ETERNITY – WHERE WILL YOU SPEND IT?

For over twenty five years, from 1930 to 1956, the people of Sydney woke up each day to a one-word sermon—”Eternity”—handwritten in white chalk or yellow crayon (when raining) on footpaths, train station platforms, and perimeter walls lining the city’s many walkways and streets. Each day a fresh batch of graffiti rendered in beautiful copperplate lettering style  would appear at places where there weren’t any the previous night. Somehow, for twenty five years, a mysterious figure had managed to sneak into the city every night and leave his presence on the city’s walls and sidewalks. It attracted the ire of Sydney City Council at first, but as the weeks become months, and the months became years, the “Eternity” graffiti became an iconic symbol of the city. Pedestrians stepped around and over the words, and street sweepers and cleaners left the elegant writings untouched. This is some way explains why the “Eternity” graffiti illuminated on the Sydney Harbour Bridge as part of new year’s eve celebration in 2000. The real explanation, God orchestrated it so that many worldwide would be impacted by the “Eternity” message. Arthur Stace was illiterate so it was obvious, certainly to Arthur, that God had initiated it. “I couldn’t understand it, and I still can’t,” Arthur later told in an interview.. But Arthur did know that God had asked him to do it. Arthur was obedient to go out on the streets of Sydney everyday, rain or shine, until the day before he died.

eternity-sydney-1
The “Eternity” graffiti illuminated on the Sydney Harbour Bridge as part of new year’s eve celebration in 2000. Photo credit: National Geographic

The mysterious figure behind the phenomenon, who was to become the most famous graffiti artist in Australia’s history, managed to keep his identity a secret until one morning in June 1956, when he was caught in the act. That morning, Reverend Lisle M. Thompson, who preached at the Burton Street Baptist Church, saw a church cleaner sneak out a piece of chalk from his pocket and write the word on the footpath.

Rev. Thompson approached the cleaner and asked, “Are you Mr. Eternity?”, to which the cleaner replied, “Guilty, your honour.” Soon after that encounter, the Sunday Telegraph published an interview with the artist and the mystery that had baffled Sydney for over 25 years was finally revealed. The cleaner’s name was Arthur Malcolm Stace.

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A rare photo of Arthur Stace – “Mr. Eternity”.

Born in 1885 in Redfern, Stace’s childhood and much of his adulthood was marked by abject poverty. His parents were alcoholics, and his sisters ran a brothel. In order to survive, he resorted to stealing bread and milk and searching for scraps of food in bins. At the age of 12, Stace became a ward of the state and worked briefly in a coal mine. As a teenager, he became an alcoholic and was subsequently sent to jail at 15 for drunkenness. His twenties were spent running liquor between pubs and brothels, and working as a lookout for gambling dens. During the First World War, Stace found work as a laborer with the Australian Imperial Force, but his recurring bouts of bronchitis and pleurisy led him to be discharged.

Stace finally found his calling in November 1932, when he went to listen to a Baptist preacher named John Ridley give a sermon. In a homily titled “Echoes of Eternity“, Ridley declared: “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?“. The words so captivated Stace that at that very moment, Stace pulled a piece of chalk he had in his pocket, bent down and wrote the word “Eternity” on the church floor.

Even though he was illiterate and could hardly write his own name legibly, the word ‘Eternity‘ came out smoothly, in a beautiful copperplate script. Arthur had to ask the person next to him what he had written.

God has a calling for each one of us, what is yours? Don’t know, then get into prayer until you do. Also, will you be obedient as Arthur was to carry it out regardless of the cost?

The story of Arthur Stace (Acorn Press, 2017)

WHY THE FEAR OF GOD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM

A good article with the same name by Pastor Jack Wellman on http://www.patheos,com.

There is a misconception about the fear of God, but that’s where true wisdom begins.

Fearing God

Fear is not always bad. It keeps us alive, it keeps us from hurting ourselves, it keeps us from hurting others, fear makes us take our children or ourselves to the doctor. Fear keeps former alcoholics away from social gatherings where alcohol may be served, so fear has kept people alive and out of trouble, but it can also become debilitating if it’s an irrational fear, however, the fear of God is not this kind of fear. It’s not the fear of being struck dead or cast into hell because God gives us a choice. Jesus said, Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36).

