The dream of living forever is part of how we humans think. Our creator has put this notion of eternity into our minds. But He has not built the knowledge or power into us to make eternal life happen (Ecclesiastes 3:11 Ecclesiastes 3:11He has made every thing beautiful in his time: also he has set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God makes from the beginning to the end.
American King James Version×). The eternity we long for can only come from God our Father who does have the knowledge and power to make eternal life happen.
For those who never hear or answer God’s call in this life there is still hope.
The good news is God your Father very much wants you to have everlasting life.
Yes, eternal life is a gift God wants to give to you. All He asks is that you trust Him and work with Him through the process He has planned for you. It’s a process designed to get you from here to eternity.
Getting from here to there
When moving from one place to another place, you often must go through a passageway to come out on the other side—like a door, or a hallway. And for a short period of time you are no longer in the place you started nor are you in the place you are headed.
In the same way you can imagine God’s process for getting you from here to eternity. The here is your temporary life that lasts only a short while. When that ends, the destination is eternal life that never ends. To get to your destination, you leave where you are and begin moving towards your destination.
To get from your dead-end life to an eternal life, you must enter into something else. You must pass through a life under the judgment and careful assessment of God. There are two ways you can enter into this process: one is by invitation and the other is offered to everyone.
The first and best way is to receive and accept God’s invitation now. God calls and draws you to Him by the power of His Holy Spirit. You can accept His invitation through repentance and baptism. After baptism you will receive the power that makes eternal life possible: God’s Holy Spirit.
With God’s empowering Holy Spirit and the knowledge from His Word, you will live out your days. God will watch you, evaluate you, test you, guide you and determine if you are willing to live by the principles of eternal life found in His word. If you demonstrate through your way of living that you can be trusted with eternal life and remain faithful to its principles, then you have an everlasting future. God will give you the gift of eternal life.
This first option will place you among the blessed and holy who share in the first resurrection to eternal life (Revelation 20:6 Revelation 20:6Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
American King James Version×). It’s the better option and offers many positive rewards. So if God is calling you now, you should respond!
What happens to everyone else?
Clearly many people do not answer God’s invitation in this life, and most people do not even receive God’s invitation in the first place. But that does not mean God does not care about them or that He never gives them an opportunity to choose eternal life. For those who never hear or answer God’s call in this life there is still hope.
After the first resurrection, a second option remains. It occurs much later than the first resurrection. You can read about it in Revelation 20:11-12 Revelation 20:11-12  And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
American King James Version×.
Everyone must appear before the judgment seat of God
Like option one, option two is an entry into a period of judgment and assessment before God. All people who have ever lived will be resurrected to physical life and appear before God to begin their time of judgment and assessment. We do not know how long this resurrection to physical life lasts, but it must last at least long enough for God to make a fair and just assessment.
During this process, knowledge from God’s Word will be opened up to all these people plus they will have access to His Holy Spirit to provide understanding (Ezekiel 37:13-14 Ezekiel 37:13-14  And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,
 And shall put my spirit in you, and you shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall you know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, said the LORD.
American King James Version×). God will watch over them with His loving eye evaluating, testing and judging each person. He will determine if they are willing to live according to the principles of eternity and have their name written into the Book of Life.
If you have lost a loved one, a parent, or perhaps a child and wondered what will become of them, this true teaching from the Bible should give your heart comfort.
God’s Holy festivals teach us about the steps in His plan of salvation for humanity and this wonderful final step in God’s plan for humanity is no exception. It is pictured in the final Holy Day of the biblical calendar, and it is called simply the Eighth Day. Read more about the Eighth Day here.
Will everyone achieve eternal life?
God’s desire is that every person be saved and that all will choose to live the way of life that is required for eternal happiness. But there is also a plan for those who ultimately reject God after they have been given every opportunity to succeed.
Those who reject eternal life will cease to live and they will be no more. There will be no more thoughts, no anguish or sorrow—just nothing (Revelation 20:15 Revelation 20:15And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
American King James Version×). All trace of them will be permanently erased.
Your journey from here to eternity can begin today
God your Father wants you to have everlasting life, and the good news is that He also wants very much for you to have a part in that first and better resurrection.
Find out more about how you can get started. Get in touch with a pastor from the United Church of God, or visit one of our congregations in the United States or internationally.