Each day is a step we make towards eternity and we shall continue thus to step from day to day until we take the last step, which will bring us into the presence of God. – Catherine McAuley
Eternity is frequently defined as duration without beginning or end. Some call this infinite time. On Earth, our time is finite. We measure our brief appearance on this planet in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, etc. When we pass away, our measured time comes to a close. However, we do not cease to exist. Only the body dies. Our life-force (the spirit that animates the flesh; aka the soul) will continue to live on in infinite time. But have you considered that simply living forever and having an eternal life are not the same? Let‘s talk.
In truth, we are living in eternity at this very moment. That‘s right. Forever is forever. No beginning and no end. So it stands to reason that time without end – was, is and always shall be. The reason we do not view our lives from a never-ending perspective is simple enough; our finite time-based existence on earth obscures our awareness of the vast eternal.
Christians understand the significance of the term eternal life because it was defined for us by Jesus. He was sent to earth by God with a specific mission – to seek and to salvage lost human beings (Luke 19:10) and to give them everlasting life (John 17:1-5). When His time on the earth was drawing to a close, He told his friends and followers,
28 “I came from the Father and have come into this world. I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” (John 16:28)
And then, raising his eyes toward the heavens, he said,
1 …“Father, the time has come. Reveal the glory of your Son so that he can give the glory back to you. 2 For you have given him authority over every man and woman in all the earth. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. 3 And this is the way to have eternal life by knowing you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth! 4 I brought glory to you here on earth by doing everything you told me to. 5And now, Father, reveal my glory as I stand in your presence, the glory we shared before the world began.” (John 17:1-5)
Jesus makes some extraordinary claims. For one, He asserts that His authority comes directly from Almighty God and it extends over every man and woman in all the earth. Jesus also declares that He can grant everlasting life to everyone whom God has given to Him. But nestled in the narrative is the most significant declaration. According to Jesus, the definition of eternal life is:
- To know the one and only true God
- To know Jesus as the Christ (anointed one) sent by God
Know God + Know Jesus = Eternal Life. It‘s not about picking the right church or getting religion. Our relationship with God through Jesus (the one whom God sent to free us) is how we receive His eternal life for all eternity.
By the way, the only other eternal existence spoken of in the scriptures is the one that provides never-ending payback for those who reject God. (Matthew 25:46). Hmm.
We ought to get out of the judging business. We should leave it up to God to determine who belongs in one arena or another when it comes to eternity. What we are obligated to do is to tell people about Jesus, and that’s what I do. – Tony Campolo
So, Jesus left the planet to return to God. But the Spirit of God remains present in all the earth. And eternal life is still being imparted to everyone who places their trust in the one true God and the liberator Jesus Christ.
One day, when our finite time is up and the eternal becomes instantly visible to us, we will see Jesus again. For now, He is only discernible to the eye of faith. Do you have faith?
Faith sees beyond the moment
The nature of mankind is to trust only what can be observed and verified. Think of it as the “I‘ll believe it when I see it” approach to living. Consequently, the faithless masses stumble through their days trying to make sense out of this quagmire called “life”.
In contrast, faith empowers the believer to live by trusting without seeing. Faith is the eye of the soul. By faith we can grasp what is not yet revealed to our physical senses. Faith is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it just yet.
Jesus makes God‘s greatest and most precious promises available to those who put their trust in Him. It is now possible to escape the inevitable disintegration that lust (in all of its forms) is rapidly producing in the world. And, because of Jesus, believers now share in God‘s essential nature. We accept as true and receive all these things by believing, not by seeing.
The New Testament writer Paul said it this way.
“We walk (live our life) by faith (absolute trust in the unseen eternal God) and not by sight (things that are seen and experienced)”. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Take a good look around. All that you see with your eyes and believe to be important in the physical world will cease to exist in the future. And yet, so many are preoccupied with the material world and filled with anxiety because of what they see and experience every day. This world is full of troubles. Paul wrote to the Christians living in ancient Corinth and told them,
18“…we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT)
We all experience difficulties. But when we turn to God for help, He allows us to see beyond our temporary distresses, into His domain – the invisible realm of eternity. From that unseen dimension we find His help in our darkest hours.
Somewhere over the Rainbow
Jesus plans to return to our planet. We don‘t know when. It could be at any time. We only know for sure that He is coming. He said so. And when he does, we‘re taking an awesome trip beyond the stars. Read about it and rejoice!
1“Do not let your heart be troubled. You have put your trust in God, put your trust in me also. 2 There are many rooms in My Father‘s house. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going away to make a place for you. 3 After I go and make a place for you, I will come back and take you with me. Then you may be where I am. 4 You know where I am going and you know how to get there.”
5 Thomas said to Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way to get there?” 6 Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one can go to the Father except by Me. 7 If you had known me; you would know My Father also. From now on you know Him and have seen Him.” (John 14:1-7 NLT)
You‘re invited to join us on this fantastic voyage. Just get to know Jesus. He is the way. His truth will set you free. And his eternal life, now that‘s really cool.
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656