The experience of losing my father recently, has deepened my awe and gratitude for what Jesus did in order give us hope of eternal life with Him. It has also increased my desire to understand what the implications are for how I live my life on earth.
The decisions we make in this lifetime make a difference for eternity.
It was after a discussion with the elementary students at my church, that confirmed that there are a lot of unknowns, vague ideas and wrong beliefs about the place we will spend eternity. It made me realize this is a topic that needs to be covered more often and in more depth than we typically hear. Eternity is a long time, I think it’s best to spend some time talking about it!
How Our Eternal Destiny Is Decided
We have to recognize God as a perfect, righteous Judge. Yes, He is loving, kind, compassionate, slow to anger, faithful, and pure. But it is His perfect, infinite purity that demands a price to be paid for sin. In His Holiness, He is able to perfectly and rightly judge and administer justice. Isn’t justice what we all want? Yet, why is it so hard to accept the concept that God is both a loving, compassionate Father and a perfectly, just Judge?
The evil in this world must be dealt with.
All will be judged, but an important decision must be made in this life to determine which court we will stand in.
There is a court that condemns and a court that rewards.
If sin demands punishment, and all have sinned have fall short of the glory of God, then each of us should expect to experience the wrath of God.
However, in God’s great mercy and compassion, He sent His son to take upon himself the wrath that we rightly deserve. We can choose to accept this gift or reject it. He does not force himself upon anyone.
When we recognize the awfulness of sin in our own life, repent and surrender to Christ and accept His gift of grace, we become a child of God. He accepts us into His family. He took it upon Himself to suffer the wrath we deserve so we can then be confident that we will not face condemnation nor His punitive judgment.
He forgave all our sins having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.Colossians 2:13b-14
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.Romans 8:1
So as a believer, I am not condemned. God looks at me through the lens of Jesus’ blood.
Those Who Reject
What about those who reject the gift?
Those without Christ’s robes of righteousness will stand before the Judge condemned. In this court there is no jury, defense or appeal.
They will not be graded on the curve system or evaluated by cultrual opinions of right and wrong. They will be judged by the unbending standard of God’s truth, and this judgment will be forever unalterable.Dr. David Jeremiah, Book of Signs
This judgment casts the unrepentant into the lake of fire where they will be eternally separated from God.
They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.Matthew 13:42
The concept of God’s judgment should not be tiptoed around, ignored or wrongly believed that it couldn’t be true.
The God who is truly scary is not the wrathful God of the Bible, but the god of the judgmentless gospel, who closes his eyes to the evil of this world, shrugs his shoulders, and ignores it in the name of “love.” What kind of “love” is this? A god who is never angered at sin and who lets evil go by unpunished is not worthy of worship.Trevin Wax
It is only a perfectly Just God that is also a God of Love.
It is never too late in this life to choose to accept His free gift. If you have not yet surrendered your life to Christ, and accepted God’s gift of grace, what are you waiting for?
Does it Matter How We Live?
What about those of us who have accepted the gift of God’s grace and rest assured we do not face God’s punitive judgment… does it really matter how we live, or does God’s grace just cover it all?
Yes – how we live matters! That is the whole purpose behind my blog and why I write. I want to inspire others to live out their time on this earth in a way that is worthy of the calling. He has called you to be a child of God if you have accepted His gift of grace, but there is so much more to this life if we want to experience the abundant joy, peace and blessings of walking with Him.
He doesn’t call us to an easy life. That is why it is called a narrow path that few choose. Yet the blessings that await us far outweigh the hardships.
Don’t Miss the Blessings!
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.2 Corinthians 17-17
We can accept God’s gift of grace, but then choose to live the way we want. We can choose to give in to the flesh and live according to what the flesh desires, but that is not the path that provides the abundant blessings God wants to give His children!
God may desire self-denial, sacrifice, servanthood, surrender, submission and suffering for His glory. But He offers His people refreshment, regeneration, renewal, restoration, robes of righteousness, rest, rescue and refuge.
Easy life? No!
Worth it? Yes!
A true, authentic believer is given the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the work of the Holy Spirit will produce fruit in a believer’s life. Yet, there are ways we can grieve the Spirit and limit the fruit our life bears.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.Galations 5:16-18; 22-24 NIV
When I give in to the flesh, I squelch the Holy Spirit’s power in my life.
