Have you ever asked why God’s forgiveness is of any value? Or what about eternal life? Have you ever asked why a person would want to have eternal life? Why should we want
to live forever? These questions matter because it is possible to want forgiveness and eternal life for reasons that prove you don’t have them.
Take forgiveness, for example. You might want God’s forgiveness because you are so miserable with guilt feelings. You just want relief. If you can believe that He forgives you, then you will have some relief, but not necessarily salvation. If you only want forgiveness because of emotional relief, you won’t have God’s forgiveness. He does not give it to those who use it only to get His gifts and not Himself. Or you might want to be healed from a disease or get a good job or find a spouse. Then you hear that God can help you get these things, but that first your sins would have to be forgiven. Someone tells you to believe that Christ died for your sins, and that if you believe this, your sins will be forgiven. So you believe it in order to remove the obstacle to health and job and spouse. Is that gospel salvation? I don’t think so. In other words, it matters what you are hoping for through forgiveness. It matters why you want it. If you want forgiveness
only for the sake of savoring the creation, then the Creator is not honored and you are not saved. Forgiveness is precious for one final reason: It enables you to enjoy fellowship with God. If you don’t want forgiveness for that reason, you won’t have it at all. God will not be used as currency for the purchase of idols.
The saving motive for wanting eternal life is given in John 17:3: “This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” If we do not want eternal life because it means joy in God, then we won’t have eternal life.
From the book Pierced by the Word by John Piper.