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear

If you reject Christ as your one and only hope, then you have every reason to fear. Jesus said we should “not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). For believers, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love”. (1 John 4:18). Believers fear God, but it’s not the fear of judgment. Their sins were placed upon Christ. This fear is a deep, holy, reverential fear and respect for God and His Word. Fearing God means we obey God and His Word. That is the fear of the Lord, and that is where wisdom begins

Seeking Wisdom: To have wisdom is to have the ability to think and act using past knowledge and life’s experiences, and then understanding how these two relate. Wisdom is having a common sense and insight that only time, experience, and education can bring. Based on this, we can act with confidence in making choices or decisions, and knowing when it is best to avoid certain situations. Most people gain wisdom the hard way…by making mistakes, but these are often the best teachers. If you’re faced with an important decision, then pray to God and ask Him for godly wisdom. James tells us that “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). Scripture is full of wisdom. Moses wrote that we are to “Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples.” (Deuteronomy 4:6a).

LIVING ETERNAL NOW

Jonathan Edwards resolved “that I will live so as I shall wish I had lived when I come to die.” Before he died, he helped spark the First Great Awakening, became president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton), and is widely considered America’s greatest theologian.

Edwards was right to live each day in light of his death: he died at the age of fifty-five from the new smallpox vaccination.

If you knew that you would die next month of COVID-19, what would you do to prepare? What would you do or stop doing? What changes would you make to prepare to meet God?

Can I suggest you start living now with an eternal mindset Not only is the prospect you can die at anytime but also we now have the prospect of Jesus returning, perhaps in your lifetime.’

Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.1 Timothy 6:12

Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for My sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.Mark 10:29-30

available as an eBook on Amazon and as a trade paperback book from me. mailed anywhere in the world for AUS$20. email me your address to ron@bakb.com.au and click donate icon on Home page to make donation.

THANK YOU FOR THE CROSS

A message you need to imbibe. Imbibe is not a word I use. It just came to mind and it means “to take or receive into the mind”. The Holy Spirit does His work to give you the right word at the right time. Hopefully, the message will not only be received into your mind but it will inspire, even empower you to act and step out to do what God has for you to do in these “last days”.

GOD’S WRATH

God is in control of His universe, anyone who does not believe this will face God’s wrath. His Kingdom will come. Jesus will rule and reign on this earth.

Why do the nations rage and the people’s plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then He will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in His fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.
Psalm 2:1-6

Jesus will rule and reign in a new Jerusalem that will be on the highest mountain on earth

ETERNAL LIFE OR THE WRATH OF GOD ARE THE ONLY TWO OPTIONS:The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.John 3:35-36

WE ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE – HIS CREATION REVEALS THE TRUTH: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.Romans 1:18-29

GOD POURED OUT HIS WRATH ONCE PREVIOUSLY WITH NOAH’S FLOOD:The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord.Genesis 6:5-8

Replica of the Ark built by Johannes Huiber located in Holland. Answers in Genesis have also built a life sized Noah’s Ark in Cincinnati USA

GOD KNEW THAT THE WORLD WOULD IGNORE HIS SECOND WARNING OF COMING WRATH. WILL YOU?:Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of His (Jesus) coming? For, ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.2 Peter 3:3-6

JESUS GAVE US THIS WARNING ABOUT HIS SECOND COMING AND WRATH: “For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in His day. But first, He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation (Jesus was speaking to His disciples just prior to His crucifixion. They were asking Him about the “end times”) . Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.” Luke 17:24-27

INSPIRING SPEECH – PRO ETERNAL LIFE

One of the most moving moments in the Republican Convention was the speech by Sister Dede Byrne, a surgeon and army veteran of the War in Afghanistan, who joined the order of the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Sister Dede Byrne speaks at the 2020 Republican National Convention

Here is an excerpt:

“Humility is at the foundation of our order, which makes it very difficult to talk about myself. But I can speak about my experience working for those fleeing war-torn and impoverished countries all around the world. Those refugees all share a common experience. They have all been marginalized, viewed as insignificant, powerless and voiceless. And while we tend to think of the marginalized as living beyond our borders, the truth is the largest marginalized group in the world can be found here in the United States. They are the unborn.

