Beyond

A while back, I wrote a post about “the God who goes beyond”. This post is along a similar line except that it gives specific instances where God goes beyond. We have such a tiny God in most of our thought. Such a God is not the God of Scripture.

When we consider the God of Scripture, we see:

* Time beyond telling.

We talk about God being “eternal,” or just think or talk about “eternity”. Us, with our clocks and calendars and day planners, measuring time in seconds and minutes and days and years. In a couple of days, as I write this sentence, I will have been married for 50 years. You may read this post on our anniversary. A couple of weeks after that, I will turn 80. So quickly! For both of them.

It’s all about time.

These figures mean nothing in light of eternity.

The Psalmist understood this. In Psalm 90:4, we read, For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past, And like a watch in the night.

Peter picked up on this in 2 Peter 3:8, when he wrote, But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. This is in the context of scoffers who ridicule and deny the Second Coming of our Lord because it’s been a long time, He hasn’t come back, and things are going on as they always have.

But the clock is ticking…

And His concept of time isn’t ours!

In the next place, we see:

* Riches beyond counting.

The other day, as I was walking back from the mailbox, in the rocks and gravel that cover the driveway, there was a quarter partly buried. I picked it up. Several years ago, in a parking lot, someone apparently had emptied their ashtray from the car. I’ve known people who keep spare change in an ashtray in their car for things like parking meters. Instead of cigarette butts, there were several coins: pennies, nickels and dimes. I picked them up. As a young man, I worked in a department store. One day, there was a quarter on the floor. There was a lady a counter or so over, so I asked her if she had dropped it. Was it hers? She said, “It is now,” and took it out of my hand.

I was raised by a grandmother who went through the Great Depression of the 1930s. She lived on a pint of milk a day for awhile. She understood being in need and being frugal. One time, I bought a book of cartoons, a collection of one of those in the newspapers, and she saw it. She said, “I bet you spent two or three dollars on that!” She wasn’t happy. She was even less so when I told her what it really cost.

With God, though, our riches are nothing. In John’s description of the New Jerusalem, Revelation 21:21 NKJV, he says, The twelve gates [of the city] were twelve pearls: each individual gate was one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. I believe these are actual pearls and real gold, but even if they’re just “symbolic,” they tell us that God’s idea of “wealth” is much different than ours.

Further, our Lord taught, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Matthew 16:26, see also Mark 8:36 and Luke 9:25. As I sit here at 10:00 PM typing this, or as you read it, at whatever time, our souls, for each of us, are worth more than this whole planet. And I think you could extend that to its entire existence. I’m not going to get into how long that is right now. Still, you get the idea.

I recently saw an article about someone who has become the world’s first trillionaire. That’s $1,000,000,000,000.

That’s a lot of zeroes.

That’s a lot of wealth, no doubt. Yet you and I, and all believers, have more than this person can even dream of. We have our souls. Without those, it’s all zeroes.

Next, we see:

* Grace beyond comprehension.

When we quote Ephesians 2:8, do we really think about it? By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. Or are we so “familiar” with it that the words are sort of automatic?

Christmas is just around the corner. Already. I wonder how many haven’t finished paying for last Christmas. Still, Christmas isn’t about us, at least not in that way. It has nothing to do with Santa or trees or decorations or presents or Hallmark programs.

Christmas is about sin.

Our sin.

That little Baby, lying there in a feeding trough because there was no room anywhere else for Him. One baby among perhaps hundreds in Israel. Perhaps millions around the world.

One baby.

Yet, in the purpose and grace of God, those two – our sin, that baby – were destined to meet.

On a Cross.

He has made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, 2 Corinthians 5:21.

There are depths there that I don’t know that we’ll ever get to the bottom of.

But further, we see:

* Kindness beyond understanding.

Titus 3:4 tells us of the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man.

Kindness.

Love.

These aren’t just synonyms.

The word translated “kindness” is also translated gentleness or good or goodness. David knew about this attribute of God. In 2 Samuel 22:36, and Psalm 18:35, he said to God, “Your gentleness has made me great.” God doesn’t “roughhouse” with His children. And in 2 Corinthians 10:1, Paul referred to the gentleness of Christ.

The word translated “love” in Titus isn’t the word we usually associate with the love of God, which is “agape”. The word in 1 Corinthians is “philanthropia.” I’m sure you recognize it; it’s come into English as “philanthropy”. It means “benevolence”.

The gentleness and benevolence of God. That is what led to Calvary.

The Lord didn’t die so we could make pretty jewelry out of crucifixes, or hang one on a wall. They’re not decorations. They’re not just religious symbols. They’re a reminder of the awful price that was paid for our redemption.

The life and the death of the Son of God.

Finally, and on the flip side of all these things, we see:

* wrath beyond coping.

Until now, we’ve seen good things. These are all things about God that we agree with, these things which lead to His blessing. Some folks think that’s all there is in God’s dealing with humanity. After all, “God is love”. According to this view, everyone is going to that “better place” out there somewhere.

That’s not what our Lord taught. In Luke 16, He tells us of a rich man who died and was buried, v. 22. That’s all we can see. That’s all his family saw. The Lord Jesus saw more. He saw where the man was, not the body which lay in a grave, but the man himself.

We have difficulty with thoughts like this. Our whole life is associated with and lived through a body. We don’t know anything else. But this body of flesh and bone and aches and pains is just a dwelling place, a “house” we live in; it isn’t “us”. Paul deals with this more fully in 2 Corinthians 5:1-8. We won’t go there now, but you might read and think about it later.

The man in Luke 16, his body was dead and buried, but he was in torments in Hades, v. 23. We have difficulty with thoughts like these, too. Revelation 20:15 tells of people, like this man, who are thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 21 describes it further as the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, v. 8. And Revelation 20:10 speaks of it as being forever and ever.

Some folks deny any such place as hell altogether. It’s just a swear word. Others think of it as a place of destruction, that is, though terrible beyond description, it isn’t forever. According to these folks, those who are there will be destroyed, like wood in a fireplace. Still others add another destiny: purgatory. This is where sin is suffered and paid for. It, too, isn’t forever.

All these views are incorrect. And fatal.

This is a hard subject to write about: this idea of burning forever. I knew a lady whose hand had been burned in a fire. It had actually shrunk a little bit. It was an awful experience for her. As I think about being thrown alive into a lake of fire, I shudder. That sudden immersion – complete immersion – in flame and fire. Like being thrown into a body of water, but not really like that at all….

Not into cold….

Not for just a few moments….

Oh, listen. Eternity by itself can be a fearsome topic. This idea of never-ending something. The idea of heaven, well, that’s good. We can go for that. But this idea of hell, that’s something else altogether. And the only thing standing between us and the lake of fire is the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.

He died on the Cross so we won’t have to suffer the second death, Revelation 21:18. There’s so much more to it than that, though. He died to save us from the reason men go to hell: their sins. The angel told Joseph, “He shall save His people from their sins,” Matthew 1:21, not just from their result.

He died so that we might live.

Do you know this Jesus?

In all the coming festivities, and, yes, I know it isn’t Thanksgiving yet here in the US, but in all the tinsel and decorations and fun and festivities that will follow four weeks afterward, don’t forget “the reason for the season:” that One who came to be our Savior.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, Acts 16:31.

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