June 7, 2010 David Balzer

From Here to Eternity: D.eath and Beyond

Eternity. There’s something about that word that makes us curious; that raises our interest. One of the ways human beings are unique is that we have a perception about eternity. It’s a sneaking suspicion, a feeling that we can’t quite pin down, that there has to be something more to reality than simply what we see. Ecclesiastes 3:11 puts it like this: “God has set eternity in the hearts of men.”

The Ancient Roman philosopher Cicero said, “There is, I know not how, in the minds of men, a certain presage, as it were, of a future existence; and this takes the deepest root, and is most discoverable, in the greatest geniuses and most exalted souls.”

Alexander Smith, a 19th century Scottish poet, caught a glimpse of something outside of the visible world when he wrote, “Eternity doth wear upon her face the veil of time. They only see the veil, and thus they know not what they stand so near!”

Recognising that d.eath could not be the end, William Penn, a 17th cent American politician, said, “For d.eath is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity.” While Woody Allen, in typical fashion, says, “Eternity is really long, especially near the end.”

Over 35 years Arthur Stace chalked the word “Eternity” on the pavements of Sydney an estimated half a million times. He was converted to Christianity on the night of 6 August 1930, after hearing an inspirational sermon by Rev. R. B. S. Hammond at St. Barnabas Church, Broadway. Two years later, on 14 November 1932, Arthur was further inspired by the preaching of Evangelist John G. Ridley on “The echoes of Eternity” from Isaiah 57:15: “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabits Eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” John Ridley’s words, “Eternity, Eternity, I wish that I could sound or shout that word to everyone in the streets of Sydney. You’ve got to meet it. Where will you spend Eternity?” would prove crucial in Stace’s decision to tell others about his faith.

In an interview, Arthur Stace said, “Eternity went ringing through my brain and suddenly I began crying and felt a powerful call from the Lord to write Eternity.” Even though he was illiterate and could hardly write his own name legibly, the word Eternity, “came out smoothly, in a beautiful copperplate script. I couldn’t understand it, and I still can’t.”

These talks look at the words of the One who inhabits eternity, and thus who is uniquely qualified to speak of eternity. They examine what God, in the Bible, has to say about d.eath, resurrection, the return of Jesus, judgment, heaven and hell.

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