“O Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You think of him? Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow” (Psalm 144:3-4, NASB).
Do you ever in your mind step out of your life and try to see the big picture, try to put your life in perspective, try to look at it from God’s point of view? If you do, you might see things the way David did in this Psalm. You might see that in the big picture of things, your life is like a breath or a shadow. You’re not here very long and your life in this world is soon forgotten.
Now, I’m not trying to be pessimistic or deterministic. I’m trying to make a point. We have a backwards view of life. We live our lives in this world like they are the main reality and life after death is the “afterlife.” But the reality is that eternal life is the real reality and our lives in this world are just an introduction, a pre-life training for eternity. And death is our graduation to eternal life!
“If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43-48, NASB).
This saying of Jesus alludes to the very last verse of Isaiah, which speaks of the punishment for rebellion against God as endless destruction.
John had asked Jesus what to do about someone who was casting out demons in Jesus’ name but was not part of the group of His disciples. Jesus answered not to be so concerned about someone doing good in His name but be concerned about false teachers. Be more concerned about someone who causes others to stop trusting in God or prevents them from ever starting to trust in God.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones” (Psalm 116:15, NASB).
With Easter approaching it seems appropriate to be thinking about death. And the good thing about death!
While Easter is the time we celebrate the Lord’s resurrection, we should also remember that the only way human beings enter into eternal life is through the death of the physical body.
We live in the time between the first and second comings of Jesus. It’s a time when we are joined to Jesus by His Spirit but awaiting his final coming. At His coming we will dwell in His personal presence. When Christ appears for the second time, those in Christ who are dead will be raised and along with those who are living in Christ will be transformed to share in the reality of the new heavens and earth where God personally dwells.
To live effectively and productively in this present age, Christians should be focused on eternity while making the most of the life they have in this present world.
“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” (Revelation 19:7-8, ESV).
To prepare for a modern wedding, the bride-to-be starts weeks or maybe even months in advance to select a wedding dress, shoes, jewelry and other attire to wear at the wedding ceremony. Before the ceremony the bride-to-be will go to the beauty salon to have her hair done and have a facial and manicure so she can look especially beautiful for the groom at the wedding ceremony.
“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it” (Revelation 2:17, NLT).
The book of Revelation opens with a series of personal messages to the seven churches of Asia. Asia was a Roman province in the geographical area that is now western Turkey. The cities where the seven churches were located were joined by a road system that formed a geographical triangle.
“The whole statue was crushed into small pieces of iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold. Then the wind blew them away without a trace, like chaff on a threshing floor. But the rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth. That was the dream. Now we will tell the king what it means…the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever.” (Daniel 2:35, 44, NLT).
When King Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream, God gave Daniel the ability to reveal the dream and its meaning to the king.
“We know that we are of God, and the whole world is under the sway of the evil one.” (1 John 5:17, HCSB)
The book of I John is a book of contrasts. John begins his letter by contrasting darkness and light. He declares that “God is Light and there is absolutely no darkness in Him” (vs. 1:5).
“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (I John 2:17, ESV).
Human beings are creatures of eternity. God created people for eternity and eternity is ever present in the life you now live.
This meditation is Part 3 in a three-part series of meditations on Romans 6-8.
When Christians forsake themselves and their self-absorbed way of life, they take on the life of Christ and a new way of life in Christ. Romans 6-7 describes the old way of life as living according to the law of sin and death, living according to the flesh. Unfortunately, the old self and the old way of life are not so easily abandoned, even though we are completely saved by Christ, resulting in the inner conflict I call the duality dilemma.