Eternal Realities -what does that mean? The Bible tells us that everything you see is temporary and that eternal realities are things you don’t see. The material or physical is not the only reality. We can’t see God, we can’t see the angels, we can’t see our souls, we can’t see God’s Holy Spirit, and we can’t see heaven. Yet, the Bible says those things are going to last forever.
“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT
“1For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. 2 We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 3 For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. 4 While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. 5 God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
6 So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. 7 For we live by believing and not by seeing. 8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. 10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 NLT
The point that the Apostle Paul is making here is that spiritual realities are more real than physical realities and we need to focus on what is real. The realities of life and the universe are all found in God’s word. So, let’s just take a moment and look at five spiritual realities.
Five Spiritual Realities
- God created you and loves you.
You were made by God and you were made for God. Until you understand that, life isn’t going to make sense. Because life is all about God and it’s all for His Glory. Even more, not only does He love you, He has given you the capacity to learn to love Him back, to get to know Him back.
2. You were made to last forever.
One day your heart’s going to stop and that is going to be the end of your body, but it certainly won’t be the end of you. The bible says that you and I, as human beings, were created in the image of God, which means God put us in eternity.
“He has planted eternity in the human heart.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
That’s why regardless of how good things are for you on this planet or how bad things are, there’s still a longing in you and at some point in your life you think, there’s got to be more than this. The truth is there is more, much more. In fact, life is preparation for eternity.
3. God has prepared two eternal places: Heaven and Hell.
Heaven and hell are both real, literal places. Heaven is not an accident. It is a prepared place. Jesus said, “I’m going to prepare a place for you.” Where Jesus is, you get to be too. You don’t have to stay on a planet that is broken with sin. Instead, you get to spend eternity in a place of freedom and perfection with Jesus. But, hell is also a real place.
“…Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41
Satan rebelled against God and hell was prepared for him and his angels. Hell wasn’t originally intended for human beings. If you choose to rebel against God – just like Satan did – and you choose to reject God and instead say, “I’m going to be my own god, I’m going to do what I want to do, be what I want to be, say what I want to say,” then you choose to go where Satan goes.
4. You get to choose where you will spend eternity.
It’s your choice. This is the same kind of choice that God gave to Israel in the Old Testament. Back in the book of Deuteronomy, God says this to the people of Israel, “Today, I’m giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse. You’ll be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God. Or you’ll receive a curse if you reject Me and be your own God. In heaven, God has the right to say, “If you want to come to heaven here’s how you get here. Through Jesus Christ.”
If I reject His condition for entering heaven, He’s not being unloving, I’m being foolish.
5. There’s no second chance after you die.
You get to choose where you’re going to spend eternity. But you have to choose now while you’re alive, not after you’re dead. There’s no purgatory. Purgatory is not in the Bible. The Bible says, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” The Bible also says, “They will go away into eternal punishment. But the righteous will go into eternal life.”The reality is there are two places.
What we’re talking about today is your eternal destiny. If there’s anything that the cross teaches us, it’s that Jesus wasn’t inconclusive on the subject of heaven and hell. The human mind wants to default to a universalistic point of view and hope that at the end of the day we all make it. That this amazing God that we love and serve will somehow work it all out for everybody at the end of the day. To that point-of-view is a cross that stands in history. That cross tells us some important things that Jesus believed about eternity.
What the Cross Tells Us
- There is something to be saved from.
The cross teaches us that Jesus is a savior but if there is a savior then there must be something from which to be saved. So the question then is, what did Jesus save you from? When we talk about God we normally lean towards His grace, mercy, kindness, patience, forgiveness, greatness, and perfection. But there is also His wrath, and without the wrath of God there is nothing to look forward to, because the earth would not be cleansed of evil.
Jesus saw this title wave of God’s holiness coming to cleanse the earth of it’s sin, and He gave us a way to be spared. So that in Jesus we can be hidden and covered by His righteousness, so that when the wrath of God comes we are in the shelter of His wings. We are under the covering of the blood of Jesus, of a savior who gave His life in our place, who took on our sin and absorbed the wrath of God.
