CONCEPTION TO ETERNAL LIFE

When we die life as we know it is over.   Now think about this.  When we are born life as we know it is over.  In the womb we live in a dark fluid filled container.  This is the only environment we know.  It is our existence, and we have no idea of change.  Then one day the plug is pulled, so-to-speak, and our fluid world ceases to exist.  Our head is jammed into a tunnel at the end of which is a shocking never before experienced thing, light.

From the trauma of this transition we enter into a new world of existence.  This world now becomes our place to grow and explore.  There is good and evil in this world, and we experience varying amounts of both, but it becomes our home.  This is what we know.

Then we are faced with the change from this world to a new one.  We are faced with death.  The new world is vast and peaceful place where the struggle between good and evil no longer exists.  Most of us want to stay in this life though the new life is far superior to this one.  We want what we know to continue even though a better existence is ahead.

When we are conceived, birth is inevitable.  Once we are born death becomes inevitable.  Our time in the womb, as well as our time here on earth, is important for our growth, but we were never meant to stay in the womb, and we aren’t meant to stay in this life.  I think that this life is like another gestation period leading to the eternal life that God intends for us.

 

What does God intend for us?

 

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

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PRECIOUS LIFE

I have often made statements like, “I’m ready to go as soon as God calls me home,” or “I wish I could go to heaven right now.”  However, the result of a recent doctor visit brought home the reality that life as I know it could end.  The vague idea that life will end came crashing down on the certainty that life will end.  I saw the above statements as flippant and poorly thought out utterances. A new perspective has inundated my soul.  This life is precious and should be cherished.

God gave me life, and I have experienced the delights of his natural world.  Yes, there is both good and evil here, but I have never failed to explore and enjoy this world’s beauty.  My wife, children, extended family, and friends have afforded me a life full of joy and love.  Tragedies and losses have come my way, but they serve to round out the experience.  This world is all I know.  Everything that defines life to me has happened here in this temporal existence.

When I die, I will leave all of this and go to a new place that is beyond my experience. Someday, I will leave here to go to a new place – I can only imagine.  Life as I know it will be over.

Faith now comes to the foreground.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).  Even though I will be going to an unknown place, I can trust God with the unknown.

So I will not take this life for granted, or belie its importance, but I will cherish it as a precious gift from God himself.

DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY

In his book Eldon Ladd points out that God’s kingdom is not a place, but is simply his right to rule, his divine sovereignty.  God’s kingdom exists right now.  We enter god’s kingdom when we surrender our will and except his will.  His will being foremost that we receive the gift of his son’s redeeming work.  Receiving God’s salvation births us into his kingdom.   We are new creation in Christ (2Corinthians 5:17) with an existence in God’s eternal kingdom.

Though we who have received salvation in Jesus are now part of his eternal kingdom, we also exist here in the temporal world.  How does our new status affect our physical presence here?  Eldon Ladd states the answer very nicely, “The kingdom of God is, then, the realization of God’s will and the enjoyment of the accompanying blessings” (*Ladd, page 24). 

In my personal experience of realizing God’s will in my life, I have found comfort, protection, maturity, physical and emotional strength, and an overall exciting challenging life.   The accompanying blessings are manifest in my family and friends and a meaningful existence.  God treats each of his children individually, according to who he created us to be, yet we all benefit from his will and the accompanying blessings.

If you have received Jesus as your savior, you have eternal life in God’s kingdom.  You now exist in the realm of God’s divine sovereignty.  We will someday leave our existence in the temporal world, but we will continue to live forever with God our Father.   

Next week let’s look further into our presence in this world as God’s children.

 

*The Gospel of the Kingdom of God, George Eldon Ladd, Martino Publishing 2011

STRENGTH IN THE UNSEEN

When I am wading through the mire of day-to-day life, I tend to forget I serve a God who is Lord of heaven and earth.  At church, I sing about his power and majesty, yet through the week these truths seem to escape my thinking.  I know that all my hope is in him; my future is set by him.  In light of this, you’d think he’d be continuously in my daily thoughts.  Unfortunately, I get caught up in what is seen, and I forget about what is unseen.

