Calvary Road Baptist Church

“ALIKE ETERNAL”

 

We are time-bound creatures. We are conceived in time, grow up and then grow old over time, and then comes the time of death for each of us. Some of you are closer to the beginning than you are to the end. Others of you know you are much closer to the end of your time here on earth than your beginning. As well, it may be that some of you think you are closer to the beginning than the end, but you are actually much closer to the end than anyone suspects. Though we are at present time-bound creatures, it should not be thought that we will always be time-bound. The Word of God contains such words as eternal, everlasting, and forever, providing us with the verification that what we suspect in our contemplations about what lies beyond time is true. There is something beyond this life and the ticking of the clock, and one word for it is eternity. Eternal, everlasting, and forever are English translations of a Hebrew word, olam, and a Greek word, aionios. “And while these terms can, on rare occasions, be used to refer to an age or a long period of time (or when the end of the age is in view, cf. Jer. 17:4; 18:16), the context must clearly show this because their normal meaning is an unending period of time. The term aionios occurs seventy-one times in the New Testament. Sixty-four of these refer to God himself and divine plans or realities. In these cases an unending period of time is clearly in view.”[1]

So many direct references to eternity, and the many allusions to eternity that can be found in the Bible, suggests to even the beginning reader of the Bible that eternity is a very important matter. This only makes sense. After all, take the longest-lived person’s span of life and compare it to forever and you easily see that the one is virtually nothing in comparison to the other.

It has been suggested that the following illustration be used as a way to wrap your mind around the idea of eternity. Imagine our planet was made of iron instead of water, dirt, and rock. Next, imagine an everyday house fly walking around the earth at the equator, again and again and again over timeless centuries. How long would it take that ordinary house fly, as light and delicate as it is, to wear a trench along his iron equatorial pathway that was one inch deep? That would be but the first minute of eternity. Of course, it really makes no sense to describe the timelessness of eternity, of everlasting, and of forever in terms of time at all, since eternity is outside time, beyond time. However, because we are for the present bound by time, we have no other way of conceiving of time, no other reference point if you will, than by imagining it to be time of great length and duration. So, for now, it will just have to do.

Another way of comparing time to eternity is by doing so mathematically. Though my own education in mathematics when I was in engineering school is limited to college calculus, let me give it a try. I am aware of two ways of dealing with eternity in mathematics. The first is a little symbol for eternity that is used in calculus for considerations of quantities or time beyond comprehension. You will find it on one side of the handout our ushers are now passing out.  It is simply the number eight turned over on its side. The second way of dealing with eternally is geometrically. Turn the handout over to see that it is divided into four sections. In section one, consider a point. Now, in section two, consider two points, with what connects those two points being a line segment. Third, consider a point that is the beginning and heads off in one direction without ever stopping. That is what is termed a ray. In the fourth consideration is found a line that goes infinitely in one direction as well as infinitely in the opposite direction. If a line can be considered a rough approximation of what has always been from eternity past to what will always be in eternity future, you have a two-dimensional characterization of God’s attribute of eternity. If a ray has a starting point that continues off in one direction forever, you have a two-dimensional characterization of a man’s eternity. Long after his physical death his conscious existence continues.

Now that we have limbered up a bit and stretched ourselves, I want you to consider eternity with me as it relates to three topics of vital interest:

 

First, WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE WORD OF GOD IS ETERNAL

 

Let me begin with the Word of God. The reason we begin with God’s Word, the Bible, is because it is simply impossible to think, to consider, and to ponder without making some assumptions. My assumption is that the Word of God is true, which means that it is factually accurate and reliable as a source of truth to everything it addresses. Perhaps you are not inclined to assume as a starting point that the Bible is true. Of course, that is your privilege, though it is a decision that is not made without consequences. After all, Titus 1.2 informs us that God, the Author of the Bible, cannot lie. Further, the Lord Jesus Christ expressly stated that the Word of God is true, in John 17.17. Therefore, to assume the Bible is not true is to challenge the integrity of its Author and to question the reliability and accuracy of that person you must rely on for the salvation of your sinful soul. Therefore, you know why I postulate the truthfulness and accuracy of the Bible. If you doubt the Bible, your doubt might not be as well considered as you assume, and the consequences in terms of God’s disposition toward you may not have been considered at all.

