Eternity, Mercy, and Judgement

It is evident that the instinctive awareness of the reality of eternity is in the heart of every man - at least until he is persuaded away from such intuitive assumption by philosophy. Most religions in the world acknowledge the reality of existence after death. The sociologist or philosopher would discount this universal belief in eternity, but we would do well to give it heed.

It is well known that in times of severe crisis people openly and instinctively pray to God and acknowledge need of him without embarrassment. There are three words that seem to automatically come out of many people’s mouths when the witness a sudden tragedy or even an astonishing event that speaks of some force above them. Those three words are; “Oh my God”. It is not “oh my cat” or “oh my college professor” or “oh my atheism”. It is “Oh my God”. In that moment of forced focus on reality the heart evidently forgets to check its natural reaction out with the head. Forced focus on the visible reality seems to require the involuntary expression of the invisible reality as well: “OH MY GOD”!

God is about eternity, and connection to God is naturally connection to eternity. The following two references are logically connected: (Isa 57:15) "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones."

This is an interesting and revealing statement from God: He inhabits eternity in a high and holy place with those who are of a contrite and humble spirit. This indicates that high and holy living is by an ongoing awareness of eternity.

It makes sense after all: If a man is conscious of eternity it will affect his behavior - bringing him the necessary contrition and humility for fellowship with God. In other words, a person who is continually conscious of eternity is going to live right. When our thinking becomes clouded by the cares of life and the philosophy of the world, a little trip to the edge of eternity will cleanse our awareness of what is needed. This will properly adjust our heart to alignment with God's.

King David spoke of such a trip to the reality of eternity when he said "But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. {3} For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. ...{16} When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; {17} Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.." (Psa 73:2,3,16,17)

David goes on to talk about how he clearly saw the eternal damnation of the wicked in contrast to the reward of the righteous, and he felt foolish for his resentment of the prosperity of wicked men.

David connected with this reality of eternity when he went to the house of God. This is one of the great values of going to church. The church is called "the pillar and ground of the truth". Indeed our perspectives are seriously corrected when we gather together to worship God. Things that seemed so important are suddenly trivial, and things that seemed trivial are suddenly important.

Many times a person will inform me before service that they want to talk with me after service about something that is troubling them. Then they come to me after the service is over and say that they don't need to talk after all - because they received their answer in the service. The “reality of eternity” is the bright light that reveals the true nature of all concerns.

Since God dwells in eternity, it is a “given” that when we connect with him in his house we are going to start seeing life issues in the light of eternity. And in the light of eternity all is well for the child of God.

It is common for people to get upset when things go wrong. Sometimes this frustration becomes a cause of great anxiety or depression of anger. However, the pain of trouble is connected to our assumption of its duration compared to our estimated length of existence. For example; look at a person who stubs their toe in the night. This may cause them to hop around on one foot holding the other, and they may yell out or express momentary frustration. But it is not something that they are going to get depressed about nor will it cause them to consider suicide. The pain of a few moments is not going to them doubt God's love for them or the fairness of life. Why? The duration of a few minutes of pain against all the estimated 70 to 80 years of life is hardly worth getting upset about.

On the other hand what about a failed marriage, or a diagnosis of dreaded disease, or the loss of a career? Well that is a different story - if the estimated duration of existence is still 70 to 80 years. However, if the duration of existence is eternity, then the duration of a lifetime of pain would be nothing in comparison.

If such comprehension of “eternal existence” were ours permanently, the debilitating fear and anxiety that compounds such "calamities" would not exist. We would handle life issues far more effectively if we were convinced of our eternal existence with God.

Again, our awareness of eternity is connected to our awareness of the reality of God. This is why prayer and connection to God in worship in a church gathering is very important. It brings eternity into view, and that brings the real nature of life's problems into view. And it always makes them smaller.

Of course this remedy of "eternity connection" only works where there is confidence of your eternal salvation in God. Where there is not confidence of eternal salvation, the consideration of eternity is likely a terrifying and frustrating proposition - that further complicates any problems you are dealing with.

It seems apparent from the scripture that our time on earth, as we know it, is some kind of a preparation period at the start of our eternal existence. Our living here on earth serves to determine the location and the quality of the remainder of our existence. Our eternal existence will evidently be our never-dying life statement of our view of the existence or non-existence of God.

Living a life that declares "no God" gives us an eternity of "no God" - in permanent separation from Him. On the other hand, living a life of connection to God, in affirming the reality of God, gives us an eternity of connection to the reality of God.

