Posts Tagged ‘Eternity’

 

I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

It’s February here on Florida’s magnificent Gulf Coast.  As is my custom when writing, I have settled in at one of my preferred inspiration points by the sea.  With an air temp in the low 80’s and an idyllic view of the shoreline, I cannot help but reflect on the timeless beauty of the natural world. From a passing boat, I faintly hear a familiar old 70’s rock tune by the renowned band Pink Floyd.  The song is called “Time.”  The lyrics, as you may have reasoned, deal with the passage of time.  This is the sliver of lyric that caught my attention:

“So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines.
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.
The time is gone, the song is over,
Thought I’d something more to say.”(1)

In my sojourn here on spaceship earth, I have witnessed the manner in which time appears to wind and bend its way through every facet our daily lives.  Time dictates when we work, play, eat, and sleep.  Some days it seems like we have all the time in the world.  On other days we feel that there will never be enough time.  We say that time flies or time is on our side, but we also claim that time stands still or is against us.  So really, what is TIME?  Hmmm?  Let’s talk.

We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time.” – Alan Watts

A nonscientific definition of time (one that doesn’t rely upon a systematic collection of evidence) might go something like this: Time measures events and their duration from the past through the present and on into the future.  Clocks, calendars, seasons, days, months and years are just some of the tools that we use for assessing the passage of time.  From our mortal perspective, time is the gauge of our life experience. We are born at point A and we die at point B. The interval in-between point A and B is our life-time.  So, it would appear that the flow of time is central to the human experience. But does this flow of time truly exist?

Albert Einstein said, “Time has no independent existence apart from the order of events by which we measure it.”  Einstein believed that “time” simply provides us with a delineator – a way to keep everything from happening at once.  He proposed that existence is singular (i.e., it is always “now”).  In the theories of Albert Einstein, the past, present and future all exist in parallel and any distinction between them is nothing more than a convincing illusion; a construct which allows us a degree of comprehension into what might otherwise be unfathomable.

Can this actually be the truth?  Is time just an intricate illusion?  A movie recorded and played back by the human brain?  Who knows?  The philosophers, religious practitioners, scientists and physicists have been debating that question for centuries.  Let me tell what I know for sure: here on spaceship earth, NOW is all we have – illusion or not.  Now IS the time.

God knows when the end of time as we perceive it will come, not some fanatic… The world will end someday, but the end of the world and the end of time are two different things.” ― Dolly Parton

For thousands of years prognosticators have attempted to foretell the end of the world (and thus the cessation of time as we know it). Aside from numerous past civilizations with their copious chronicles and codices on this subject, the Bible contains a plethora of inspired writings and prophecies that also refer to the end of time. Should we take any of them seriously?

The God-man Jesus, who visited the earth nearly 2000 years ago, most certainly did. He often spoke of the time of the end. Here is just one example,

21-22   “There is going to be a time of trouble on a scale beyond what the world has ever seen, or will see again. If these days of trouble were left to run their course, nobody would make it. But on account of God’s chosen people, the trouble will be cut short.” – Matthew 24:21-22

This text and dozens of similar biblical declarations warn of increasingly cataclysmic global events that will occur over time and intensify exponentially prior to a supernatural (unable to be explained by science or the laws of nature) intervention in our mortal affairs. When will this intrusion occur?  I don’t know. No human being does. Anyone who claims with certainty to possess the knowledge of when the world (as we know it) will come to an end is either a liar or greatly deceived. Pay them no mind. When the Jesus walked the earth, he made it crystal clear: no one would ever know the exact time of His return to this planet. Here is what he said:

34 Then at last this age will come to its close. 35   “Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words remain forever. 36 But no one knows the date and hour when the end will be – not even the angels. No, nor even God’s Son. Only the Father knows. 37-38The world will be at ease – banquets and parties and weddings – just as it was in Noah’s time before the sudden coming of the Flood; 39people wouldn’t believe what was going to happen until the Flood actually arrived and took them all away. So shall my coming (His return) be. Matthew 24:34-39 TLB

So, we cannot know with certainty at what moment our perception of time will end. But we can recognize when that day is drawing near. The ancient scriptures are peppered with clues. For instance, the biblical texts predict an increase in false liberators (people claiming to be our Savior or Knight in shining armor), an intensification of regional conflicts and one eventual final devastating world war. Famines, pandemics, droughts, wildfires and other natural disasters will steadily increase. These are all signs of the approaching end of time. Again, here is what Jesus had to say:

5  For many will come claiming to be the Savior and will lead many astray. 6  When you hear of wars beginning, this does not signal my return; these must come, but the end is not yet. 7  The nations and kingdoms of the earth will rise against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many places. 8  But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come. Matthew 24:5-8

It would be a mistake to interpret every earthquake, tsunami, tornado, and the numerous civil flare-ups occurring at any given moment as a sign that the end of time is here. These events merely foreshadow the final curtain. They are like the growing discomfort and final labor pains that precede a child birth.

