E16: We are living here to be formed for eternity

PODCAST: Have you thought about what the purpose is of your day-to-day life?

Eternal life: How can I be prepared? (Christian podcast)

Eternal life

This week, Eunice and Milenko talk about eternal life, based on a quote he has hanging above his desk: “We are living here to be formed for eternity.” Why is this his favorite quote? What is eternal life, and what does it mean that our life on earth is forming our eternity?

Transcript: “Living the Gospel” podcast, Episode 16: We are living here to be formed for eternity

This is ActiveChristianity’s “Living the Gospel” podcast. Join us as we explore different aspects of the gospel according to the Bible, and how we can put this into practice in daily life.

Eunice: It’s episode 16 of “Living the Gospel;” I’m Eunice and I’m sitting right across from Milenko.

Milenko: Hi everyone!

Eunice: And it’s already December, and I think it’s kind of that time of the year when you start realizing that the year flew by, don’t you think?

Milenko: It really is. If you think about a year too, you remember a year for certain events, you know, often you look back on 2017, that happened, or 2018. It can be big events, it can be difficult things, it can be really happy things. But for most of us, life is made up, each year is made up of lots and lots of small situations which you don’t really remember but which formed your whole year. That’s what your year was, right?

Eunice: That’s actually true. I remember, because I think every summer, and every December, actually, I think a little bit extra about the past half year and sometimes I start thinking about, okay, what did you achieve, what did I achieve spiritually speaking? Maybe I have some issues I’m dealing with, like, have I dealt with those or are they kind of still there; am I the same impatient person? So, it kind of gives you a bit of seriousness. I think December is that time of the year too, when you realize, okay, the year is ending; I’ve got to think, take stock on life, kind of, right?

Milenko: What’s the new year going to bring; am I going to do anything differently or better, or …? And I think we all like to think like that, but then really, what happens in the day-to-day life? And if you think of it like that, most of our life is made up of those small situations and it’s really a question, “What do we do with our lives?” Like, is our life worth something? It’s not just moving from big situation to big situation or memorable event to memorable event, but it’s everything in between. And is there a purpose to it? Now we’re starting to go into deep thoughts, like philosophy about what’s the meaning of life and so on, but I think it is important; this is our life. We don’t have another life on earth.

Eunice: Which reminds me of a quote you have above your desk, Milenko. We’ve worked together for over three years now and I’ve seen that quote hanging there. Even though we’ve moved offices, it always goes back up. I’ve kind of always wondered, but I thought it’s been a little personal to ask, so I never really did it, but… It’s a quote that, correct me if I’m wrong, but it says, “We’re living on earth to be formed for eternity.”

Milenko: That’s right. It is a quote that I’ve had with me for many years. As you say, it’s moved with me, the same little strip of paper that’s hanging there. It’s actually a quote from a woman I knew – Esther Smith, a very God-fearing lady who is a great example to me – a wonderful woman. And she talked about this; it’s in a book about her: “We are living here, or we are living on earth, to be formed for eternity.” The life here is about eternity, and that’s really something to think about. When I saw that quote, it really hit me: “That’s my purpose in life – eternity!” It’s why I’m here; it’s why God created me. It’s not for this life, but that what happens in this life is determining how my eternity will be. Because we’re all eternal beings; we have an eternity ahead of us, and it’s interesting to see in the Bible; it’s written very clearly that there is a difference to how my eternity can be. It’s not all going to be the same for everybody.

Eunice: So, you’re saying that the choices I make here in my life is going to determine how my eternity would be, how I would be, how it will be there?

Milenko: Yeah, Jesus Himself really is very clear on this, and you can think, as a Christian, don’t we all as Christians have access to eternal life? And of course, we do, because Jesus says too, if we believe in Him, if we repent and believe in Him, that we can get forgiveness, and that entails also life.

Eunice: So, you don’t doubt that you have eternal life in that way.

Milenko: No! Exactly, we can, and you can see that example with the robber on the cross who repented just before he was about to die, and Jesus said to him, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise.” So, he actually was given the gift of eternal life though he had nothing to show for it in his life. I mean, he didn’t earn that life; it was a gift. But Jesus also says some other things which are quite interesting. He talks for example about, if you want to enter the kingdom of heaven, He says, “Those who do the will of My father in heaven, they shall enter that kingdom.” Or if you want to enter into life, He says in Matthew 19, “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” So, I think He was talking about something different here than that life you’re given through forgiveness. It’s eternal life with content.

