Change. It can strike when we least expect it. If you’ve been touched by the death of someone close to you, you may be painfully aware of that fact. The death of a loved one brings life-altering change to those who remain. And while a funeral focuses on his or her life, it’s also a good time to turn our attention on ourselves, asking the questions that may only surface at times like these.
I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is that our lives will one day end, too. We have no guarantee of tomorrow, let alone our 90th birthday! Yet we mostly live in denial that our time on earth is brief, limited.
A better place? At virtually every funeral people talk about the “better place” to which the deceased has gone. A place with no more sickness, pain, or tears… a place of great family reunion and eternal joy. Doesn’t everyone, religious or not, hope for a place like that?
What about the “bad” people? Interestingly, however, most would say they want the really bad people to go somewhere else when they die! So who decides who is good enough or bad enough? And how much good is enough to outweigh the bad in our lives? Have we sprinkled enough good deeds in along the way to tip the scales in our favor? Surely we're not as bad as the really bad people - murderers, kidnappers, etc.
The bad news gets worse. In reality, no one is good enough. Based on God’s standard – perfection - no one comes down on the “good enough” side. Not one person. Not Mother Teresa. Not Gandhi. No one.
So where does that leave us?
Right where He wants us, relying on Him instead of ourselves. He satisfied His own impossibly high standard by becoming a man: Jesus Christ. As God, He was perfect, never committing even the smallest sin. As a man, he could die. He was born to die … to die for us.
Now for the Good News
Most of us know John 3:16 from the Bible, which says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not die but have eternal life.”
Sounds simple enough, but …
What does it mean to believe? How do we do that?
Here’s what the Bible says about it:
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.” (Romans 3:23–25, NLT)
“… the wages of (penalty or payment for) sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:6-8)
Don’t miss that! We are completely helpless and unable to pay the high price for our sin, so God paid for it Himself… and then turned around and GAVE us the gift He had just purchased. That gift is LIFE with Him, starting right now, and continuing long after our last heartbeat… forever.
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)
“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” (Romans 5:1)
“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
So we’re back to the question …
What does it mean to believe? How do you do it if you can’t DO anything to earn or deserve this gift? Answer: simply accept the gift, realizing that even the faith necessary to take God at His word is itself a gift. And if you’ve truly accepted this gift, you’ll want to spend the rest of your life coming to know the Giver – Jesus Christ - and thanking Him for the Gift.
The bottom line? Life-altering change is coming… without notice.
You have an appointment. It’s on God’s schedule, but it may come as a surprise to you. You have no idea when your presence will be required, but rest assured, it will be. Will you meet Him with the empty hands of faith, having put the full weight of your trust in Jesus’ death for you? Or will you try in vain to impress Him with all that you did or didn’t do, all that you gave?
Life in eternity has already begun for those who have passed away. Their destination was settled based on where their trust was placed. But you remain, and the same will be true for you when you pass from this world. If you’re not sure of your eternal destination after death, then meet God in His Word – the Bible. The Gospel of John is a good place to start. It is the compelling account of the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus, God in the flesh. We pray you’ll take the time to get to know Him. There is nothing more important for you personally, for in the process of getting to know God through Jesus Christ, God will grant you the faith to trust in Him.
If you have questions or just want to talk about this sometime, please send us a message or stop by our office.