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Should Christians Vote?

My church leaders taught me not to vote as a Christian. They based this on the fact that “Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules.” (2 Ti 2:4–5).

I have since changed my mind and believe as South Africans we have a duty to vote. I am sharing these thoughts in the South African context. I know that in other countries, like the USA, to many Christians, voting is almost part of their belief system.

Firstly let me express some thoughts on the principle from a Scriptural view point. We certainly are not of this world, we are born from above and our destination is the New Jerusalem. We are citizens of the heavenly Kingdom and as far as this world is concerned, we are just ‘pilgrims passing through’.

Having said that, we also need to note that we should ‘render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God, that which is God’s’. Being responsible citizens in our ‘temporary’ country of residence, as we make our way to the ‘City that has foundations, whose builder and maker is God’ requires us to pay taxes, abide by all the laws of the land (provided they do not contradict God’s laws) and voting affords us an opportunity to have a say in who will be placed in power to Govern the country.

Looking at the current political landscape in South Africa

In the election next year the ANC will try their best to get a two thirds majority. They need this to make changes to the Constitution. Once they are able to change the Constitution, they can take back land and nationalize the mines. The reason they want to do this is obviously to own and control the two primary sources of the economy – the mineral riches and the food producing farmland. Julius Malema has formed his own political party, which should rob the ANC of a fair slice of their support base, because as radical and militant as he is, he has a lot of support among the youth. This may seem a good thing, but what could happen after the election, is that the ANC buy an alliance with Julius in order to get their two thirds majority. Should this occur, the international community will downgrade our credit rating, pushing up the price of borrowing money to fund our deficit. (The difference between what we buy – import and what we sell – export) This will send our economy down the rocky Zimbabwean road to ruin.

The current Government’s track record is also not good at all, but it is the Government that the majority have put in power. According to statistics, on average per year in South Africa there are:

  • 71000 sexual assaults
  • 15000 hi-jackings
  • 18,148 murders

Since 1994 over 3000 farmers have been murdered (this shows the determination to get their hands on farmland); and in total 290,368 people have been murdered. Besides these shocking statistics, there is the enormous amount of corruption and mismanagement in every Government department from the top down, the only exclusion being SARS – the efficient collection of taxes.

Despite the above, there is every likelihood that the majority of South Africa will vote ANC, but in my view (for what it’s worth) the stronger the opposition, the more checks and balances there will be and the Constitution will at least hold the Government in check to some degree. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, I believe it is our duty to vote. Abstaining from voting is a vote for the current Government.

On a practical note, you need to be registered to vote. Registration will be opening this weekend 9th November in a public building near you. Take your ID and register, and then at least you are eligible to vote next year when every vote will count.

May the Lord hasten His coming! The only true and just Government will come when Jesus, King of kings rules the world with a rod of iron.

There was a time when this question was not a major issue, the gender roles were clearer. Husbands were the bread-winners, while the wives stayed home to keep the house and raise the children. With the ever-increasing pressure of feminism, the lines have become blurred and the question of who should be the head of the home has become a more thorny debate. The result is that any hint of the Biblical model of the husband being the head of the home, could be viewed with some suspicion by women, as a male contrived conspiracy to put the women ‘in their place’.

Against this backdrop, Paul’s statement in Ephesians is very clear:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.” (Eph 5:22–23)

I have been surprised, given the current pressure on women to assert themselves, to hear from most of the wives at numerous Marriage Seminars, that they preferred their husbands to take the lead and be the head of the home. If there were any complaints about this subject, the majority of the wives wished their husbands would play more of a leading role and take on greater family responsibility.

Taking a closer look at this subject I think there are two important questions that need to be answered.

  1. Is the subservient position of the wife a form of punishment resulting from the Fall?
  2. Does submission suggest inferiority in any respect?

To answer the first question let us take a closer look at God’s pronouncement to the woman after she had sinned. “To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”(Ge 3:16). Notice that God did not curse the woman, but rather, He explained the consequences of her actions, because both she and Adam had allowed the devil to become the third person in their marriage union. It was no longer the earthly ‘Trinity’ of God, the man and the woman, but it had become Satan, the man and the woman. Their offspring would not be God’s children spreading His attributes across the earth, but rather their offspring would be a reflection of ‘their father the devil’. For more detail on this point have a look at Part 2. In this respect her conception would produce children, who would do the deeds of their spiritual father the devil, bringing sorrow to her and her husband. Her conception would also be multiplied. Although speculative, there is some hint that if man had not fallen into sin, God would have played an active role in opening the womb of women at the appropriate time and producing children that would fit into His great purpose. Consider Sarah, Rebekah, Rachael, Manoah’s wife and Elizabeth in this regard. They were all barren, but when the Lord chose to open their wombs, they produced important children. It seems that one of the consequences of Eve’s sin was that conceptions would be multiplied and they would be indiscriminate.

