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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Eternity Has No End

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Eternity Has No End -  Michael J. S. Austin, Ph.D.


I admit this is an extraordinarily powerful subject. It is also of the utmost relevance to everyone. At the outset I need to say that I am sharing the clear teaching of Scripture - God's inspired and infallible word. Think carefully about these issues. This is an appeal to your mind. I am not appealing to your emotions or trying to bypass your mind. This subject may be the most urgent and compelling I have written - eternity will never end.
Be assured, this is not being alarmist. I am not trying to scare anyone into an emotional decision - ever. So, what's the point? Just this, that the good news of God's undeserved grace is so wonderful, precisely because his purpose is to accomplish a great salvation from an eternal condemnation into an eternal glory with Christ that will also never end. These two truths hang together - they are the two sides of the same coin.
• MISREPRESENTED.
However, the subject of eternal salvation from conscious, eternal punishment is being widely misrepresented. Secular humanism and sentimental optimism ("It will never happen to me") have influenced many minds. They are not the only things; new evangelicalism, postmodernism, the new hermeneutic and religious pluralism (to mention a few) have all made inroads into the thinking of many who once upheld historic Christianity.
Many with the name 'evangelical' are now unwilling to set forth the biblical truth that the salvation secured by Christ is from a perfectly just, conscious, eternal punishment. However, the popular ideas of conditional immortality seriously distort the biblical teaching on salvation.
• VITAL.
Rather than seeing the awful reality of eternal punishment being so offensive and the protests against it so vocal that we must capitulate and soften the prospect or no one will ever believe the gospel, precisely the reverse is the case. The truth of eternal punishment is the necessary biblical backdrop against which the gospel of Christ is such gloriously good news. For consider how warning people, compassionately and sensitively of the terrible 'wrath to come' (Luke 3:7) also magnifies the riches of God's undeserved mercy and love in providing an escape from that awful wrath.
Here is the biblical outline:
• GOD IS PERFECT.
God is more perfect than we think. The living God is, 'majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders' (Exodus 15:11). God is flawless. He is not marred by the slightest taint of imperfection. In all of his attributes, he is perfect beyond our little grasp - 'Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth' (Psalm 50:2). God knows all things and is infinite in love, justice, wisdom and power. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are each utterly and gloriously perfect beyond our comprehension.
• SIN IS INFINITELY SERIOUS.
Sin is profoundly serious - it is a missing of God's required moral standard, by a long shot. By nature we are all 'dead in the trespasses and sins' (Eph. 2:1), in which we have lived. This condition cuts us off from God's favour, and leaves us spiritually dead and under his condemnation.
The Bible describes people in this natural condition as living 'in the futility of their minds', 'darkened in their understanding', 'alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart' (see Ephesians 4:17-19), and as 'children of wrath' (Eph. 2:3) - that is justly deserving God's judgement of eternal punishment. 'Death' in Scripture never means 'extinction' - for instance, 'it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgement' (Heb. 9:27).
This disturbing analysis applies to all mankind ever since the fall of our first parents Adam and Eve into sinful rebellion. We are not on a meaningless evolutionary journey, climbing out of the primeval slime, rather we have all fallen into moral anarchy and spiritual ruin.
No one is served by thinking their problem is less serious than it actually is. People need to know their plight before God and take steps to deal with it.
• ETERNAL PUNISHMENT IS PERFECTLY JUST.
He who is love, who made the blind to see, the lame to walk, the children to sing, who lifted moral outcasts and cleansed and forgave them, also gave the direst warnings about eternal punishment. Jesus taught that those who reject him, who do not love and obey him, will go 'into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.' He also said: 'these will go away into eternal punishment' (Matt. 25:41 & 46).
All the schemes to shorten or modify eternal punishment are misplaced. The teachers of conditional immortality (who teach that the people who are not forgiven and reconciled to God do not attain to immortality because it is not a property of the soul and thus, after judgement, do not suffer an eternal punishment) believe that eternal punishment is too bad to be true and turns people away from Christianity. However, it is when people see the awfulness of their just reward that the good news of God's way of escape from eternal punishment shines all the more with simple urgency.
• CHRIST'S SACRIFICE DEALT FULLY WITH SIN.
Perhaps we have never considered the vastness of what Christ accomplished in his death. Consider who was on that central cross outside the ancient city of Jerusalem: Jesus of Nazareth was God incarnate (John 1:1, 1:14). He is the eternal I AM (John 8:58), and the outshining radiance of the glory of God (Hebrews 1:3). He created all things, and for our sake entered our humanity - apart from its sin - 'to make propitiation for the sins of the people' (Heb. 1:2, 2:17). 'Propitiation' refers to how Jesus willingly died as the sinner's substitute, bearing God's holy wrath against sin - finally and completely.
