My church once went through a study of the book of Ephesians, and something has continued to stick with me long after the study was over.
"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:4-7).
This passage is loaded with truth and offers an amazing view of eternity. It tells us the Gospel and then tells us what the Gospel is leading towards – eternity’s destination. The reason for our salvation is given here: that in eternity the kindness of God and His exceedingly rich grace will be displayed to us.
We have to understand what this means. Anyone who has any measure of religion will try to imagine “what heaven will be like.” From cartoons that tell us that we will sit on clouds, play the harp and have wings, to Heaven is For Real which gives us a picture that is not so different, many ideas exist about what heaven is. But in this passage, we catch a glimpse of the truth. Heaven and eternity are concerned with showing the glory of God.
There is a quote of John Calvin that might help us here: "There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice."
Set alongside passages such as Psalm 19:1-4 and Romans 1:20 it is apparent that the revelation of God through His creation is not a thing reserved only for eternity future, but is something we can experience now. Imperfectly, because our senses are imperfect and our frames are broken.
I want to take Calvin’s statement and go further with it, expand it a little so that the sheer magnitude of this reality can grip us.
It’s easy to speak of infinity and still have no idea what we are talking about, so it’s important to always be expanding and pushing the limits of our imaginations when thinking about eternal matters.
There’s not one atom, there’s not one point of space that isn’t meant to show forth the infinite glory of God. Everything, from the most enormous star in the universe to the smallest sub-atomic particle that dances on the fringe of existence, was made for this purpose.
Imagine for a moment that day in the future. All mortality is swallowed up by immortality, all sin is done away with never to be remembered, and all barriers between us and perfection are gone. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb is finished, and eternity, the new heavens and the new earth unfolds before us. We stand at the brink of the ages to come. Our senses are now fully capable of comprehending all matter, and our spirits can understand all things. We are ushered into our new home, our new Eden, and urged to begin searching out the unsearchable riches of God. I can only imagine that there will be a moment of hesitation as we are all overwhelmed at the prospect of searching out a universe of glory upon glory.
We will never reach the end of the journey, the searching out of God in perfection. But we have all eternity to try. Everything, even now in our fallen state, is screaming at us the love of God. We must be about the business of this great discovery.
Eternity begins now.