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I’m not sure where I read it, but one day I came across a little anecdote in a booklet about Jonathan Edwards, the great preacher of the 1700s. He was in a dry spell. The spiritual fire had gone out inside. His heart no longer beat with a love for the lost.
In desperation, he fell on his knees and cried out to God, “Please stamp eternity into both of my eyes!”
When I read that, I knelt right then and prayed the very same prayer with all my heart. What a change it has made.
Take your present age and add 100 years to it. Where are you now? Where is your car? Your house? Your library? Your furniture? Your clothes? Where are all the things you worry about, and pray for, and save for—where are they now?
Measured against eternity—nothing of this world makes much difference at all. A hundred years from now, it is unlikely that even one person in the world will remember what we looked like in this life!
But heaven is real. Hell is real. This is what gave Jesus such purpose and urgency in His ministry. Jesus knew the reality of eternal death where lost souls tumble year after year—forever—into a fiery bottomless pit where the flame is not quenched and the worm dieth not.
This is why He could stand and weep over Jerusalem. This is why He kept pressing on relentlessly from one village to the next. This is why He became homeless and hungry and faced danger and rejection. It is why He finally chose to go voluntarily to the cross. This is why He left us with His Great Commission.
You see, Jesus lived with eternity in view. He had come from eternity, and He was going back to eternity. He never was out of touch with spiritual reality. No wonder He could live a life for others as a selfless servant.
Jesus knew that He was “the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6). Yes, our Lord knew there is a heaven and there is a hell. He knew that He was the only way to get to heaven and not go to hell. That’s why He loved lost souls so desperately and was willing to spend His ministry reaching out to sinners of all kinds—bigots, drunks and prostitutes, as well as respectable religious folks who were just as lost as the rest.
Many times I have struggled with this fact: Jesus is the only way to God—and without Him, lost sinners will spend forever in hell. I have wished it weren’t so, but it is so. Jesus taught it, and that fact sent Him to the cross. Jesus was gripped by a passionate love for the lost, and we need to let ourselves be consumed by the same spiritual reality.
This is the only way we can enter into the reality of His life of love. We have to see the lost world as Jesus sees it.