This blog article was inspired by my Mom’s passing in April. May we never forget who we are and where we’re going! Eternity is ahead for all of us!
According to Webster’s, eternity means “the quality or state of being eternal; infinite time, lasting throughout eternity; the state after death; a seemingly endless or immeasurable time.” Our human minds are challenged to wrap our heads around an “immeasurable time.” If someone dies, it seems to be the end because we do not see them anymore. Their “time” with us and for themselves looks as if it no longer exists. We have difficulty imagining something beyond what we can feel or see in our current world. We are thinking natural, rather than spiritual.
God, however, sees things differently. He is an eternal spirit, lasting forever (Deuteronomy 33:27, Isaiah 40:28, John 4:24). He operates in the spiritual realm, and can see the past and the future. Life to Him does not end in death. It’s a mere move from one realm to the next. Our time in the “physical realm” is very short compared to the forever God sees. In fact, one day to Him is as a thousand: “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8) To God, “one day” is a tiny segment of the big picture He sees.
Where Will We Spend Eternity?
Knowing eternity is in our future, we need to ask, “Where will I spend my eternity after I die?” The Bible gives us two choices: heaven or hell. The Bible is very clear in the reality of both.
The reality of hell
In the following verses and others, the Bible clearly tells of the reality of hell. Those who are doomed for hell for eternity are those who do not repent of their sins and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.
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…And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matthew 25:41,46)
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)
Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3)
The reality of heaven
People who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior have the promise of a home for eternity in heaven. They have lived a life of glorifying Jesus, serving Him as the boss of their lives.
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:1-3)
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16)
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:8-9)
How do we get to heaven?
If someone has received Jesus as Lord and Savior, they will go to heaven either by death or by Rapture.
So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:6-9)
For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. (Philippians 1:23)
Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:50-52)
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (I Thessalonians 4:13-18)
How do we live for eternity?
Keeping in mind that our final destination as Christians is heaven, how are we to live as if we’re going there? If our home is heaven, what does that make us here on the earth? We can answer that question by looking at what God says about us. What He has made us to be is far greater than what the world – and even we sometimes – believe ourselves to be! According to God’s Word, we are: Ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20), and strangers and pilgrims (I Peter 2:11), just to name a few! Clearly, we have a purpose on this earth other than simply existing until death. We are here on a mission to represent our heavenly country, and all that God is, while here on earth!
An ambassador represents his home country while living in another country. His actions, words, and decisions are a constant reflection of his homeland. He is consistently communicating with his superior so he can relay accurately what his country expects. A citizen resides in his country of choice, having received citizenship by birth, or by payment and pledging allegiance to that country. A pilgrim is one who is just passing through a country, traveling from one destination to another.
How can all these be true of us? How can we be representing, living, and traveling all at the same time? It doesn’t seem possible to us physically, but it is possible spiritually. As children of God, our citizenship is in heaven – our heavenly home. As ambassadors, we live physically away from our spiritual homeland, but represent it to our physical world. However, our role as ambassadors is a temporary job, as if we’re pilgrims en route to another country – our heavenly homeland. The task is big, yet very honorable as we complete it for the glory of our King!
The challenging part is believing, acting, and living as if all these things are true. Though our home is in heaven, our spirits are still encased in physical bodies residing on this earth. They don’t always feel honorable and spiritual because we can’t see heaven or touch our spirits. That is where faith is required. We must believe what we cannot see (2 Corinthians 5:7). Based on that belief, we must live what we cannot see.
Hebrews 11:13-16 says that our forefathers in the faith embraced their role on this earth, even though they could not see their future homeland. They “took it up especially readily and gladly” (Webster’s definition). They weren’t afraid to say who they were or what their purpose was on the earth. They “declared plainly” without shame. They knew who they were and where they were going!
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)
According to God’s standard, what do the lives of an ambassador, citizen, and pilgrim look like? How do they live as one on the earth? The following is the attributes required of us:
Live a Holy Life
Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. . . (I Peter 2:11)
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:2, 3)
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness . . . Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless . . . (2 Peter 3:10,11, 14)
Invest in the Spiritual
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
Then one from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But He said to him, “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 1213-21)
Think on the Heavenly
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2)
. . . While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Make the Most of Your Time
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16).
Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. (Colossians 4:5)
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (I Peter 5:8)
See then that you walk circumspectly [cautious, with watchfulness], not as fools but as wise . . . (Ephesians 5:15).
Be Watchful in Prayer
But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. (I Peter 4:7)
Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:36)
Walk in Love
And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. (I Peter 4:8-9)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34,35)
Knowing eternity is in the future of every person, we should take seriously how we’re managing our lives while here on the earth. As stewards of the life God has given us, what would we change? How would we sharpen our focus and purpose? How would we see ourselves in light of who God has made us? It’s a sobering thought . . . for one day we will stand before God and give account for what we did with every moment we spent as ambassador, citizen, and pilgrim on this earth (Romans 14:12).
He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:25)