Regarding the second part of verse 16 “Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you”, in the ESV there is a note saying that ‘for’ could also be translated: ‘against’. The verse would then read: “Your desire shall be against your husband.. “. This second translation is supported by the fact that the same author (Moses) uses very similar language in chapter 4, where his meaning is a lot clearer. “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” (Ge 4:7) In this verse it is clear that sin has a desire to pressurize Cain to go its way, but Cain would need to exert his will and try to dominate it. It is this same idea presented in verse 16 regarding the Husband/wife relationship. She would try to pressurize him to go her way and he would have to dominate her (in an un-Christlike way) to exert his will.

In other words, in the woman’s primary function as child-bearer, she would have pain and sorrow and in her most intimate relationship, there would be a power-struggle and strife.

To answer the second question we must note that God made mankind in His own image, “male and female made He them”, which clearly tells us that women are as much in the image of God as are men. If we look at the Godhead, we find that each person of the Trinity is equally God. Jesus, “who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,” (Php 2:6) nevertheless He was subservient to His Father. The Father sent the Son and the Father also sent the Holy Spirit, the Father clearly is the authority in the Godhead. Therefore we could say that the Godhood of each person in the Trinity is equal, but their roles are different. Neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit died on the cross, it was only Jesus because their roles are different. Similarly we can say that in their personhood, men and women are equal, but in their roles, they differ.

It is also important to note that God made Adam first and then He made the woman to be Adam’s Helper, not the other way around and this was before the Fall. When someone comes alongside to help; the responsibility for the task still remains with the person being helped. Therefore Adam remained accountable, even though his helper had misled him. God called for Adam first to give account for his actions. In the New Testament we are told that the Holy Spirit has been sent to be our Helper. He does not take over our responsibilities, but He helps us to fulfil God’s requirement of us. Even though the Holy Spirit is our Helper, He remains God and therefore far superior to us.

We can conclude from this that women are equal to men and may even be superior in some respects, but their role is different to the man’s role.

Equality of men and women on a spiritual level is spelled out in this verse: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Ga 3:28)

God’s order illustrating the differing roles is spelled out in this verse: “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Co 11:3)

Husbands need to take their responsibility as head of their homes, valuing their wives as spiritual equals and appreciating them as their God-given helper.

To follow fully what I am presenting in Part 2, you may wish to get the background from Part 1.

The devil was very quick to evaluate the creation and seems to have understood the enormous potential that God had provided for Himself, to express His thoughts, desires and will through mankind, having made them in His own image. If man had not fallen, every child born would have been another unique expression of the character traits of God Himself (not His divinity, but His nature). The whole earth would have been populated with people each bearing a unique expression of God’s character and corporately as mankind, they would have filled the earth with the glory of the Lord; His love, His wisdom, His creative genius.

The devil however, saw the gap and took on the form of an animal, made his approach to the woman, knowing full well that Adam was the head of this union, having been made first ( a point that Paul used to confirm this 1 Tim. 2:13) and thereby reversed God’s order. He then disguised his approach to the woman with a subtle question, followed by a cleverly wrapped part truth, part lie. By his craftiness he effectively hijacked this God-representing union and displaced God to become the spiritual entity in the earthly “trinity”. You may wonder how I can make this statement with such certainty. Are we just speculating here? I do believe the Biblical evidence is conclusive.

  • When God cursed the serpent, He spoke about the devil’s ‘offspring’ (Gen. 3:15) God was referring here to all of mankind. (the offspring of the woman, that God mentions in this verse is a reference to the birth of Jesus)
  • When Jesus confronted the Jews who were circumcised children of Abraham, He said “you are of your father the devil” (John 8:44)
  • The first child born to Adam and Eve killed his brother (Gen 4:8) Cain showed the characteristics of the devil, who had become his ‘spiritual’ father. Jesus said that the devil was a murderer from the beginning. (John 8:44ff)
  • Paul tells us that when we were dead in our sins, we all followed the course of this world, following the Prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. (Eph. 2:1-2). We were all sons and daughters of the devil’s disobedience – his offspring.
  • The whole earth has been filled with the characteristics of the devil; lies, deceit, greed, hatred, corruption, fornication, blasphemy and murder.
  • Mankind is a corporate representation of their spiritual father the devil.