Five passages for your consideration that show the Word of God to be eternal:

 

·        Psalm 119.89: “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” There is our Hebrew word for eternal, right at the beginning of the verse.

 

·        Psalm 119.152: “Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever.” Here we find our Hebrew word for eternal at the end of the verse.

 

·        Psalm 119.160: “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.”

 

Addressing God, the psalmist acknowledges the truthfulness of the Bible from Genesis 1.1, and declares the righteous judgments contained in it will endure forever, using the Hebrew word for eternal once again.

 

·        Matthew 24.35: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”

 

These are the words of Jesus, making a profound declaration concerning the eternal nature of scripture, with astounding theological implications, while using the simplest of words. Heaven is not eternal. This earth is not eternal. However, His words, which I take to be the Word of God including His specific statements, shall not pass away.

 

·        First Peter 1.24-25:

24     For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

25     But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

 

Do not draw the hasty conclusion that Peter is here suggesting that a human being’s existence ends at death. He only states that man’s flesh and man’s glory terminates at death, not his conscious existence. Notice the contrast between the flesh and glory of man, which is temporary, and the Word of the Lord, which is eternal, enduring forever.

 

Next, WE UNDERSTAND THAT JESUS IS ETERNAL

 

There are three ways in which the eternity of Jesus can be established:

First, from a consideration of His titles. Isaiah 9.6 is one of the most notable passages in scripture pertaining to the Lord Jesus Christ, in that a number of titles are ascribed to Him by the prophet: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” What is key to our understanding of Jesus’ eternity is the title “The everlasting Father.” In what way Jesus is “The everlasting Father” is not germane at this point. Suffice it to say that the title given to Him by the prophet shows He is eternal.

Second, the eternity of Jesus can be seen from His attribute. Hebrews 13.8: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” What this verse directly speaks to is the immutability of Jesus, with immutability having to do with unchangeableness. If someone is immutable, is unchangeable, that person must also be eternal. This is because no one who is not eternal can be immutable. No one who is not eternal can be unchangeable, since dying or ceasing to exist is obviously changing.

Third, the eternity of Jesus can be seen from His activities. Genesis 1.1 records the creation of the universe, including the creation ex nihilo (from nothing) of the space-time-matter continuum. Before Genesis 1.1 there was no space, no distance, no lengths or breadths or depths. Before Genesis 1.1 there was no matter, no mass, no stuff of any kind. Before Genesis 1.1 there was no time. I would not suggest that there was nothing before Genesis 1.1, only that there was no universe before Genesis 1.1. After all, there is evidence that the angels existed before Genesis 1.1, and that they were spectators, if I understand Job 38.7: “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Then, of course, there was the Creator. Who created the space-time-matter continuum in Genesis 1.1? As well, Who created the angelic host who witnessed the Genesis 1.1 creation? Whoever it was that created the angels and this universe and all that herein is must be eternal, because it was from eternity He spoke and made all that is. Who did this creative work? John 1.1-3 is very clear on this matter:

 

1      In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2      The same was in the beginning with God.

3      All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

 

Jesus is clearly shown to be eternal by His title (“the everlasting Father”), by His attribute of being unchanging, and by His work of creating this universe and the fabric of space, time, and matter that comprises it.

