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Christian Church/Church of Christ Dictionary: 'F' is for 'Forever'

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"F" is for "Forever" because it is the word used most often to express an eternal connection with God the Father, Jesus the Son and Holy Spirit.

A survey of five translations of The Bible provides the following number of occurrences of the word "forever" or one of its synonyms.

  • Forever - 537 times
  • Eternal - 199
  • Everlasting - 171
  • Eternal life - 68
  • Eternity - 24
  • Hereafter - 15
  • All time - 9
  • Infinite - 4

"Forever" is most accurately and frequently used to describe God. Read the Psalms and you will repeatedly see the author praising the eternal God. Here are three examples:

  • "But let all who take refuge in You rejoice;
    let them shout for joy forever.
    May You shelter them,
    and may those who love Your name boast about You.
    For You, Lord, bless the righteous one;
    You surround him with favor like a shield." (Psalm 5:10-12, Holman Christian Standard Bible)
  • "Hallelujah! O servants of Jehovah, praise his name.
    Blessed is his name forever and forever.
    Praise him from sunrise to sunset!" (Psalm 113:1-3, The Living Bible)
  • "The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
    The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
    The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
    The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.
    They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
    Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb." (Psalm 19:8-10, New American Standard Bible)

God's greatest act of love, grace and mercy is the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of His only Son, Jesus Christ. This bold action taken by God is the subject of John 3:16 and includes a reference to "eternal life" - "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (New International Version)

The Lord Jesus repeatedly used the words "eternal life", "eternity" and "forever" to teach lessons about everyday living. For example, the rich young man (Matthew 19:16-22) asked Jesus: "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" Jesus responded by asking the young man if he had kept all the commandments. When the answer was "yes", Jesus told the man: “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

The parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25 is often used as a lesson on the importance of helping others and serving in the name of the Lord. However, it includes a blessing and a curse of eternal consequences.

"Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ "The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25: 37-46, NIV)

Jesus also provided for the disciples' and our needs by sending the Holy Spirit after the Lord ascended into Heaven. Jesus says in John 14:15-17: “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."

Christ's message was carried forward by the apostles. The Apostle Paul clearly states in Romans 2:6-8: "God 'will repay each person according to what they have done.' To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger."

It is an important message that Paul repeats in letters to the Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians and to Timothy. It is best summarized by Romans 6:20-23: "When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Are you looking forward to spending forever with Jesus?

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