Ever since I was a young man I have had an intense desire to know the answer to such questions as, "Why are we here on earth?" "Where did we come from?" and "Where are we going?"
For many years I searched for the answers to these questions. I read hundreds of books searching for them and the more I read, the more confused I became. In the midst of my studies, I was unexpectedly confronted with a new problem—the threat of personal bankruptcy.
For fourteen years I had worked diligently to build a large and successful insurance agency. I enjoyed enough success to have written two insurance books and to have made one insurance recording. All three of these were well-received in the United States and in several foreign countries. I spoke to many audiences in this country and Canada about our methods of building a successful agency.
Suddenly, it all started to fall apart. One thing after another went wrong and, in less than a year, our successful business virtually collapsed. Every financial advisor told me there was only one way out—to file bankruptcy and start over again.
I couldn't do this. My creditors had trusted me and I was very close to many of the people I worked with. Months went by and the situation got worse. I was very tense. I couldn't sleep. In addition to being on the edge of bankruptcy, I also was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
On July 20, 1974 I was very near the end of my rope, both financially and emotionally. There didn't seem to be any solution. In desperation I turned to a friend in Oklahoma. As we talked on the telephone that evening he said some things that have changed my life beyond anything I could have comprehended.
First, he said, "You don't have to file bankruptcy. There is another way." These words got my attention!! They were the words I had been wanting to hear for many months, but this was the only time I was told there was an alternative to bankruptcy. I listened intently.
My friend said, "Jack, you have searched intensely for the truth. You have read hundreds of books written by men and women, but you have never read the one Book written by God." Then he told me seven words that changed my life—"All scripture is given by inspiration of God..." (II Timothy 3:16, KJV). He explained to me that every word in the Bible is inspired by God Himself and that the answer to every one of life's problems can be found in that Book. I'll never forget what he said next. "You're not going to get out of this mess you're in until you saturate yourself in that Book."
Finally, he explained that I needed to become a born-again Christian. He told me what this meant and I agreed. On the night of July 20th, 1974 I experienced spiritual rebirth and received Jesus Christ as my Saviour. Although I didn't fully realize it then, my life had changed completely—far beyond anything that I could have dreamed.
The next day I went to a bookstore and bought a Bible. I had no idea how to study it. I began with the New Testament and I approached this Book with the attitude that every word in it came from God Himself. Every time I read something that seemed to apply to my situation, I took my pen and drew a rectangle around these sentences. I was desperate. I spent several hours each day doing this. I also purchased several Christian books and cassette tapes to help me understand the Bible.
I made hundreds of pages of notes and filled many 3" x 5" cards with verses of Scripture. I reviewed this material continually. I couldn't get enough of it. Weeks stretched into months. I was still dangerously close to bankruptcy but, somehow, I was still afloat. Nothing seemed to be much different on the outside. However, tremendous changes were going on deep inside of me. I knew I was on the right track and that good things were going to happen. After studying the Bible by myself for over a year, I started meeting with three other businessmen each Tuesday night to study the Bible. At first we took turns teaching, but after a few weeks, I became the Bible study teacher. God began to do mighty things in our lives. This Bible study grew and grew until it became a magnificent church with almost 1,000 people in attendance every Sunday morning.
After awhile, business turned completely around. By following the principles that I learned from studying what the Bible says about finances, my debts have been paid off. Our business rose from the ashes and is now prospering. All of the details of this financial miracle are given in my book Trust God For Your Finances.
Also, I never had a nervous breakdown. Instead, by following the principles that I learned studying what the Bible says about inner peace, I found a calmness and freedom from worry that I never knew I could have. All of the facts about that can be found in my book Deep Inner Peace.
How I praise the Lord for this financial and emotional deliverance! I rejoice in the hundreds of letters I've received from people all over the world whose lives have been changed by the two books I just mentioned. As a result of the intense problems I faced, my eyes turned from the books of men to God's Book. Not only did I find the answers to my financial and emotional problems, but I also found the answers to my original questions regarding life—"Why are we here on this earth?" "Where did we come from?" "Where are we going?" The financial success and the deep inner peace are wonderful, but nothing can compare with the eternal rewards of the decision I made on July 20, 1974.
We must not confuse eternal planning with short-term planning. It's so easy for us to get caught up with our own plans and desires for next week, next month, next year and for the next several years. Some of us think the following are examples of long-term planning:
"When we own our own home..."
"When the children are out of college..."
"When the mortgage is paid off..."
"When we reach retirement age..."
There isn't anything wrong with that type of planning but we should label it for what it really is—short-term planning. Far too many of us make the mistake of carefully planning for ten, twenty and thirty years, but virtually ignoring the endless years of eternity ahead of us.
Most readers of this book will be dead one hundred years from today. If you are old enough to read this book, one hundred years from now will find you well past the age of normal life expectancy. I ask each reader—what are your specific plans for one hundred years from today?
Life on earth is so short. Eternity is so long. Yet, many of us focus almost entirely on the seventy, eighty or more years that we expect to spend on this earth and very little, if at all, on where we will spend eternity. This is not good planning, "...what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his life [in the eternal Kingdom of God]?" (Mark 8:36, AMP).
The older we grow, the more apparent it should become to us that life on earth is not all there is. Eternal life is much more important. "If a person lives to be very old, let him rejoice in every day of life, but let him also remember that eternity is far longer, and that everything down here is futile in comparison" (Ecclesiastes 11:8, TLB). When God created us, He placed a desire deep inside of us to know more about where we will spend eternity. "... He has also set eternity in the hearts of men..." (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV).
In this book we will carefully examine where we will spend eternity, what it will be like and what plans we need to make now. It contains dozens of facts on this subject, with every point being fully documented by Holy Scripture. It is written in a simple, conversational style that is not complicated or confusing.
In this book, I have used several versions of the Bible because many readers will not be familiar with the Bible. Therefore, with each verse of Scripture, I have searched to find the version that explains this most clearly in words that a person who has not studied the Bible can understand. The abbreviations for each version are explained on page 4.
I pray that each person who reads this book will examine the following facts carefully. The decision as to where we will spend the endless years of eternity is the most important decision we'll ever make.