Bala in North Wales is a very Welsh town. The language spoken in the homes and shops is Welsh, and the names of the houses you pass are, with very few exceptions, Welsh.
One of these exceptions is the nameplate on a house passed if you enter Bala from the Dogellau road. The name is Pros Kairon. It is not Welsh, but Greek, and means ‘for a while’.
Whoever gave that name to the house had wisdom and understanding. He knew that no home is permanent in this world. The house may stand for 100 years or more, but we are here only for a while.
Life is temporary
Here is a salutary reminder of a basic biblical truth. Life for us in this world is temporary, yet as creatures made in the image of God with immortal souls, life can be eternal.
Everyone will agree that we cannot live in this world forever. It is true that people live longer today than in previous generations, but there will come an end for everyone. ‘For a while’ is a fact no one can question. So it is sad that very few folk do anything about it. A few will take out an insurance policy to cover their funeral costs, but what about death itself? Why will we die?
When you die, a doctor will have to fill in a death certificate stating the cause of death. He will write that the cause of death was cancer, heart attack or some other disease. But he will, from the ultimate perspective, be wrong. These illnesses are only the means by which death comes, but the cause of death is sin.
God says that the wages of death is sin. Sin is our breaking of the law of God. It is our rebellion to the rule of God in our lives. God’s reaction to this is to pronounce the sentence of eternal death for all sinners. That means hell.
Most people ignore this and say they don’t believe in hell. But if a man ignores God and lives as if He doesn’t exist, and then dies without Jesus as his Saviour, hell is where he will spend eternity.
Eternity is for ever
If we are only in this world for a while, then we ought to think about where we will spend eternity. There is only heaven or hell, so there are not too many options to think about!
Now listen to what God has to say about this: ‘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.
‘For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son’ (John 3:16-18).
Eternal life is a gift from God. What exactly is the gift of eternal life? Jesus tells us: ‘Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent’ (John 17:3). The gift is to know God as Father, Lord and Saviour. It is to know the grace and mercy of the living God.
Many will dismiss this as something not very attractive or appealing. They will say, ‘If God were to offer me a vast amount of money, then I would be interested’. Such an attitude is all too common and reveals the deep need we really have.
It fails to appreciate that we human beings are not animals, with a limited existence upon earth. We are made in the image of God, beings with an immortal soul. Life does not end in the grave. There is an eternity before us, either in heaven or in hell.
Peter Jeffery is a retired pastor, who has ministered in Cwmbran, Rugby and Port Talbot.