Sometimes I Fail To Embrace Eternity

Sometimes I Fail To Embrace Eternity

In the year 2000, Australia, “the Land Down Under,” took the world stage for two special events

The welcoming of a brand new millennium and the summer Olympic Games

As the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2000 Sydney was the first city on the planet to welcome the new millennium

A barrage of fireworks exploded from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, lighting up the entire port

Over one million people gathered to watch the New Year’s celebration — while millions more watched it on television

Some of course, intently watching their computers to see if the Y2K bug was indeed fact or fiction

Later that summer, Sydney hosted the Olympic Games

Once again, the Harbour Bridge was the central focus as billions of people watched thetelevised opening ceremonies

These two events shared a lot of things in common

The same city

The same landmark bridge

A huge fireworks display

The attention of the entire world

However, they shared another similarity, which — at the moment — probably didn’t make much sense

At the end of the New Year Eve’s celebration, the Harbour Bridge was not lit with the year 2000, not did the Olympic opening ceremonies conclude with a fiery display of the five Olympic rings

In each case, the Harbour Bridge was illuminated by the same word: ETERNITY

Many people had to have been scratching their heads and asking themselves, “What does eternity have to do with New Year’s Eve or the Olympics?”

Honestly, not much!

But, as random as it might have seemed this word is a meaningful part of Sydney’s history

It is a reference to Arthur Stace, a.k.a. the “graffiti preacher.”

Arthur Stace was born and raised in Australia, in a home where alcoholism, hopelessness, and poverty were part of his everyday life

At the age of twelve, and with no formal education, he became a ward of the state

By the age of fifteen, he was sent to jail for the first time

In his twenties, Arthur became a recruiter for his sister’s many brothels

Most of his early adult life was spent as a miserable petty thief and an alcoholic

Until August 6, 1930

That was the day forty-six-year-old Arthur Stace put his faith in Jesus Christ, and his life was never the same

Two years later, Arthur Stace was in church and heard an evangelist named John Ridley preach a message entitled, “The Echoes of Eternity.” His Bible passage was from Isaiah 57:15

“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.’”

This beautiful verse begins by revealing that God towers above us and inhabits eternity!

John Ridley was so moved by these words that he said, “Eternity, eternity, I wish that I could sound or shout that word to everyone in the streets of Sydney. You’ve got to meet it. Where will you spend eternity?”

Those words were all Arthur Stace needed to launch his now famous campaign.

For the next 35 years, Arthur, who was basically illiterate and could not even write his own name, began a simple routine

Every morning he would wake up at 4:00 a.m. and spend an hour in prayer.

Around 5:00 a.m. he would leave his house and go wherever he felt God was leading him

For hours, he would take a piece of chalk and write one word — Eternity — in beautiful script wherever he could

Every 100 feet, Arthur wrote his one-word sermon throughout the sidewalks in Sydney

As his efforts continued, he somehow avoided being arrested on more than twenty occasions for defacing public property, always answering questions with, “I have permission from a higher source.”

For more than 20 years, his work remained a mystery

It caused multitudes of people to pause and ponder

The power of that one word was felt throughout the entire city

Eventually an entire nation was touched

Finally, in 1956, the mystery was solved as Arthur Stace was revealed as the “graffiti preacher”

Hordes of people he never knew personally thanked him for the impact he had on their lives

Arthur Stace died in 1967, but his message was secured for generations to come:

      • The bell in the Sydney clock tower, rebuilt in 1960, bears the word Eternity
      • Eternity is inscribed on a copper plate in the middle of Sydney’s town hall square
      • In 2000, the Sydney Harbour Bridge shouted his message for the entire world to see … twice! (New Years 2000 and Summer Olympics)
      • In 2003, the opera The Eternity Man was written based on Stace’s life story
      • In 2008, The Eternity Man was adapted into film and became a major motion picture

Arthur Stace’s remarkable story demonstrates the impact one person, willing to be used by God, can have on others — ever an entire nation — for Jesus Christ

Here a truth: “What we do in life echoes in eternity”

Can you image if there was an Arthur Stace in every corner of the world?

