“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, ….” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
This week I was in a men’s meeting at our church with a young mathematician and math teacher. We were sharing from our journals and he shared he felt the Lord had been saying to him, “eternity, eternity, eternity.” He’s in good company. The apostle Paul encouraged us to think like that. You can read what he said in a recent post to my book’s website.
Indeed, the Creator has put a sense of eternity in our hearts. Sunrise and sunset speak of it, as do the heaven’s starlight. These are internal and external witnesses to something we all too often ignore — eternity.
The life group that meets in our home started to focus on one aspect of eternity last Wednesday night by watching the film, “Hell and Mr. Fudge.” It’s sparked some lively discussion about eternity — what we believe and what we can know from the Bible on the subject. And how this knowledge affects the way we live our daily lives, if we hold it to be true.
A young agnostic friend of mine, Michael, recently started to spend time with me discussing God and eternity saying, “I don’t believe in God anymore, or that He’s relevant, but I don’t want to discuss it with any of my believing college friends because I wouldn’t want to hurt their faith. I don’t believe I can hurt yours, so will you talk with me about the issues? I want to discuss it because if I’m wrong, the ramifications are significant!” I appreciated his honesty and realized with him the gravity of his statement.
Let’s not ignore these things because we’re distracted or for any other reason, but honor the “eternity He has set in our heart” with searching, faith, and reason.
I encourage you to avail yourself of these resources and consider these things with me in this season of our lives. It may prove life saving, and life giving, for yourself and others around you. 🙂
Traditionalism vs Conditionalism — Who Knew?
Amy, a bright young woman in our life group asked, “Is this about Rob Bell and other’s contention that there is no hell?” No, at least not directly. Nor is it about “universalism,” “portraying all humanity as saved in the end, Jesus tells of a final separation between the righteous and the wicked, the sheep and the goats.” “…evangelicals agree that hell is the most terrible fate that can befall a human being. But today … theologians debate the nature of hell. Does it consist of of conscious punishment that lasts forever, or does it have an end? The first view is called traditionalism and the second conditionalism or annihilationism.”*
Either way, it’s obvious that hell can and should be avoided. Eternal life is available for the asking by means of the cross of Jesus Christ the Son of God. So is this small (??) distinction about one aspect of hell important for us to consider? I would say it would be to those on the “wide road that leads to destruction” for sure! And maybe to us all, because it speaks about the very nature and character of God. And it’s certainly good to spend some time dwelling on the eternity He has set in our hearts.
So let’s be like the wise Bereans in Paul’s day, who searched the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul was telling them was true.
In the end, it’s not important to me what you decide. After all, some heavy hitting theologians, who are very bright, love the Word, and love the Truth have lined up on each side of this debate. It’s a debate that has gone on throughout church history I’ve discovered, but has come to considerable light and focus in recent years among today’s theologians, and will soon make it’s way down to the church in general. Indeed I suppose in some circles, it already has. It’s come to me and my friends in this season.
It’s not by coincidence that our life group is also studying The Book of Hebrews this fall. It’s all about the preeminence of Christ. So we’ll be looking very closely again and anew at Jesus in every respect. For now I suppose, we’ll see what He had to say about hell and about eternity. Since He knows, and He addressed the woman at the well and the pharisee alike with the whole truth out of love and concern for them, I’m sure we will, like them, gain new insight into truth and living.
In summary, focus on eternity and focus on Christ. Don’t let your culture and times cause you to neglect so great a salvation! Heaven is for real. Hell is for real. Eternity is for real, be in that number! Don’t neglect Jesus Christ. Don’t be distracted. Don’t become unfaithful or fall away. Remember our High Priest, the Lamb of God, Who paid for the sins of the whole world.
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17)
- These quotes taken from the introduction of “Two Views of Hell,” Edward William Fudge & Robert A. Peterson available here. I recently finished reading this book and hope to write a review in the near future.