What Benjamin Franklin Said About Eternity
The evidence is everywhere: something is wrong. And it’s more significant than meets the eye.
– The scream of the toddler who has had a toy wrenched from his hands by his older brother is more than a cry of protest.
– The hurt inside the teenager who has been mocked by a peer is more than adolescent angst.
– The tears of a mom at the end of a talk with a lost and wayward daughter are more than an expression of parental grief.
– The resentment of the man who has just been laid off by a boss who didn’t seem to care is more than anger at a career injustice
– The gardener’s frustration that her weeds grow faster than her flowers is more than a fight with the forces of nature.
– The curse of the older man at his inability to get his leg to do what he intended for it is more than frustration with an expiring biological clock.
– The sad silence around the casket of a dear one is more than the grief of the bereaved.
These ordinary examples are groans and yearnings for “a new heavens and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:13; also read Romans 8:18–27).
No matter who you are, how much money you have, where you live, or how old you are, you crave a perfect world. We all struggle in our unique way because our experience in the present is far from paradise.
Even though the evidence is all around us, so many of us suffer from eternity amnesia. We often live with the unrealistic expectations and functional hopelessness that always results when you tell yourself that this life you have is all there is.
Sure, if you poll average citizens as to whether they believe in an afterlife, most respondents will tell you that they do. In the church, it would be unanimous. But the problem is that eternity doesn’t mean much to us, at least functionally. It’s not formative in the way we live our everyday lives.
As I counseled for many years, I couldn’t escape this recurring theme: I need to give eternity back to this person. It became increasingly clear that much of what they were struggling with was because a critical element in their theological reality was missing.
So today, just for a moment, I invite you to step off the treadmill of your busy life and consider what your life looks like when viewed through the lens of Forever.
One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, poetically penned these words for his epitaph:
B. Franklin, Printer,
Like the Cover of an old Book,
Its Contents torn out,
And Stript of its Lettering & Gilding,
Lies here, Food for Worms.
But the Work shall not be lost,
For it will as he believ’d
appear once more
In a new and more elegant Edition
Corrected and improved
By the Author.
There is a Forever on the other side of this life. Eternity is not a mystical creation of overly spiritual people. Forever is a reality. It is the product of God’s plan and design. And once you believe in Forever and live with Forever in view, not only will you understand things you have never understood before, but you will live in a radically different way than you did before.
Paul David Tripp
1. Read Romans 8:18-27.
2. What about creation is frustrating you lately? How can you groan with holy dissatisfaction?
3. In what ways might your groans be selfish? Are you yearning only for temporary convenience and pleasure?
4. Read 2 Peter 3.
5. As you wait for a new heavens and a new earth, how can you grow in holiness and godliness? How does the promise of Forever functionally impact one area of your life today? Pick one and be specific in its application.
6. How should Romans 8:18-27 and 2 Peter 3 impact the way you interact with your neighbor? Ask the Lord to help you make relational adjustments this week!
QUOTE: Benjamin Franklin, handwritten manuscript (1728) housed at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Want to learn more about New Hope Church? Click here.