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-Biblical Reflections On Eternity

Biblical Reflections On Eternity


Picture FrameWith reference to eternity, there are only three kinds of beings. There is the entity without beginning or end – that would be God. There are beings that have a beginning but no end – angels, and humans who will live forever either in eternal glory with God (the saved) or in eternal darkness apart from God (the lost). And there are creatures with both a beginning and an end – such as fowls, beasts and fishes – that will not live on in eternity.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TIME AND ETERNITY
Eternity and time must be distinguished. Time began with creation; it has a beginning and an end. Therefore, there is a future, a present and a past. The only part of time that actually exists is the present; the past is gone, and the future has not yet arrived. The Bible speaks of “redeeming the time” (Eph. 5:15KJV). Failure to do so – that is, make the most of the present – is to lose it.

In contrast, everything in eternity is timeless. Time is transitory presence, while eternity is abiding presence. Time is duration measured, but eternity is immeasurable. Since time presently co-exists with eternity, man has difficulty differentiating between the two. Being creatures of time, we want to put time into eternity by speaking of “eternity past” and “eternity future,” but these statements are not literally correct.

GOD’S ETERNAL GIFTS
Just as God is eternal, so are His gifts to us of eternal life, eternal salvation, eternal redemption, eternal inheritance and eternal glory.

Eternal life is a gift mentioned at least twelve times in John’s gospel, a book which magnifies Christ’s eternity. It says that Christ’s words are “the words of eternal life” (Jn. 6:68). John also quotes Christ as saying, “I will give them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (Jn. 10:28). Eternal life means much more than merely existing forever; even the lost are going to do that. Eternal life means sharing the life of God now, and for the endless ages of eternity!

Eternal salvation is the gift of Christ who is “the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him” (Heb. 5:9).

Eternal redemption: By the shedding of His blood, Jesus “obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:12).

Eternal inheritance: Jesus died so that “they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15). Peter described this inheritance as “incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:4).

Eternal glory: “The God of all grace … hath called us unto eternal glory by Christ Jesus” (1 Pet. 5:10).

REFERENCES TO GOD’S ETERNAL BEING
While there are many indirect references to God’s eternal being, the following three direct references open our eyes to some specifics as to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I AM THAT I AM – There are many names for God in the Bible, each highlighting an aspect of His divine character. One that speaks of His eternal existence was spoken by God Himself: “And God said unto Moses, ‘I AM THAT I AM’ (Ex. 3:14). If God had said, “I was,” the meaning would be, “I am not now what I was.” If He had said, “I will be,” the meaning would be, “I am not yet what I will be.” But God is “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps. 90:2); He has neither beginning nor end.

The God Who Inhabits Eternity: Isaiah refers to God as “the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity” (Isa. 57:15). By indwelling eternity, God is above the limitations of time, and free from the limitations of space. God is not of time, but time is of God.

The Everlasting Father Who Is The Son: Isaiah 9:6 mentions five names of Jesus: “Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” That Jesus, the Son of God, should be called “The Everlasting Father” (“Father of Eternity” JND) seems confusing. If He is the Son, He cannot also be the Father, since each person of the triune Godhead is separate from the others, yet equally God. This reference can be explained by the Jewish use of the word “Father,” which means the “originator of” or “author of.” Jesus called Satan the “father of lies” (Jn. 8:44), meaning he was the originator or author of lies. To refer to Jesus as “The Everlasting Father” means that He is the author or originator of eternity, that which is everlasting!

In sending His Son to earth, God caused eternity to invade time. This was not a temporary visit. When Jesus came to earth, he wedded dust and deity, time and eternity into one. When Jesus was born at Bethlehem, time and eternity met in a manger. When He died at Calvary, time and eternity met at the cross. When you trust Jesus as your Savior, you become part of eternity! He “fathers” eternity in your life, which involves more than forgiving your sins. You become part of the very spiritual life of God.

Jesus Christ is also the “Father of Eternity” in another way: He lives now to give eternal purpose and quality to those who receive Him in their hearts. Unsaved people are merely existing, not living. And what they exist for will neither satisfy nor endure eternally. Instead of investing time in eternity and enjoying the dividends here and now, they are wasting time.

ETERNAL DECREES EXECUTED IN TIME
God’s purpose in eternity and His accomplishments in time are of the same extent. Hence, His purpose – founded in sovereignty, ordered by infinite wisdom, ratified by omnipotence, and cemented with immutability – can never fail. The decrees of God relate to all future things without exception; whatever is done in time, was foreordained in eternity, before time began.

The Bible mentions eight things that are decreed in eternity and executed in time. The use of the expression “before the foundation of the world” – or its equivalent, “before the world began” – in all eight instances indicates they were all foreordained before time began. These decrees can be divided into two groups as follows:

Four eternal decrees concerning Jesus Christ

  1. The glory of the Son was with the Father from eternity: “And now, O Father, glorify thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was” (Jn. 17:5).
  2. The love of the Father for the Son was from eternity: “Father, I will that they also, whom Thou has given Me be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou has given Me; for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world” (Jn. 17:24).
  3. The first advent of Christ was an eternal decree: “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1 Pet. 1:29).
  4. The Lamb was slain before time began: “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship Him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8).

Four eternal decrees concerning our salvation

  1. The wisdom that conceived the plan to save sinful men was ordained before the world began: “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery; even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory” (1 Cor. 2:7).
  2. The promise of eternal life for the elect was made by God before time began: “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Ti. 1:2). God also purposed that all the elect should believe: “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). The “ordaining” took place in eternity; the “believing” takes place in time.
  3. The election to salvation was from eternity: “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. l:4).
  4. God’s purpose to save the elect was from eternity: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to our own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Tim. 1:9).

PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS
While the subject of eternity may appear to be somewhat hard to understand, three aspects of it have significant, life-changing implications: eternal security, eternal perspective and eternal destiny. I want to make these as clear and relevant as possible.

Eternal security: The Bible teaches eternal security, meaning that those who truly trust Jesus as their personal Savior are never lost. It is impossible for those who are chosen by the Father from eternity, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, regenerated, indwelt, sealed, and baptized by the Holy Spirit to perish.

Eternal perspective: The unsaved person who cares for this life, but does not provide for the next life by accepting Jesus as Savior in his heart, may be wise for the moment but foolish for eternity.

For the Christian, an eternal perspective is a must: “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Cor. 4:18). Everyday life must always be lived against the backdrop of eternity. Everything in life takes on a different perspective when weighed against eternity. Relationships, accomplishments, disappointments, adversities and failures assume significant new meanings when we factor in the eternal perspective.

Without the regular reminder that “this world is not my home, I’m only passing through,” it is hard to be content. We are forced to evaluate everything happening to us by arbitrary, superficial and changing standards. Without the eternal, fixed standard, we are in competition with the best the world can give rather than the best that lies within us. An eternal perspective changes completely the way we view people, life, aging, time, and even death

Eternal destiny: Let’s conclude our consideration of eternity with a pointed question: Where are you going to spend eternity? There are only two destinations: with God in eternal glory, or apart from Him in complete darkness forever. The time to decide is now, and your choice hinges on only one factor, whether or not you trust Christ as your Savior.

By Maurice Bassali

With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org

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1 Comment on -Biblical Reflections On Eternity

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