Sermon delivered 3/27/04 by Elder George Pangman

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the Good News Bible unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Created for Eternity

(Pastor Gettys) "Our speaker today is the second pastor if this church, George Pangman. He came here back in about 1983 and stayed until 1987. He was here four years then he went to Mount Vernon, Ohio and the past eleven years has been in Marietta, Georgia. Eleven years and eleven hundred members they have in Marietta. He's doing a good job. George is a preacher of the Righteousness of Jesus Christ. This church has benefitted greatly from his sermons, and I just know that we're going to be benefitted today again by one of the sermons from his heart. Elder Pangman, welcome back to the McDonald Road pulpit."

(Elder Pangman) As I was sitting here last evening reminiscing even as Bill was reminiscing with us. You know, one of the highlights of my experience in the McDonald Road Church was always Sabbath. I loved to worship in this church. I don't know what it is, but I know I can remember that everything in my week just pointed ahead and built in a crescendo until at worship time. There's something about you and there's something about this place that makes worship a real mountaintop experience, and it's good to be back with you.

It's incredible the passing of time, and how quick it goes. How busy our lives are and how little we interact with one another and it's embarrassing to me that we see you so little, being only an hour while it's supposed to be an hour and a half down the road, but often there's only an hour but our lives are just consumed with the things of our busy life, our families, our employment. It seems like we're on a treadmill that is picking up speed. And it's good to stop in time, and to reminisce on time, and to see what God has done through us and in this place in that time. But, you know, I fear that we get so immersed in time that we become slaves to time. And what I want to talk to you this morning is the fact that God didn't create us for time. He created us for eternity.

God has created you, not for time, but for eternity, and here's an important companion truth, and Amos led us to these truths last night, is that God has a purpose for you not in time. But His purpose for you is in eternity. And He wants to have impact on eternity through your life.

We sometimes think of our lives as insignificant, and perhaps not having a lot of meaning, and I've discovered that the older you get the more you reflect on the past. And you ask the question, "Have I made a difference? Has God made a difference through me? Does my life matter?" And so often we find that we get so caught up in time that we question how we use that time. And we wonder if it is time well spent to have influence on and an impact on eternity itself.

So, this morning we want to share... I think of Abraham. You know, we often take individuals of the Bible, and rightfully so, we elevate them in our minds, but it's good for us to remember that they were flesh and blood just like we were. They had problems. They had foibles. They had sinfulness in their life and they erred, but here's an individual named Abraham. And Abraham had no idea of the impact on eternity that God would have through his life. Reading Good News Bible, Hebrews 11:11, It was faith that made Abraham able to become a father, even though he was too old, and Sarah herself could not have children. He trusted God to keep His promise. Though Abraham was practically dead, from this one man came as many descendants as there are stars in the sky, as many as the numberless grains of sand on the seashore.

And we know the New Testament interpretation of this Old Testament reality and promise. What we're talking about here is not flesh and blood heritage as much as spiritual heritage. And we could say that the followers of Jesus Christ, God's people, have descended from Abraham. One man, no idea of the impact that God would have through his life on eternity.

I think of my own salvation, and I wonder how many people have relayed the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ before it got to me. And how many of them wondered whether their life made a difference or not had significance. Yet, through them God has impacted eternity. God didn't create us for time, He created us for eternity.

Max Lucado has written many books. One of them is called, In the Grip of Grace. And he includes a little fable there, I don't know whether he made it up or inherited it or whatever, but I will read it to you and want to make application of it to our own lives. "The following conversation occurred between a canary in a cage and the lark on the window sill. The lark looked in at the canary and asked, 'What is your purpose.' 'My purpose is to eat seed,' the canary said. 'What for?' 'So I can be strong.' 'What for?' 'So I can sing,' answered the canary. 'What for?' continued the lark. 'Because when I sing, I get more seed.' 'So, let me get this straight. You eat in order to be strong so you can sing so you can get more seed so you can eat?' 'Yep, that's it.' 'There's more to you than that,' the lark said. 'If you follow me I'll help you find it. But first you must leave your cage.'" Max writes one: It's hard to find meaning in a caged world, but that doesn't keep us from trying. Mine deep in every heart and you will find it. A longing for meaning, a quest for purpose. As surely as a child breathes he will someday wonder what is the purpose of my life.

Our lives can be lived in the pattern of the canary, can it not? We eat to be strong so that we can work. And we work so that we can gain. And we gain so that we can eat so that we might be strong. And the cycle goes on and on and on. And we become caged in time. And a clarifying thing to me is the fact that most of what we spend our time engaged it, most of what is accomplished by our time has no value in eternity. It only has value in time.

In 2 Peter he writes that everything that is bound to time will become like a molten river, the sea of fire, the lake of fire that is talked about in the book of Revelation. And everything that has been accumulated in time will not longer have any value. It will be gone.

See, God didn't create us for time. He didn't create us to devote ourselves to time. He created us for eternity, and His purpose for us is to allow Him to have impact on eternity through us. I want you to turn to 2 Corinthians 5 and looking at it from a little different perspective. You see, our dilemma is that we are trapped in time. We have sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety years in time. And then there is not time. We live to squeeze all that we can out of time, rushing through the moments of time. As we age it seems there is no escape from the limitations of time. But we have good news, and that good news is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:14 NIV, For Christ's love compels us... It compels us, hopefully, in this life. It compels us in our time so that we will have an impact on eternity. There's so much that compels us in time. Compelled to get up, compelled to go to work, compelled to continue to through the routine. But what should compel us is the love of Christ, and we should not only just go to work to earn that we might eat, to get strong that we might earn to eat. But we should go there with the idea "Today, my life, Lord, is open to You, and please by Your grace and by Your Spirit have an impact on eternity through me. Help me to love. I live for Your love."

