Our Glorious Hope!
God Be With You Till We Meet Again
Death is Only the Beginning
When we are younger, we never really expect death to occur; at least in the foreseeable future. And yet, we who are older, know that it can happen at any time, when we least expect it.
One of the saddest days on this earth is when a loved one dies. The first major encounter that I had with this in my life was the death of my brother when I was 15 years old. He was only 16 and was killed by a drunk driver. That has been many years ago now, but I still get a sad feeling when I think of him. What a waste of a good life it seems to be. He was a loving and talented human being, who might have made a major impact on this world.
I often wonder about what he would have done with his life. I think about the job he could have had, and the wife he might have married. And I think of the family they might have reared together.
But then I am reminded that he was a Christian young man, and his life really hasn't ended. In fact, at the moment he stepped out of this life, his real life had just begun. You see, we really aren't living here on this earth. We are all in the process of dying. Sin has seen to that. But when we enter the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, we go from this land of the shadow of death, to a new life where there will no longer be any mourning, or crying or pain.
I. Until We Meet Again
When we bury a loved one in the Lord, there are no goodbyes. There are only "I'll see you laters." We can truly say: "Until we meet again." Scripture tells us that once a Christian is absent from the body, they are immediately present with the Lord (II Corinthians 5:8). I love the way the English poet John Donne has put it. He says:
"Death be not proud, though some have called thee mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so. For those whom thou thinkest thou dost overthrow, die not poor death. Neither canst thou kill me..... One short sleep past, we wake eternally, and death shall be no more. Death, thou shalt die!"
Because Jesus Christ conquered death, those who trust in Him need never fear dying again. Death is merely the gatekeeper, ushering us into the presence of the One who is Life itself. And we need not be in despair, as those who have no hope, over the loved ones who have gone on before. They will be waiting for us when we ourselves have finished our journey through this world.
II. Hope is Only Through Christ
It is wonderful being a Christian, and knowing that your sins that once separated you from God have been paid by Jesus Christ. He truly is our hope. My advice to anyone who has not accepted Jesus' death for your sins is that today is the day of salvation. We truly don't know if we will even have a tomorrow on this earth. But we can choose if we will have a tomorrow in Heaven in the presence of the Lord.
Without Him the eternal hope that I've been talking about is not a possibility. There is only a dread of judgment and separation from God and our loved ones forever. Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). It is Christ who has made it possible for a great union of saints some day.
Jesus has promised to return and take His people to be with Him. And it will happen. He will come into the air and catch us up to be with Him. The dead in Christ will rise first. Then those who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air. (I Thessalonians 4:14-17).
Every generation of believers anticipates His return for them. We don't know when it will be, so we all should be ready just in case it is today. But we must also be prepared if He doesn't return in our lifetime. Yet whether we live or die, we have the glorious hope that we will be a part of that eternal Kingdom which will never end. And never again will we be separated from those we love. What a glorious day that will be!
Although death is never something to rejoice in, neither is it something that should cause us to be in total despair. There is hope beyond the grave. Death does not have the final say. Jesus has defeated it. He has won that victory and we will too. Further, death will one day be the final enemy destroyed! It will no longer be a part of our existence for it will no longer exist.
I have many loved ones in Heaven that I'm longing to see again. We have a lot of catching up to do when I join them. However, until then there is a lot of work to do, sharing the gospel and bringing many more souls to that great future family reunion in the air. It is my desire to remain faithful to my calling from the Lord until that time. I hope that everyone who reads this will do the same.
© 2013 Jeff Shirley