Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

Index by Subject

Eternity

Man is bound by time. Time can be measured in millennia, potentially in what is referred to as “geologic time” spanning millions of years, but always it is measurable. It has duration, a beginning and an end.

Take for instance humankind. We begin with gestation, 9 months. Then infanthood, perhaps a year. Then childhood, until the age of twelve. We talk of teenagers, until age 19, young adults (in my case the first 44 years), middle age (again, in my case always the next birthday), then old age. Truly, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1).

We talk of the lifespan of man (threescore and ten years, cf. Psalm 90:10). Generations, covering hundreds of years, and finally the entire history of mankind, from Adam until today, covering several thousands of years.

In the beginning, God created the universe (Genesis 1). In the end, God will destroy what he has created (2 Peter 3:10). And then, beyond the duration of time, there is eternity.

Because of our experience, being born and dying in time. It is difficult for us to grasp the nature of eternity. Perhaps the poets do so most ably. Consider the words from the song Amazing Grace, concerning eternity in heaven:

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,
Than when we first begun.

Regardless of our struggles to quantify the infinite nature of eternity, it is an integral part of our faith. It is inextricably tied to our understanding of the divine. “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty’” (Revelation 1:8). Also, “Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psalms 90:2). What makes God God (among other divine attributes) is that He has no beginning and no end. He is the beginning, the originator of all things. He is the uncreated One.

The concept of eternity is likewise integral to our understanding of reward and retribution. It’s inclusion in the promises of God give greater value to Heaven, and greater horror to the contemplation of Hell. Consider the following teaching of Jesus, in Matthew 25:

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ 44 Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (vs. 41-46).

Consider the extreme sensation that comes from a momentary contact with fire. The singeing of the hair, the blistering of the skin, the intense heat, and the searing pain. The horror of it serves to fuel the nightmares of man. And the Bible indicates that the punishment in fire reserved for the ungodly will be without end. They will suffer the “vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7).

Now consider the momentary happiness we treasure in our lives. The happiness never lasts, as cares and concerns always intervene; but for short periods, we have all experienced bliss. Again, the Bible indicates that such bliss, itself to a degree beyond our comprehension, is the eternal reward of those who are faithful. “For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Galatians 6:8).

Add to this the great gulf fixed between punishment and reward (cf. Luke 16:26), ensuring that your position in eternity is for… eternity; and the importance of obedience to God is clearly seen.

It may be that we can not easily grasp the concept of eternity, but we certainly can see our need to prepare for the inevitability of it!