Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Today’s Topic: Die Twice or Live Forever
Today’s Text: Revelation 21:1-8 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
I have just finished doing something I have rarely done. I’ve written a sermon that can be delivered in under 10 minutes. I know, many of you are shocked. You probably don’t even believe it. Some are even thinking how they wish that was the norm every Sunday. Well, this sermon is not for Sunday. It’s for the funeral of my dear friend Chuck Canaday. And even though it may seem very similar to last Friday’s post, I wanted you to read it. My prayer is that if you are already a Christian, the splendor of your salvation and the hope of glory will inspire you today to live publicly for Jesus. If you are not a Christian, I pray that the Holy Spirit will penetrate your heart with the grace of God and you will discover life today.
Death. The end of life. The Bible teaches us all we need to know about life and death. It is the theme of the revelation of God to us. He created us to live. It was intended to be perfect. But man couldn’t resist the desire to please himself rather than His creator, so he gave in to the temptation that there was more to life than what God could offer. His rebellion against complete trust in God is called sin, and as a result, death has come upon mankind.
Death is the ultimate consequence of sin. Death proves that all people are guilty of sin, for all die. Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— Romans 5:18 Consequently, as the result of one trespass condemnation came upon all people.
For those who do not believe on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, death happens twice. Once, at the end of life on this earth, when all recognition and experience of anything related to life ceases. Then again at the beginning of eternal condemnation in the fires of hell, where there will be physical and conscious awareness of all pain and suffering without the possibility of relief. No comfort from friends. Total aloneness. Total pain and suffering. Totally deserved because of sin and the rejection of the Savior.
The fact that all people die is proof that all have sinned. Except in one case, when one man died voluntarily rather than consequentially. 2 Cor. 5:21 tells us that He who knew no sin, had no sin nature, and never committed any sin, died as an innocent one who voluntarily took our sin and guilt on himself. His death became the once-and-for-all payment to God for our individual guilt, and His resurrection guarantees that He is coming back to give eternal life to all who believe in Him. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. Hebrews 9:26-28
But for those who believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and have repented of their sin and confessed Jesus as Lord of their lives, there is no death. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23) The gift of God is not like the sin of man. Here’s what God says to us in Romans about His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross:
His gift is sufficient for everyone. But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!
The gift makes us right with God Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.
His gift gives life just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings eternal life. His gift forgives sin For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
As I stood around the bedside with the family after Chuck had passed into eternity, I remember saying this to them – Chuck has not died. As a child of God he was set free from the bondage of sin and death and he simply passed from this life into his eternal one. He never experienced death.
Every individual is responsible to God for their sin. Jesus died to make forgiveness possible. Jesus rose from the dead to make eternal life available. But you must decide to trust Jesus to save you. Your church can’t do it. Your good works can’t do it. Only Jesus can do it, and He will if you will just give up and surrender your life to Him in faith. Please read these verses carefully found in Titus 3:3-8. Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled by others and became slaves to many wicked desires and evil pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy. We hated others, and they hated us. But then God our Savior showed us his kindness and love. He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us because of what Jesus Christ our Savior did. He declared us not guilty because of his great kindness. And now we know that we will inherit eternal life.
Jesus said, “I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” Chuck took the final step into eternity last Thursday. But He had already been living in the reality of eternal life for years. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.