As I write today, it’s mid New Year’s Day here in our home in British Columbia, Canada. I’m taking some time today for worship, prayer, the reading of Scripture, reflection, and journaling. Carolyn and I have just finished a week of Christmas celebration with our family in the Vancouver area. It was so good to be with some of our children, grand-children, and extended family this Christmas. We feel very blessed by the family that God has given to us, and continues to give to us as it extends through the next generation. During this week, we were blessed to see some of the family come together for the dedication to God of our youngest grand-child. This occasion was a reminder of our complete dependence on the grace of God.
As we grow older (this year into a new decade of seniority), we are more conscious than ever of the brevity of life, of the passage of time, and of what’s involved in preparing for eternity and leaving a legacy for the next generation. In our recent travels, we have been listening some to messages, that someone passed on to us, on the subject of Heaven presented by Pastor David Jeremiah of San Diego. We have been impressed by the vivid biblical description of the nature of the life beyond in God’s presence. It has been both encouraging and challenging to consider these realities.
The encouraging thoughts on heaven have made us realize that the life beyond this one will be so much more wonderful than we ever could imagine. According to Pastor Jeremiah and 1 Corinthians 15, when we die we are given spiritual bodies with which to navigate heaven until the time of our physical resurrection at the end of time. We will have the privilege of sharing in a community of people that we have known about from biblical and church history. And we will be with Jesus Christ in God’s presence. In view of these realities, death need not be the formidable thing that we imagine. As believers in Jesus Christ, we need not be afraid of death. Death is only a bad thing for those who do not believe.
This latter thought is the challenging aspect of the prospect of heaven. According to the Bible, eternal life in heaven is exclusive concerning those who do not have faith. It is difficult for us to grasp the idea that people who do not have faith in Christ, yet who otherwise might appear to be very good, will not share in the glories of the eternal state. Yet the Bible is very clear about the fact that faith is essential to endless life in God’s presence (i.e Hebrews 11:6). In fact, it is also clear about the fact that those who do not have faith will be forever separated from God to live in a state of eternal torment (2 Thessalonians 1:8-10) . There is no doctrine of the Christian faith that is more difficult for our human minds to grasp. I must confess that I do not understand this completely apart from the reality of God’s absolute holiness and His separation from all that is evil, sinful, and of the devil.
With this reality in mind, I cling to the importance of continuing faith in God’s revelation in the Scriptures and in His Son, Jesus Christ. There may be much that I cannot really understand concerning God and His ways, but of one thing I have no doubt — that Jesus Christ is God’s provision for the forgiveness of sin, and that it is only through faith in him that we can experience spiritual life and eternal salvation. As I press on in the reality of this faith, it is my privilege and responsibility to help as many as possible experience this kind of biblical faith, trusting that God’s Word is true and that He knows what He is doing.
I look forward to the year ahead, not because the world itself is an optimistic place to live, but because life in Christ even while living in this world is a faith adventure. I want to use my energies and resources to prepare ever-more strategically for the life beyond while seeking to make the good news about Jesus ever more widely known to all that I have the privilege of loving and knowing.
It is significant that in the last hours of the old year and the first of this one, I have had the blessing of meditating on the good words of Psalm 46, Hebrews 11, and 1 Chronicles 16. All of these Scriptures emphasize no fear, faith, and worship. That is the calling to which I aspire in 2017!