This eternal destiny is entirely in our hands. Our denial of eternity doesn't slow our swift journey to it. However, our recognition of eternity and the God of eternity can make our trip there a most pleasurable one.

At New Life Assembly we have no illusions concerning eternity. Absolutely nothing is worth the loss of eternity with God. No amount of worldly riches or fame is worth the loss of eternity! (Mark 8:36-38) "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? {37} Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? {38} Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

No amount of suffering is too much to bear in order for us have eternity! (Rom 8:18-21) "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. {19} For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. {20} For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, {21} Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God."

For the atheistic philosopher, the question of eternity is concluded a moot point. In fact; it is because of his need of dispensing with the supposition of judgment and eternity that he must naturally dispense with the idea of God; just as our opening scripture inseparably connects the reality of God to the reality of eternity.

Human flight to or from reason is easy to observe. Fear of suspected disease causes men to flee from the help of the doctor and discount the symptoms - or else it drives men to the doctor in hopes of treating the illness. Likewise fear of the reality of eternity naturally drives all men in one of two directions: to God for eternity readiness or away from God to evade the thought of eternity.

Everyone must, of course, choose his own way of living. As followers of Christ we have chosen to live in the light of eternity. But the skeptic responds: "what if it turns out there is no eternity?" Well, I challenge anyone to show us that clean living is not more fun than filth living; and that honest living is not more ennobling and peace making than dishonest living. I challenge anyone to prove that sinning makes a life better.

A woman I knew once challenged me with this question: "What are you going to think if you get to the end, and there discover that there was no God or eternal life after all?" My response was this: "Well if that happens I haven't lost anything, because the life I am living is a wonderful way to live. However, if you get to the end and find out that there is a God, and eternal damnation, then you have lost everything." She died recently an alcoholic and a self-proclaimed atheist after living a life I would not choose, even if I knew there was no God. If there is no eternity or God then she has only lost the benefits of clean living in this life. But if there is a God then she has lost twice, and the second time immeasurably more than the first. As for me, I like the life I am living - but I am totally convinced that the best is yet to come.

When it comes to the reality of eternity we need to be smart and not bury our heads in the sand. If all primitive people in the world worship a deity of some form, and believe in some expression of life after death, where did that innate knowledge come from? It would be one thing if it was an occasional lunatic affirming the reality of God and eternity, but when it is the vast majority of humans who cry out for God in moments of severe crisis that is something else.

Among the more philosophically inclined minority of the world's population, it seems that the topic of God and eternity polarizes most people passionately for or against the idea; so much so that most don't want to discuss it. Why such fear of exploring the topic? Other highly controversial subjects are eagerly debated. So doesn’t it make sense then that the claims of God eternity and our destiny should be even more debated?

Even more foolish than the atheist avoiding dealing with eternity by his denial of God, is the man who admits God and eternity, but is not willing to live for God. He is evidently counting on God connecting to him for eternity, while he disconnects from God for a lifetime. Maybe he supposes that in professing to know God is real he is buying an eternity with God - even though he rejects God in his everyday living. (Titus 1:16) "They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate."

It amazing to what lengths of absurdity men will go in attempts to negotiate the reality of God, eternity and its prerequisite judgment, instead of simply accepting it. Most common are the accusations against God such as: "What kind of God would send someone he claims to love to hell to burn forever and ever - just because he didn't serve him?"

Before we put God on the witness stand and ourselves in the judge's bench we need to understand the fantastic and fictional nature of any idea that we are capable of judging God. He is infinitely and supremely superior to any perspective we can muster. He is thoroughly aware of every nuance of motive in our every mental transaction that translates to our deeds - by which we will be judged. He controls every force of nature from the atom to the universe and gives us each breath of his created air that we breathe into the body that he designed for us.

No! We who have only limited capacity to think correctly concerning God are not equipped to be judges of God. He is the judge of us. Nor is he the least concerned with our ignorant objections to his ways.

Again; since we will never be allowed to judge God, but he most certainly will judge us, it is in our enlightened self-interest to find out by what laws he will be judging us. If a train is bearing down on us, it is not for us to judge its right to do so, but rather to get off of the tracks. When eternal damnation is bearing down on us, it is not for us to judge its right to exist, but rather to get out of its way and into what God has clearly identified as a safe zone.