As Christians, we first met Jesus as a stirring embryo in the womb of an unwed mother and saw him born nine months later in the poverty of the cave. It is no coincidence that Jesus stood up for what was just and was ultimately crucified because what he said was not politically correct or fashionable. As followers of Christ, we are called to stand up for life against the politically correct or fashionable of today. We must fight against a legislative agenda that supports and even celebrates destroying life in the womb. Keep in mind, the laws we create define how we see our humanity. We must ask ourselves: What we are saying when we go into a womb and snuff out an innocent, powerless, voiceless life? As a physician, I can say without hesitation: Life begins at conception. While what I have to say may be difficult for some to hear, I am saying it because I am not just pro-life, I am pro-eternal life. I want all of us to end up in heaven together someday. Which brings me to why I am here today.

Donald Trump is the most pro-life president this nation has ever had, defending life at all stages. His belief in the sanctity of life transcends politics. President Trump will stand up against Biden-Harris, who are the most anti-life presidential ticket ever, even supporting the horrors of late-term abortion and infanticide. Because of his courage and conviction, President Trump has earned the support of America’s pro-life community. Moreover, he has a nationwide of religious standing behind him. You’ll find us here with our weapon of choice, the rosary. Thank you, Mr. President, we are all praying for you.”

ARE YOU A TRUE BELIEVER IN CHRIST?

“In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:11-14

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.Romans 8:16-17

These verses confirm that it is only those who repent, believe in Jesus and His sacrifice on The Cross, they receive and are sealed with the Holy Spirit.

“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever1 John 2:17

“If you know that He is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of Him.1 John 2:29

He will render (repay) to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.” Romans 2:6-8

These three verses truly verify that it is only those that do the will of God and practise righteousness are granted eternal life.

“But, O Lord of hosts, who judges righteously, who tests the heart and the mind,…” Jeremiah 11:20 (ESV)

“For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.” Psalm 66:10 (ESV)

“the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:7-9

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

Note: the above four verses makes it clear that God tests the hearts and minds of true believers.

Faith is what is so very precious to God. And that is why God has to test people to find out if they have genuine faith. That is the biblical truth of the matter.

FEW FIND THE WAY TO ETERNAL LIFE

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7).

Sadly, many churches are turning away from the true gospel of repentance and acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Saviour, They have compromised with the world’s values – gay marriage, even acceptance of transgender leaders. There are many who deny Jesus is the only way to inherit eternal life.

The following Scriptures describe their fate.

“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Peter 2:1-2).

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:13-15).

“But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. (2 Peter 3:7)

The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this: that though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever; but you, O LORD, are on high forever. For behold, your enemies, O LORD, for behold, your enemies shall perish; all evildoers shall be scattered. (Psalms 92:6-9)

“The LORD preserves all who love him, but all the wicked He will destroy.” (Psalms 145:20)

“But the wicked will perish; the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures; they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.” (Psalms 37:20)

Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace. but transgressors shall be altogether destroyed; the future of the wicked shall be cut off.” (Psalms 37:37-38)

“But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:7-9)

WHITE THRONE JUDGEMENT

God’s Word is truth: we will all stand before Jesus Christ and be judged for what we have done with our lives on earth. Even the saved, who are raised in the first resurrection, rewards will be given to those who have served faithfully. The unsaved will be raised at the second resurrection and face Jesus Christ at the White Throne Judgement. Their fate is in the Lake of Fire where punishment and eventual destruction, as the above Scriptures describe, is their end.