The Apostle Paul exhorts us in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  I understand from these words that Paul is telling us to always remember the eternal as we trudge through the daily temporal.  He is encouraging us that the right now isn’t all of it.  The future that God has promised us is looming ahead.

So no matter how submerged I am in the responsibilities of today, I must remember that this will pass.  As I’m bent over laboring to accomplish what is currently set before me, I should pause and look up.  There before me is the bright light of the shining future.  How often should I look up?  I answer, “a lot!”

Even when I’m looking down concentrating on the task at hand, the light of my future is still there.  It illuminates my life making my burden lighter and giving me the strength to carry on.

Controlling the Future

I like science fiction.  I don’t know what that says about me, but I do.  The idea of projecting where scientific discovery might take us fascinates me.  I like the adventure and the jolt to my imagination.  Fantasizing future worlds, even alien worlds, has occupies a fair portion of my personal time.

Yet the science fiction stories, where man goes back in time to reshape the future, point to the complexity of manipulating the intricate details of the progression of time.  Change one little occurrence and the entire future of man is impacted.  We can predict, but there are too many factors for us to have complete control over the outcome.

Now, imagine someone able to create a universe, create humans to live in this universe, and set the ball rolling toward a planned outcome.  To add to the complexity of the task, he gives the humans freedom of choice.  During the unfolding of his plan, he intervenes occasionally knowing exactly how this will affect the outcome.  Remember, his interventions usually involve humans who are continually deciding about their actions and reactions to their situation. 

The greatest intervention this creator makes is sending his son to live among humans with the plan to redeem them.  They need redemption because they have violated the prime directive to act in love and, within their freedom of choice, have chosen to injure their fellow humans. They have also turned their back to the creator and denied his very existence.  He accomplishes his redemption plan right on schedule and continues on to his planned outcome. 

The outcome he plans is for all those who receive his redemption to live forever in eternity with him.  Not all of his humans will accept the offer, but every one of them has the choice to receive redemption.  The only one who could put together such an elaborate and complex plan is the all-powerful, all-knowing, creator God.

Read: Genesis 1-3, Job 38 – 41, & Revelation 21 & 22

TWO THINGS YOU WILL FIND IN HEAVEN

For those of us who trust in Jesus, heaven is our final destination.  I often think of heaven and what it might be like; however, some time ago I came to the conclusion that I really can’t comprehend a place without sin.  A place with no greed, selfishness, rude and obnoxious behavior is unthinkable.  My only experience is in a world darkened by sin, so I’m unable to comprehend a place without it.  I have no reference point.  So what will be in heaven?

As I was contemplating this question the other day, I came to two things that I am sure will be in heaven.  I could come up with others, but these two helped me put a foundation to my projection of what will be in heaven.  The Bible gives enough information to assure us that heaven will be the most wonderful place, but these two generalities fascinate my imagination and delight my soul.

The first is beauty.  Here on the earth, even after sins devastation, I find extraordinary beauty.  God has put so much beauty in his creation.  I’m sure heaven will be filled with unimaginable beauty.  The throne room in heaven, as described in Revelations chapter 4, is awe inspiring.  The four beasts sound terrifying, yet I question whether they are not beautiful.  From what I understand of God through his creation, beauty is always present, even in the most frightening things like a volcano.  Therefore, I’m sure as I walk the streets of heaven, I will find beauty beyond what I can imagine.

The second thing that I know I will find in heaven is love.  God is love (1 John 4:16).  So his heaven will surely be filled with love.  This is counter to the sin filled world I live in.    Love as described in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 states all the qualities that I desire in myself and others.  In my sinful nature I fall short of these qualities, but in heaven I will live in an atmosphere of love that will permeate my existence.  I can’t really comprehend this, yet I am convinced that love is the eternal attribute that will reign in heaven.