Un-kink the Hose
I fill water tubs for animals and water the garden on a regular basis. Let me tell you how frustrating a kink in the hose is or when a hose has not been drained properly and becomes frozen in the cold winter months! When I can not get the water to flow well, I can waste a lot of time trying to get the job done with only a trickle of water.
When we grieve the Holy Spirit by doing things our way rather than God’s way, we kink the hose the Holy Spirit flows through. My sensitivity to the Spirit weakens and His voice becomes faint. The power is gone. My eternal destiny is still secure, but I don’t want to live my life with a tiny trickle of the Spirit. I want the full power at work and alive in my life!
That means I must regularly evaluate my life. What areas am I gratifying the flesh and need to surrender to Christ’s way of living?
- Am I quick to get angry with a strong desire to defend myself, or am I slow to become angry, seeking to understand with a submissive, loving heart?
- Do I hold a grudge, devising a plan to get even? Or am I seeking to forgive and reconcile?
- Do I look for ways to satisfy the hunger in my soul with unnecessary snacks or am I feeding on His Word?
- Am I neglecting to address an issue I notice with one of my children and take the easy road and ignore, dismiss or make excuses for it, or do I lovingly address the issue and direct my child to better choices?
These are just a few ways we can quickly gratify the flesh rather than submit to the Spirit.
When we pray this prayer,
Search me, God, and know my heart: test me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.Psalm 139: 23-24
He will graciously show us. He does this out of love and a desire for us to walk with Him and in His way. When we confess, He is quick to forgive and restore. The kink is loosened, the frozen water is thawed, His Spirit can flow in us again.
If we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.I John 1:9
What does a life empowered by the Spirit look like?
Not Just Another Runner
Everyone who competes goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.I Corinthians 9:25-26
In this passage, Paul is looking at life here on earth as a race. He is choosing to live differently than the majority, because he is after the prize. He strikes a blow to his body and makes it his slave. That doesn’t sound easy or comfortable.
I have a son who loves to run. He pushes his body beyond what is comfortable in order to become faster, build endurance, and increase his chances of winning the prize. That prize might not always be first place, but it might be an improved time or beating an oponant he has lost to in the past. He disciplines his body by making changes to his diet to fuel his body well. He goes to bed earlier to get good rest. He follows a strict training schedule and plan. He doesn’t let weather or other activities get in his way. He figures out a way to get his workout in, because he keeps his eyes fixed on his goal.
He is a runner whether he trains and disciplines himself or not. He could casually jog a few times a week and probably still enter races and do well, but in order to reach his ambitious goals, he must put forth the effort to train and discipline himself.
We can be a Christian and casually live life without much effort. We can enter heaven, but what are we missing out on if we don’t train, discipline ourselves and pursue God’s calling with all of our being?
Walking with God demands personal sacrifice and self-control. We need to maintain self-control even in things that are not necessarily evil, but which can dilute our full devotion to God.Dr. David Jeremiah, Book of Signs
How We Live Matters
The prize is not salvation. Our salvation is secured when we surrender our life to Christ and have accepted His gift of grace. Paul is saying that how we live our life still matters. God promises to reward His people in Heaven for the work we do here on earth.
If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved – even though only as one escaping through the flames.I Corinthians 3:12-15
What we do and why we do it in our short life on earth matters to God.
When the work we do is done for our glory, for recognition by others or for outward show, that is the wood, hay and straw that will be burned up. When the work we do for God is done in our own power, rather than by the power of the Holy Spirit, it will not produce a lasting reward.
The work that stands the test of fire: gold, silver, and costly stones, is work that is done by the power of the Holy Spirit and for God’s glory.
It brings me great joy and comfort knowing my dad is in the presence of God. One day when he stands before the judgment seat of Christ, I can only imagine the crowns that will be awarded to him.
The Choice is Yours
The same can be true for each of us. We can choose to accept God’s gift of grace, and surrender our lives to Him and rest in the promise of one day being able to stand in His presence without condemnation.
We can live our lives worthy of the calling for His glory and look forward to the rewards He promises. We can also experience the gift of abundant joy and peace in this present life on earth.
We can accept his gift of grace, but then live like everyone else, forgoing the abundant blessings God desires to bestow on His people.
Or we can reject His gift, face His judgment and wrath our sins deserve.
We have choices and our choices matter…for eternity.
.What choices do you need to make today?
For more encouragement and inspiration to live a life surrendered to Christ, listen to this song.