What if just one believer in every city was motivated by an immense burden and a daily mission to bring ETERNITY to the forefront of everyone’s attention?

Paul the apostle who wrote over half of the New Testament said:

Philippians 3:12-14 “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

No goal in this life is as important as our heavenly calling: 

To spend eternity with our Lord and to invite as many people as possible to the same glorious future

C.S. Lewis wrote:

“All that is not eternal is eternally useless.”

Eternity is woven into the Gospel!

One of the very first Scriptures anyone commits to memory is John 3:16, in which Jesus promised eternity with Him in Heaven:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Paul reminds us often of this gift that enables us to spend eternity with Jesus

Romans 6:23b “… the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Eternity is for forever — and our minds have trouble grasping the immensity of it

We often exaggerate a lengthy situation or process by declaring, “That seemed like an eternity!”

But we really don’t understand the full scope of eternity

Imagine a bird disassembling the whole earth – twig by twig, leaf by leaf, pebble by pebble — and taking every individual element to the moon, piece by piece

When this task was finally completed, eternity would just be starting!

If every five hundred years, a hummingbird sharpened his beak on granite rock that stood five hundred miles high and five hundred miles wide

Once the rock was completely eroded, it would be but one second of eternity!

When we begin to grasp what eternity really means, and realize that everyone on this planet will one day come face-to-face with their eternal destiny — it raises the stakes

I think it should encourage us not only to care but also to speak

No longer can we keep quiet!

Our words and thoughts must be intentional.

How could we not share the Gospel with our friends?

How could we stand by and say nothing, knowing that our loved ones could spend eternity separated from God?

I believe that when we consider the “eternalness” of eternity, we have no choice — like Arthur Stace we need to find a way to share Jesus and the fact that there is an eternity to be gained

This is rather important and not to be thought about lightly – It is critically important 

      • Every 24 hours approximately 150,000 people die and face their Creator
      • Every hour, 6,316 people take their last breath
      • Every minute, 105 people are ushered into eternity

The clock never stops

Time does not stand still for anyone

People are continually exiting this life — many without hope

Hebrews 9:27-28  “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, was offered once to bear the sins of many…” (who then offers eternity in heaven 

I was thinking about all this the other day …

Thinking of how many people (precious souls) do I know personally who will stand before God on Judgment Day without Jesus by their side to speak for them

Rescuing them from an eternity separated from God’s love, light, and peace?

The hard truth: Everyone is going to spend eternity somewhere

Every person you know — and love — will one day step into eternity

What do they believe?

Many People think that every religion is the same and no matter which one you adhere to you are on your way to Heaven for all eternity — Wrong!

Some people think that it does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere in your beliefs … never mind they might be sincerely wrong

An increasing number of people have no belief in an afterlife and so eternity does not exist – this short life and then nothingness

But the Bible teaches us – Jesus Himself states:

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6)

And Jesus is the expert on this eternity thing…

      • He came from eternity and was born as a human being
      • He taught about the Kingdom and eternity
      • He died and rose again from the dead showing us that no one ceases to exist and there is eternal life after this life for everyone … Life after life.
      • He ascended back into Heaven having made a way for us to follow Him there and avoid the other alternative called Hell

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life…”

So, the Bible teaches:

Everyone lives for all of eternity – no one just ceases to exist

No one is going to get into Heaven unless they have a personal relationship with God through Jesus

Anyone who is not “in Christ” will be, what the Bible calls, “lost”

There is an eternal reality that awaits those who reject the truth of salvation – it is called hell

The word “salvation” means “the act of saving or protecting from harm, risk, loss, destruction”

In other words: There is an eternal reality — Life is more than this short time on Planet Earth

We are being saved from the ultimate consequences of sin: Separation from God’s love now and for all eternity

We are being saved from: “… harm, risk, loss, destruction”

