How does a Christian Approach the Question of TIME and ETERNITY?
We worship a God who is eternal (Psalm 90:2). The classical understanding of God, championed by Augustine and the Reformers, is to think of God as timeless. God transcends time and created the universe with time. There was never a time when God was not, and there never will be a time when God is not.
Our lives here on Earth are brief:
-“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” -James (Jas 4:14b)
“Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding.” -David (1 Chr 29:15b)
“We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.” -Woman of Tekoa (2 Sam 14:14)
But while our lives are brief, they are not meaningless. Our lives are significant and our actions have value and importance. The significance of our lives comes from the fact that they have been given to us by God to use for His glory. We will be held account for our actions and how we use the time God has given us. Our actions have consequences for eternity.
As Christians we are called to “redeem the time, because the days are evil” (Eph 5:16). As Christians we take heart that God rules over all of time, and “in his time, he makes all things beautiful” (Ecc 3:11).
There is a continued personal existence for everyone after death. In some ways, our present condition will continue: if we have been reconciled to God and enjoy a restored relationship with Him (something that Jesus Christ makes possible in the gospel and is available for all who have Jesus as their Lord and Savior), then we will continue to be close to God and enjoy a closeness to Him, free from sin in heaven; if we have not be reconciled to God, then we will continue to be estranged from Him after we die and go to a real and painful place of judgment on sin, a place called hell.
In the future, Jesus will physically return to Earth and everyone of us will experience a physical resurrection. We will stand before Christ in physical bodies on the ‘Day of Judgment.’ Those who are righteous—something only possible through receiving Christ’s perfect righteousness, something that is a gift given to us when we believe in Jesus—will be welcomed into the new heavens and new Earth, but those are not righteous will be cast into hell, where they will experience the just judgment of God on sin.