Verse 15 says, And He died for all , that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. I'd like for you to look at this from a little different perspective. I'd like you to think of this as, "no longer live for time, but we live for eternity." Christ left eternity to enter time as a human to accomplish in time that which we could not achieve in our time that which would secure eternity, that which He achieved in time secures your eternity.

Look at verse 16. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. You see, Christ came into time and people, rightfully so, just as you and I would. We viewed Him from the perspective of time. They viewed Him from the limitations of time. But then the lights went on, the power of the Holy Spirit. And they realized that he wasn't here for time; He was here for eternity, their eternity. And no longer did they view anyone from the perspective of time. But everyone from the perspective of eternity.

Don't yet look at things from the perspective of time, but God's perspective of eternity. No longer am I chained in time; this is a new day. Look at the passages that continues. Verse 17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! I would like to submit to you this morning that what is being talked about here is that we, through Jesus Christ, all thing have become new for us because no longer are we shackled to time. But all things are new because God has opened up to us eternity through Jesus Christ and His death on our behalf. As Jesus rose from His tomb, and He took off those wrappings of death, and as He made His way out of that tomb, He released every one of us from time into eternity. The cage was opened. And God has created us for eternity, not for time, and He wants to have an impact through our lives.

Look at verse 18. All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. It's a message of eternal significance. You see, the things that we value in time often have very little value in eternity. And when you look at things from the perspective of eternity, I would submit to you that there is only one thing of value: that is the message that the Lord Jesus Christ has reconciled us to God. And we can have eternity. In eternity, that message will continue. It's the only thing of value that will leave this earth and will continue throughout eternity because it is the only thing that has value.

It's incredible to me that Paul says, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to us." And then he says, "He is going to use us to make His appeal to others to be reconciled. In Christ He reconciled, in us He makes His appeal." And so we have to step back, and we have to ask the question: Have I become caged in time? Have I become a slave to time? Have I taken the gift of Jesus Christ to release me from time? And have I pushed it aside and chosen time? Or will I embrace Jesus Christ and embrace eternity, and will I say, "Father, through me, make Your appeal to others to break free from time, and to embrace eternity in Jesus Christ."

What a wonderful and powerful privilege we have. You see, the message reveals that the Person, Jesus Christ, has conquered time and He holds the key to unlock time and to release us into eternity, and that key is grace. That key is grace.

It goes on to say in verse 20, We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. But let me skip forward, and I'm going to end with this. And this may be a new thought to some of you. And it may be one that you'll want to roll around and at first it will cause you to recoil a little bit, and you'll have to think about it.

In 2 Corinthians 6:2 Paul, tells us that now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation. There is an urgency there. There's an urgency for us to accept God's gift and to embrace the fact that we have been created new, we have broken free from time. And we can embrace eternity through Him. And it's urgent that we share that message with others.

But here's what I want to say to you; There is no more, or less urgency today than there has been at any time. There was just as much urgency in the first century after Christ as there is today. It's an urgency that is constant. Because of the fact that all of us only have time. It doesn't matter to an individual that died in AD 60 that we're in 2004. And it won't matter to those that follow us in the time that they have on this earth if time continues. Because you and I and the whole world of lost people only have this time in order to embrace eternity.

There's an urgency in what we have to do, and we have to break free from time. I love the way the patriarchs viewed life. In Hebrews 11:13-16, again from the English version (Good News Bible) It was in faith that all these persons died. They did not receive the things God had promised, but from a long way off they saw them and welcomed them, and admitted openly that they were foreigners and refugees on earth. Those who say such things make it clear that they are looking for a country of their own. They did not keep thinking about the country they had left. If they had they would have had the chance to return. Instead, it was a better country they longed for, the heavenly country. And so God is not ashamed for them to call him their God, because He has prepared a city for them.

The story is told of Billy Graham in Europe encountering an atheist. He got into a conversation with the atheist, and I share with you some of what was exchanged.

The atheist said, "You know, if I truly believed as Christians say they believe, that everyone must face eternity and give an account for how he has lived, and that Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection was the only way to God, and a secure eternity in heaven, and that all who do not receive Christ's provision for their sin would go to a place called "Hell," then," he said, he would not rest day or night from warning everyone and urging everyone to respond to Christ. "But," he continued, "When I see the way most Christians live, I am totally convinced that what they say they believe is not true. This is why I am an atheist."

Do we serve time? Are we chained to time? Do we rush out into time and live our time as all those who are around us? Or do we realize that God created us for eternity, not for this world but for the world to come? And do we realize that He is making His appeal through us?

Amos Cooper shared with us last evening the story of a gentleman that devoted himself to trying to win Buddhists to Jesus Christ, how he dressed like them and went where they were, and mingled with them, and tried to enter into their community, that they might have credibility. This is what we ought to be doing today in this place. Down at Marietta is a different environment than it is in Collegedale. You're out there where you're right in the main stream of one of the fastest growing areas in North America. People are rushing through time. And they don't have time for church. They don't have time for Jesus Christ. And so one of the things that we're attempting to do there, and this will scare you to death, is to look more like them, to spend time where they are. Because, Amos, if it's good for the Buddhists, it's good for the North American. We have to reach them. And they're not going to come to us. We have to go to them.

We're not here for time. We're here for eternity. Impact on eternity. How God must desire to say, "If you'd just let Me. If you'd just live your life from the perspective of eternity. If you view each individual, not from a human standpoint, but you view them from the perspective of eternity, I will impact lives through you." Abraham had no idea, neither do you, what God can do through one life submitted to Him for His purpose and for His eternity. God bless you.

Hymn of Praise: #10,  Come Christians Join to Sing
Scripture:  2 Corinthians 5:14-17
Hymn of Response: #166,  Christ the Lord is Risen Today

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