Thursday, January 12, 2012
Today’s Topic: What’s ahead?
Today’s Text: Isaiah 57:1-2 The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.
We are all very inquisitive about what lies beyond death. It is our nature. God says in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men.” People have written numerous books about their near-death experiences, and they quickly become best sellers because we want to know what’s out there. Stories are told about people who have made statements on their deathbeds that seem to indicate that they see a vision of what’s ahead. Currently there is such a story floating around the internet about a famous technology developer. Some well intentioned people are claiming that he had a revelation from God before he died.
Whether or not that is true is not my reason for writing today, nor is it up for debate about what lies ahead. The Scriptures are clear on what happens after death. There are two possibilities – an eternal separation from the God who created us, or an eternal fellowship with that same God. Every person who has ever lived knows this deep in their heart. They may be covering the truth up with false teaching and self-centered pursuits, but given the right moment of meditation and honesty they will discover that God has placed the truth of eternity in their heart.
The Bible also make it clear that it all of us were destined for eternal separation from God from the moment of our conception in our mother’s womb. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We are by nature the enemies of God (see Romans 5:6-21). But in His eternal and inconceivable love He sought us. He sent His Son Jesus to be our sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21). God has granted us sufficient faith to believe that Jesus is Lord, that He died on the cross to save us from our sins, and that He rose from the dead to conquer eternal death (see Romans 10:9-10). It is only through faith in Jesus that we are saved, and can enter into eternal fellowship with the Father (Ephesians 2:8-9). There is NO OTHER WAY! (John 14:6)
When that eternal transaction takes place, and by the grace of God we are translated from the realm of sin and death into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, our eternal fellowship with God begins (Colossians 1:12-14). That fellowship produces incredible peace and joy. Indescribable peace and joy. No longer do we fear death and judgment like those who continue to live in their sin. The author of Hebrews describes the emotional state of those who reject the truth of Scripture. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26-27) How sad, but how correctable!
But we who are in Christ are not like them. When we experience the death of someone we love who was in fellowship with God, we do not grieve like the rest of the general population (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14). We know that based on their faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin that they are moving into the presence of the Lord. Scripture clearly says that to be absent from this body means that we are present with Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). In this we express joy rather than sorrow, peace rather than pain, and rest rather than resistance.
It will be the same for us personally when we reach that moment of death. The words of the Lord through Isaiah will be the description of our last days on earth. We who have walked uprightly will enter into peace. We will find rest as we lie in death. There is nothing to fear. Our eternal spiritual fellowship that began on earth is about to culminate in eternal physical fellowship in person. We are about to see Jesus face to face (see Titus 2:11-14). Let us live like it might be today!