When the horrific implications of this hijacking first dawn upon us, our first question may be: “Why would God allow Himself to be ‘out maneuvered’ by a created, but fallen angel? The answer may require a few volumes to be written for a full explanation. The very simple truth however, is that God foreknew that this would happen, He already had His redemption plan in place (1 Peter 1:20). God also knew that in order to have a corporate man (mankind) who would reciprocate the great love that He has for them, He would have to give them a choice; this opened the risk factor which God foreknew. The devil, despite his craftiness has actually played right into God’s hands.

Where does this leave us in our marriages? In serious trouble because unless we individually acknowledge Jesus as Lord and then actively acknowledge the Lord as Head of our marriage relationship with our thoughts and our actions, we allow the devil to continue his treacherous spiritual oversight and influence in our marriage.

By acknowledging the Lord as the Head of our marriage and seeking His guiding influence we are brought back to God’s original design for marriage; an earthly representation of the Trinity, made up of the union between Jesus, husband and wife. This is not as perfect as the original prototype because we are damaged goods, in the process of being restored by the Lord, having escaped the corruption that is in the world, through forgiveness, redemption and salvation.

Bride and groom kissing.

With this perpetual subject so well covered by the many books and seminars available today, we may feel that any further analysis would be overkill and just another version of the ‘same old, same old’. One aspect however I feel, that has been neglected or completely missed and which deserves much closer examination, is the original purpose and blueprint for marriage. This aspect has been somewhat blurred by the fall of mankind into sin and most Biblical marriage instruction tends to deal with a mechanism to cope with the aftermath of this fall.

Let’s take a careful look at our origin

Paul in his letter to the Romans, interprets the material Universe and the whole of creation for us by telling us that, “… since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,” (Ro 1:20) The material creation is therefore a message to give us some understanding of God’s invisible, but very evident power and His creative genius, amongst other attributes of God.

Turning our focus to the creation of man we find a whole new dimension to this aspect of creation. God intends man to bear His image and to be a representation of something of God that is deeper and more profound than what the majesty of creation can exhibit.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Ge 1:26–27)

This creation of man and woman was clearly intended to provide God with a supervisory team, who would rule with dominance over every living creature and in fact they would manage the whole earth. The question that we need to ask and for which we need an answer is; in what unique way does mankind bear the image of God? Part of the answer to this can be found in the statement that God makes, once He had formed the woman out of the man’s rib: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Ge 2:24) Jesus elaborates on this verse by telling us: “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mt 19:6) They are two people but in a mysterious way are in fact one person, having become joined in marriage. This insight must light a spark in our hearts when comparing marriage with the Godhead, who are three distinct persons, but one God. Although there does seem to be a slight discrepancy with this comparison in that God is three persons in one, whereas the husband and wife are only two people united as one.

This discrepancy  however begins to fade as we see God coming into the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day for a personal visit with Adam and Eve and when suddenly the intended ‘Trinity’ is brought into focus. God forms the ‘third person’ in the union between husband and wife, so that it is not just two that become one; but God Himself, the man and the woman become a holy unit, or a representation of the Trinity on earth. The supervision of the creation (assuming the fall had not taken place) would have been executed by Adam, with the help of Eve, under God’s very close and intimate direction. The perfect vehicle to exhibit the love, cooperation, mutual care and unity of man with God ruling over the earth, doing God’s will and enjoying deep and intimate fellowship in union with their Creator.

The Principle of Eternal Judgment

“… of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.”(Heb. 6:2)

God’s Response to Man’s Sin

Throughout the Bible we find many occasions where God has responded to man’s wickedness with a judgment and punishment. The most serious of these occasions was the Flood in Noah’s day, where God was so angry with the whole human race that He wiped them out with a flood, saving only Noah and his family, to preserve His original purpose for mankind (Gen. 6). Shortly after the flood God intervened again at the Tower of Babel, there confusing their languages, so that they could not complete their rebellious task of building a tower to reach the heavens (Gen 11).

In Moses’ Day God gave a standard of righteousness, in the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:3–17), that he expected mankind to aspire to, failing which the punishment was very severe. While reading through the Old Testament it is easy to gain the impression that God is a very strict and almost cruel Task Master, putting people to death who picked up sticks on the Sabbath day (Num. 15:32–35) and opening the ground to swallow those who rebelled against Moses (Num. 16:31–32). The truth however is that God is love and He is very merciful and filled with tender compassion.

For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;” (Ps. 103:11)

The Lord is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works.” (Ps 145:9)

The Old Testament message is therefore not that God is a cruel Task Master but about the seriousness of sin and the consequences of sin. No sin will go unpunished. (Gen. 2:17 and Rom. 6:26)

The Severest Judgment of All

Our loving, merciful God created man to have fellowship with Him, but this was made impossible by man’s sin because God cannot have fellowship with sin or with sinners.

