Our Hope for Eternity

Eternity is a long, long time!
Every human being has at some time in their life
thought about what will happen to them when they die.
The Holy Bible has much to tell us on this critical subject.
The following article reveals how you can know for sure
where you will spend your eternity. 

Is there life after death? Can I know for sure I will live forever with God? The answer to these questions is a resounding, “Yes!”

How can I have eternal life? A prison guard asked the Apostle Paul this same question almost 2000 years ago!  He said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul’s answer was simple and to the point: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31).

Before the birth of Christ, God had been carefully preparing humankind for thousands of years for the culmination of His salvation plan. This was necessary because, when the first human beings were created, they chose to disobey God and follow their own course of action. The Bible calls this sin, it is rebellion against God. This action brought them eternal spiritual death and separation from God (Genesis 3). Everyone born after them inherited their sinful nature, which means that all are born spiritually dead: “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Anyone could tell you that dead people cannot give themselves life. That would take a miracle from God Himself, and a miracle is just what God had in mind!

The God of the Holy Bible is one God. This is beyond our human understanding, but Scripture reveals that God is three Persons in One: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). These three Persons are equal in every respect. They are eternal, holy, wise, all powerful, all knowing, infinite, just, good, merciful, loving, and much more, the epitome of perfection in every way. They are one in mind and purpose, as well.

Because of God’s great love for the people He created, the Father sent the Son to earth to live as a human being, to experience life as we would, and to undergo the pull of temptation on His soul, just as we do. Yet, the Son never sinned. He lived a perfect life and showed everyone what God is really like: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). People flocked after Him, but the religious leaders of His day feared Him and accused Him of blasphemy (His claim to be God). So, they sought to silence Him by death (John 8:42-58). Little did they realize that Jesus was God, their Savior!

Because He was fully God and fully man, when Jesus was crucified, He was able to bear the incomprehensible burden of sins for all people, past, present and future: “this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:12). As Jesus Christ, the Son of God, hung on the cross with all our sins on Him, God the Father turned His back on His Son. Jesus experienced what must have been the ultimate pain, rejection by His Father. He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:33-34). God could not look on sin, and at that moment all of our sins were being carried by Jesus. After suffering intolerably, He gave up His life, died, and was laid in a tomb.

The Bible teaches that the penalty for sin is death. Therefore, sin demands punishment. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). The only Person “big enough” to receive the punishment for the sins of the world for all time was God Himself. In addition, the Father could only accept a perfect sacrifice for sin. Jesus was born perfect through the virgin, Mary (Matthew 1:20-23), and lived a perfect life, something no one else has ever done, nor could do. He met God’s requirements. Therefore, the penalty for the sins of the world has now been paid in full, for all people, for all time!

The enemies that stood between us and God, preventing us from eternal life, were sin and death. Jesus Christ’s death on the cross conquered the first enemy, sin. He shed His blood to purchase our eternal salvation, for “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). When He came to life again and rose from the grave, the second enemy, death, was conquered! “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. . . . The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:21-26). Again, this was a miracle only God could accomplish. Now there is nothing to stand in the way for people to be reconciled with God, not one thing!

We, as human beings, could never have paid for our own sin, nor could we have conquered death. There was nothing we could do to mend the separation between us and God or to earn the right to spend eternity with Him. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (64:5-6). The simple answer to our dilemma: only through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! He did it all, from start to finish, just for us, so we could be with Him forever. This is the very reason He created people in the first place! Jesus expresses this so beautifully in a prayer: “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world” (John 17:24).

All we are asked to do is respond to this great love of God by recognizing our own sinfulness and need for the Savior, and by calling out to Him, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Daniel 9:9 says, “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.” Jesus Christ preached, “The time has come. . . . The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). We must recognize our eternally fatal condition and turn to Christ for salvation. To “repent” means simply to turn around and go in the other direction. We turn from sin and to Jesus Christ. Just as we embraced a self-oriented life in the past, we now turn to embrace a Christ-centered life. When Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery, he said to her, “Go now, and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).

Consider these sobering words: “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that, and shudder” (James 2:19). To “believe” in the language of the Bible involves more than simply an intellectual acknowledgment. To say, “I believe that chair will hold me up,” and yet not show your faith in the chair by sitting in it, is “dead faith.” The biblical belief would demonstrate itself by sitting in the chair. So it is with belief in Jesus Christ. When we truly believe in Christ, we place our trust in Him, we “sit on the chair”! We turn from our lives of sin and abandon ourselves into the caring arms of Jesus who said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28-30). This is something the demons will never do, even though they know without a doubt who Jesus really is!

Jesus continually taught on the dangers of living our lives for ourselves and for the treasures only this world can offer. He challenged His listeners to think in terms of eternity and called them to follow Him: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8: 34-37).

