“Heaven is real and hell is real, and eternity is but a breath away . . . What you do with Christ here and now decides where you shall spend eternity” [ Billy Graham ]
At some point in our lives most of us ask “What is the purpose of my life? Why am I here? Where am I going?” Put in a more philosophical way, “What is my eternal destiny?” We might define destiny as follows:
A person’s destiny refers to the things that will happen in the future [Cambridge Dictionary]
A person’s destiny is everything that happens to them during their life, including what will happen in the future, especially when their destiny is considered to be controlled by someone or something else [Collins Dictionary]
Whilst the first definition is true, the second definition is deeper and more aligned with biblical thought. It suggests that destiny includes what happens during a person’s lifetime, as well as what happens in the future. And, importantly, it acknowledges that a person’s destiny could be controlled by someone else. Biblically, that “someone” is God – the God of the Hebrews.
So let’s leave aside the mountains of books on philosophy and the many different religions (including the concept of reincarnation!) and simply summarise some key concepts in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.
Your Eternal Destiny According to the Bible
Aim at heaven and you will get earth throne in. Aim at earth and you will get neither [ C. S. Lewis ]
- God’s perfect plan, from creation and into eternity, is for man to dwell with His Creator in Paradise. This plan started in the Garden of Eden, an earthly Paradise where God walked with Adam. So since God is an eternal Spirit, man must be an immortal spiritual being in order to walk with Him eternally
- But in the Garden of Eden man chose to walk away from this earthly Paradise and God’s ways. He became mortal and spiritually dead in the sense that he was spiritually separated from his Creator. In God’s wisdom and purpose, this fallen characteristic (physical and spiritual death) subsequently spread to all mankind
- Fast forward to the 21st century. In order for man to dwell with God eternally (a wonderful destiny), mortal man must once more become a living spirit. Once he is reconciled to God his immortality returns, and even though he suffers physical death he will be resurrected as an immortal being
- So today mankind (each person) is in need of spiritual rebirth if their destiny is to be with their Creator. In fact, each person must be reborn if they are to enter the Kingdom of God
- God provided this through the sacrifice of Jesus (God incarnate, Yeshua, the true Jewish Messiah). This was the ultimate act of love when God died for all mankind. Today, spiritual rebirth is freely offered to anyone who changes their life to follow Jesus. As mentioned, in Adam all men died and in Jesus all men can be made alive (reborn)
- God planned to achieve all this through Abraham and his descendants (the tribes of Israel). The nation of Israel was to became God’s witness and servant and be a blessing to the nations. That blessing is the gift of the Jew, Jesus, to the world
- So God made a covenant with the nation of Israel: they would be blessed and be a blessing if they followed His laws. But they failed, they were scattered, and they suffered. That said, today Israel is being restored to her own land and her role as God’s witness to the nations. Meanwhile, in her place the church proclaims the need for spiritual rebirth through the gospel message
- For those who choose to follow Jesus and be spiritually reborn, they can look forward to dwelling with God in the Paradise of Heaven. Their eternal home is with God in the perfect New Earth and they are assured of this since their name will be in “the Lamb’s Book of Life”. This is now God’s preferred destiny for His fallen and redeemed creation
- As pointed out when defining “destiny”, it is clear that what happens to us in this life i.e. before death – is determined by our thoughts and actions in this life. We could call this our “lifetime destiny“. Our life will completely change once we are reborn through belief and trust in the living Jesus. Millions testify to this.
- What about our eternal destiny? Each of us has just one life and after that the judgement. So during our lifetime our eternal destiny reduces to a binary choice after we have heard the gospel. We can either accept spiritual rebirth and reconciliation to our Creator God through Jesus, or reject it.
- The Book of Revelation ends with a stark warning. If we consciously reject or ignore reconciliation to God through Jesus’ sacrifice for us, our eternal destiny is eternal separation from God. Our name will not be in the Book of Life, and we will not walk with our Creator in that heavenly Paradise on the New Earth. As for those who never hear the gospel before death – that lies with God who is just and righteous!