Revelation 20:15 states that if anyone’s name is not found written in the Book of Life they will not be spending eternity (a very long forever) experiencing God’s love and life

And your name is written into the Book of Life when you are saved or born again

In other words:

If they have not heard the truth of the Gospel and responded in a positive way their names will not be in the Book of Life

2 Corinthians 7:8-10 would tell us that the way to respond is:

NASV “For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while— I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Responding to the moving of the Spirit who is convicting you of sin

    • You hear the truth of the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24:14)
    • The Holy Spirit convicts you of the sinful condition of your life
    • Conviction leads to godly sorrow – not worldly sorrow
    • Godly sorrow brings a person to the place of repentance (Psalm 51)
    • Repentance means to think as God thinks and turn away from the way that seems right but that leads to ‘death” (Proverbs 14:12)
    • Once a person has repented they are forgiven – they need to receive and embrace that forgiveness
    • And then receive the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23b; John 17:3)
    • This is just the start of the journey into an eternity with God – but it is the only start

We should feel “compelled” to share this message about eternity (1 Corinthians 9:16)

CSB “For if I preach the gospel, I have no reason to boast, because I am compelled to preach—and woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

NASV “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.”

And, we never know when the person we love or the person we know will die …

So, since time is of the essence, we need to make the most of every opportunity

We need to make every opportunity count

Paul writes:

Ephesians 5:15-16 “Look carefully then how you walk (live), not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

While eternity spans across an infinite continuum, time on earth is limited

We don’t have all the time in the world to tell everyone we know about the good news

We must have a sense of urgency to share the Gospel because Jesus is either coming back in our lifetime or we will die and go to heaven before He comes

Either way, we will, at some point, run out of opportunities to share the Gospel 

And others will run out of time to put their faith in Jesus

He is our one and only hope – the only way, truth, and source of eternal life

The early Church was aware of this hope that is found in Jesus …

Probably one of he most impressive displays of this hope was a greeting used by the early disciples of Jesus

First century Christians would greet each other with a peculiar word that produced spiritual hope every time it was spoken

The greeting was, “Maranatha”

Not “hello,” not “good-bye,” but “Maranatha”

Maranatha was a very significant word

It literally means “the Lord is coming soon” in Aramaic

Talk about a great way to start and end a conversation

It would bring comfort to those who were suffering for their faith – “Hang in there, Jesus is coming soon”

It would remind believers of the reward that Jesus would give to those who remained faithful

Revelation 22:12 “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to what they have done.”

It would remind them that the time to share with others the hope we have in Jesus is always now!

1 Peter 3:15b “… And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.”

And they wil last and do ask when we live according to our beliefs

What if every Christian, worldwide, started and ended their conversations with, “Hey, Jesus is coming soon”?

It would, I hope, change our outlook and the way we relate to every person we know who is not born again (saved)

And, Maranatha is much more than just a greeting and an encouraging word

It is, in fact, a reality — Jesus IS returning to this earth – soon!

The Bible clearly says that one day the Lord will come down from Heaven and take those who are ready away from the earth

That is going to be an awesome day!

To see Jesus face-to-face and live in heaven with Him for all eternity

That is the ultimate reward that He is bringing to each born again believer

We don’t know what day that will be … but we need to be alert, ready, and actively inviting others to join us

Matthew 24:42 the words of Jesus:

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come”

This long-awaited, amazing, glorious day will happen!

And when Jesus returns, He will hold every one of us accountable for how we managed and used the resources, abilities, opportunities, and the good news He gave us

For those of us who know and love Jesus, His return is not something to fear

It is something to be excited about!

And, It should spark in us a sense of urgency that, until that day comes, we have an important job to do

We must tell everyone we meet about the Gospel of the Kingdom and the wonderful offer of salvation found only in Jesus

Question: If you knew Jesus was coming back next week, who would you tell about Him today?

Telling others about Jesus is “embracing (and understanding) eternity”

And “Sometimes I Fail To Embrace Eternity”