See the first post in this series to see what we’re doing here.
Attribute n. - a quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something.
1 Timothy 1:17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible,
the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
This month’s attribute for our consideration is “Eternal”. According to Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language from 1828, eternal means:
1. Without beginning or end of existence…
2. Without beginning of existence…
3. Without end of existence or duration; everlasting; endless; immortal…
4. Perpetual; ceaseless; continued without intermission…
5. Unchangeable; existing at all times without change; as eternal truth.
Being eternal is a pretty hard concept for us humans to get our minds around. In fact, I’m not sure it’s even possible, regardless of what some might think. Stuck in time as we are, how can we even grasp the enormity of what it means to be eternal? We ourselves are eternal beings in the sense of definition 3. – we are without end of existence, and yet for every one of us that started at a point in time. God is eternal in the past as well. He is without beginning. If an eternal future is hard to imagine, how can we understand an eternal past? We really can’t.
Like we learned about God’s goodness, He is eternal “all by Himself” in that He is eternal without beginning OR end. He is also eternal without reference to human time or permission, and without us understanding how it works. His eternalness pretty much doesn’t relate to the timeline of human existence, except for this – if He wasn’t eternal, we couldn’t have eternal life.
Many of the verses in the Bible that mention “eternal” refer to “eternal life.” Eternal life would fall under definitions 3-5 because it certainly does have a beginning in a certain sense. But, it is everlasting, perpetual, ceaseless, continuing without intermission and unchangeable. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For us, as humans, this is a subject of utmost importance because we are eternal beings in the future sense, and where we spend that eternity after this short earthly life is really the central issue of human existence.
Matthew 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him [Jesus], Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
When this man asked this question he was looking for eternal life, but notice the tragic and common mistake he made. He wanted to know what HE could DO in order to have eternal life. He was looking for it within himself and by his own efforts. Eternal life cannot be earned or attained by us. We are spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; So, although we are eternal beings, we are eternally dead without the eternal life that only someone eternally alive can give. That would be God Almighty, and He chose to give us that eternal life through Jesus Christ, His Son.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Jesus said in John 10:27, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
Notice that we shall never perish. Because God is eternal, He can guarantee us eternal life; that is, life that is perpetual, continued without intermission, unchangeable, everlasting. We have that eternal life the moment that we are born again. The Lord can guarantee our eternal security in Jesus Christ, because He is eternal! If we had to depend upon our own efforts to keep ourselves saved, as some think we do, we would be as hopeless of keeping eternal life as we were to attain it in the first place. Life eternal must come from an eternal life source, and once it is given, it cannot be retracted. God has said that He will not take it back Himself. (But this is another subject for another time. I just wanted to point out that our salvation is eternal because God and Jesus Christ are eternal.)
Hebrews 9:12-14 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Here is an important thought. Because God is eternal, any sin committed is an eternal offence to Him. This is why the blood of bulls and goats could not wash sin away eternally! Only the blood of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, could bring us eternal redemption. Only eternal blood could pay the eternal penalty so that we could have eternal life. Only a God who is eternal in both directions (past and future), could make a way to pay for the sins that are past as well as all those which have not yet been committed. Only an eternal God could bring us eternal salvation and give us eternal life now that is without interruption! This is an amazing thought.
And, how do we know these things? Because He has given us the words of eternal life in His revelation of Himself to us – the Bible.
John 6:67-68 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
1 John 5:11-12 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
Revealed In Creation
Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
2 Corinthians 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
He has also revealed to us His eternal power and Godhead through His creation. It is an amazing thing that He can reveal His eternal aspects through His creation, and yet it is so. And, it is the unseen eternal things that we are supposed to be focusing on rather than the temporal things. (That surely takes care of the question as to whether we should be spending a lot of time on “causes” that relate to this life, doesn’t it?)
I think that one way that His eternalness is revealed in creation is through the fact that despite thousands of years of foolish behavior on the part of mankind, the earth is still habitable. Also, with a little help, it will correct itself and rebalance, showing the wisdom of an eternal Creator. And, in the end, the Creator has also reserved the right of final destruction of His creation to Himself. Man is not going to destroy this earth (I don’t care what the “greens” or alarmists say). (See 2 Peter 3)
Because God is an eternal God, the payment for sin must be eternal. If you reject the eternal payment that Jesus Christ offers you through His eternal blood, you will have to be the eternal payment yourself. All humans are eternal beings, but as we saw before, we are eternally dead without the life of Jesus Christ.
Jude 1:6-7 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
Revelation 14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
This is not the place where God wants anyone to go. It was prepared for the devil and his angels, but those who reject the gift He offers of eternal life, must go somewhere and that place is the lake of fire which is eternal. If you are not a Christian, please know that God is not willing to see you go to that place and that is why He has given His eternal Son to provide eternal salvation.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Though we may not be able to understand what it means for God to be eternal both past and present, our lives are fully affected by it. Our future is connected to His eternalness either for good or for bad. Either we have eternal life in Him by believing on Jesus Christ, or we abide in our eternal death and suffer eternally for our offenses against an eternal God. We have the choice to accept the eternal life, or suffer the consequences of the eternal death. But, either way, we are eternally affected by the fact that God is eternal. There is no way to escape an eternal God. Either you are eternally His, or you are eternally not His. The choice is yours.
But, for those of us who are eternally His through faith, we have the wonder and miracle of eternal life now. We have our “best life now” regardless of our condition in this life. This has nothing to do with our experiences in this life and everything to do with the eternal Father who has given us this amazing gift. Because of this, we have an eternal hope, both in this life and in the one to come. I think this is why we are told to “lay hold on eternal life” – because we need to live “with eternity’s values in view” in our day to day living. We need to live as eternal children of an eternal God. We need to see the things that are eternal, particularly His eternal power and Godhead.
1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
Ephesians 2:4-7 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…