Genuine repentance results in forgiveness and restoration with God: “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). We are made spiritually alive in Christ and are “born again.” No longer are we in danger of eternal punishment, away from the presence of God forever (Matthew 25:31-46). “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

This invitation to life everlasting is open to all! This is the Good News, the Gospel we preach: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). Since God never lies, what He promises, He will do! John 17:3 says, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” A living relationship with God is established the moment we place our trust in Christ for salvation, and this marks the beginning of our eternity with Him. It can start this very moment!

Salvation is so simple, even a child can understand and be saved. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:14-15). Eternal life is offered to us free of charge: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Yet, as we have already seen, salvation costs us everything, even our very souls!

But the one who embraces Jesus Christ receives the greatest rewards of all: restoration to fellowship with God and the glories of knowing Him throughout eternity (Ephesians 1:3)! In addition to this, we who have received eternal life will reign with Christ forever (Revelation 22:5) and know the comfort of eternal fellowship with our loved ones and all others who are saved (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The Scripture says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10). Our heavenly home is beyond our comprehension!

Until that time comes, the person who has been forgiven by God receives a priceless gift. The Holy Spirit comes to live inside us and is our guarantee of eternal life to come: “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession, to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14). As soon as this miracle takes place, we begin the incredible journey of knowing the God of the Universe who created all things! As we cooperate with Him, the Holy Spirit within us begins transforming our lives, refining our character so that we become more and more like Jesus as we grow spiritually over time: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-in-creasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Each day becomes an opportunity to know God better through communicating with Him in prayer, reading the Word of God (the Holy Bible), meeting regularly with fellow Christians, and through “living out” our new life with Christ in front of others, using the life of Jesus Himself as our example: “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).

The Holy Spirit within the Christian provides the power to live a life that is pleasing to God. We could never do this on our own! Living a godly life is our response to God’s love for us. He gave His life for us, shall we not give our lives to Him? “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual act of worship. Do
not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2). Now, as citizens of Heaven, we are “Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. . . . he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:16-21).

The first time Jesus came to earth, He came as a humble baby to secure our eternal salvation through His death and resurrection. The second time Jesus comes, He will come in great power and glory, to gather all those who have believed in Him, to establish His eternal Kingdom, and to judge the living and the dead. For true Christians everywhere, the Second Coming of Christ is awaited with joyful anticipation: “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever!” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

Jesus has left us in the world for now, so we can share this Good News with those who have not yet received Him, that the way back to God has already been “bought and paid for,” and they, too, can have eternal life!

 

Jesus Christ, Our Only Hope

It is of greatest importance we understand that the way God has provided through Jesus Christ is the only way to receive eternal salvation. Jesus warned, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Further clarifying this point, Jesus asserted, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). And preaching about Jesus, the Apostle Peter said in Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” This states the fact as plainly as it can be stated. There is no other way!

The “narrowness” of the Gospel, as some might see it, can be best understood when we remember that eternal life is gained through the reconciliation of a “relationship gone bad” between two parties: God and the human race. As soon as sin entered the picture, separation from God occurred, a breach in our ability to commune freely with our Maker with nothing standing in the way. This broken relationship also barred us from eternal life, since eternal life is to know Him (John 17:3), as we have already seen. Because we, as finite created beings, could never restore what was lost in that first act of rebellion, God in His infinite mercy and love chose to provide us with the way back to Himself, through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. What a privileged people we are, to be offered such a choice! “Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take of the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17).

At this very moment, Christ is in Heaven preparing a place for us, and for all who will turn to Him for salvation. Allow Jesus’ own words to draw you irresistibly to Himself. He is able to banish your fears forever as you reach out to Him for forgiveness and eternal life. He is trustworthy, and He alone is worthy of our wholehearted devotion. Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14: 1-3).

Jesus Christ is our hope for eternity! When He returns, everyone who has placed their trust in Him will hear these joyful words: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Matthew 25:34)!

 

Scriptural References on Eternity

Is there life after death?

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” ~ Hebrews 9:27-28

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” ~ Matthew 7:13-14

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 6:23

Judgment: Hell or Heaven?

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on this throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’ . . . Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ . . . Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” ~ Matthew 25:31-46

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” ~ Revelation 20:11-15

“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars, their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” ~ Revelation 21:8

Heaven: Eternal Life!

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” ~ Psalm 16:11

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” ~ John 14:1-3

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’  He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’  He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring to the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.'”  ~ Revelation 21:1-7

___________________________

If you have believed in Jesus Christ for your salvation after reading this article, we rejoice with you and would love to hear from you!  If you have any comments or would like more information, please leave your comment below.  Thank you!


About the Author

C. A. Harris holds a Master’s degree in Theological Studies from Bethel Theological Seminary and has a background which includes pastoring, missions, and discipleship. She has a special burden that people understand true salvation is found only through restoration of our relationship with God, and that He has called us to live the rest of our lives with eternity in view. 


Copyright © 1998, 2002, 2007, 2012, 2014 by C. A. Harris. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise identified, Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible: New International Version, © 1978 by the New York International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

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