Do we believe it or not? Is there truly a heaven and a hell? Is there really a life after death? Is there truly an eternity, in which every soul on earth will live in one of only two places?
I ask this because, if there is - if heaven and hell and eternity are really for real - then most of us ought to be living vastly different lives than we now do. Just imagine: if we let the souls now in hell come back to earth, do you think they would know how to live then?
Do you think they would make the same mistake of forgetting God and rejecting Jesus Christ? Do you think they would continue to squeeze God little by little out of their lives?
Do you think they would carelessly allow sin and selfishness to rule their lives - their new lives? What would they tell us about living our lives? What would they view as the most important things in life? I am convinced that they would tell us that the only truly valuable things in this life are the things that pertain to or affect the next life. The only things that really matter in this life are the things that have a bearing on the next life. Eternity gives meaning to this life. Without the next life, nothing else really matters. If there is no hereafter, then it doesn't really matter at all what we do here.
As the apostle Paul and others have reasoned, "Let's just eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die" 1 Corinthians , and that's that.
But if there is a hereafter, if there is a reckoning day, then what we do today takes on infinite and eternal significance. Everything we do ought to be done with eternity in mind. Everything we say must be said with eternity in mind. Our entire lives must be lived with preparing ourselves and others for eternity as our chief business.
We must make our lives count, and that can only be done by living life with eternity in view. We must continually ask ourselves, "Will this hurt or hinder my own soul? Will this help save some other soul? Is this really a waste of time?
Will this count in eternity? Take Jesus Christ as our example. He came to earth and lived His entire life with eternity in view. His sole purpose for coming to this world was to insure that we would have a happy hereafter. He did not have time to build nest-eggs and buy big estates and sit around smelling the roses. He lived here for thirty-three and one-half years, and I don't believe He wasted a single day.
He regarded one soul as so valuable that He gave up heaven and came to earth to save that one soul. He knew that going to hell is so indescribably awful and terrible that He gave up His life and died just to keep that one soul from going to hell. Can you imagine how horrible the place must be, that the Son of God Himself would suffer such an agonizing death on the cross just to enable one soul to avoid such a place?
This tells us something, Christians: We ought to be doing everything within our power to save souls from hell. How can we be so indifferent?
How can we keep doing business as usual? When will we wake up and realize that there really is no business but God's business? All other so-called important business becomes utterly and absolutely insignificant when compared with eternity. Who cares whether the stock market goes up or down? Who cares whether or not we ever balance the federal budget? Perhaps you have the best job and the biggest house and the fastest car. Or perhaps you have the worst job and the smallest house and the slowest rattle-trap in town.
But when it's all said and done, and eternity has swallowed up this time-world, what does it matter? What is life all about anyway? What are we supposed to be doing while here?
If you have ever wondered what "eternity" is like, guess what? You are already in it!. Once a person understands what the Bible has to say about the subject of death and the afterlife, they must go about living in light of these truths. We find statements in the Old Testament that speak of the shortness of life. Consequently all of us should live each day in light of.
If we would truly live life with eternity in view, it would have three very important effects upon our lives. In fact, it would revolutionize our lives, and the lives of all those around us. First of all, it would cause us finally to get our priorities straight. We Christians are all twisted and warped in our ideas of why we are in this world and what God expects us to do.
The biggest trick Satan has is to deceive people into thinking that trash and trivialities are important while the truly important things are trivial. We would begin to spend our lives working only for those things that have eternal significance. Transient stuff would cease to occupy and waste our time.
We would evaluate and judge everything in life by its value to the cause and kingdom of Christ. Does He need this? Will it help advance His interests? Does it help my own soul and the souls of others? These are the questions asked by the great missionary, David Livingstone, who brought the gospel to the heart of Africa. He said: "I will place no value on anything I have or may possess except in relation to the kingdom of Christ. If anything will advance the interests of that kingdom, it shall be given away or kept, only as by the giving or keeping of it I shall most promote the glory of Him to whom I owe all my hopes in time and eternity.
He evaluated everything in his life by its usefulness to God. If it was helpful to Christ, he kept it. If it was an unnecessary hindrance, he got rid of it. The second effect viewing eternity should have on us is to harden us against the trials and temptations of life. We spend far too much time worrying about, fussing over, and struggling for things that will mean absolutely nothing in eternity.
We spend far too much time crying, complaining, and carrying on about troubles that befall us. Since none of this will really matter in the end, why must it mean so much to us now? It will only soon be o'er. I want to walk the way that leads. To heaven's eternal shore. So then, we are not to be so easily affected by life's temporary trials, led astray by life's transient temptations, nor distracted by life's fleeting enjoyments and pleasures. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians , " We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. Last, viewing life in the light of eternity will cause us to value people more and properly. We will quit looking at people as mere physical beings - just pieces of meat - but as priceless, never-dying souls that have only a short, perilous time of preparation here before they end up stuck somewhere in eternity forever and forever and forever.