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Co 6:14)

All sin, whether committed in the Old or New Testament dispensation has to be punished, for ‘the wages of sin is death.’ Here is where God’s great love stepped in, he sent Jesus in the form of a man to bear the punishment of all the sin of mankind. For Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice for mankind, He had to be without sin. This was emphasised throughout the Old Testament, where all the lambs sacrificed for sin had to be ‘without blemish’ (Ex. 12:5).

The crucifixion of Jesus upon the cross was God’s ultimate or severest judgment upon sin. It was so serious that God the Father even separated Himself from Jesus. We know this because Jesus cried out, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46) This one sacrifice of a sinless man, who became sin for us, was sufficient to appease the Righteousness of God for all eternity.

But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” (Heb. 10:12–14)

This was God’s eternal judgment on sin and it offers us eternal forgiveness and eternal righteousness.

Believers should Judge Themselves

Once we have responded in faith to God’s offer of forgiveness and salvation through the judgment of His Son on the cross, we need to constantly be reminded of this. In a similar way when God delivered the Israelites from Egypt, they were told to keep the Passover as a remembrance of God’s great act of deliverance. (Ex. 12:11-14). This is a type and shadow of what we are told to do in the New Testament. We are instructed by Jesus and confirmed by Paul that we should break bread and drink of the cup often in remembrance of the Lord Jesus and what He did for us upon the cross.

And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” (Lk 22:19–20)

Paul gives us further insight into this by telling us that: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” (1 Co 11:26–29)

From this passage we understand that the ‘bread’ symbolises the body of Jesus and the ‘wine’ symbolises His blood that was shed. We therefore need to be fully appropriating and trusting in the work of the Cross for our salvation and carefully discern and understand what we are declaring as we partake of these emblems. This is where Paul tells us to ‘judge or examine ourselves’ (verse 28).

To understand this ‘judgment’ a little better, we need to read through John chapter six, where Jesus explains that if we eat of Him and drink of Him, He will raise us up in the last day. (John 6:54). If we are not living by Jesus Christ, fully trusting in Him to save and keep us, then we may be eating and drinking in an unworthy fashion. By eating the bread and drinking the wine we are declaring that we are living by Him and this may be a false declaration. This therefore is what I should constantly examine.

If I don’t judge myself, the Lord may judge or chastise me, to get my attention and to draw me back into relying fully upon Him. This is an act of mercy from the Lord, as Paul explains, to prevent us from being judged with the world.

For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” (1 Co 11:30–32)

This is also very reassuring because it tells us that we (Believers) are not going to be judged with the world. The world or unsaved people will have to face a judgment.

The Bema Seat of Christ’s Judgment

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Co 5:10)

In 2 Corinthians chapter five, Paul is addressing Christian believers and he makes the above statement that we will all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ. The word ‘judgment’ in this case in the Greek is ‘Bema’ and is often then referred to as the Bema Seat of Christ because it is not the same as the final judgment that the (unsaved) world will have to face.

We know that our sins have already been judged in Jesus upon the cross; the full penalty for our sin has been paid. We can therefore no longer be judged for our sin, which is a wonderful blessing.

We do however have to give an account to the Lord for our works, or what we have done in our service for Him. Paul also gives us further insight on this where he tells us: “Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (1 Co 3:12–15)

It is clear from this passage that believers will have their works judged, but even if they suffer loss because their works were not acceptable, they themselves will still be saved.

Jesus said:  “And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”” (Mt 10:42)

We can conclude then that believers will not be judged to see if they are worthy of salvation, but rather to see if their works are worthy of rewards. We are also told by John: “But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” (Re 20:5–6)

From this passage we can conclude that the believers who are part of the ‘first resurrection’ will not face judgment at the Great White Throne.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Co 15:58)

Judgement of the Nations

During the Millennium (the thousand year) reign of Christ on earth, He will judge the Nations. He will be particularly hard on those nations that have ill-treated Israel. Jesus tells us:

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:” (Mt 25:31–34)

We are given further insight into this aspect of judging the nations in Zechariah chapter fourteen where we are told that Jesus will be King over all the earth and the nations will have to come to Jerusalem to pay Him homage.

A careful study of the life of Joseph as the Governor of Egypt is a wonderful picture of Jesus on His Throne, with all the nations coming to Him. (Gen. 41)

The Great White Throne Judgment

God the Father has committed the responsibility of the Judgment of the world to a man, the man Christ Jesus.

