Friday, August 15, 2014

ETERNITY

Life goes on after the physical human body shuts down. That is why they call it The Afterlife. How do I know this? Jesus, The Choice, said to the thief on the cross beside Him, "Today you will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43) The original Greek word for Paradise is paradeisos. It means park or walled garden. How could the thief be with Jesus in an actual, beautiful, walled garden/park after they had died unless it really existed in The Afterlife where Jesus was headed?

Once somebody completes this human chapter of existence, the lifestyle without Christ leads to Hell and the Lake of Fire. The lifestyle with Christ leads to Paradise and Heaven. There is emphasis on making your decision for your eternal destination on this side of life and getting it right. Once a decision has been made for or against Christ, there is no cross over later on (Luke 16:19-31).

Paradise - the intermediate heaven for true believers. Christians who have gone on before us will be blessed with God's presence and Paradise. The place being prepared for those in Paradise and us still living is Still Under Construction. Jesus said, 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 14:3) Jesus has not yet returned to take us to that prepared place. However, stay tuned it won't be long.

Conversely there is Hell - the intermediate place for unbelievers. According to Scripture, Hell or Hades is a place that has gates (Matthew 16:18), had a key (Revelation 1:18), can travel (Revelation 6:8), and can be transported or tossed by Almighty God (Revelation 20:14). As an understatement, the inside is not so attractive. The Bible states this place is "where the fire never goes out" (Mark 9:43), where there is torment (Luke 16:23), and where gloomy dungeons hold angels for judgment (2 Peter 2:4).

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for those in Hell, the next phase of existence for Hell's inhabitants after Death and Hell are defeated is "the fiery furnace" (Matthew 13:42, 50), Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14-15) or "fiery lake of burning sulfur" (Revelation 21:8). This place will be forgotten by True Believers in Christ (Revelation 21:4-5). However, the occupants of this place will know plenty of "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 13:42, 50). At The Great White Throne Judgement the unbelieving dead, Death, and Hades are put in their proper place.
  • 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)
Those who confess with their mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in their heart that God raised Jesus from the dead will be saved (Romans 10:9). They will be saved from an eternity of Hell, the Lake of Fire, and sin. The greatest reward they gain is Jesus Himself. However, the splendor of Heaven, the New Jerusalem, and it's atmosphere are a few benefits that come along with this decision of faith in Christ.
  • 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, the 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!" (Revelation 21:1-5)
Existence for everyone is Eternal. The moment the process begins inside the womb to create you or me - we become not just human beings, but eternal beings. As an eternal being the decision for our eternal destination has been placed in our hands. The power of choice has been granted to us, but The Choice - what will make the difference in our eternal lives - has been made clear - John 3:16 and Romans 10:9.  Your eternal choice is - eternal Life or eternal Dying; eternal Blessedness or eternal Damnation; eternal Heaven or eternal Lake of Fire.

There is a perception I have encountered that portrays the Christian's eternal days as filled with harp-playing while sitting on a cloud floating through eternity. The image that I receive from reading the Scripture is a start to eternity, for those who have their names written in the Lambs Book of Life that includes city-life, life in nations, and proper display of splendor, glory, and honor brought within the city (Revelation 21:22-26). This Scriptural image is a far cry from harp-playing on a floating cloud for all of eternity. And why shouldn't it be - God's mind and plans for us are awesomely creative and they will last for ETERNITY.