 

Finally, WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE CHRISTIAN’S LIFE IS ETERNAL

 

As I mentioned this morning, words have meaning. Eternal means forever. Eternal means never ending. When the Apostle Paul declares, in Romans 6.23, that the gift of God to those who trust Christ is eternal life, what does eternal life mean in the case of a Christian? I suggest that we find out what it means,

First, from its designations. In Luke 18.29-30, Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.” “Life everlasting” translates our Greek word for eternal, aionios. Do you suppose that Jesus used the word for eternal, but did not mean eternal? John 3.15: “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Again the word, this time translated “eternal life.” John 3.16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The same word, this time translated “everlasting life.” John 3.36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” John 5.24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” John 6.47: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” What perversity of logic does it take to read these verses and then believe it possible for a Christian to somehow lose his salvation. Does Jesus not say what He means and mean what He says?

Next, we learn what eternal life for a Christian is from the scriptural declaration. John 11.26: “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” There are many professing Christians in the world today who desperately look for reasons why eternal life is not eternal, everlasting life is not everlasting, and forever is not forever. By what convoluted logic they interpret the clear statements of God’s Word is not clear. What is clear is that no perversity of understanding can explain away this clear statement made by the Savior. If you believe in Him you will never die. Since this obviously does not pertain to physical life, in that millions of genuine Christians have experienced physical death over the centuries, this can only refer to spiritual life, eternal life. The real Christian will never, can never experience spiritual death, which would require losing his eternal life. Is eternal life really eternal if it is not forever?

Third, we learn what eternal life for a Christian is from its derivation. Second Peter 1.4: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature. . . .” This verse explains to the interested reader how it comes to be that the Christian’s life is eternal. We know from Romans 6.23 that eternal life is a gift from God, but it is here in Second Peter 1.4 that we discover its derivation. God does not create eternal life. It is not something He manufactures or conjures. God Himself is eternal. It is a vital aspect of His divine nature. Being eternal is one of those things about God that just is. What enables the Christian’s life in Christ to be eternal is the sharing of God’s divine nature with each believer, which divine nature is in its essence eternal. Thus, if it were possible for a Christian to somehow experience spiritual death so that he no longer possesses eternal life, it would require that God also be able to experience spiritual death and no longer possess eternal life. Since no real Christian is willing to admit that God can die, that God can lose His eternal life, how could it be conceived that anyone partaking of God’s divine nature could lose his eternal life?

 

I know there are those who both claim to be Christians and also claim that a believer can lose his salvation. However, some observations need to be made that bear directly on that issue.

Those who think a Christian can lose his salvation never come out and say precisely what must be done in order to lose your salvation. The Bible is very precise about how to gain eternal life, so why is there no clear statement telling us how to lose eternal life? You might think it would be a serious sin, such as homosexuality, murder, drunkenness, or perhaps drug abuse that might cut a person loose from eternal life, were it possible. If you did, you would be mistaken, since those who think you can lose your salvation sometimes commit these same sins without any concern about losing their salvation.

I close with Colossians 1.12-13, where Paul explains what happens at conversion in terms the people of his day understood very clearly:

 

12     Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

13     Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.

 

Consider this term in verse 13, “hath translated.”

When the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom of Israel and transported the Jewish male population out and a Gentile male population into the region, they were translated. When the United States Army moved the Cherokees out of Georgia and the Carolinas to Oklahoma Territory during what was called “The Trail Of Tears,” they were translated. When Africans were transported from West Africa to North America, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean as slaves, they were translated.

The people of Paul’s day knew very well what he was referring to in this passage. To be translated meant to be removed from one realm to another realm without any possibility of return.

My friends, that is what happens when a sinner comes to Christ. He is translated from the spiritual domain of Satan, the power of darkness, to the spiritual domain of God’s dear Son. However, rather being a geographical translation, as were the examples I cited, the Christian’s is a spiritual translation.

The reason eternal life is eternal, in addition to the fact that it is God’s life shared with us and is therefore unending, is also because it is a translation from which there is no possibility of return. Thus, it simply is not possible for a believer to lose his salvation.

It is possible for a person to think he is saved to walk away from Christ and thereby show himself to be lost after all. However, it is not possible for someone who has been created anew in Christ to be uncreated.



[1] Gary R. Habermas and J. P. Moreland, Beyond Death: Exploring The Evidence For Immortality, (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2004), page 304.



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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org