Eternal Perspective


...remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:3)

One of the more difficult disciplines of the Christian life is cultivating an eternal perspective when evaluating how to use the resources the Lord makes available to us.

The challenge impacts us at every level of our lives, whether with mere personal decisions or in Kingdom leadership roles the Lord may grant as we mature. It is difficult to apply long-term thinking in any circumstance, but it is especially so with the key elements of the Kingdom. Long-term strategies must include how a given decision will impact people’s responses to the Scriptures and/or to the multifaceted gospel message.

Nothing Physical Lasts

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10)

There are several such broad teachings in Scripture (Psalm 102:26; Joel 1:15; Isaiah 51:6; Matthew 24:35; Hebrews 1:10-12; Revelation 20:11), but the essence of these passages is a promise that the Creator will totally purge the universe of everything that is sin-tainted and restore a “new heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17; Revelation 21:1) in which total righteousness is the reality (2 Peter 3:13).

For all practical purposes, anything people build or develop has no eternal value—except as it relates to the matters the Lord Himself has identified as impacting eternity.

Eternal Words

Obviously, the essence of eternal revelation to us is the written words of God, the Holy Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16). “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” is the statement that comes from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Himself (Matthew 24:35).

The essence of eternal revelation to us is the written words of God, the Holy Scriptures. Tweet: The essence of eternal revelation to us is the written words of God, the Holy Scriptures. https://www.icr.org/article/10184/ via @icrscience

That principle appears frequently throughout Scripture. “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven,” the Lamed acrostic1 announces in Psalm 119:89, echoed by Isaiah: “The word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8). If there is any hope of our gaining an eternal perspective during our short lives, it surely must begin, focus, and thrive on the “word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23).

Eternal Works

In one form or another, the hallmark theme of the Bible is “Sow for yourselves righteousness” (Hosea 10:12). If there is a distinguishing mark of the twice-born, it is:

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:2-3)

Lest my emphasis is mistaken, there is absolutely no connection in Scripture between works and God’s gift of salvation, but there is every connection between a lifestyle of righteousness and the eternal life of the twice-born child of God. Jesus said to the Jews who believed in Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).

As the angelic messenger is escorting John through the magnificent Revelation of Jesus Christ, there is a scene that reveals the 144,000, the horror of the wrath of God, and the destruction of Babylon. Tucked in these “flash messages” is a description of the “patience of the saints” and “those who keep the commandments of God” (Revelation 14:12). These blessed dead are singled out for an unusual comment: “They may rest from their labors, and their works follow them” (Revelation 14:13).

Yes, it sometimes costs our earthly lives to serve the King, but we are given the high privilege and opportunity to be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that [our] labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Eternal Attitude

As the Lord Jesus was wrapping up His instruction to His disciples, He used a common ranching experience to help them understand how God would evaluate human activities to separate the “sheep” from the “goats.”

All nations were gathered for a final analysis of their behavior. Those who would “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” were set on one side, and those who would be thrown “into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” were set on the other side (Matthew 25:35, 41).

The activity that gave evidence of the right heart attitude was acts of kindness (or not) to “the least of these My brethren” (Matthew 25:32-46). Even the little things are important to the great Creator and Judge—since they reveal the heart behind the deeds (1 Samuel 16:7).

Because the Word of God is eternal and the heart drives people to obey or disobey accordingly, “whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19).

Eternal Behavior

During the incomparable Sermon on the Mount, Jesus listed a series of heart attitudes and their eternal consequences known more commonly as the beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12). From that foundational evaluation, He spoke about our life as “light” and as “salt” that should demonstrate to the world what it really meant to live a godly lifestyle.

Even when godly motivation brings about disgust and persecution from the world, we should “rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:12).

Jesus gave us two parables that set the stage for how we should evaluate our behavior in the light of an eternal perspective. Matthew’s gospel records one of the stories and Luke’s gospel the other. Both of them speak of a wealthy man who went into a far country to receive authority to rule. Both teach that the journey would take a long time and that the servants were given certain amounts of money to do business while he was away.

