From Time to Eternity
How we spend our time, determines where we spend eternity. We live our lives one moment at a time, and time is running out. We do not know the day of our death or the day of the Lord's return, but we do know it is one day nearer than it was yesterday. "Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is" (Mark 13:33).
All our future plans are conditional, and should be humbly placed in God's hands: "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit'; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that'" (James 4:13-15).
This may be our last day. Are we ready to step from time into eternity?
God holds us accountable for our time on earth
Peter says: "If you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning here in fear" (1 Peter 1:17). We are pilgrims on earth, traveling toward eternity. When the journey is over, we must give account to God for our time on earth.
Paul gives this warning to some who were on the wrong road: "But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who 'will render to each one according to his deeds': eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness - indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God" (Romans 2:5-11).
How we use our time on earth determines whether we inherit eternal life or whether we must experience tribulation and anguish because of the just indignation and wrath of God.
Are we seeking for glory, honor and immortality, or are we like the rich fool, well-prepared for everything except eternity?
"The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?' So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry."' But God said to him, 'You fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:16-21).
We should use our possessions to make preparations for eternity: "Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life" (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
Today is the day of salvation
Yesterday is past. Tomorrow never comes, except as today.
The only time anyone can be saved is now. Paul reminds the Corinthians of this: "We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: 'In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.' Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:1,2).
We must make good use of the time we have: "Therefore He says: 'Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.' See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:14-16). "Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one" (Colossians 4:5,6).
Some people will be lost because they want to wait for a more convenient time to start serving God. This was the attitude of the Roman governor, Felix, when Paul preached to him. "Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, 'Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you'" (Acts 24:25). As far as we know, that 'convenient time' never came for Felix.
Eternal life is a gift from God through Jesus Christ
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:16-18).
We have earned condemnation because of our sins: "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
As Peter said to Jesus, when He asked if they would also leave Him as many others had done: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (John 6:69).
We must believe in Jesus and confess His name
This is the faith we must have and the confession we must make to inherit eternal life: "(that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation" (Romans 10:8-10).
As Paul told Timothy: "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (1 Timothy 6:12).
God's promise of eternal life comes to us through the New Covenant
"And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance" (Hebrews 9:15). The "New Covenant" is the "New Testament." (Both are the same in Greek.)
The word of God must dwell in our hearts: "Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us - eternal life" (1 John 2:24,25).
Through the written word, we can have assurance of eternal life, trusting in the promises of God: "And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God" (1 John 5:11-13).
To have this promise of eternal life, we must remain in the doctrine of Christ: "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son" (2 John 9).
It is not enough to believe, we must also obey: "And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him" (Hebrews 5:9).
We must be born again
We must repent of our evil deeds and be baptized, that we might be born again, as Paul wrote to Titus: "For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:3-7).
This washing of regeneration takes place when we are baptized, as Ananias told Paul before he became a Christian: "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16).
When we rise from the waters of baptism to "walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4) we continue to grow in faith, looking forward to eternal life, as Jude wrote: "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life" (Jude 1:20,21).
Eternal life is our goal
Many people live as though time were more important than eternity. A Christian knows that even a whole lifetime is as nothing compared with eternity. As Paul said about the hardship he endured for Christ: "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18).
As time passes, our physical bodies wear out. We grow older with each passing year. This encourages us to place our hope on things eternal, as Paul said to the believers at Corinth: "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Corinthians 4:16 - 5:1).
We should serve the Lord in such a way that we can have the same confidence Paul had when he knew the end of his life was approaching: "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Are you ready to step from time into eternity? The promise of salvation is only in Christ. If you believe that He died for your sins and that He rose from the dead the third day, if you are willing to confess Him before men, if you are willing to turn away from sin and dedicate your life to God, then: "Why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). Then you can know that you have eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive