Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 11, 1951
NUMBER 35, PAGE 4-5b

Between Two Eternities


There are two times in every year when a man's thoughts turn more than ordinarily to the passage of time. One of these occasions comes when the year ends, and a new year begins. We reflect then more solemnly than on other days concerning our brief span of years upon this earth—how swiftly and relentlessly and inexorably day follows day out of eternity, being born each morning shining and new, sinking each evening into the awful oblivion of eternal silence, carrying with it forever into history all the confused wreckage of everything it has witnessed and known.

The other occasion that brings reflection is a birthday. For on those days we measure, not the time of the world, but our own brief slice of eternity, counting off, one by one, the inevitable hours until we, too, are swallowed up in that frightening chasm, and the world and all things therein shall know us no more forever. It was Moses who said, "We bring our years to an end as a sigh. The days of our years are three-score years and ten, Or even by reason of strength four-score years; Yet is their pride but labor and sorrow; For it is soon gone and we fly away." At the grave of his brother, Robert Ingersoll paraphrased Sir Thomas Moore and said, "Life is but a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities." Out of one eternity we came; for a few fleeting years we live and move upon the face of the earth; then into another eternity we go—and there is no return. In a few short years it will all be over; all the dreams and ambitions, all the hopes and fears, all the confusion and chaos, the struggle and strife, the heartaches and happiness are swallowed up in the silence of the tomb. "We bring our years to an end as a tale that is told," and let us hope that after "life's fitful fever" we shall sleep well.

The majority of mankind reflects all too little on the brevity of life and the certainty of death. Even amongst us who are Christians the tendency is strong to go the unthinking way of the world, to live each day as though life on this earth were eternal, to assume the attitude toward life held by the careless, the indifferent, and the agnostic. The pagan posture of the materialist is everywhere in evidence. One of our modern philosophers in a recent dissertation on the insignificance and total worthlessness of humanity said, "In the visible world the Milky Way is a tiny fragment. Within this fragment the solar system is an infinitesimal speck, and of this speck, our planet is a microscopic dot. On this dot tiny lumps of impure carbon and water crawl about for a few years, until they dissolve into the elements of which they are compounded."' What a picture of man! Was it for this that Christ died?

There are others, however, to whom life has a worth and a meaning far beyond the power of words to describe. They know that a day is coming on which our future upon this planet will not be counted in years, nor in months, nor even in days—but in hours and minutes. Then the solemn and inevitable change from this life into another. For that day and for that hour they are living. To them life is not a meaningless, bootless, worthless misadventure; man is not a mere bundle of atoms of "impure carbon and water;" but he is the child of God, a brother to Jesus Christ. He has infinite capabilities and possibilities. So great is his worth that God himself was willing to give his Son to die in order that this creature of his might have the hope of eternal life.

If we are to make the most of our restless years, we must regard this life of ours as a sacred entrustment, we are the recipients of blessings far beyond our power to imagine or to understand. We cannot take this heritage of ours for granted. It is not that "life owes us a living;" but rather God has entrusted us with high and holy blessings for the duration of our few years, and we are to prove ourselves worthy of his love and mercy. Indeed, we are even indebted to the past generations for most of what we are and have. Our modern conveniences, the very homes in which we live, the vehicles in which we ride, clothes we wear, all these and a thousand other things are possible for us only because of the work and skill and sacrifices of the past. Our cultural advantages, our educational system, our political liberty, our freedom from enslavement; —how much we owe to others! And how unthinking and ungrateful are the vast majority of men for these things.

Since our blessings are so great, and since God's: provisions for us are so abundant, surely no thinking man can refuse or neglect to give God the honor and the reverence that are due to him. He has given us a revelation (the Bible) by which we may know him, and know his will for us. Dares any man to set that book aside? Where is the man who will not study it, who will not heed it, who selfishly and blindly pursues his course through life, unthinking, unheeding, and unthankful.

As we go into the new year, we believe there are scores of people who read this page who will not see the year-end. Out of the many thousands who receive this paper, the law of averages will indicate that a certain percentage will die within the year. Even the one who writes these lines may be among that number. Who knows?

But for the Christian there is no death. Or rather, there is no death that he dreads or from which he shrinks in terror. Be his days few or many, and be they bright or dark, he walks with one who knows the way; and He shall guide his steps aright. There is no life worth the living outside of Christ; and there is no death that is worthy of fear in Christ.