“6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! So we get saved from something and the something we get saved from is the wrath of God. 10For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” Romans 5:6-10 NIV
There will be no holding God to any questions the day of righteousness. Here comes the righteousness of God unbridled and everything in its wake is going to get covered. Even before the cross, John the Baptist said what it was all about.
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” John 3:36
So if Jesus didn’t believe the day of the righteous wrath was coming, and all evil and sinfulness would be cast out of God’s presence, why would he put his life in our place? His belief in heaven and hell compelled Him to put Himself in peril at the highest degree. On the flip side of that, Christ has come, and out of the tomb erupted life, hope, and all kinds of opportunity for us to come and receive Christ’s covering for our sin. So in the same moment, when the holiness of God is fully released on the earth we will be covered by what Christ has issued for us when His blood was shed for us on the cross.
2. Unchecked sin leads to a gruesome death.
Hell is a place where people go to pay the penalty for sin, it’s where they go to pay the wage, death.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 NIV
If the wages of sin were simply being a bad person, Jesus could have just come to earth and been a good teacher and then ascended into heaven. But we no that’s not the whole story. There was an incarnation, a crucifixion, a resurrection and an ascension. The cross represents the death Jesus died in our place
3. No on can make it to God on their own merit.
Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross, to save us from the wrath of God. If there is a way to get to heaven apart from that, is Jesus not the most foolish person who’s ever walked the face of the earth? Jesus did not believe in another way or a back door when he said it is finished on the cross.
4. Hell is avoidable.
In scripture, everywhere hell is mentioned, you see God’s grace overwhelming the conversation. You see God saying, I’ve made a way, His name is Jesus. Receive Him. Accept him. Believe in Him. Cling to Him and avoid death. This is God’s heart for us. God doesn’t send people to hell, He saves them from hell. You have to step over the cross and step over a savior to go to hell.
5. Heaven is worth it.
Jesus thought the cross was worth it. It’s what made Him full of joy, endurance, patience, forgiveness and everything else!
“For the joy set before him he endured the cross” Hebrews 12:2
Jesus saw the joy of being seated at the right hand of God the father. The joy of making a way so that you could be where He is, and so He endured the cross.
“And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. 13I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:11-13 NLT
God is clear that he doesn’t want anyone to perish. But you either agree with God or you don’t. Put your hope in Jesus, and choose life in Christ and trust in Him.
Check back on your discussions from the last week, “Resurrection = Hope” — Has any part of being totally forgiven, not fearing death and having an eternal home stayed with you?
After a looking at 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:10, we looked at five realities of life:
- God created you and loves you
- You were made to last forever
- God has prepared 2 eternal places
- You choose where you’ll spend eternity
- There is no second chance after you die
Jesus was not inconclusive about the subject of these eternal realities, especially heaven and hell. Next week we’ll talk more about heaven, but take a moment to read a couple of these passages in scripture on the subject of hell: Matthew 10:28-33; Matthew 13:37-43; Matthew 25:31-46; Mark 9:42-48; Luke 16:22-26; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 14:9-11.
Discussion & Application
- Growing up, what was your view of heaven and hell? What was your family’s view?
- What stood out to you in this message? Any observations or questions regarding the five realities of life?
- The most conclusive message Jesus ever gave us on the eternal realities of heaven and hell is the cross. Jesus is a savior. What are some of the things he saved people from? (The book of Romans was written to help answer this question. Romans 5:6-10 is a helpful passage on this.)
- Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Are you leaning whole heartedly on Jesus, or do you still believe that some kind of good work or lack of bad works will please God and get you into heaven?
- God made a way, doing everything possible to save people from hell including immense suffering. Why do some believe God is loving and others believe he is unloving?
Ask the group for how you can pray for and support one another this week. If you haven’t believed in Jesus work on the cross to give you eternal life, why not now? Share with your group or family that you want to make that decision.
If you’ve never done so, read the book of Romans in the New Testament. You could read the whole book in a week by reading two or three chapters a day. The Bible Project’s overview video of Romans is helpful for the context, purpose and time period.
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