December 27, 2022 — Eternity is a Really Long Time!

“The other day,” Stan commented, “I was looking at the first part of Luke’s gospel and I saw time put into the proper perspective for belief.”

“Time put in the proper perspective for belief?” I replied. “What were you looking at?”

“Luke’s account about how John the Baptist’s dad responded to the news that he was going be a father,” Stan said. “You familiar with that story?”

“A little,” I replied.

“Let me give you a quick summary,” Stan said. “There was a man by the name of Zacharias who had a wife named Elizabeth. They didn’t have any children and they both were getting pretty old. They thought that the time for having any children had probably run out.”

“Too old to have children,” I commented. “That must have made them sad.”

“I’m not sure about that,” Stan replied, “but you’re probably right. To continue with what I was saying, Luke wrote that Zacharias was a priest, and that one day while he was in the temple doing his priestly service, an angel of the Lord named Gabriel showed up and told him that he was going to be a father of a child to be named John. The child would have a special role to play in God’s plan of redemption. Zacharias was doubtful, and because of his doubt Gabriel told him that he wouldn’t be able to speak until the baby was born.”

“So?” I questioned. “What’s that have to do with you and any perspective about time?”

“It’s all about belief,” Stan replied. “Because of his unbelief, Zacharias couldn’t speak for a few months until what Gabriel told him happened, until the birth of the baby who was to be John the Baptist.”

“Just think about what happens,” he continued, “if a person doesn’t believe about another baby, the baby Jesus. What happens to all those people who don’t believe He was sent into the world to save them?”

“Well,” I said, “I guess they’ll spend eternity separated from God.”

“Good guess,” Stan replied. “Zacharias couldn’t speak for a few months because of his unbelief. But a few months is nothing compared to eternity separated from God because of unbelief about Jesus. I’m so thankful for those people who brought me to the truth so I could believe. A vital part of my faith walk is based on the idea that everyone should have the same opportunity to believe the truth and avoid eternal separation from God. I think I’m supposed to be a part of that.”

“I see what you mean,” I replied. “A few months of silence because Zacharias didn’t believe is nothing compared to what will happen for eternity to someone who doesn’t believe.”

“You’re right, my friend,” Stan said, “a few months is a short amount of time, but eternity is a really long time. Something to think about!”

____________________________

Bible verses to consider:

And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this for certain? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God; and I have been sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which shall be fulfilled in their proper time.” Luke 1:18-20.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16.

I do believe; help my unbelief. Mark 9:24.

And He wondered at their unbelief. Mark 6:6.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for giving Jesus as the way into your eternal presence because of His finished work on the cross. Thank you for those who brought me to the truth so I could believe. I confess that too often I do not tell others the truth of your provision so they, too, can believe and know they will spend eternity in your presence. I confess also that too often I do not believe all you have for me to believe in the way you intend for me. Please forgive the foolishness of not living this life based on believing all you have for me. And please help me in following every step of your lead so I do, in fact, believe all there is to believe about you. Help my unbelief. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Do you believe in what God has provided so you know you will spend eternity in His presence when it’s time? If no, why is that? Is it because you have not heard the truth? Or is it because you have not believed? Do you realize that eternity is a long time to be separated from God? If you are a Christian with the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with telling others the truth of God’s provision so they, too, can come to believe? How are you doing in believing all that God has for you to believe? If you sense the need for change, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?

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