“My father, in his 80s, was so convinced he was gonna die in his sleep, he limited himself to having afternoon naps. He was so determined he was gonna cheat death. …He died sitting in his favorite chair listening to his favorite program on the wireless.”
Benjamin Button (2008)
I don’t know why, but everyone is scared of dying. But I guess I used to be, too. When I was in the 8th grade, I was absolutely terrified of dying. With the threat of terrorists bombing the United States, and pastors saying there are clear, visible signs of the “End Times”, I was especially afraid my hometown, Orange County, would be blown up or I would be raptured young. Even a slight sound outside my bedroom at night would frighten me, making me panic into a cold sweat. Then, one day, my mother told me that there a lot of people who just assume they are Christians because they were raised in Christian homes. Yet, they never have actually put their faith in Jesus Christ on their own. She was just telling me this in passing, with no ulterior motive towards me.
That night, however, as I dwelled upon her words, I realized I would not be afraid of death so strongly if I were truly saved. It was then that I asked for Jesus to come into my heart.
But I dunno guys, everyone is so scared of dying and everyone is trying to cheat it. Let’s call it the Chris Traeger complex, from Parks & Recreation:
Now that I’m a Christian, I honestly don’t know why anyone would want to live on this Earth forever. I’d much rather go to Heaven and be with God face-to-face! Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). We know that once we accept Christ as our Savior, we will have eternal life. But how is this eternal life possible?
In order for us to receive eternal life, the giver must be eternal Himself.
In theological terms, this is called eternality. According to Webster’s dictionary, eternality is, “Without beginning or end. Not affected by time.” Basically, God had no beginning, and He will have no end. He lives forever. The Christian apologist Norman Geisler defines eternality this way: “Eternality means nontemporality or time-lessness.”
In the Bible, the phrase concerning God “from everlasting to everlasting” is repeated fifteen times! Psalm 93:2 proclaims God’s eternality: “You, [God], are from all eternity.”
In C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, he stresses an aspect of God’s eternality:
“But God has no history. For, of course, to have a history means losing part of your reality (because it has already slipped away into the past) and not yet having another part (because it is still in the future): in fact having nothing but the tiny little present, which has gone before you can speak about it.”
What C.S. Lewis is talking about is that God is not of or within time. Thus, He is always in the present, and never in the past or future. God is not bound by time, because He is the creator of time. For Him to be God, He would have to be not limited by His creation, like we’re suddenly limited to living in a sandcastle once we make one on the beach.
C.S. Lewis once again explains this aspect about God and time with an analogy. He says God is like an author of a book, and we His characters. When you write about a character, you can sit about pondering about your characters for hours, but once you decide what you want to do with these characters, you take about five minutes to summarize the characters’ entire day. Thus, as the author, you are not limited by the time in which your characters are in. Of course, we can’t take this analogy too literally, like God controls everything we say and do, but in relation to time, the analogy rings true.
Saint Augustine described God and time this way: “The distinguishing mark between time and eternity is that the former does not exist without some movement and change, while in the latter there is no change at all.”
God’s eternality should be significant for us for two reasons. The first is that when God makes promises and covenants which He deems eternal, He can uphold them. For example, God makes four promises with Abraham in Genesis: (1) God gave Abraham the promise of a great nation. (2) Abraham was chosen to be the father of numerous descendants. (3) Those who bless Abraham are to be blessed and those who curse him will be cursed. (4) God reaffirmed the promise of a Messiah to Abraham. These promises are still significant today, as God continues to bless those who bless Israel, and curse those who curse Israel. Additionally, Abraham’s descendants continue to be as numerous as the stars, despite times in history when men have attempted to wipe out the Jewish people. God was able to keep these promises because of His eternality.
However, no covenant more depends on God’s eternality than that of salvation. When one receives Jesus Christ as Savior, he will be given eternal life. If the giver of this salvation, that of God, is not eternal, He would not be able to uphold this promise. As John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Although we repeat this verse constantly, it’s important because it sums up the entirety of God’s eternality, in that He can give us eternal life. As Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, He can “set eternity in the human heart.”
Thus, God’s eternality ensures He will keep His eternal promises, and He is able to provide us eternal life.
Now tell me what you think of God’s eternality below. You might also want to pick up one of these while you’re at it: