TIME AND ETERNITY
By Hight Priest Wayne A. Bartrow
Volume 19, Number 3, Sep/Oct/Nov/Dec 2018 Issue No. 76
Alma 16:228–230 explains, “For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God: yea, behold, the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. And now as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many itnesses, therefore I beseech of you, that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; For after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness, wherein there can be no labor performed.”
Older folks may be familiar with an ancient mariner’s saying that is based on Matthew 16:2. It goes, “Red sky at night, sailors’ delight; Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.” Today, it is not really about the weather forecast as much as it is about the times in which we live. That is revealed in the next verse of text in Matthew 16:3, “ye can discern the face of the sky; but ye cannot tell the signs of the times.” The question I would like to consider is, “How much time do we have?” The signs of the times seem to indicate that time is short. Like the sand in an hourglass, time is running out to accomplish the task God has entrusted to us. Have we wasted too much time on other things, things that we’ve passed our time away doing? Time can never be recovered or put to better use, so if not now, when? Time waits for no one, and the time allotted to us is brief compared with eternity.
Psalm 102:13 says, “Thou shall arise, and have mercy upon Zion; for the time to favor her, yea, the set time, is come.” Zion, the kingdom of God on earth, was taken into heaven during the time of Enoch. Every generation of saints, since the gospel was restored through Joseph Smith, Jr., has sought to build Zion in anticipation of the return of its king, who is Jesus, the Christ. That call is more urgent now than it has ever been before. The time we have in which to assist in this redemption of Zion is short. Section 142:5b states, “It is yet day when all can work. The night will come when for many of my people opportunity to assist will have passed.” That warning, received by Israel A. Smith in 1950, is significant. Darkness is advancing, and our mission is not accomplished. What will our response be?
In 2010, a revelation was given to the Remnant Church. In part, Doctrine and Covenants R-154:4a,b warns that, “As the world ripens in iniquity, my arm of mercy and justice will be extended to fulfill that which has been prophesied. For as surely as you understand time, time shall come to an end.” God is not bound by time because he has not a beginning nor an end. Ecclesiastes 3:1–2 says, there is “a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die.” What we accomplish between the time we are born and the time we die is our role in God’s plan. Will we be found good stewards over the time God gave to us?
At the April 2018 General Conference of the Remnant Church, a document was approved as the mind and will of God and authorized for inclusion in our Doctrine and Covenants as Section R-164. Selected portions from that revelation are as follows: “You, my faithful saints,…have made much progress in bringing forward the work toward the kingdom….The response of the membership of this church in studying and obeying the principles of my gospel, and following the vision of the kingdom, is pleasing to me…. It is imperative that you be prepared for that which lies ahead. Hold fast to the rod of iron, the word of God. Take comfort in the arms of the Lord Jesus. Draw very close to him, for there you will find peace and understanding for that which will unfold” (D&C R-164:2a;3).
This direction given to this church through God’s chosen prophet on earth today is specific in its content and needful at this time. The conference of 2018 was described as being blessed with a spirit of reconciliation, which in turn, enabled the conference to enjoy a sense of unity and fellowship that was uplifting to all who participated in it. While the Lord commended the membership for their obedience up to now, the use of the term imperative (of vital importance) is a warning that more needs to be done in preparation for that which is to come. In addition to this, we were commanded to seek the peace and understanding that results from a closer walk with Jesus, from whom all blessings come.
Alma 19:38 tells us, “all is as one day, with God; and time only is measured unto men.” That is why, to God, a lifetime is comparable to the blink of an eye. The magnitude and majesty of God cannot be comprehended by our finite mind. Doctrine and Covenants Section 22, which is also in the forepart to the Inspired Version of the Holy Scriptures, is very meaningful: “Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name, for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?…my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease;…. there is no God beside me; and all things are present with me, for I know them all” (D&C 22:2;3b;4b). A quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, Alice Morse Earle, and others, is enlightening and reads, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.”
In Luke 18:18,20–23 a rich ruler went to Jesus and asked what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus said, “Thou knowest the commandments; Do not commit adultery. Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Honor thy father, and thy mother.” The ruler answered, “All these have I kept from my youth up.” It must have been true, because Jesus’ response was, “Yet thou lackest one thing; sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful; for he was very rich.” He was rich in earthly things, but poor in heavenly things. He was sorrowful because he could not give up the earthly things in order to obtain the heavenly things. The Psalmist declared, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). The wise learn to distinguish between what is truly important in life and what are only distractions from it.
Matthew 16:29 recommends this approach in life: “Therefore, forsake the world, and save your souls; for what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” If we work for a living, we sell our time in exchange for what we are paid. Romans 6:23 warns that, “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” What have we earned in exchange for our labor? Jesus offers all who receive him eternal life.
Doctrine and Covenants section 39:5c reveals the relationship that time has with eternity and for what purpose. “Go forth baptizing with water, preparing the way before my face, for the time of my coming; for the time is at hand; the day nor the hour no man knoweth; but it surely shall come, and he that receiveth these things receiveth me: and they shall be gathered unto me in time and in eternity.” The time for Zion is now because the need is so great. Those for whom the parable of the marriage supper in Matthew 22 has little meaning do not recognize themselves. Jesus is coming again to claim those who are his. It will be sooner than we think. Matthew 22:14 says, “For many are called, but few chosen; wherefore all do not have on the wedding garment.” The wedding garment represents righteousness. “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (Revelation 3:5). Jesus will be the advocate of all those who belong to him.
Doctrine and Covenants section R-154:4b, earlier referenced, said, “as surely as you understand time, time will come to an end.” When Jesus returns with all the hosts of heaven to reign on the earth, it will herald the beginning of the millennial reign. The prophecy of Isaiah will then be fulfilled, which states, “the government shall be upon his shoulder…. Of the increase of his government and peace there is no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6–7). No Latter Day Saint should have the slightest doubt that the Lord will do this. It is just as certain of coming to pass as if it has already. The certainty of Jesus’ promises to us is absolute.
From Prophet Israel A. Smith in 1947, “The work of preparation and the perfection of my Saints go forward slowly, and Zionic conditions are no further away nor any closer than the spiritual condition of my people justifies; but my word shall not fail, neither will my promises, for the foundation of the Lord standeth sure” (D&C 140:5c–d). Our faith must increase if we are to overcome the trials and tribulations that are yet before us. Just as the faith of the early saints was tested and tried, so shall ours, but the promises of God to the faithful are sure. His arm is not shortened, neither doth he sleep. Can you hear the cry of Joseph, even from the halls of heaven? “Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!” (Times and Seasons, October 1, 1842, Vol. 3, p. 936). This, the victory that was won by Jesus; one sacrifice for all who
will accept it and obey him.