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What Does Eternity Really Mean?

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I had the privilege of attending the Summer Olympic Games in China  in 2008, and while I was there, my mind kept coming back to this one thought.  It wasn’t the fanfare or the excitement — nor the gold medals or records broken — but the droves of people wandering around Beijing who did not know the name of Jesus. My heart was burdened by the reality that most of the people who surrounded me had never heard about the hope, forgiveness, and eternal love that are found in Jesus Christ.

Yes, the summer and winter Olympics display the incredible physical skill and strength of the best athletes on the planet. Yes, those are thrilling moments in time. But when they conclude after seventeen days every four years, they end up being just that — mere moments in time when compared to the infinite span of eternity.

There is a greater test of strength and endurance happening right now. There is a superior crown to be obtained. Paul described it this way in Philippians 3:12–14:  “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

No goal in this life is as important as our heavenly calling, which is to spend eternity with our Lord and to invite as many people as possible to the same glorious future. As C. S. Lewis wrote, “All that is not eternal is eternally useless.”

Eternity is woven into the Gospel! One of the very first Scriptures anyone commits to memory as a child is John 3:16, in which Jesus promised eternity with Him in heaven: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

The apostle Paul echoed this truth by writing in Romans 6:23 that “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Every time you see a rainbow, it’s a vivid reminder of God’s “everlasting covenant” never to destroy the earth again by water.  Psalm 100:5 declares that God’s “mercy is everlasting” (nkjv). His throne has been established from “everlasting to everlasting.”[1] He is the “King eternal,”[2] the “Alpha and Omega—the beginning and the end,”[3] who has established an “eternal purpose” for all mankind.[4]

How can our finite minds grasp what is infinite? We often exaggerate a lengthy situation or process by declaring, “That went on forever!” But we really don’t understand the full scope of eternity.

Imagine a bird dissembling the earth—twig by twig, leaf by leaf, pebble by pebble—and taking every individual element to the moon, piece by piece. When this task was finally completed, eternity would just be starting!  If every five hundred years, a hummingbird sharpened his beak on granite rock that stood five hundred miles high and five hundred miles wide, once the rock was completely eroded, it would be but one second of eternity!

When we begin to grasp what eternity really means, and realize that everybody on this planet will one day come face-to-face with their eternal destiny, it raises the stakes. It compels us not only to care but also to speak. No longer can we keep quiet!

Our words and thoughts must be intentional.

How could we not share the Gospel with our friends?

How could we stand by and say nothing, knowing our loved ones could spend an eternity separated from God?

When we consider the “eternalness” of eternity, we have no choice . . . we must share Jesus!

 

 

[1]  Psalms 41:13

[2] 1 Timothy 1:17

[3] Revelation 1:11

[4] Ephesians 3:11

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