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Parallel Lines

by Barth Weistart

When I was a junior in high school our geography teacher was Mr. Armstrong. He was named ‘Bulldog' by most of the students because of his appearance. He was not a favorite teacher among the students but I found his class fascinating. It was partly the subject and partly the individual attention that the students interested in the class received that attracted me. The class size was small and of those in the class probably 2/3 were not interested in what was being taught. The 1\3 of us interested in the subject had great discussions. Mr. Armstrong knew his subject. One day we were discussing the concept of eternity and how it never ends. For a seventeen year old the thought of something not ending is hard to conceptualize. We knew death was the end of life and time was a measurement of an event i.e. birth and death; formation of a planet and destruction of a planet; beginning of a war and end of a war. But eternity was something different. There is no time measurement of eternity. Eternity was before time and will surpass all time. Then Mr. Armstrong said something that I at first rejected but after much thought came to realize was an explanation of eternity that a finite mind could understand. He said "eternity can be explained as a place where two parallel lines meet".

By definition parallel lines can never meet. We have a conundrum! Parallel lines go on forever and ever, the same as eternity. If the lines meet, that point marks eternity but they can't because then they wouldn't be parallel. So the lines continue on as does eternity. Eternity always seemed as a mist. Something you knew was there but couldn't really see. Parallel line were tangible. They could be seen on paper and in our world. If one could visualize parallel lines that never meet then they would have a better understanding of eternity.

One day a friend told me he thought a lot about eternity. Well I did too. Since I didn't consider either one of us eccentric, I knew there had to be others who also thought about the subject. The railroad tracks in Minonk were a good example of what I'm trying to show. If one looked north toward Rutland and Wenona the tracks ran parallel as far as one could see. If you turned around the parallel tracks from El Paso were coming up behind. So it is with eternity which was before our time, includes measurement of our time on Earth, and continues into the future.

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In eternity past, our ancestors would have looked at eternity as something in the future. They undoubtedly had the same questions and thoughts as we. Will we be in eternity? Will it really last forever? Just what is eternity? Outside of religion, eternity has little importance. If one believes that death is the end, what value is eternity to them? Or if one believes they will return as another living form, that concept is limited to the time period that Earth and living forms exist. Some people elect to ignore religion and eternity. I haven't been able to do that.

In a book written by Solomon son of the biblical David, he says that God has set eternity in our hearts. I believe that is right. If thoughts of eternity return to me (and I'm no one special) these thoughts must be with many others as well. Why would so many think about this same thing? It has got to be something inside us that directs our thinking to eternity.

Religion tells us that some "will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life". So eternity is for all. The question is do you want to spend eternity in eternal punishment. Why are some people to be punished? Easy- because they elect not to believe Christ is the son of God and can save them for eternal life. Paul explained to the Thessalonians that, "He (Lord Jesus) will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed". The scriptures say: "He who is not with me is against me". So you believe in Christ as savior to receive eternal life or you don't believe and receive eternal punishment.

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How do you become one of the righteous that go into eternal life. John wrote in his gospel "that whoever believes in Him (God's Son Jesus) should not perish, but have eternal life". The key word is ‘believe' because eternal life is a gift. We are told that "the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord". Eternal life is not something earned by giving money to the church, attending church, working at the church, being kind, or being a community leader. IT IS A GIFT. Now once you accept the gift by believing in Jesus and gain an eternity life view you will want to please God and help your fellow man. Giving to the church, meeting regularly with those who believe as you, help others, and service will become part of your new life view. Folks, we are expecting to live for eternity so why not think about it and do those things that will be acceptable to the One who made eternal life possible for us?

Now I know there are those who will say ‘I don't want to think about eternity' and those who absolutely don't believe what I have written. Their opinions may work for them and so be it. I've thought long about eternity and these are my conclusions. If the scriptures are true and I am correct about what I have written, then after I die I will have eternal life. The one who disagreed will go into a state of eternal punishment.

Now, suppose I'm wrong and there is no eternal life. There will be no difference between me and my disagreeing friend. We will both die, be buried, and that will be the end. I will have lived my life with hope for an eternal future and he will have always known there was no future. Would I have lived a lesser life than he? I don't believe so. How could anyone turn down a gift that would lead to eternal life for a way of life that has even the possibility of eternal punishment. You gain nothing and have a chance of losing everything. At this point in life the choice of not believing is as hard for me to understand as is the length of eternity.

If two people had not mentioned eternity to me this past summer when I was in Minonk, I probably would not have written this article. Two made me think that there must be more interested in the subject. I became interested in the subject many years ago and did as much reading about eternity as I could find. It is a consuming subject because it deals with an eternal life or punishment issue.

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with me, eternity continues on. And, I will continue picturing parallel lines that never meet as a substitute impression for the concept of eternity which exceeds the realm of my mind because of its vastness and the fact that it never began and will never end.