And just like he ascended to heaven, so will we. In fact, at the end of time, God has promised to bring history to conclusion by recreating the universe and giving his people a place in it forever, for eternity. So it won’t be an ascension into a mystical, separate other world. It will be a recreation into the kind of world this one was supposed to be if mankind hadn’t ruined it with sin.
And that is all possible through Jesus, who came from heaven to earth, and we remember his coming at Christmas.