Lesson Five – Fitting Time into Eternity

Fitting Time into Eternity 


From our study of the four previous lessons we should have a clear understanding of why Paul wrote these letters as he did to the church in Corinth.  Our hypothesis based on his view of the situation should expose the problem.  We have prepared ourselves to hear an apostle’s divine instructions for solving the problem of division in the Lord’s church.  The following chart is a summary of Paul’s divine time/eternity world view.  He received this from God via the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 2:12).


Paul couched his inspired instructions for moving the church from the “wisdom of man” level of life to the “wisdom of God” level in the context of time and eternity.  The spiritual growth development of an individual Christian is from “mere men” to spiritual based Christians and from this glory to the next level of glory (I Cor. 3:1-3; II Cor. 3:18).


The division in the churches in Achaia needed to be “turned around” quickly; however, other “doors opened” that had kept Paul from coming in person.  This added to an already strained relationship and, no doubt, produced an opportunity for the schemes of Satan (II Cor. 2:11, 12).  To solve this problem it was necessary to first restore a loving relationship between Paul and the members (II Cor. 6:11-13).  This is why these are very emotional letters; however, unless we are willing to let ourselves get caught up in this emotion we may misunderstand some of Paul’s tactics for “cutting the ground” from under those who were “masquerading as servants of righteousness.”  II Cor. 11:11-15.

It will be necessary for us to view “time and eternity” with the same “world view” Paul taught the Corinthians during the one and a half years period he co-built this church with Jesus.  Please note how the first column delved into the “secret mind of God” before time began.  God “destined for our glory;” that is, He preplanned to satisfy our innate need for glory that He has embedded in every human being.  We can be His “sons and daughters” now and inherit life in His eternal kingdom as His children.  We need to understand this first column when we study every book in the Bible.  Mature spiritual Christians have faith in God’s program for mankind and this is one reason we love God.  Please note God’s plan is for mature Christians who love Him (I Cor. 2:6, 9).  If we do not understand all three columns in this chart we will have trouble understanding Paul’s letters.

One of the prerequisites in an “asking prayer” is to tell God we know where we stand in relation to what we plan to ask.  In Jesus “asking prayer” the night before He was nailed to the cross, He used this approach.  “Father, the time has come.” John 17:3.  He had told people at several different intervals in His life the hour had not yet come (John 2:4; 7:6).  He was ready when it did come (John 12:23).  We need to continually analyze where we stand in our lives.  This is a strong point in Paul’s letter.

Please review column two.  We are in the last days.  The first day of the last days happened two thousand years ago and we are not promised a tomorrow.  This is why Paul would write like he did in
I Corinthians 7:29-31.  “For this world in its present form is passing away.”  Paul did not know when he was living the last hour of the last day.  Jesus said no one but the Father in heaven knows (Matt. 24:36-41).  What Christians do know is that we are “in Christ” where God’s plan for mankind is happening (I Cor. 8:4-6; II Cor.1:21, 22).  It is not happening in the world realm (I Cor. 11:32).  Some of the Corinthian Christians were not thinking on this spiritual level.

The fulfillment of all the innate needs of our individual “self” will find satisfaction in the eschatological scene in column three.  We need glory, we will find it as children in the kingdom Jesus will turn back to God.  We need security, our resurrection and new body is the answer for this need.  All people have these needs and they are looking for satisfaction.  The world is not the answer because there is no security or glory in “passing away.”  All people are desperately seeking satisfaction for both of these needs because this is the way God created us.

The Corinthian Christians were not “spiritual thinkers.”  Paul inserted several eschatological details in these letters we do not find in his other letters.  This should have enhanced their thinking about other world things and solving the present division in the church.  They were focused too much on this world wisdom.  Please note a few more scriptures for enhancing our “time and eternity” world view:

I Cor. 4:5.  “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes.  He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.  At that time each will receive his praise from God.”

I Cor. 6:2, 3.  “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?  And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?  Do you not know that we will judge angels?  How much more the things of this life!”

I Cor. 9:25.  “Everybody who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

I Cor. 11:32.  “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”

I Cor. 15:42-44.  “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.  The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”   See II Cor. 5:1-10.

II Cor. 4:18.  “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is not seen is eternal.”     Please God help our faith.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Why is it important to form a hypothesis from the information we find in the letters before we try to determine what the writer is saying to the problem?
  2. How did Paul arrive at his time/eternity world view?
  3. Define “mere men” by Paul’s usage of the term.
  4. Why did Paul write these letters instead of coming to Corinth strait away?
  5. While working to solve the problem of division, explain the emotional problem Paul encountered.
  6. When do you suppose Paul taught the Corinthians his time/eternity world view?
  7. Why is it important that readers of the Corinthian letters under-stand the chart set forth in this lesson?
  8. List some of the present blessings for the Christian who has faith in the scriptures in this chart.
  9. How might Paul’s presentation of the Holy Spirit’s eschatological information help the situation in Corinth?
  10. List two innate needs of all human beings that can be satisfied by faith in the scriptures in the foregoing chart.
  11. Why do we need to maintain an “on-going” evaluation of where we stand?
  12. In the spectrum of time where do we stand?
  13. Why is it futile to speculate about Jesus’ return and the end of time?
  14. Why can it be said, we need to be “in Christ” when He returns?
  15. Please comment on the scripture listed in this lesson that gives you the most comfort from where you stand.

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