I think that is an interesting concept: How do we get eternal life; how do we experience it? I think if we do this that we keep His commandments, then we actually partake of a heavenly calling which is higher and greater than what I would get with the forgiveness of sin alone, which you can say, you enter into eternity as a blank sheet. There’s nothing to show, whereas if you’ve lived a life of doing God’s commandments, living for His will out of love to Him, you enter life with content. You have actually partaken of a new creation that’s something that’s been formed in you in those situations, and I think that’s a really exciting concept.

Eunice: I think that’s really the key, because I remember when I was younger, I always wondered about this: Why do I have to fight against sin and you know, resist temptation, when what we understand is that all Christians do get eternal life if you confess and you receive forgiveness, right? But there’s clearly a difference, and it’s written in the Bible as well, and it’s not just for a good life here on earth.

Milenko: Right. There’s some examples that John uses in Revelation, which can be a bit difficult to understand; you have to interpret them and so on, but there’s a lot we can get out of it. He talks for example about the bride of the Lamb, who wears a fine white linen. Really a description of this beautiful bride wearing fine linen, and it’s written that the fine linen is the righteous works of the saints. So, it’s actually something the bride has done in her life to have that linen and it’s something beautiful, the bride of Jesus who is like Him.

It’s also written also about some others who also get a really good reward; they are the martyrs who had to lay down their life, or give their lives because of their faith, but they weren’t part of the bride. They were on earth after the bride was taken, after Jesus took His bride home to Him and then they hadn’t lived a life worthy of being of the bride. But then they repented and then they laid down their life because of their faith. And they get a very special reward; they get to reign with Jesus for a thousand years.

But when you read about what the bride gets, she inherits everything with Jesus, and she will reign with Him in eternity as His equal. You see there’s a difference there? They get eternal life; they get a really good reward, but there is a difference. And it’s how I’ve lived here that forms my eternity. Am I working on that linen, that fine linen? Am I being obedient to God? It’s not something I deserve, that I earn my way to heaven, but it’s the content that I get. It’s still grace; grace that God gives me the situations where I can see myself, and then He gives me His commandments and then I have to obey them, and it’s all grace that I can do that through the Holy Spirit. But, if I am obedient, then I’m forming that eternity, and that makes life really interesting because every moment counts. You know, all those little situations we were talking about; everything counts. Even if I don’t remember them later, it’s something that I’ve been working on, a stitch here and a stitch there, making that bridal dress, that fine linen.

Eunice: So then actually, with that in mind, it really lifts our vision in the daily life, doesn’t it? I think often about having a spirit of expectation, looking forward to eternity, and with that in mind, then it makes the choices, sometimes difficult choices that I have to make in daily life, make a lot more sense. I realize that is actually a spirit that you can live in. For example, you know, if I feel like I should be pushing my way through for something, kind of pushing someone to the side, for example, and you think this would help me in this situation right now, but then if I think about eternity and I think about what’s written in God’s Word and how I should esteem someone higher than myself, then I realize, my understanding this now could affect eternity, for example, when I learn to deal with people in the right way.

Milenko: It actually changes our whole outlook on life, especially being a Christian. Like, what’s Christianity? I saw a survey recently, where people had to say what was the most important thing in their lives, and their religion was one of the top things, but it wasn’t the main thing. But for me, it’s not that it’s the most important thing or where does it fit in my life, but being a Christian is my life. It defines me because that’s who I am; I want to serve Jesus, I want to serve God, I want to follow Jesus as a Christian because this is about my eternity, this is why I’m here. I’ve been created to serve God!

When I think of it like that, then life becomes really interesting and exciting. Every situation counts; everything matters. You were mentioning before, how I get along with people and esteeming others higher than myself. You can notice the little situations where you get irritated or you get angry or you get impatient, and think, “Why is that?” It’s because I’m important; it’s egotism. I’m the important one and the others aren’t doing things as I would like them to do. When I understand that I have to humble myself, I have to now do God’s will, I have to esteem them better than myself for example; it changes the way I react. I get that temptation, but I can overcome it. And then I’m actually stitching away at my wedding dress, you can say, that fine linen as the bride. And I can be along in giving my eternity content because instead of that impatience which is part of my nature … that can’t enter heaven, so even if I … If I get forgiveness, then that’s washed away, what I’ve done, right? But if I, instead of giving into the impatience, start working on it and become patient instead, that patience is a virtue, that’s the life of Christ.

