In our study so far, we have covered two points. The first of these was death, and we should remember that the outstanding characteristic of death is its certainty. The other point that we asked ourselves was, “Does death end all?” Just as we found that death is universal, we found that man has universally and always believed in a life after death. man’s earthly condition, savage or civilized, ancient or contemporary, Christian or pagan, has not altered his belief that there is something else after the grave. Having come so far in a study, it would be impossible to stop and not consider what is beyond the grave. To stop would be like reading a murder mystery and finding that the last page had been torn out.
What is left for us comes under three headings we will investigate: “What Eternal really means”, “Hell”, and “Heaven”.
The adjective “Eternal” is applied in the Scriptures to the conditions of life, both the bright side, and the dark side, upon the other side. It is idle for us to speak of eternal life or eternal damnation, unless we know what eternal means. If we can understand what a word such as “eternal” really means, it may help throw into focus the meaning of life as we live it here on earth.
Eternity is a word that falls on us awakening the profoundest emotions. In some, it may evoke joy and happiness in bringing about thoughts of eternal happiness. In others, it may bring out sadness and solemnity because of uncertainty about the new life. The word “eternity” bewilders us and stuns us and even staggers us with its enormity. It is a horizon without limit, an abyss without bottom; it is immeasurable and unthinkable. Because of its enormity, men have tried to make the picture of eternity real by portraying some common illustration. For example, an illustration given once was this: Imagine a granite mountain a mile high and a mile square. Imagine a bird pecked a grain of this granite and carried it away, one trip each for 1,000 years. Then, when the mountain had disappeared, the first second of eternity will have passed. Such an illustration, however, fails to get the point across. Such an illustration merely dulls the senses because they are unable to comprehend such a length of time.
To conceive of eternity as the years of time multiplied by millions and billions and trillions, merely begets a sense of unreality and finally creates indifference. Men are finally likely to say, “Such conceptions are inconceivable and therefore, they are not true.” Let us try, therefore, to see what the Bible means when it uses the word “eternity.”