Look at the record. God didn't make man in man's image. God made man in God's image so that man wouldn't have to be a god in order to have eternal meaning and significance. But man in rebellion rejected God's image in him and instead chose his own self-generated image and with it his own ways. This rebellion against his maker made man worthless when it came to fulfilling God's will.

What do you do with a plant that doesn't produce? You pull it up the roots and discard it. What do you do with a dog that has gone mad? You euthanize it. What do you do with a power tool that no longer works? You throw it away.

But what did God do with man who had become unfruitful and mad with godhood lust? He loved him. He tolerated him. He wooed him, and sought him, and pleaded with him, through prophets and priests to come back to home. He chastened him with trouble and gave him miracles of his goodness, and finally sent his son to shed his blood to cleanse man and bring him back. In spite of this, man still mocks God and refuses to seek God to the point of submitting to God's commands.

Every time the only true God of the universe offers man oneness with himself man flings back the false affirmation that man too is a god, and that there is not just one God. He throws this dirt on God's tender mercy offering of his son's blood. He does this against God in a thousand ways, from man made religious traditions to sinful pursuits of lustful pleasure, to atheistic denouncing of God in college lecture halls.

However, after all the arrows and darts of human claims of its own godhood are fired at the rock of immutable reality the supreme truth of the universe remains that there is only one God. Any idea of human autonomy is man's denial of God, which mercy has allowed for a very brief section of eternity called "time". This is because God has sealed "time" as man's day of about seven thousand years. It is in this space called “time” that man's illusion of being a god has been allowed to exist. God is allowing it to continue long enough for any man to have every chance to exit it before God eternally destroys it and all who are one with it.

Let me reiterate: God sent his son into this world of pretended godhood as a living denial of godhood by his total submission to God. The record is there for all to investigate. The proof of Christ as God's extension rather than a god is evident not only in the resurrection but in the current and countless changed lives.

The living, dying, and resurrection of Jesus has provided man with a clear picture of powerful human significance through oneness with God. This demonstration of God’s design for man is shown far superior to the flimsy godhood significance that is only crowned with temporary human approval.

God gave us this picture of his will for humans in hope that his mercy and salvation in the form of “Jesus Christ” would be enough for men to climb the golden ladder of truth out of dying godhood “time" back into “eternity". The results of this test of humanity are in and unfortunately man in mass has chosen his earthly life with its little crowns - instead of eternal life as God's son.

So what is God to do? Take and reward with eternal life man's denial of God? Would this not be to the unhinging of truth and consequently eternity? I don't think that is going to happen.

“But I’ll be OK because God is love” says the man who doesn’t love God enough to serve Him. If we are going to describe how God's love toward us should look we should first practice that definition of love ourselves - since we are made in his image. I am afraid that the dismal record of our own lack of showing mercy speaks too very clearly for our comfort in this courtroom of logic. Most of us can’t even deal with someone “denying us” by cutting us off in traffic - when they don't even know us.

Most of us know exactly what ought to be done to intruders in the night who break in to rob or kill us. If someone tormented and killed our sons and we had them at our mercy, we would know what to do. Our retribution against our children's executioners would be simple justice - not an indictment against us.

But wait; let us pause from our envisioned retribution, and return to man’s judgment against God for destroying out of existence human denial of God upon which the universe depends? (Oh the beam in our eye that blinds us in our effort to find the mote in God's.)

In my foolish, presumptuous, imagined defense of God and his coming judgment of us, I would suggest that God is the only being in the universe who knows what man is about - since he created him. He will naturally do what is right because he is the source of all right that exists in all valid logic.

He is far too superior to us in all his ways for us to have comprehension of his justice. Maybe instead of worrying about what he will do we should defer all judgment to him, and use all that analysis energy to consider what we should do to leave the frustrating constraints of our little god judgment of God and move into the joy and freedom of salvation letting go of godhood assumptions in serving that single God who exists for eternity.

This then is the official position of New Life Assembly. Time is our preparation for eternity. From it we carry into eternal permanence one of two positions: GODHEAD that says "God is my ‘head’ or authority and there is only one God who exists for eternity and I am only an extension of Him and his will"; or GOD HOOD that says "this temporal life is the reality with many gods, and I am one of them - expressing my own will" .

These positions are optional now, but instantly become permanent upon our exit from this world of “time”. Those who affirmed separation from God in time are without God for eternity. Those who affirmed union with God in time are united with him for eternity. For you and I "now is the accepted time and today is the day of salvation" where we can "fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called..." (1 Tim 6:12)

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