Thinking About Our Eternal Future

by Ken Weliever

There is a future beyond our time on this earth. Sir Francis Drake, an English sea captain, wrote these words in 1577:

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too pleased with ourselves; when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little; when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity, and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wilder seas where storms will show Your mastery; where, losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. Push back the horizons of our hopes and push us into the future with strength, courage, hope, and love.

This we ask in the name of our Captain, who is Jesus Christ. Amen.

There is a future beyond our time on this earth. Something called “eternity.” Eternity is difficult to define. We talk about “spending” eternity somewhere. But you can’t spend it. You can spend a dollar. But not eternity. It is unending. A teacher once said to a little boy, “What does eternity mean to you?” He replied, “It’s like a piece of peppermint candy with only one end!”

Many in our day scoff at the idea of eternity. Sean Carroll, a cosmologist and physics professor at the California Institute of Technology, claims to have proven scientifically that there is no life after death. He’s not alone in his denial of eternity. Atheists, agnostics, infidels, humanists, and secularists all belittle belief in the eternal.

However, not even all scientists agree on this. Wernher Von Braun, the famous aerospace engineer and space architect once said, “Everything science has taught me—and continues to teach me—strengthens my belief in the continuity of our spiritual existence after death.”

But a greater authority than all these, Jesus Christ, affirmed the existence of eternity. Concluding his discussion of judging the nations as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats, Jesus said: “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt 25:46). Jesus often spoke of “eternal life.” The apostle Paul wrote that “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23). Furthermore, the Bible speaks of God’s “eternal purpose,” (Eph 3:11), our “eternal salvation” (Heb 5:9), and an “eternal inheritance” (Heb 9:15).

The Bible also reveals that there is an eternal judgment which can result in “suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7). There is a heaven. And a hell. These are the only two places where the soul will reside in eternity.

We often sing about that “home of the soul” and the beauty, bliss, and splendor of that land “where we’ll never grow old.” It’s a serene and soothing thought. But, there is also a place of torment. Punishment. Anguish. Pain. It’s called “hell.” Jesus affirmed its existence. But we don’t like to think about it. There are no songs about hell. It’s no one’s favorite sermon topic, but it is real. If heaven is eternal, so is hell.

Christians claim to believe in eternity. In heaven. And in hell. But too often we fail to live like it. When we live reckless, irresponsible and worldly lives, we’re not thinking about eternity. We’re not focused on heaven. And we’re not following Jesus.

There is a future beyond our brief time on this earth. Take a few minutes today to contemplate eternity. Reflect on your life this week. Think about heaven and hell. Then consider the exhortation of my friend Dee Bowman, “If you miss heaven, you’ve just missed all there is!”

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