It is amazing in our enlightened age that an almost forgotten word in our vocabulary is the word eternity.
It is an adjective meaning archaic, eternal, without beginning or ending, timelessness. This word eternity is a ‘one-word’ sermon. We speak of time, of years, of centuries, of millenniums but eternity is rarely mentioned. Yet, we cannot escape its reality as we are all travellers to eternity.
We may try to avoid it, reject it, despise it, but we must face it. In the Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has set the world to come in their hearts,” or “eternity in their hearts.” Again, Isaiah 57:15 states, “For thus says the high and lofty one that inhabits eternity.” The word eternity cannot be measured by human calculation; it staggers the mind and leaves us in awe. It is, however, a reality.
There is a fascinating story relative to eternity. It relates to a man named Arthur Stace who was born in Australia in 1884 and died in 1967. He was a known alcoholic, a homeless man and a tramp of the street. In 1932 he went into an Anglican church, where there was food offered freely, and while there he listened to a gospel sermon from an Anglican minister. He was convicted of his sin, left the church, and under a tree bowed his knees and accepted the Lord Jesus as his personal saviour. What a change took place - from drunkenness to sobriety. From rags to true riches.
Some months after his conversion, Arthur Stace listened to a Baptist evangelist preach with passion in the open air. This man emphasized the word, eternity and said, “Oh, that this word could be emblazoned across the streets in Sydney.” From that moment on this uneducated man, barely able to write even his own name, had a mission.
Using chalk, he commenced to elegantly handwrite, in colourful graffiti, the word eternity all over the city of Sydney. Each day, he arose at 4 a.m. and wrote until 10 a.m.; this continued for approximately 35 years. No one knew who was doing this until 1956, when the pastor of the church saw Arthur write eternity on the pavement. He asked him: “Are you Mr. Eternity?” Arthur Stace replied, “Yes.”
This word eternity was seen by four billion people at the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Sydney. It was after the spectacular fireworks display at the 2000 new millennium celebrations. When the smoke and clouds dissipated, there gleamed in distinctive handwriting the word eternity The crowds cheered spontaneously, knowing the word eternity related to Arthur Stace.
Millions around the world saw the word eternity when watching the Sydney display. This ‘one-sermon word’ still gleams in three distinct places in Sydney, Australia to this very day: 1) Mr. Eternity is engraved on Arthur Stace’s gravestone 2) In copperplate writing almost eight inches high, the word eternity can be found at the town hall square entrance and 3) inside the huge bell at the clock tower, in original copperplate writing, is the word eternity.
It is wise to consider this word eternity, for one day time will cease and eternity will begin. It will not matter what we possess materially, for we brought nothing into this world and we will take nothing out. Our eternity will depend on what we did with Jesus who is called Christ. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that Jesus Christ purchased salvation at the cross 2,000 years ago. Romans 5:6 says, “Christ died for the ungodly.” According to John 19:30, Jesus cried “IT IS FINISHED.” These three words eliminate dependence upon self-effort, righteous works, money, etc. Ephesians 2:8-9, says “Salvation is not of works lest anyone should boast”. Our eternity in heaven is totally based upon Christ’s death for sin. His resurrection declares God’s satisfaction in the work of the cross.
Where will you spend eternity? Arthur Stace will meet many in heaven that faced the reality of that one word he became famous for - eternity. Dear friends, to miss Jesus Christ in this life will be an unfathomable loss for all eternity (Matthew 11:28).
Albert Hull is a Gospel evangelist. He lives in Bible Hill.