Why is it so important to explore our eternal existence? The primary reason is because the stakes are so high. It is difficult for us to picture eternity. We are very aware of and restricted by time. Timelessness is foreign to us. It exists beyond our finest efforts to understand it. One individual tried to bring it into our understanding by the following example. First there is a mountain range as huge as the entire Himalayan mountain range. Once every 100 years a small bird lands somewhere in this gigantic mountain range and wipes its beak on the rock surface. When the entire mountain range has been worn down to sea level, by the action of this bird every 100 years, we will have experienced the first second of eternity. The decisions we make in this extremely short lifetime will affect the incomprehensible timelessness of eternity. It is imperative that we get it right now (for our own self interest) or regret it forever.
It states throughout the Bible that disaster (eternal death) awaits those who are not saved. The Bible also provides a path to the opposite of eternal death, eternal life. To understand what the Christian faith is talking about I must ask you to put aside all of your beliefs about religion as you read this article. I don't mean that you should change your beliefs or try to forget them, but just take a time-out regarding your beliefs about Christianity and religion in general. Honestly consider what is being said in this article. Hold your judgements until you have read the complete article.
To see the situation as clearly as possible we must have a beginning. One of the first scenes in the Bible concerns our ancient ancestors, Adam and Eve. The Bible implies that God loves to create things. If we look at the bones of the past we see that God created all types of creatures and finally created man. Since God is not bound by time, there were probably vast periods of time that He used to create many different types of creatures. Some became extinct before man was created but many species were alive during the period that man was created and many are still alive today. The Bible says that there was something new and different about man that had not been used in the creative process up to this time. Some things that were different about man was his ability for abstract thinking and his or her preoccupation with the purpose for his or her existence. He also gave men and women the ability to choose their own destiny. They were the only ones of God's creation that asked the questions "who am I - what is my purpose - how can I best live - is there a God - what is He like - etc.". God created the human race to be the pinnacle of His creative powers on Earth. Humans are special and with this comes responsibility. God created man and woman to be very close to Him (to be able to talk to Him as we do to one another - face to face). God loved Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve willingly depended on God as they saw how good, intelligent, powerful and virtuous He really was. They depended on Him for their existence. He nourished them physically, emotionally, spiritually. Since they were dependent on God for their existence, they experienced peace, love, meaning, purpose, significance, and a deep sense of well-being. God is good and would never hurt His creation needlessly. He designed His special creation to yield to His leadership. With His leadership and their dependence on Him, humans could reach the highest levels for which they were created. All other paths lead nowhere but to destruction.
God tested Adam and Eve to see if they loved and trusted Him enough to obey Him. He told them that they could eat of any tree in the garden, where they lived, with the exception of two trees which were off-limits. There are many opinions as to the nature of these trees but to Adam and Eve it must have been clear what God was referring to. They were tempted by Satan (a being as evil as God is good) and ignored God's command to avoid the fruit of these two trees. They ate and in an instant they fell from their secure position next to God. For the first time they experienced fear and pain - they wanted only to hide from life and from God. God had provided them with their security and well-being and this was now stripped away by their disobedience. In a sense they had spit in the face of a Being that desired and promoted only their good. The result of their senseless action was that they could no longer live in God's presence (face to face with God with all its security and well being) - they were now on their own and they were scared. They also would have to work and struggle in daily life. One day they would now have to die physically. Mankind would now have to face difficult decisions, conflicting emotions and haunting fears. They were also in deep trouble spiritually. Even more important, unless something was done for their spiritual condition, they would also die eternally (see eternal death). They were on death's row - imprisoned by their own actions and without excuse. Their disobedience was called sin. Sin is to ignore and disobey God. Sin is the most self-defeating thing men and women can do.
For some reason that is difficult to understand and explain, God did not abandon mankind. Even as they sat in death's row spiritually, God was searching for a way that would give His special creation a chance to live eternally. God is perfectly good and righteous. His love, integrity and sense of justice, upon which His kingdom is built, requires that the laws of the universe to be obeyed by all. No kingdom can stand where its laws are deliberately ignored or broken without any response from the authorities. God could not just ignore the sin, the deliberate breaking of His laws. Who would respect or serve a King that didn't mean what He said, or didn't enforce order? Who would respect a King that didn't live by the principles he created for the good of His creation? Someway a method would have to be found to deal with man's dilemma or men and women would be cast into Hell (eternal death) upon dying. How could man have a chance to escape disaster while at the same time God's laws would be respected?
