Westmont Magazine Living in Light of Eternity
From a chapel talk by Bill Hybels
Senior Pastor, Willowcreek Community Church,
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “God has set eternity in their hearts.” This means that all of us who are made in the image of God have an intuitive awareness that life does not stop at the grave.
The Bible contains the most compelling and authoritative words ever said about life beyond the grave. First, it teaches that everyone who dies will be resurrected (Acts 24:15). Second, we know that everyone will give an account of their life before the holy God (Hebrews 9:27).
The Bible also tells us that, at this judgment, the issue will not be how great a sinner a person was in this life but what he or she did about it. Did that person turn to a blood-stained cross outside of Jerusalem and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior or not?
Fourth, the Bible teaches that those who have trusted in Christ will spend eternity with God in heaven, while those who refuse to bow to Christ will spend eternity in isolation from Him in hell.
Now if all this is true, then there are huge implications for those outside the family of God and those inside the family of God. If I were in the first group, several feelings would come over me.
For one, I’d feel grateful that the Bible is clear about life and death. I might not like it, but at least it’s clear. Second, I would feel relieved that justice will be accomplished in the world some day, and all the tragedies will finally get put into balance.
Next, I would feel hopeful, because according to the Bible, even someone outside the kingdom of God has a shot at winding up in the right place in eternity, no matter who they are or what they’ve done. This scandalous message of Scripture is that amazing grace has made everyone eligible.
Finally, I’d feel sobered, because I would know that every day I back-burnered this issue, I was playing a dangerous game of roulette with stakes that are supremely high.
Now, here are some implications of eternity for those inside the family of God. First, when we have our eternity with Christ settled, we can live in an overwhelming sense of peace, since our assurance of heaven is not pinned on our performance, but to the sufficiency of what Christ has done.
Second, we can start looking forward to heaven a little bit. When you see enough suffering in this world, you understand why the Scripture writers look forward to the day when we can finally be together in eternity in the presence of God, where there is no more crying and no more abuse.
Last, when we live in the light of eternity, we develop an urgent sense of mission. What are we doing with our lives that will outlive the grave? Are we just Christian materialists, Christian existentialists, Christian hedonists? Is your life like everyone else’s, except for the fact that you know you’re going to heaven?
If you read the Scriptures you’ll see that the only thing that outlasts the grave is people. Position doesn’t, possessions don’t, status doesn’t, pleasure doesn’t. So we need to orient our lives around people–touching people, feeding hungry people, ministering to people, discipling people, pointing people to Christ. So be careful not to lose your eternal perspective as you live your life