Eternity and Man

Lesson 5

by Jon Quinn


The fulfillment of God’s plan will occur after this universe ceases to be. It is to be replaced by a new system which God calls “the new heavens and the new earth.” It promises to be a wonderful place.

We are here only a short time. Even a lifetime of 100 years is not long when compared to eternity. The Bible describes the brevity of life as “a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). The question follows: “What will eternity be like for me?”

TEMPORARY OR ETERNAL?

The Bible teaches that some things are temporary. They exist for a time and then cease to be. Other things are eternal and will always be. But many people give the things which are destined to pass away first priority. They trade what would have given them eternal joy for that which lasts for a moment. What a foolish and fateful decision!

(2 Corinthians 4:16-18) For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

For example, there are two kinds of wealth. Material wealth lasts for only a time; “You cannot take it with you.” Then there are spiritual treasures which will never fade away but only grow more precious, even after this world has ceased to be!

(Matthew 6:19-21) Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

(1 Timothy 6:17-19) Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

Also there is the universe in which we live. It is an amazing place with its countless galaxies. But it is temporary. On the other hand there is a new heavens and earth to come, an unending spiritual realm which will far outshine this present system.

(Hebrews 13:14) For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

(1 Peter 1:4) To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

(2 Peter 3:12) Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

(Revelation 21:1) And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

We see the marvelous works of humanity. There are works of art, machines and buildings. But none of these last forever. Then there are God’s eternal works, such as the eternal city and His eternal Word.

(2 Peter 3:10) But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

(1 Peter 1:23) Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

(Hebrews 11:20) By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

We see people anxious to reverse or at least slow down the aging process as time takes its toll on their bodies. We also read about spiritual bodies which God will prepare for us in eternity. These will never wear out or die.

(2 Corinthians 5:1) For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

(1 Corinthians 15:50-53) Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

THE HUMAN SPIRIT

The human creature has both a physical and a spiritual side. The body is only the temporary abode of the soul, or spirit. The words “soul” and “spirit” each have several different uses in the Bible and it must be determined from the context as to their meaning. We shall consider examples where these words are used to refer to that very real part of each one of us that will never cease to exist.

God created man as a dual being of body and spirit.

(Genesis 2:7) And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

(Zechariah 12:1) The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.

(1 Corinthians 6:20) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

The spiritual part of man survives death and continues to have conciousness and identity.

(Matthew 22:32) I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

(Luke 16:19-31) There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

(Luke 23:43) And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

(Philippians 1:20-24) According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

The place where our spirits go to await the resurrection is referred to as “sheol” or “hades.”

(Psalms 16:10) For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

(Luke 16:23) And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

At the resurrection the spirit will be reunited with a spiritual body which will never die.

(1 Corinthians 15:42-44) So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

JUDGMENT

Following the resurrection there will be a final judgment of all. This judgment is not for the purpose of determining guilt or innocence; this will have already been determined. Rather, it is for the pronouncing of reward or punishment. It is final; there is no higher court to which to appeal.

(Hebrews 9:27) And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Each will be judged by the Word of Christ.

(John 12:48) He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

It will be just…

(Romans 2:5-8) But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

…and according to one’s life’s deeds.

(2 Corinthians 5:10) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Tragically, many will be unprepared.

(Hebrews 10:27) But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

By God’s grace some will be ready for judgment and eternity to follow.

(1 John 4:17) Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

HEAVEN

With newly-fashioned, incorruptible bodies like Jesus’ own glorified body, the redeemed of the ages will enter into heaven.

(1 John 3:2) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Christians live in anticipation of Heaven, where they are enrolled as citizens.

(Philippians 3:20) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

Heaven is described as an eternal place where the saved dwell with Christ and the Father.

(Matthew 25:46) And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

(John 14:1-3) Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 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. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

(Revelation 21:3) And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

It is a place of rest, which does not mean that there will be little activity, but that the activity will be refreshing and enjoyable, not burdensome and tiresome.

(Hebrews 4:1) Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

It is the inheritance of the faithful and the home of the victorious.

(1 Peter 1:3-5) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

(Revelation 21:7) He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

There is no death or sorrow there, but rather it is filled with light and glory.

(Revelation 21:4) And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

(Revelation 21:23-25) And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. 24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. 25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.

In its midst stands the tree of life.

(Revelation 22:14) Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Small wonder that it is called a “better” place.

(Hebrews 11:10) For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

(Hebrews 11:16) But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

HELL

All will be raised.

(John 5:28-29) Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

Those who have rejected God’s grace and light have chosen eternal darkness for themselves. They will reap what they have sown.

(Galatians 6:7-8) Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Jesus tells us that hell is everlasting.

(Matthew 25:46) And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

It is a dark place far from God and all that is good.

(Matthew 25:30) And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(2 Thessalonians 1:7-9) And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

Jesus described it as a place of fire and plainly warned of sorrow there.

(Matthew 13:42) And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

(Matthew 25:30) And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(Romans 2:8-9) But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

It is a place of hopelessness where there is no rest.

(Ephesians 2:12) That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

(Revelation 14:11) And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

(Revelation 20:10) And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

It is described as the second death.

(Revelation 20:14) And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

We do not enjoy thinking of such a place, but that does not change the facts. We do rejoice that Jesus was willing to save us from this by His own suffering. Hell can be avoided by loving and trusting in Jesus!

CONCLUSION

It is by God’s grace that there is hope. He has already done more for us than we could ever hope to deserve. Each one of us are in the position of choosing for ourselves heaven over hell; life over death and victory over defeat. God will abide by our choice. The faithful Christian has made heaven his choice by his obedient trust in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and on that basis lives in hope.

(Colossians 1:5) For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

(Colossians 1:23) If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

LESSON #6 is entitled “WHAT MUST WE DO?” We will examine what it really means to be “born again” and how this new birth is absolutely necessary. We will learn what it means to “call upon the name of the Lord” to be saved.

 

Please take out your Bible and look up the passages cited below, then answer the questions.

TEMPORARY OR ETERNAL?

What does the Bible say about the things we can see?
What does the Bible say about the things we cannot see (II CORINTHIANS 4:16-18)?
Briefly tell what will happen to the present heavens and earth (II PETER 3:10-13; REVELATION 21:1)?
THE HUMAN SPIRIT

What does the Lord form within us (ZECHARIAH 12:1)?
Does Jesus teach that the dead are conscious following death (LUKE 16:19-31)?
JUDGMENT

What will be the standard of judgment (JOHN 12:48)?
What else will be considered (II CORINTHIANS 5:10)?
HEAVEN
How is the Christian's inheritance described (I PETER 1:4)?
Name some things which will not be in Heaven (REVELATION 21:4).
List some of the things which will keep those who practice them outside the Kingdom of God (I CORINTHIANS 6:9-11).
HELL

What word does Jesus use to describe the duration of punishment (MATTHEW 25:46)?
How does Jesus describe hell (MATTHEW 13:42)?


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