God is powerful, so powerful it staggers our imagination. We must accept that this God has incredible power if we are to take Him seriously. To look at a bolt of lightening would be much easier than to look at God. He is so powerful that if we came close to His presence we would be overwhelmed and die, but not because he doesn't care and love us. If we came to close to a nuclear reactor we would die - simple because of all the power and energy in that one spot. One PhD. in Astronomy concluded that God is trillions of times more powerful and intelligent than we are. He can travel anywhere in an instant. He can handle hot stars in his hand. He can travel through time effortlessly. He can do anything that He desires and no one is capable of stopping Him (we are therefore very fortunate that He is Good). If God were only 10 times more intelligent and powerful than us we might be able to understand a little about Him (very little). Understanding Him would be a stretch but we would probably look on Him as a super human. If He were 100 times more intelligent and powerful than us, we would have to conclude that understanding Him and how He thinks would border on impossible. Of course it is quite possible that God is trillions of times more powerful and intelligent than us. We must realize that to ignore a creature with this much power is self-defeating to the extreme (we are the only ones who will lose). It is the fear (awe) of this all powerful God that gets our attention and if we value our existence it fuels a desire to know more about Him.
God is more than extremely powerful, He is also remarkably loving. Not a sentimental mushy love but a love that is so powerful that He, the King of the universe, would allow His Son to be born a humble carpenter in an average Jewish family and finally to die for His creation.
Have you ever tried to comprehend what paradise (heaven) must be like? Paradise must elicit a profound sense of freedom, joy, well being and unlimited happiness. It would also follow that those in paradise will never experience uncomfortable emotions such as selfishness, jealously, hate, envy, guilt, depression, etc. Once there, who would leave a place such as this? The answer may be the most unexpected, it was the being who most deserved to live in paradise. He was the only perfect being, besides God, who lived in heaven. Being perfect in love He could not stand by and watch the human race suffer eternally when there was at least a chance that some of them could be saved. Being perfect also uniquely qualified Him to be a ransom (death substitute) for men and women. He would sacrifice His life here on Earth so that God could have a way to forgive man his crime while maintaining justice. We were condemned to eternal death but Christ would step in front of us and be killed for us. This task of coming to Earth had many drawbacks. He would be born into an inferior world into an inferior, selfish, and at times violent race who would misunderstand Him, harass, persecute and finally kill Him. This was the only way that men and women could have an opportunity to be saved. He would ultimately die an excruciating death by crucifixion. Furthermore and even more dreadful, He must be condemned and rejected of God (in the same way that those who disobey Him are). Let me say this in another way. We have sinned. To sin is to forfeit paradise and be thrown into eternal torment. Jesus took the bullet meant for us. He voluntarily allowed God to pile all the sins that were ever committed by you and me on His back and experience the rejection and condemnation of His Father (the one being whom He loved , trusted and depended on with all His heart). This rejection from His Father was the issue that terrified Him. He had never experienced this before and now when He needed His Father the most, He had to face the unthinkable, the rejection of His Father. He sacrificed His life and well being for us. What did His sacrifice accomplish?
Before His sacrifice we didn't even have a chance. We were condemned men and women. The verdict had already been proclaimed. We were on death row with no appeals left. How would it feel to sit in death row knowing that others controlled your destiny? In Florida's death row the inmate lives in a 6' x 9' x 91/2' cell. When he is outside his cell he is always in handcuffs. He no longer has a choice about what he will do tomorrow, when his life will end, or when or if he will be able to spend time with others (even someone he loves, like his spouse, children, friends). When we are not under God's leadership, our situation is as hopeless as the man or woman on death row. It is important that we roll this around in our minds so that we can see our situation realistically. It also helps us to begin to understand what Christ really did for us. His sacrifice gives us the opportunity to open the door of our death row cell and enter a free world.
