Eternity is a mind-numbing concept to fathom or explain. How can a finite mind using finite words and finite concepts even begin to unravel the mystery of the infinite? Scripture uses synonyms like everlasting, unending, endless, forever, forevermore, ceaseless, and immortal to convey the notion of eternity. The Bible teaches about eternal life and eternal death, of a glorious heaven and tormenting hell beyond the grave, and of this present temporal age and the eternal age to come.
Eternity is one of the compelling motivations for mission.
Scripture speaks of time, as we know it, coming to an end. Two significant things will happen prior to the end of time, both of which have profound implications regarding where people will spend eternity.
First, Jesus will return to take his people to be with him forever. Every believer will then stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give account of their lives. On that day, we will see the true eternal impact our lives have made.
Second, there will be the final judgment for every person who does not know Jesus as Lord and Saviour. The eternal consequences are extremely serious.
Therefore, how should we respond? Not only must we recapture a fresh sense of imminence and expectation of Jesus’ second coming and the final judgment, but we must recommit ourselves to a life of mission and service. In regard to mission, because we have experienced the grace of God in Jesus, we should share his love and message with others by: the example of our godly lives (2 Peter 2:12), acts of compassion and care (Luke 10:30-37), being advocates for social action (Matthew 5:16) and social justice (Psalm 146:7-9), defending the Gospel and the truth of the Scripture (2 Peter 3:15), testifying to others of our salvation (Acts 1:8), and discipling new believers (Matthew 28:19-20).
May we also dedicate ourselves afresh to the work of global and cross-cultural mission, so that those who have never heard may hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. Eternity is real; it is irreversible and inescapable. May we do what we can, when we can, to whom we can, to further the unfinished task of global mission until that day.
Amy Carmichael, Irish missionary to India, once wrote, “We shall have all eternity to celebrate the victories, but we have only the few hours before sunset in which to win them.”
By Bruce Hills