What if time doesn’t exist and what we refer to as past and future have no reality except in our own mental constructs? The idea of time is a convention of thought and language, a social agreement; in truth we only have this moment.” – Author Unknown

Something else to consider. As we get closer to the end of the world there will be an unmistakable increase in spiritual, moral and social deception and degradation. The Newer Testament writer Paul warned of this nearly two millennia ago:

1-5  But you must realize that in the last days the times will be full of danger. Men will become utterly self-centered, greedy for money, full of big words. They will be proud and contemptuous, without any regard for what their parents taught them. They will be utterly lacking in gratitude, purity and normal human affections. They will be men of unscrupulous speech and have no control of themselves. They will be passionate and unprincipled, treacherous, self-willed and conceited, loving all the time what gives them pleasure instead of loving God. They will maintain a facade of “religion”, but their conduct will deny its validity. You must keep clear of people like this. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

So here we are, living on a floating orb in the vastness of space, timeless beings restrained by the illusion of time, and yet witnessing what might possibly be the beginning of the end of all we know as real. That sounds a bit alarming, if not crazy. No worries. I have learned a thing or two about the ways of the Divine Spirit whom we call God. The Creator of all things specializes in new beginnings. The end of time will simply bring about the elimination of all that is wrong (evil). With the return of the God-man called Jesus to the earth, a new age of untainted leadership over humanity will commence, and everything will become as right as rain.

For now though, I would recommend a bit of self-examination. Are you prepared for the end of time as we know it and the sudden return of the Creator to earth which He made? The God-man Jesus was rather blunt in saying that only those who have followed the truth which he came to reveal will find their redemption. If I have interpreted His words correctly, He said: If you know my ways, you know THE way.  Politically correct?  Tolerant?  Not really.  But truth seldom is these days.  Jesus put it this way when he was questioned by a skeptic (doubter):

…Thomas said to him, “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”  Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father (GOD) except through me. 7If you have really known me, you will know who my Father is.  From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”

And, here is what the scripture has to say to all who might be sitting on the fence right now:

7 If you hear His voice today, 8 do not let your hearts become hard as your ancestors did when they turned against me. 10 For this reason, I was angry with the people of that day. And I said to them, ‘They always think wrong thoughts. They have never understood what I have tried to do for them.’ 12Beware then of your own hearts, dear brothers, lest you find that your heart too is evil and unbelieving and leading you away from the living God. 13  Speak to each other about these things every day while there is still time so that none of you will become hardened against God, being blinded by the glamor of sin. 15 For now is the time. Never forget the warning, “Today if you hear God’s voice speaking to you, do not harden your hearts against him …” (Hebrews 3:7-8, 10, 12-13, 15)

Today is all we have.  NOW is the time to open your heart to the truth that can bring you genuine freedom and life.

Well mates, time for me to shove off.  I’ll leave you with a prayer:

God of all creation, before there was time you knew me by my name; you numbered all of my days and considered all of my ways. Before there was time you promised redemption was mine; this was always your plan for mankind and a liberator you sent to find all who were stranded in time. My hope is built on every promise made by my Liberator Jesus. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen.

 

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher.
The intellectual property published above is © 2019 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
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(1) Pink Floyd. Dark Side of the Moon. Harvest Records, 1973

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I… I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. ― Robert Frost

Traveling on unfamiliar roads can provide many opportunities to enjoy some new sights, sounds, and experiences. However, aimless wandering is not the best approach when you have a specific destination in mind. Especially if you’re running late. There’s nothing more frustrating when I travel than getting lost, or worse, not knowing where I am going.

What about you? Do you know where you’re going in life? How about after you die? Your destiny is not a twist of fate. You have choices to make –especially regarding your spiritual life. Let’s talk.