Love like this is beyond our small self-centered minds to understand. What an opportunity that Christ has given us. He opened the door to the actual possibility of us becoming the sons and daughters of God. Our inheritance is the guarantee of eternal life in paradise. We may not understand a love so great but at all costs we must not ignore it.
In a rather large village in the Far East, brides were claimed by a custom that related the value of the intended bride to the number of cows offered to her family for her. The going rate was as high as 4 cows. One girl in the village was rather shy and not particularly popular. A certain young man in the village admired her and spent as much time as possible around her. He would tell her that she was of great value even though she was shy and reserved. He had fallen in love with her and though he was not a wealthy man, he offered her father 10 cows for her hand in marriage. The father was astonished by this unprecedented amount. The village was equally astonished. The girl was overwhelmed that the man she loved would place this much value on her. Tongues were waging from the laundry rocks at the river to the halls of political power in the village. The girl's family wondered what they had missed in their rather average daughter. The village wondered what was so valuable about this girl. The girl wondered what her future husband saw in her. The marriage took place and the young woman began to consider how she should spend her life. How should a 10 cow bride live her life. She was of course tempted to flaunt her position and feel that others should look up to her and treat her as something special. She knew that this would not please the man she loved. The value he placed on her was more noble and virtuous than ordinary, self centered behavior. Selfless service to others, this was the path her husband would be pleased with. She could not displease this man who had shown by his actions his great love for her. She gave herself to the work of helping her fellow villagers in any way she could. They saw her great love and commitment to them and made her a leader. Her dedication and selfless love of her people, along with her political influence, improved the lives of the villagers significantly. In a sense she became something of a legend among her people. A wise and loving man saw a diamond in the rough - he sacrificed years of extra work for those 10 cows. God has done a similar thing for us. He gave His life to show our incredible value to Him and His overwhelming love for us. He is now waiting for our response!
Let's suppose that there was a scientist who could create an ant-like creature. The scientist was running an experiment to see how the creatures interacted with their environment. He had to remain in the background so that the experiment would not be tinted. Suppose the ant creature, several generations removed from the original ant creatures, was living on hard rocky ground with his family and had to struggle to make his home in this type of ground. One day in his foraging for food, he finds a place that has smooth, soft, mellow ground with a nice stand of green grass. He realizes that life here would be much easier than life on the rocky, hard soil he now called home. The scientist would, of course, have a much better view of things as he watched from high above in the background. Since the scientist is of far superior intelligence, he sees something that the ant creature could never comprehend - the site he is drawn to is a dry creek bed that floods several times a year. The ant creature has heard that his race was created by and watched over by a human. He was also told that his race could not really see humans, but it was a long standing belief that they existed. It was further stated that humans had a great deal to do with the ant creature's existence. As the ant creature prepares to move his family to the dry creek bed the human knows that this move would end in catastrophic failure for the ant creature and his family. The scientist sets up a barrier between the ant creature family and the creek bed. The ant creature family tries hard to get through the barriers but finally realizes that the forces of "nature" are against them. They cry out "if there really is a human he must not care much for us, or maybe the human is rather sadistic and is plotting against us. Perhaps humans don't exist and the ones who say they do are just a bunch of deceived fools. "What kind of a creature would allow something like this to happen to us" they might shout with clinched fist toward the sky.
A fool's paradise is defined as: "a state of deceptive happiness, based on illusions". Haven't we all lived for some time in a "fool's paradise". We want to be filled with happiness and pleasant feelings so at times we distort reality (the facts of existence) by trying to think of life in a way that makes it look more pleasant than it really is. We want more happiness, excitement, and pleasant feelings so we distort or deny a reality that can be harsh and painful at times. The problem with this is that it catches up with us and we become disillusioned (our illusion is shown for what it is and it lets us down when we are forced to face the fact that it isn't really true). This disillusionment can make us feel very discouraged and maybe even depressed. When it comes to spiritual thoughts, we can easily fall into the snare of a "fools paradise". We can purposely avoid thinking about God and what He has to say about life, hoping that if we ignore the whole subject it will somehow go away. We come up with all types of reasons why we should ignore God and eternity. There is one immense problem with this approach; the danger does not go away because we ignore it. We generally laugh at the ostrich that buried his head in the sand when he saw a lion coming. Because he chose to live in a fool's paradise he forfeited his life. So it is with us if we choose to ignore God, disaster will overtake us the moment we stop breathing.
