My seatmate on what would be a two-day journey into Australia’s interior was a young architect who had arrived from England that very day. He had come as a volunteer church worker to design churches that incorporated the cultural background of the native people among whom he would be working. He was excited about the possibilities of his assignment and was looking forward to getting started. He said this was the most worthwhile thing he had ever done in his life.
So when he confided to me some hours later that he could not bring himself to accept the Christian concept of eternal life, I found it difficult to conceal my surprise. Why did he bother to give up his career for a year? Why was he paying to do so from his own pocket?
But later, I thought, Could the young man be right? After all, everything that confronts our senses is bound by the reality of dying. From the bug in the garden to the gigantic elephant in the bush, all creatures are bound by the limits of birth and death. Between these, each has a given span of existence, during which it reproduces itself in preparation for its demise, then disappears from the scene. And its successor will do the same, and on and on.
Life itself is a process of death. The food we eat is digested, and the unused material, together with our own dead cells, is discharged from the body as waste. And the waste we discharge is itself absorbed by the soil, which in turn grows the plants we need to replenish our energy supplies.
Indeed, plants are also bound by this law of death and dying. A forest giant may live for centuries. Yet eventually even it will come crashing to the ground. Its timber will rot and return to the soil.
Civilizations, like individuals, come and go. In the heavens we witness the same phenomenon. Stars are born, and stars die. New suns emerge only to burn out.
So does anything in the universe endure forever, or is the concept of eternity just a figment of our human imagination?
Eternity in nature
All we have said so far is true enough in the world of our senses. But it’s only one side of the coin! There is another side, and we must look at it too.
The endlessness of the universe speaks to us about the reality of eternity. Look into the sky on a cloudless night. What do you see? Illimitable space. And what’s beyond that space? More space. And beyond that? Yet more space!
But wait! Doesn’t space have to have an end? If so, what does it consist of? A stone wall? Then what’s beyond that wall? More space! We can’t explain it, but our minds can recognize that space goes on forever and ever.
And what’s true of space is also true of time. If time had a beginning, what was before that beginning? And if it has an end, what’s beyond that end? If space stretches on endlessly, why not time? Indeed, could not space and time be related in sharing the quality of boundlessness?
It requires only one more step for reason to embrace the concept that instead of space and time being a boundless vacuum, there’s within that boundlessness a boundless Being. The Hebrews called Him “Jehovah.” Native Americans called Him the “Great Spirit.” The Arabs call Him “Allah.” Jesus taught us to call Him “our Father” (Matthew 6:9).
Are all these concepts of an eternal Being merely our human imagination trying to satisfy our craving to secure immortality, or are they faint reflections on the face of that eternal Being on the mirror of our human consciousness?
And what about the human mind? Our intellect is an unexplainable marvel made up of thousands of millions of cells. During our lifetime, we utilize the minutest fraction of our brain’s capacity. Every experience life has to offer, packed into the brain in complete detail, would not begin to exhaust its potential. So why were we humans given brains with such phenomenal potential when we can employ only a fraction of their capacity? Isn’t that like putting a 100-million-mile fuel tank on a car when the car itself will wear out after only 100,000 miles?
The answer to the puzzle may sound incredible, yet it’s the only answer that makes sense: our Maker intended that we should live forever, so He gave us brains with the potential for eternal development. The human brain with its marvelous intellectual capacity is evidence in support of eternal life.
The scriptural evidence
The Bible confirms both the eternal existence of God and His original plan that human beings should live forever. It also explains the cycle of life and death. It’s easy for us modern humans to dismiss the Bible as unreliable. But what if we find that it simply endorses what we have already come to recognize intellectually? Here are four things the Bible says about God and human beings.
1 God is eternal.
Speaking of Him, the Bible says, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psalm 90:2, NKJV).*
2 God made human beings to live eternally.
In the Genesis record of creation we read, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die’ ” (Genesis 2:15–17).
In this decree, God was setting forth the condition on which endless life is possible: harmonious union with Him. Once this union with the Source of life was broken, death would be the inevitable result. To illustrate, the moment we break an electrical circuit by flipping a switch, the current that flows from the power source ceases to flow, and the light in the bulb goes out. By sinning, we humans cut ourselves off from the power on which our existence depends. Had we continued to obey— had we not severed our connection with God through disobedience—we would have continued to live forever as God planned.
3 By rebelling against God, humans plunged the entire world into an era of death.
Just as the failure of one switch will sometimes bring darkness to an entire city, so Adam’s sin brought the realm of death to the entire human race. Paul wrote that “just as sin entered the world though one man, and death through sin, . . . in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).
4 God’s plan to reverse the order of death and dying.
God Himself, in the Person of Jesus Christ, left the realm of the undying and entered the realm of death. Jesus took on Himself our human nature and restored to us the possibility of eternal life. Jesus closed the circuit that our rebellion broke. Paul said, “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. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him” (1 Corinthians 15:21–23).
The Bible says that God’s original purpose, which was interrupted by sin, will ultimately be gloriously fulfilled. “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ ” (Revelation 21:5). “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (verse 4).
And you are included in God’s plan. He has made every provision for you to have eternal life. “And this is the testimony: 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” (1 John 5:11, 12).
Eternal life—fact or fantasy? Fact! Fact because of Jesus. Fact through Jesus. Fact in Jesus. Your death became His. By receiving Him, His eternal life becomes yours. Do it now!