For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth— those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” (Jn 5:21–30)

This authority to judge every individual, Jesus will exercise at the Great White Throne judgment, spoken about in Revelation chapter twenty.

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Re 20:11–15)

A Summary of the Various Judgments

  1. God judged sin by sacrificing His Son upon the cross.
  2. Believers are to judge themselves, as they partake of the emblems of bread and wine.
  3. Believers will give an account to the Lord at the Bema Seat of Christ, where they will receive rewards, if their works are found to be ‘gold, silver and precious stones’ (spiritually speaking).
  4. Jesus will reign on the Throne of David in Jerusalem for a thousand years where He will judge the nations as King.
  5. Every unsaved person will be judged at the Great White Throne judgment.

The Principle of Eternal Judgment

We have briefly looked at the various judgments that the Bible speaks about, but it is important for us to understand the principle behind these judgments. The details and timing of these judgments could vary, depending on one’s interpretation of prophecy and understanding of end-time events. The principle however, remains the same and it is this principle that we need to hide in our hearts as part of the Foundation of Jesus Christ, which Paul spoke about when he said: “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Co 3:10–11)

The basic thread that runs through all of these judgments is the fact that man is accountable to God for His actions and that there will be a final judgment with eternal consequences.

When it comes to those who are in Christ as believers, the principle of eternal judgment lies in the fact that Jesus took the accountability for our sin and paid the price on our behalf. We therefore are accountable to God to abide in Jesus by eating and drinking of Him spiritually and we are accountable to Jesus for the works that we do in our body because they have eternal rewards.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Co 4:16–18)

Keith Green’s Story

The story of Keith Green is sad but also inspiring because it becomes clear from his testimony that he is the real deal.

Watch and listen here. Keith Green’s Story

Time vs Eternity

The difficulty of comprehending eternity

It is very difficult to imagine eternity, especially if we try to quantify it from a time perspective. Or if we think of eternity in a linear format as having an infinite past and an infinite future, with the passing of an infinite amount of time. The metaphors that I have heard, such as “eternity is like a bird rubbing its beak on a diamond the size of the earth and when the diamond is worn away, eternity has just begun” gives a completely wrong perspective that will never explain eternity.

The Bible gives us insight on eternity

The Bible does however shed light on how we can conceive of eternity. When Moses was instructed by God to free Israel from Egypt, he asked God, who he should say had sent him and by what name God should be made known. God’s profound answer opens a brief curtain on eternity and gives us a perspective from which we can begin to understand the concept of eternity. “God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ” (Ex 3:14) ‘I AM’ is not really a name but rather indicates a state of existence. God was therefore indicating His eternal Being. There is no “I was” or “I shall be” with God, there is only “I AM”. He exists outside of time and does not have a beginning or an end.

We need to add to this the invaluable insight that Paul gives to us when he says “…  the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Co 4:18) To complete the picture we need to also consider what the writer of Hebrews says about creation. “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” (Heb 11:3)

The picture of eternity forms as we put these facts together

With these facts before us we are able to conclude that there is an enormous or infinitely large, unseen, but eternal arena in which God dwells. Within this arena God placed a ‘time capsule’ by creating a visible material universe. “In the beginning ..” (Gen 1:1) indicates the start of time. Paul tells us that there is an end to time; “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.” (1 Co 15:24) The visible, material universe therefore has a time limit placed upon it.

God steps into time to offer us eternity

At God’s appointed time, which the Bible calls the ‘fullness of time’ God stepped out of the unseen eternal arena and into the material visible creation, in the form of a man; the man, Christ Jesus.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14)

He came to offer us an existence with God in His eternal arena, or quite simply; eternal life. Eternal life is therefore not an infinitely long life, but an eternal existence with God.

A man got a glimpse of eternity

Paul had a glimpse of this eternal arena when he was caught up to the 3rd Heaven (God’s eternal arena), it had such an impact upon him that he made the following statements:

I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith,” (Php 1:23–25)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Ro 8:18)

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Co 4:17–18)

If we have received the gift of eternal life from the Lord Jesus Christ, we will continue to pass our time in this visible universe, but we by grace, qualify to live in the eternal arena with God.

What happens when we die?

When we die, we vacate this visible world which has an expiry date and we are immediately present with the Lord in His eternal arena. We wait in this arena, while time passes on earth, until the moment of the Resurrection.  “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Co 5:1)

Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Co 5:8)

At an appointed time God will give the signal, the Trumpet will blow, there will be the shout of the Archangel and everyone who has received the gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus, will receive a body that is fit for our eternal existence with God.

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” (1 Co 15:50–53)

It is for this reason that Paul says:  “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Co 4:16–18)

 

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