In World War II the German submarine fleet started out doing exceptional things (sinking huge amounts of allied ships). The men who sailed these submarines were real heros in Germany and men were waiting in a long recruiting line to get commissioned on one of these submarines. Toward the end of the war the tables had dramatically turned against the submarines. Only about 1 in10 of the submarines was returning to port after each mission. The allies assumed that the Germans would stop sending out submarines since no one in their right mind would serve on one with these extremely high odds of sinking in the high seas. To their surprise they found that there were still many more German men volunteering for submarine service than could be accommodated. How could this be? When interviewed, the German men stated that they had heard of the overwhelming sinking of submarines but they were sure that they would be that 1 in 10 man that made it on every mission. This thinking can only be described as insanity. Are you taking this same chance with your life? Have you also deceived yourself into thinking it can't happen to you? Why would you take this chance with your own well being? There is a way of escape if you will just face the issue now.
You have probably been advised to enter situations with both eyes open. Of course, the implication is that with both eyes open (our mind focused and alert) we will be less likely to mess up. The Bible speaks of two eyes, (1) a physical eye and a (2) supernatural eye. Our souls are the decision centers of our being. Our souls continually analyzes our world by interpreting data from our physical senses. Our soul then comes up with conclusions about our world. Theses conclusions (beliefs), give rise to feelings and finally actions (behavior that many times is a response to our feelings). All of us have a physical eye (our physical senses). With this one eye man sees the material things of life through his senses. There is also a spiritual world that this physical eye cannot see. Without a spiritual eye men and women will never really see the total meaning of life. He or she will search knowing there is something missing but not being able to find the missing pieces to the puzzle. The material eye will attempt to find real meaning and excitement through material means such as addictions, pursuits that will seem to promise popularity, recognition, respect, money, power, control, pleasure, and the list goes on. Men and women with only a material eye will seek after things that appear to hold promise of a better more satisfying life but each pursuit will eventually fail to bring the purpose, meaning and fulfillment that we all sincerely desire. God created us to see beyond the physical world to spiritual realities. God knows that we will never come close to the real meaning of life unless we are able to comprehend the spiritual element of life. Also God is spiritual and we must be able to see spiritually if we are to find the close relationship that God so desires with us.
God desires us to have two eyes to analyze life and its events. If we have submitted our life to God (accepted His leadership over our own) a new eye is opened within us. We have become two eyed men and women. How can this be? When we commit our life completely into God's ownership, His spirit combines with our spirit. This reaction opens a new eye for us that sees the spiritual elements of existence - we have become two eyed men and women. The two eyed man sees things of God that the one eyed man will never be able to see. People who's spiritual eye has been opened say that life takes on a "new" meaning and reality. Their new second eye is feeding data to their souls that their souls have never seen before. Now their souls can make decisions based on the material world (eye one) and the spiritual world (eye two). A new world has opened before them and has an enormous impact on how they think, feel and act. One eyed men just don't get it - how can they with just one eye. Are you getting tired of going in circles?
There is the story of the man who found he had a terminal illness. An acquaintance of his happened to be in town and, hearing he was sick, decided to contact him. His wife told the acquaintance that her husband was indeed very ill and also very discouraged and depressed. She invited the visitor to come and talk with her husband. The acquaintance visited the man and found him as his wife had described him. He was a rather hard but fair man. He believed to some degree in God and tried to be a good man. Now he was finding that his own resources were not enough to get him through this journey to death. The visitor told him that he needed to look at life and his relationship with God in a new light. The visitor placed an old chair next to the man as he lay in bed and told him to visualize the Lord seated in the chair much as a close friend would do. The sick man was to talk to him in the simplest and most sincere way possible. He was to tell Him all his fears, hurts, joys, requests for help and direction, hope for the future, etc. Several months down the road the friend decided to call his sick friend to see how things were going. The sick man's wife said that her husband had changed in the last several months. It was as if he was looking at life differently. He was softer, gentler, more accepting, more sincerely concerned for others, more at peace and more loving. She said that she had never seen him like this and she was being to fall deeper in love with him. There was one thing that he did that bothered her. At times she would quietly walk into the room and find him talking to that old chair by his bed.
