Never, Ever, Forever
It is difficult for mortal minds of men to even imagine things before time began, but we know that even before the creation the Eternal God existed and purposed things that were to be (Ephesians 1:4, 2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 1:2). Perhaps for some reason it is somewhat easier for us to think of eternity in the future, for we do have more information given to us through the inspired Scriptures concerning that which is beyond the existence of this world and its calculation of time than we have regarding things before time began. But I am convinced than none of us can now fully comprehend those things that are beyond, for it is written, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for them who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9). All of our experiences thus far have been so time and space oriented. Even the expressions we use illustrate our limited comprehension. In that grand old song Amazing Grace, we sing “When we’ve been there ten thousand years.” Eternity is not measured by thousands of years. Years only refer to the calculation of earth time. Eternity is eternity.
Yet we must not think of it as if it were time standing still and nothing transpiring. In heaven there will be praise, glory, pleasure, joy, things to do and things to see. I like to think of sitting down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matthew 8:11). I look forward to seeing Christ sitting at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19, Hebrews 1:3, etc.). Maybe I can even blend my voice with those of the angels singing praises around God’s throne. I want to spend time, no, I want to spend eternity with Jesus. I will spend my allotted time down here serving Him. I will spend eternity with Him then. All things shall be made new (Revelation 21:5).
All the redeemed will dwell in that eternal habitation with God forever. “And this is the promise that He has promised us— eternal life” (1 John 2:25). “And God will wipe away ever tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Never! Ever! Forever! That is for eternity. There shall by no means enter into heaven anything that defiles, or causes abomination or a lie (Revelation 21:27). Satan and all his forces of evil will have forever been cast into the lake of fire and brimstone (Revelation 20:10) never to tempt or trouble God’s people again.
The reward for a fully committed Christian life is truly beyond the capacity of our present minds to comprehend. There is no earthly place or experience equal to heaven. God is so great, so wonderful, and so loving that He even sent His Son to earth to suffer and die for our sins and to invite us to accept the terms He gave for our salvation and to come spend eternity with Him. We are so unworthy and undeserving. If we do all that we can do to obey Him and serve Him, we still must only count ourselves as sinners saved by the grace of God.
Those who have not believed and obeyed the gospel will have as their reward the wrath of God, flaming fire and everlasting destruction. (Romans 2:8, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). Scoffers today may mock and joke about hell, but God’s word reveals that the subject of hell is not a matter to take lightly, Consider the Biblical descriptions of hell: “unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12); “destruction’’ (Matthew 7:13); “outer darkness,” “weeping” and “gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12); destruction of “both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28); “furnace of fire” and “wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:50); the “condemnation of hell” (Matthew 23:33) “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark. 9:44); “everlasting destruction” (2 Thessalonians 1:9); “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10); “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15), “the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.” (Revelation 21:8).
The wording of Matthew 25:46 is interesting: “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” I have wondered why the translators have used two different words for the same word in the original Greek text. The word “everlasting” and the word “eternal” are identically the same in the Greek. Heaven and hell are both of the same duration. Both are eternal.
God has told us of the blessings He has for the redeemed and has warned us of the consequences of failing to obey Him. This information should not only motivate us to surrender our all to Him but also move us with concern for lost souls around us. Christ was so concerned about lost souls that He died to make salvation possible for all who would obey Him. If we have the mind of Christ, we will earnestly tell others of His love and His plan for their salvation.