WILL YOU ENDURE PERSECUTION DURING THE COMING TRIBULATION

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.Philippians 4:13

Philippians 4:13 is likely one of the most misquoted, misapplied, and misunderstood passages within the New Testament. Suffice it to say, it is not about how one can literally do anything you put your mind to simply because you are in Christ. Paul has a specific context in mind here—and it is not about attaining your personal goals and aspirations, developing a healthy conception of self-worth, nor is it designed to be a coping mechanism to deal with the hardships of life. The passage isn’t even about finding the secret of contentment in all things, despite insistence from many that this is the focal point of this passage. This interpretation has more validity due to the previous verses:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” Philippians 4:11-12

Paul undoubtedly affirms learning contentment in all circumstances. However, the overarching point of Paul to the Philippians in this passage is not contentment, but one of enduring through suffering, particularly, a suffering brought on through no fault of their own.

Brutal execution of 11 blindfolded Christians in Nigeria, the day after Christmas

The thing that is rather sad about focusing on both the ability to do “all things” and “contentment” is that we don’t focus properly on the message of Paul, which is Christ Himself. Not only does emphasizing the “all things” profoundly miss the point of the passage, but it just doesn’t stand the test of basic logic. It isn’t even an adequate application of this passage, because all things” to Paul here has a specific context, and that context is enduring through suffering for the prize gained through the glorious gospel of our Lord. Even more clearly, they stand to be glorified with Christ, as they too share in His sufferings. Yet equally as sad, though perhaps in a less heinous way, is the focus on learning contentment that is often also presented as the point of this passage. Again, it must be restated: contentment is the fruit, not the root. The root is Jesus Christ

A rather large focus in Philippians surrounds the idea that the knowledge of Christ and His great work is the means by which the Christian is able to endure persecution. What that means is that a true knowledge of Christ leads to us seeing Him as greater than everything else—even our suffering. A true knowledge of Christ will produce in us the heart attitude that believes all else is to be considered as loss, and that to live is Christ. The one who sees Christ as the preeminent One will actually remain stable in the midst of either incredible prosperity or incredible duress, because their eyes are fixated on the risen Christ Himself (Hebrews 12:1-2). They are not lured away to treasure or trust in wealth, yet neither are they acting as if the sky is falling in the midst of even the most horrendous of circumstances. They are able to say with Paul that they may be, “…hard pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Why? Because it is invariably through weakness that the Lord is pleased to show His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9). They are content, yet their contentment is born exclusively out of seeing that their light and momentary” afflictions produces an eternal glory, which is the hope of the resurrection that the gospel of Christ brings (2 Corinthians 4:1-5:10).

Taken from article by Grayson Gilbert (Patheos) “Philippians 4:13 is not about your life goals”. Grayson completed his Masters of Divinity degree at Moody Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing church planting under the umbrella of his home church.

OUR GREAT HOPE, OUR ONLY HOPE – JESUS

 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” John 11:21-27

Jesus made a promise to Martha that not only was there a resurrection, but that Jesus himself was the resurrection and the life, and that faith in him would result in eternal life. It’s why this same apostle John, would go on to write the greatest summary statement in all the Bible:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Paul said, if there is no resurrection then we are to be pitied. “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” 1 Corinthians 15:19

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-6

IT’S WHY WE HAVE HOPE

Paul is recording the central claim of Christianity: Jesus proved his divinity by dying on the cross and rising again, thereby validating everything he said about the resurrection. It’s why we have hope that we who believe in Jesus will see our brother again, that this is not the end. The key here is the list of witnesses: after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to Cephas (Peter), the twelve, then 500 at one time, many of whom were still alive fifteen to twenty years later. It’s like Paul is saying: fact-check me on this one. I know it’s an outrageous claim, but go and talk to the witnesses yourself.

If someone stood up today and started claiming: there were no attacks on 9/11, a plane never flew into the side of Pentagon, even though that was almost twenty years ago, there are thousands of witnesses here that were there and could contradict that. 1 Corinthians is written twenty years after the event of the resurrection, with witnesses still alive, who saw Jesus alive after his death and burial and resurrection. And because Jesus rose from the dead, everything changes!

Here’s what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians about how Jesus’ resurrection secures our own resurrection:

“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;  it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;  it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 54-57