Several months again passed and the acquaintance happened to be thinking of his sick friend and placed another call to him. His wife could barely control her voice as she told him that her husband had died. She said it was really hard for her and the family. He had changed so much, was so much more loving, and it was hard to let him go. She described the sequence of events that led up to his death in detail. She finally told of the moments before his death and one thing that puzzled the family. As death hovered close, her husband, with great difficulty, rolled over on his side and gently placed his head on that old chair beside his bed. What she didn't say was obvious to spiritually aware people, her husband had become a two eyed man.
How do we turn our life over to God's leadership?
We can not:
1. We cannot earn or come to the Lord with any righteousness of our own that will pay our way into the Kingdom of God. We cannot prepare ourselves by trying to better ourselves, developing new and better habits, improving our self image, etc. Though these efforts are commendable and worthwhile they can never be good enough for us to claim the gift of eternal life. If we do not come with absolutely nothing to offer for this fantastic gift, we cannot have it.
2. Since God is so powerful and intelligent we can only understand a little of the things of God (but this is enough). The issue of our salvation is not about understanding everything there is to know of God (and then trusting Him) but it is about submitting to His leadership and trusting Him at our current level of understanding.
3. We cannot take this issue lightly and expect God to respond. God will not play our games. We will find Him when we seek after Him with all our heart - when we have decided that this is the most important issue in our life and pursue it with all our heart.
4. We cannot become fully mature Christians overnight. We can patiently let God work actively in our life. We are only responsible for what we understand at our current level of maturity in Christ. We can grow continually in our walk with God.
5. We cannot expect God to take us serious if we just have good intentions without a wholehearted commitment.
1. We can feel deeply sorry (repentant) for all the wrong that we have done especially in turning our backs on God and living an immoral lifestyle. Some people suggest that we write down as many of the sins of the past that we can remember and ask God's (and in some cases others) forgiveness for each of them.
2. We can go beyond feeling sorry for our sins and make a commitment to turn from these sins (by God's help). This repentance must go deeper than our feelings. It must penetrate to the depths of our heart.
3. We can seek after God with all our hearts until we find Him.
4. We can go back and repay or seek the forgiveness of those we have wronged (in cases where this is possible).
5. We can be baptized.
6. We can expect to be forgiven completely and eternally - free from the bondage of sin - the adopted sons and daughters of the great King of the universe.
7. We can expect to inherit eternal life - to live in paradise forever.
8. We can expect God to watch over us and filter all we experience in this life (the good and the bad) in such a way that works to our good (makes us more Godly, virtuous and wise).
9. We can expect that we will think, feel and act differently. When we give the King of the universe control of our life, He actually lives in us. His spirit's presence in us has a profound impact on our life.
10. We can read what God wants to say to us in the Bible. We can pray daily for God's help, and give Him our praise. We can also find a church that really preaches all of God's word and attend regularly.
11. We can commit our self fully into God's care and leadership each day.
So I will ask you an honest question "are you living in a fool's paradise at this time?" Are you ignoring God? One day you will die. No one will get off this planet alive. One day you will have to face the heavenly court of justice. Ignorance of the law will no more be an excuse in that heavenly court than it is in an earthly court. We will be judged according to what the Bible says whether we have embraced it or ignored it. It is to your own self-interest to look at this seriously. If you will accept God's rule over you, repent (make a decision to turn from your sinful way of living ), and dedicate your life to God He has promised to save you and make you His son or daughter. His love and grace (free help) will help you to become, in a sense, a new person with a new outlook (a two eyed man or woman) - not perfect but definitely different.
You are the one who will suffer or you are the one who will experience paradise. You are the one who is leaving an example for those you love to follow. In some sense you are responsible for what they see in you and how this affects their handleing of this issue of eternity. Consider this honestly and seriously for your own sake. If you have any questions or would like to explore this further, read more of the articles on this web site, talk to someone who's life (and not just words) reflect a committed Christian lifestyle and / or email us.