Always and forever
Wednesday, April 2, 2003
John 3:14-16, 5:24-29
Jesus said to them,
14) ”Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
15) that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
16) “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. …
24) “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
25) I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.
26) ”For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.
27) And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
28) “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice
29) and come out …”
A note from a friend, “How do you feel that people are eternal?” prompts me to consider something I’ve read over and over but not thought too much about. What is eternal, anyway?*
The Bible and/or the church talks about eternal life, eternity, eternal salvation, eternal damnation, eternal security. The dictionary’s definition of eternal is “without beginning or end, unchanged by time, unceasing.” The Bible’s first words are “In the beginning God created…” God came “before” the beginning.
On the other hand, we did not. So our “eternity” comes later. None of us experiences existence outside time. We are not without beginning. We do not seem to be “unchanged” by time. Instead, change is a constant in our physical, temporal, temporary lives.
Yet Jesus speaks often of our “eternal life”. He beckons to us, invites us, promises us his presence beyond the grave. And he says that life after death will be defined either by God’s presence or his absence; that is the meaning of heaven and hell.
Our lives have no permanent existence or meaning outside this context. But within it, we do indeed live forever.
Forever you are Lord, you are my Lord, you will be with me, I will be with you, always. Always.
Forever in eternity.
*Vineyard songwriter Brian Doerkson cuts through semantics and philosophy with these beautiful lyrics:
I will be yours
You will be mine
Together in eternity
Out hearts of love
Will be entwined
Together in eternity
Forever in eternity
No more tears of pain
In our eyes
No more fear or shame
For we will be with you
Yes, we will be with you
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