Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Eternity In Their Hearts

That’s the name of a great book by missionary Don Richardson.[1] (See link below)

The two oldest books of the Bible are thought to be Genesis and Job. Genesis is the story of creation and the beginning of God’s covenant relationship with mankind through Israel. Job is the story of a man who endures great tragedy, questions God, is accused by “friends,” but who holds onto God and is ultimately blessed.

The point I want to make is that in the earliest books of the Bible the concept of eternity appears.

“Everlasting” is from the Hebrew word “olam” meaning “time out of mind.” The idea is from God.

The first book of the Bible says that “In the beginning God…”(Gen 1:1) So God alone existed at one point. How far back does that go? The Bible tells us “Thou art from everlasting…” (Ps 93:2) We can’t grasp “everlasting.” We can’t see all the way around the world. We can only see to the horizon. Thus everlasting truly is “time out of mind.”

So God is portrayed as eternal. But it doesn’t stop there.

“Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever…” (Gen 3:22-23)

God talks about living forever.

In Job, the other early book, we find this profound reference.

"For I know that my Redeemer lives,
    and at last he will stand upon the earth;
and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
    then from my flesh I shall see God,"
 (Job 19:25-26)

A few days ago at breakfast in Hershey, Pa, I saw an old photograph from 1910. A crowd of hundreds was gathered around an old electric trolley car. It was an anniversary gathering of Hershey Company. I looked at individual people in the crowd. One man was turned around looking at the people behind him. He was smiling as if something funny had been said. A woman in a bonnet dismounted from the trolley. A young boy, maybe 10, looked on. I thought, if that boy was alive today he’d be 113 years old now. No chance. Those hundreds of people in the picture are now dead and gone. All their work is forgotten. Their names are forgotten. Whatever they lived for is long past.

Is there anything beyond death?

Thousands of years before Christ spoke of eternal life, the Hebrew writers of old talked of eternity. Life does not end at the grave. That is not God’s intention. Don Richardson is right, God placed eternity in our hearts.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) It’s been God’s idea from the very beginning.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Thoughts on Eternal Life

These thoughts barely scratch the surface, but here we go.

What would life be like if we lived forever and didn’t die?

If nothing could kill you, then could anything injure you? If you did cut your finger, would there be a chance of infection? Infection left unchecked would ultimately lead to death. That is not an option. Would the cut hurt? Or, like now, would it slowly heal on its own? The other alternative is that the injury would remain the same for eternity. If it kept hurting for eternity, then endless life would be endless torment. Would your eyes progressively deteriorate? Being symptoms of death, I don’t think wounds and chronic problems could exist. Aging certainly would not. Physical suffering would be ended.

Would we have careers? Would you be a real estate salesman for countless millennia? Would we work at all? Would we need to eat or have a heated house? Would we need money? Starving to death is not a possibility. So why work? Would we need to maintain our possessions? Would our property (like an iPod) be temporary while we are enduring? Would Apple be in business? Why? What is their motive for making an iPod if not for money? Could it be that the motive would be love of music? Because music is pleasing? The thing in and of itself, be it music, art, or poetry, would be its reason for existence. So there might be work done so that our senses could be exercised, but not out of necessity.

Would we measure time? Words like “year” and “then” would disappear. Would history, the record of events over time, be recorded? Why record what Paul Revere did when you could ask him. If I didn’t see you now, I’d see you later. I’d have time for everything. There would be no such thing as busyness. 

Would we have family? Would we be married for billions and billions of years? Would I be in an endless family unit? Would my kids be my kids forever? Would I have grandkids, great grandkids, and then great, great grandkids? Would they be kids forever? If not, at what point would babies stop “aging?” What would be the difference between a baby, a seventeen year old, and an 84 year old man? At what age would a child stop changing and be in a static state? This seems to rule out child bearing which may rule out sexual relations. If we don’t have sex there, it tells me two things. First is that those who enter into this life are a numbered lot. Secondly it tells me there are pleasures that are greater than sex to be had. But it seems each individual would know and relate to every other individual. Memories of relationships in this life would likely exist and special bonds may be held because of it.

***

Supplemental Reading: Biblical glimpses of life without end:

 “ Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord” John 11:25-27

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and the sea is no more… and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away… And the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine upon it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb… and there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie: but only they that are written in the Lamb's book of life…” Revelation 21:1, 4, 23, & 27

“…  and they shall see his face; and his name shall be on their foreheads. And there shall be night no more; and they need no light of lamp, neither light of sun; for the Lord God shall give them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever… Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have the right to come to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city. Without are the dogs, and the sorcerers, and the fornicators, and the murderers, and the idolaters, and every one that loveth and maketh a lie.” Revelation 22:4-5, 14-15

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We all shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law: but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-57




Quotes of Note ... The Invisible World

“Spiritual warfare is learning to recognize the strategies, refusing to cooperate with them, and aggressively cutting off the schemes of the devil in Jesus’ name.” Dean Sherman

“those who protest that God cannot exist because there is too much evil evident in life… Evil exists; therefore, the Creator does not. That is categorically stated… If evil exists, one must assume that good exists in order to know the difference. If good exists, one must assume that a moral law exists by which to measure good and evil. But if a moral law exists, must not one posit an ultimate source of moral law, or at least an objective basis for a moral law? By an objective basis, I mean something that is transcendingly true at all times, regardless of whether I believed it or not.” Ravi Zacharias

“But the Devil is no big threat to God’s purposes; he is not even remotely comparable in power. He has been given a limited time before his final judgment to try to prove his case, just as all other moral beings who have chosen to live in rebellion against heaven.” W.A. Pratney

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I've served as a life-long missionary in Samoa, the Pacific region, India, and now in Pennsylvania. The Christian faith is reasonable and works in real life. It is true to the facts. Hope you enjoy some of the thoughts. I appreciate feedback.

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