In Matthew’s account (Matthew 25:14-30), the servants were given differing amounts of money, “each according to his own ability.” In Luke’s account (Luke 19:12-27), each servant was given the same amount. Both sets of servants were expected to use the gifts to further the value of the owner’s property, not their own. When the owner came back, his evaluation of each servant would be based on how well he had performed on the owner’s behalf—and his reward would be in proportion to what he had done.

Matthew notes that two of the three servants had essentially doubled their master’s money by trading during his absence. Luke stressed the point that two of the servants had performed very well, although to different returns of the master’s investment. In both cases, however, one servant did nothing with the owner’s money but hid it because he was afraid that if he risked anything he might lose the money.

The four servants who invested or did good business while the master was away were rewarded with true riches by having authority over cities in the new realm under the owner’s domain. The master acknowledged they had been faithful in a few things and had proven their loyalty and worth so that they could be granted oversight over many things.

The two servants who had done nothing of value on behalf of their master, however, were called lazy, wicked, and unprofitable. Those worthless servants were thrown into “outer darkness,” and the original money was given to the most productive of the other servants.

God expects us to perform on His behalf. We are temporarily given the opportunity to work down here while the Lord is in the “far country.” We only have one life for a very short time until we will be brought before our “Owner” and evaluated for our eternal perspective.

Only One Life, ‘Twill Soon Be Past

Many of us have heard that little couplet, but few know who wrote it. Permit me to use that marvelous poem written by C. T. Studd (1860–1931), a famous British cricketer and missionary to China, India, and Africa.

Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in “that day” my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill,
Living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say, “Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

“Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.” —C. T. Studd Tweet: “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.” —C. T. Studd https://www.icr.org/article/10184/ via @icrscience

ICR Discovery Center

All of the above is to help you understand how we view the ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History. Even though the building will be absolutely beautiful, the building itself will not last. Even though we are trying to anticipate the best equipment and concepts available to us today, all of that will be outdated pretty quickly. We are trying to design the structure so we can update both the material and the equipment with a minimum of disruption, but the “stuff” is made out of highly organized dust, and the information will be subject to the same Second Law of Thermodynamics that everything else is subject to.

What is not subject to decay and human finite imagination is the biblical principles and stunning verification of the accuracy and authority of the Bible. ICR is absolutely committed to those eternal issues.

We are genuinely trying to think eternally as we plan for this center. We are evaluating everything we put together by the Word of God. If there is doubt, we don’t want it in this building. If there is opinion, we are going to leave that for the pundits on TV. If there is dogma or pontification, we are consciously excising that from our planning.

Genuine science (observed, tested, repeated) is a wonderful tool for the Christian. We want science in this discovery center. We do not want guesses, philosophy, or slavish devotion to favorite ideas to be part of this place of discovery.

Genuine science (observed, tested, repeated) is a wonderful tool for the Christian. Tweet: Genuine science (observed, tested, repeated) is a wonderful tool for the Christian. https://www.icr.org/article/10184/ via @icrscience

Genuine theology (“precept upon precept, line upon line…here a little, there a little,” Isaiah 28:10) is powerful! We want biblical theology and the clear principles of Scripture to flow through this ministry like water from the Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4). We do not want “religion” or denominational creeds. We want the “word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23).

We are praying we can open this legacy in fall 2018. Pray with us. Share with us. Rejoice with us. Whether much or little, together we, “as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).

Reference

  1. Each stanza of Psalm 119 begins with a consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

* Dr. Morris is Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Creation Research. He holds four earned degrees, including a D.Min. from Luther Rice Seminary and an MBA from Pepperdine University.

Cite this article: Henry M. Morris III, D.Min. 2017. Eternal Perspective. Acts & Facts. 46 (9).