Bear in mind that Jesus was never annihilated on behalf of anyone. Scripture is clear, 'Christ died for our sins' (1 Corinthians 15:3). He endured conscious banishment from intimate, loving communion with God his Father. He has done it, and once is enough! God was perfectly satisfied with Jesus' sacrifice and on the third day raised him as Lord, victor over sin and death!
At the consummation of all things, such glorious grace and mercy will be displayed for all eternity! Lost, helpless sinners were wholly unworthy of such grace, but God's purpose was to pay the supreme sacrificial cost to secure their eternal restoration. Jesus has done it all - all to him I freely owe!
• GOD IS PERFECTLY JUST AND LOVING.
God is sometimes called 'the Rock': faithful and dependable - 'The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are just. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he' (Deut. 32:4). Those who find eternal punishment intolerable and unthinkable hope that God will shorten the sentence of people who have not been reconciled to God by annihilating them, either immediately at the judgement or soon after. It follows from this way of thinking that if this lesser sentence to a finite duration is their right, then an eternal punishment was unjust or unworthy of God.
But what are we to make then of an ETERNAL salvation being totally undeserved and unmerited? Could not God merely save people because it was unworthy of his love and compassion to sentence them to an eternal punishment? No, he could not, or the Son of his love would not have died to receive the just sentence that was due to others.
The belief in conditional immortality is destructive of the substitutionary work of Christ upon the cross. It attacks the necessity and the sufficiency of the sin-bearing, wrath-satisfying nature of the atonement. If you are tempted to embrace the beliefs of conditional immortality, think about its unscriptural basis.
For this 'such a great salvation' (Heb. 2:3) received by faith, secured by the sin-bearing offering of the sinless God-Man, from a just eternal condemnation to eternal life, is a wholly unmerited gift of God! But if some were to be exempted from all or part of that punishment (as if God's justice were satisfied by exacting a finite sentence for an infinite offence) then why did Christ, the very Son of God, die to save sinners from an eternal punishment - if that was not there just sentence?
It is time to reckon that God will do what he says he will do, and not what the schemes of some think he ought to do! Consider, 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life' (John 3:16). What a promise! 'Perish' here refers to 'the punishment of eternal destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:9), not to extinction but to eternal expulsion, as the text shows, 'from the presence of the Lord'. What love that Jesus was himself willing to suffer this - for others! What a simple way of receiving such a gift, already fully paid by the only One qualified to make that supreme sacrifice! - Restful trust in HIS accomplishment. Trust him today.
• THE GOSPEL IS POWERFUL.
The Lord Jesus Christ is able to 'save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him' (Heb. 7:25). He welcomes all. None are too bad or hopeless for him. Even the angry, proud religious scholar, Saul from Tarsus 'received mercy' and explained how 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost' (1Timothy 1:15-16). All self-efforts at good works to get right with God are futile. If they were effective, Jesus would never have needed to die for our sins. Now he is able to save you from a lost eternity - 'For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes' (Romans 1:16).
• SEEK GOD'S MERCY AND GRACE.
When these truths grip you, and the Holy Spirit produces deep conviction of sin and you see that there is ONE clear way of salvation, then pursue God's mercy and grace. This is not a trivial pursuit. Seek God's rich forgiving mercy with humble persistence (he is near to those who seek him!) until you receive the peace and assurance, by trusting his promises, that you are freely forgiven all your offences and accepted by God solely for the sake of his beloved Son.
Turn to the Lord Jesus today in repentance and simple trust to receive eternal life - then live for him now and in his presence for all eternity.
Hello, my big goal is to show that biblical Christianity appeals to serious reason and careful thinking - it is grounded in definite history, invites enquiry and is relevant today. So, I aim to share the good news of Christ crucified, risen and ascended - a Saviour who is worthy of your full confidence. And I write to help you find faith or to strengthen your faith. I share Evangelical and Reformed convictions and have a PhD from Reformation International Theological Seminary for work on the validity of reason. Use these links to my Amazon Kindle titles - all are at very low prices: 1. Dawkins' Dilemmas - Deluded or not deluded? That is the question! http://www.amazon.com/Dawkins-Dilemmas-Deluded-question-ebook/dp/B007RFLYI8/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_t_2 2. I saw Him die - Viewing Jesus' death TODAY http://www.amazon.com/saw-Him-die-Viewing-ebook/dp/B007TX696U/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_t_2 Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Michael_J._S._Austin,_Ph.D.  Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6928417


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