“It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny.” Jean Nidetch

Whenever I hear the cacophony of opinion regarding “pathways” to God, I think about these words spoken by Jesus,

13 There are two paths before you; you may take only one path. One doorway is narrow. And one door is wide. Go through the narrow door. For the wide door leads to a wide path, and the wide path is broad; the wide, broad path is easy, and the wide, broad, easy path has many, many people on it; but the wide, broad, easy, crowded path leads to death. 14 Now then that narrow door leads to a narrow road that in turn leads to life. It is hard to find that road. Not many people manage it. – Matthew 7:13-14 – The Voice

Is that so hard to understand? There are two paths before you. But, you only get to travel on one. Your choice. Every human being will determine their ultimate (eternal) destiny by the singular and specific spiritual path they choose to follow. And remember, a failure to make a choice is a choice.

Jesus spoke of two entrance points. One door is very large and by implication much easier to see and perhaps even more appealing. There is also a narrow door, not as conspicuous and doubtless less alluring.

In describing the wide door, Jesus said, the wide door leads to a wide path, and the wide path is broad; the wide, broad path is easy, and the wide, broad, easy path has many, many people on it.

Hey, that sounds cool to me. A big attractive door that opens up to reveal a substantial road that is accommodating, easy to travel and filled with all kinds of people – I’m down for that!

But… that is not the door He tells us to choose. Jesus said we’re to go through the narrow door. And, it was not a suggestion.

Of course there are reasons why Jesus said to choose the narrow door. First, the big attractive door that opens up to reveal a road that is very large, accommodating, filled with the “in crowd” and easy to travel – leads to death. Ok, it’s the road to hell. You have heard it said “the road to hell is paved with good intention?” I say that it is paved with ignorance and deception and foolishness. The big door and the big road are a BIG mistake!

Why? Because the narrow door leads to a narrow road that in turn leads to a real life. Jesus said, go through the narrow door. That’s the right choice.

“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Joanne Kathleen Rowling

Still cynical? You won’t find critical answers to life’s most important questions on the emblematic superhighways where the in crowd hangs out. For that matter, the numerous paths to spirituality or inner peace peddled in the vast marketplace of subjective religious conviction won’t cut it either.

Conversely, that narrow and often obscure little door that opens to reveal a constricted and undeniably difficult road is the only one that leads to real life – now and in eternity. That doorway and that road is the only way to the one true God.

Some would take issue with me for saying that there is a singular and specific path to the one true God. Pack me off to diversity training camp they would. How could I be so narrow minded? It’s simple really. I am a Christian. The author of my faith made the statements I have quoted. If I take issue with a portion of His word, why believe it at all. Jesus either spoke the absolute truth or He is a liar and Christianity is a charade. Truth is never subjective.

I am not a hypocrite. If Jesus said it then I believe it. End of story. It’s not up for debate. Like it or not, the Christian Faith is anchored to this fundamental truth: If you really want to find God, Jesus Christ is the door through which you gain access to the road that leads to an eternity with Him.

…“For sure, I tell you, I am the Door of the sheep. All others who came ahead of Me are men who steal and rob. The sheep did not obey them. I am the Door. Anyone who goes in through Me will be saved from the punishment of sin. He will go in and out and find food. 10 The robber comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I came so they might have life, a great full life. (John 10:7-10)

Not to put too fine a point on this but again, according to Jesus, He is the only door through which you gain access to God now and forever. Think of it like this, God’s way on God’s terms = God’s Life. You don’t get to pick your own version of the Truth.

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.” ― Led Zeppelin

Not sure which path you’re on? No worries. You can change. Consider yourself fortunate. Jesus said, it is hard to find that narrow road and not many people manage to do it. But right now, there’s a fork in the road you are on. You can keep drifting along the wide, broad, easy, crowded path that leads to destruction, or make a change by passing through that little gate to the right and follow the road less traveled.

One more thing. Jesus also said,

6-7 “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father (God) apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father (God) as well. From now on, you do know him. You’ve even seen him!” (John 14:6 – The Message)

Truth and Life are yours when you get to know Jesus. See Him and you get a glimpse of God. Jesus is the door, the road, the truth and the genuine life. Can’t think of anything else we need on this journey. Bon Voyage!

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.

Each day is a step we make towards eternity and we shall continue thus to step from day to day until we take the last step, which will bring us into the presence of God.

– Catherine McAuley

Eternity is frequently defined as duration without beginning or end. Some call this infinite time. On Earth, our time is finite. We measure our brief appearance on this planet in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, etc. When we pass away, our measured time comes to a close. However, we do not cease to exist. Only the body dies. Our life-force (the spirit that animates the flesh; aka the soul) will continue to live on in infinite time. But have you considered that simply living forever and having an eternal life are not the same? Let’s talk.

