“BETWEEN THE ETERNITIES”

Raymond Elliott

In the Movie made for television “Broken Trail”, Robert Duvall as Print Ritter said a few words at the grave of one of the young Chinese women who had been left in his care.  He nervously uttered these words “We are travelers in this world from the sweet grass to the packing house.  Birth to death we travel between the eternities.” It is the last sentence that is so simple and yet so profound in its meaning that I wish to notice with you presently.  First of all there are not two eternities but eternity has always been and will always be.  You and I in our finite mind cannot in any way comprehend eternity.  There is no example that can even begin to illustrate the length of eternity since there is no beginning or ending.  On the other hand time does have a beginning and it will have an ending.  It was in the beginning that God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1).  When Jesus Christ shall come again time will cease to exist.  The righteous, by God’s infinite grace will inherit eternal life in a place called heaven where Jesus has prepared a place for them (John 14:1-3; Matthew 25:34).  It will be then that “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” (2 Peter 3:10).  Time is simply a minute blimp on the screen of eternity.  In contrast to time and this physical world, the spirit of man returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:14).  The spirit of man was made in the likeness of his Maker who is spirit (Genesis 1:26, 27; John 4:24).  God is the “Father of spirits” (Hebrews 12:9) and the one who “forms the spirit of man within him “(Zechariah 12:1). 

In time and in this life we often have a second chance to correct our mistakes.  Our youth have seen so many movies and television shows in which people are killed and yet these same actors can be seen in later movies that there is a feeling instilled in these young minds that death is not so final after all.  Some religions teach that man will have a second chance after death but the Word of God teaches differently.  In Hebrews 9:27 the writer declares, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”  In the story Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus dying and going to the unseen world of departed spirits, he revealed that once a person dies and his spirit goes either to paradise or a place of punishment that his/her eternal destiny cannot be changed (Luke 16:19-31).  It will be too late to wish for another opportunity to give one’s life to the Lord in humble obedience to the commands of the gospel of Jesus Christ; or, to return to God the Father in repentance and asks His forgiveness as did the prodigal son who was mentioned in the parable related by Jesus Christ and recorded in Luke 15:11-23. 

One can find no comfort in such teachings that explain the punishment for the unbeliever, the immoral, the rebellious and the unfaithful as being brief and then complete annihilation.  Jesus did not speak of annihilation but of punishment for the wicked when He said, “And these (those on the left at the Judgment) will go into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46).  The apostle John wrote in Revelation 21:8, “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”  I heard a statement relative to this matter some forty years ago that has stuck in mind ever since and this is it, “There will be no love in hell.” God has made every provision through the death of His Son and according to the riches of His grace to save us.  I pray that everyone will respond to that grace by a faith that is living, active and obedient (Romans 5:1, 2; Hebrews 5:8, 9).