Eunice: It becomes like natural for you.

Milenko: It becomes natural for me, and that’s what’s actually going to go into eternity as my content; it’s the life of Christ, and that’s amazing! Peter actually uses the word that we can be partakers of the divine nature! Think about what that means; it’s incredible! That I can be a partaker of the divine nature! And what’s the divine nature? The divine nature is that goodness, that patience, that longsuffering that unending love.

Eunice: What’s written in Galatians 5.

Milenko: Yeah, all those virtues. That can become part of my life. It isn’t to start with, we all know that, we know what we are tempted to, we know what comes up. But by being obedient and through the help of the Holy Spirit we can overcome the sin and instead of that, the virtues can start growing in us. That’s the new creation, and God creates that; it’s not something I do myself. So, it’s not that I earn my way to heaven, but God is creating something in me because I’m obedient. That’s my part of the bargain, is that I resist the sin in my flesh; I’m obedient not to give into it then God can create something new. That’s amazing! I mean, I go into eternity with content. You enter into heaven with a completely different experience of eternity.

Eunice: I wonder if that has to also do with the fact that you know what people on earth have gone through to be the people they are in that way, to be the people they are in eternity, and say, when you meet Jesus, and when you meet Paul and you understand the battles they go through because you have had similar battles and you’ve fought through it, that’s when you really understand them.

Milenko: You experience the value of it, right?

Eunice: Yeah. You really have true fellowship. I think it really pays to think about these things sometimes. That makes your daily life not gray anymore.

Milenko: Yeah, exactly. It gives meaning to life, it gives meaning to every situation, even the boring ones, even the ones that are, you know, they’re irritating. That’s the whole point! When they’re irritating, there’s something in me I can work on. There’s something in me that’s too strong, too alive as it were; it’s this egotism that I have to really do something with. I have to start serving God, not myself. So, those situations become a gold mine for me. Then you see, life is a gold mine! You can get out so many treasures out of this life. There’s treasures that you save up in heaven; that’s also an example that Jesus says, to save up treasures in heaven, not on earth. That’s exactly what this is about. It’s your eternity, the treasures that you save up. What is that? That’s the virtues that are created in you as you’re obedient, and it’s as you say, you learn to appreciate it so much more in the others as well. Paul talks about that, that we’re going to inherit the saints. OK, am I going to inherit other irritating people that I crash with, and you know … Is that what it’s about? Not at all! What I’m inheriting is people that have lived this life too, that have got content, and I can value that, and I know what it’s about. So, this is really amazing.

Another serious aspect of it is that not everyone gets that eternal life in that way. We’re eternal beings, but it also talks about those who are going to go into eternal darkness. You can live your life like that, that you don’t even get forgiveness and that’s really, really serious. So, we really have to take this to heart. One, do I repent that I get that eternal life given through forgiveness, and then can I get content in my life?

And I just thought of a verse in 1 John 3, from the beginning: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” That’s incredible, that we shall be like Him and we shall see Him as He is! Is that something we are looking forward to? How do I live my life then? That comes in the next verse, verse 3, “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

Eunice: Crystal clear really.

Milenko: Crystal clear. What’s my hope? So, what do I do? Then I shall see Him as He is, and I shall be like Him. That’s really something to work for, isn’t it? Something to look forward to and something to grasp in my daily life.

Eunice: That’s been really good. I was just thinking quickly about something. You know, I have a really bad memory, so I have this little reminder on my phone, I have many reminders but this one is every night before I go to bed, I have this little reminder that basically tells me to think about the day, how things have gone and kind of take stock on what I’ve done and what I could have done better. I just thought if I do that every day for a single year, then at the end of the year I’ll be able to see that I have made an improvement.

Milenko: That was actually a really good thought to finish up with, that we can think about until next week: How can I do it better? And I think we can all find something there. So, thanks for this time, and we’ll see you again next week!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.