Below is an article from Calvary Chapel Chico's Kevin MacDougall. You can veiw the rest of CCChico's website by clicking the title above. It's a bit of a large read, but it's a large subject. Check it out! It will raise your day to the highest level...
p.s.: My new cell phone number is 228-3132
We say it all the time, we share it with people, and we rest in the sure hope… we will spend eternity with God.
But do we ever consider the true meaning of that word? If you’re like me, perhaps many of you have grown up spiritually thinking eternity was more like infinity. Even now, as I right click on the word “eternity” with my mouse, one of the synonyms given to me by my computer’s built-in thesaurus is “infinity”. This is strange, since they are not at all the same thing.
“Infinity” speaks of being endless, but “eternity” speaks of being immeasurable. The distinction there may seem subtle, but it’s not just splitting hairs – it makes a difference. Though it is true that eternity and infinity are similar in that they are both ‘endless’, it’s also worth pointing out that eternity alone bears the distinction of being beginning-less as well. “Infinity” is more mathematical. It gives us the picture of something with a beginning that went on forever. But “eternity” is spiritual; it gives us the picture of something we cannot understand – endlessness outside of time.
Outside of time? That’s right… outside of time. Not constrained by time. Not defined by time. Not run on time. Free of time because time is not necessary to the equation of God’s presence and glory.
And this is the part that hurts my head! I can’t picture life or consciousness without TIME. Go ahead, try to do it… you can’t! Time is all we know. We have to get up by a certain time, be ready by a certain time, we spend however much time at work, or school, and then we finish at a certain time and come home for free time with the eventual hope of having enough time to sleep. We make appointments at specific times, and some of us are always on time, but most of us aren’t. We have time set aside for everything we do. Time defines our perception and colors our every experience. But eternity is not time forever, it’s no time at all.
To put it another way, one term (infinity) classifies something within our reality and our scope of understanding, but the other term (eternity) is foreign to our senses by nature. We can’t really understand the full meaning of it. We can talk about it, but in doing so, we might each borrow a line from Job, admitting that the things of eternity are “things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:3).
You see, eternity, the hope we cling to and share, is a theological term. And before we can attempt to explore it, we must lay down the groundwork that ultimately, the concept and doctrine of eternity, is, like the God we serve, rooted in Divine mystery. And since we are not Divine, we must realize that we will not be able to completely wrap our heads around it… At least, not in this lifetime. And what that tells us is, we can only explore the wondrous concept of eternity to a point. Mostly, we have to just wait for it. We’ll have to experience it to really know what it’s like.
“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” -1 Corinthians 13:12
So the pursuit of this subject is not so much an intellectually- satisfying one as it is a spiritually-satisfying one. We’re not trying to get to the bottom of this whole eternity thing in order to understand everything about God; we’re exploring it in order to step in to his majesty. We recognize that Divine mystery motivates the heart to worship, and the bigger we let God be in our hearts and in our minds, the more we can rest in Him. It doesn’t question our faith at all, but rather affirms the awesomeness of our God. It brings Him glory, and leaves us to once again agree with Job when he said, “Dominion and awe belong to God” (Job 25:2).
I want a God that inspires me to awe every second. But the moment I define Him and make Him so classifiable that I pull Him into my realm of understanding, I’m doing Him a major disservice. I’m robbing Him of His mystery. If He no longer holds mystery, He no longer holds majesty. But since the Christian faith is rooted in Divine mystery, I need to take every step to embrace the higher truth. I need to make sure I’m embracing the mystical, and honoring God by giving Him His mystery, that I might bask in His majesty.
It’s the same as with the issue of God’s sovereignty and man’s free will. If I can’t accept these two truths as a paradox, it only shows my immaturity at trying to simplify and make it one or the other. God’s bigger than that, and more transcendent.
That said, have you ever stopped to consider what it means to be with God in an eternal sense? It’s a wondrous thought. Norman Geisler, in his book Who Made God, says, “The world did not begin by a creation in time but by a creation of time. But, you may think, if there was no time before time began, what was there? The answer is, eternity. God is eternal, and the only thing prior to time was eternity.” (pg. 28)
Eternity is where we will join God. He declares the end from the beginning because he IS the end and the beginning, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last (Rev. 1:8; Isa. 44:6). God sees the whole parade. He is not bound by time. He does not wait. He is the God “who was, and is, and is to come”. He is not those things in sequence, but simultaneously.
When Moses was called to deliver Israel from the hand of Pharaoh, he asked God who he should say had sent him. God’s answer was “I AM that I AM.” The Hebrew for ‘I AM’ is hayah; it is a present and active verb “BE”. That’s God’s name. And Moses’ answer from the Lord was clear: he would tell them, “I AM has sent me to you.” And to quote one of my favorite pastors, Louie Giglio, “That’s terrible grammar, but brilliant theology.
”Only a God named ‘I AM” can be the author of time and the resident of eternity.
That said, I can’t go on to define eternity. Meditating on what it isn’t is about as far as I can go, and where that leaves me is in awe of God, and encouraged by His mystery and majesty. All things considered, the most wonderful thing about God, what makes Him God, is His otherness. And eternity is like God in that respect – it’s something else. Something different. Something beautiful.
Eternity is what we’re living for.
When we die…
we do not enter into INFINITY,
we enter into
We are not conscious of the passing time…
There IS no time.
We cannot run out of time, we are
of time already.
We are not like geometry’s “rays”
with a start point and no end.
When we die, our start point ceases
to dominate our frame of reference.
We expand into all directions
with every perception of our being.
And in all directions, we are majestically, wonderfully, worshipfully…
before the throne of God.