In truth, we are living in eternity at this very moment. That’s right. Forever is forever. No beginning and no end. So it stands to reason that time without end – was, is and always shall be. The reason we do not view our lives from a never-ending perspective is simple enough; our finite time-based existence on earth obscures our awareness of the vast eternal.

Christians understand the significance of the term eternal life because it was defined for us by Jesus. He was sent to earth by God with a specific mission – to seek and to salvage lost human beings (Luke 19:10) and to give them everlasting life (John 17:1-5). When His time on the earth was drawing to a close, He told his friends and followers,

28 “I came from the Father and have come into this world. I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” (John 16:28)

And then, raising his eyes toward the heavens, he said,

1 …“Father, the time has come. Reveal the glory of your Son so that he can give the glory back to you. For you have given him authority over every man and woman in all the earth. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life—by knowing you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth! I brought glory to you here on earth by doing everything you told me to. 5And now, Father, reveal my glory as I stand in your presence, the glory we shared before the world began.” (John 17:1-5)

Jesus makes some extraordinary claims. For one, He asserts that His authority comes directly from Almighty God and it extends over every man and woman in all the earth. Jesus also declares that He can grant everlasting life to everyone whom God has given to Him. But nestled in the narrative is the most significant declaration. According to Jesus, the definition of eternal life is:

  • To know the one and only true God
  • To know Jesus as the Christ (anointed one) sent by God

Know God + Know Jesus = Eternal Life. It’s not about picking the right church or getting religion. Our relationship with God through Jesus (the one whom God sent to free us) is how we receive His eternal life for all eternity.

By the way, the only other eternal existence spoken of in the scriptures is the one that provides never-ending payback for those who reject God. (Matthew 25:46). Hmm.

We ought to get out of the judging business. We should leave it up to God to determine who belongs in one arena or another when it comes to eternity. What we are obligated to do is to tell people about Jesus, and that’s what I do.

– Tony Campolo

 So, Jesus left the planet to return to God. But the Spirit of God remains present in all the earth. And eternal life is still being imparted to everyone who places their trust in the one true God and the liberator Jesus Christ.

One day, when our finite time is up and the eternal becomes instantly visible to us, we will see Jesus again. For now, He is only discernible to the eye of faith. Do you have faith?

Faith sees beyond the moment

The nature of mankind is to trust only what can be observed and verified. Think of it as the “I’ll believe it when I see it” approach to living. Consequently, the faithless masses stumble through their days trying to make sense out of this quagmire called “life”.

In contrast, faith empowers the believer to live by trusting without seeing. Faith is the eye of the soul. By faith we can grasp what is not yet revealed to our physical senses. Faith is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it just yet.

Jesus makes God’s greatest and most precious promises available to those who put their trust in Him. It is now possible to escape the inevitable disintegration that lust (in all of its forms) is rapidly producing in the world. And, because of Jesus, believers now share in God’s essential nature. We accept as true and receive all these things by believing, not by seeing.

The New Testament writer Paul said it this way.

“We walk (live our life) by faith (absolute trust in the unseen eternal God) and not by sight (things that are seen and experienced)”. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Take a good look around. All that you see with your eyes and believe to be important in the physical world will cease to exist in the future. And yet, so many are preoccupied with the material world and filled with anxiety because of what they see and experience every day. This world is full of troubles. Paul wrote to the Christians living in ancient Corinth and told them,

18“…we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT)

We all experience difficulties. But when we turn to God for help, He allows us to see beyond our temporary distresses, into His domain – the invisible realm of eternity. From that unseen dimension we find His help in our darkest hours.

Somewhere over the Rainbow

Jesus plans to return to our planet. We don’t know when. It could be at any time. We only know for sure that He is coming. He said so. And when he does, we’re taking an awesome trip beyond the stars. Read about it and rejoice!

1“Do not let your heart be troubled. You have put your trust in God, put your trust in me also. There are many rooms in My Father’s house. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going away to make a place for you. After I go and make a place for you, I will come back and take you with me. Then you may be where I am. You know where I am going and you know how to get there.”

Thomas said to Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way to get there?” Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one can go to the Father except by Me. If you had known me; you would know My Father also. From now on you know Him and have seen Him.” (John 14:1-7 NLT)

You’re invited to join us on this fantastic voyage. Just get to know Jesus. He is the way. His truth will set you free. And his eternal life, now that’s really cool.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.