Life, Death and Eternity
Life, Death and Eternity! These are three of the greatest and most comprehensive words to be found in all the languages of earth. They embrace the beginning of life through an endless eternity. They are of the utmost meaning and greatest interest to millions of people in every age. Let us therefore consider them.
What is life? What is it, that having we live and having not we die? From whence comes the answer to this great question?
Science has tried unsuccessfully to put life in a test tube for examination, to see it under a microscope, and I understand that a human body has been weighed immediately before and after death with no difference in weight. Science utterly fails to explain life.
The philosophies of men have vainly sought to explain life through the ages by human wisdom. But the combined minds of millions and the accumulated wisdom of centuries cannot explain it. Life remains a great mystery to those who seek to understand it by human wisdom.
Infidels tell us that life is only a few years of existence between the cradle and the grave in which we vainly seek for its answer and our mission. But the infidel cannot offer a satisfactory explanation for the beginning of life, its nature, mission or destiny.
The God-given, inspired, infallible Bible is the only book in the world that gives the true answer to the great question, what is life? It satisfactorily explains the origin of life in the account of the creation in Genesis. God created man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul. What then is life? It is a union of the soul or spirit and body. When the spirit and body separate, death, the ceasing of life, is the result. "The body without the spirit is dead." (James 2: 26.) Thus Science and Philosophy have failed to explain life because the spirit is invisible, weightless and intangible so far as man is concerned.
But what is our mission in life? Are we here to aimlessly wander without a purpose? Many have misconceptions, mixed-up values and wrong goals concerning life on earth. Let us consider some of them.
To some material wealth is the ultimate goal of life. But the Bible teaches otherwise. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . ." (Matt. 6:19, 20). Not even the necessities of life can come before the kingdom. (Matt. 6:33). Those who trust in riches cannot enter
the kingdom. (Mark 10:23-25). If we gain the whole world and lose our own souls, what have we profited? (Matt. 16:24-27). The Bible calls a man a fool who trusts in material wealth for security. (Luke 12:15-21 ). The account of the rich man and Lazarus shows that it is far better to die a suffering saved pauper than a gay lost rich man. (Luke 16:19-31). The apostle Paul states the proper
attitude of Christians regarding worldly possessions, thusly: "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (I Tim. 6:7-10). The Hebrew Christians demonstrated the right attitude when they took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing that there was a better and enduring substance in heaven. (Heb. 10:34). There is an inheritance reserved in heaven, which is incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away. (I Pet. 1:4). We therefore should set out affections on things above, not on things on the earth. (Col. 3:1-2).
Others seek political prominence as their highest ambition, compromising the truth and violating God's laws in order to find favor in the eyes of the voters. I read of a city mayor (a member of the church) who took part in a praising introduction of a false teacher who had come to the city to preach false doctrines and mislead the people. Such is contrary to Bible truth. Jesus Christ could have been the world's most powerful political figure if he had been willing to compromise to attain this throne. (Matt. 4:8-10). How tragic that foolish men today will exchange their crown of life for a temporary corruptible political crown on earth.
Still others desire social prestige above everything else. These engage in social drinking and dancing in order to be socially accepted by clubs and circles. They spend much money and many hours in Club work, but not once cent for nor one hour in the House of God. How blind are these vain people! Popularity with the world is not desirable nor worth the price of compromise and loss of the soul.
True success in the highest sense comes as a result of obeying God. The Christian has the most successful and the highest position obtainable in this life. Our whole duty here is to obey God. (Ecc. 12:13,14). It is a time to glorify God. (I Cor. 6:20). It is a time to prepare for heaven; it is a dressing room for eternity. But we must work while it is dav, for the night cometh when no man can work! Death ends our mission on earth.
Death is a word that strikes terror to the hearts of millions daily who have no hope. It is a reality that brings indescribable anguish and uncontrollable sorrow to multitudes daily as they helplessly and hopelessly plead in vain for just one more word, another sign of movement, another look from the still loved one in the cold, gray casket. It is a word that stirs our memories of departed loved ones and brings fresh tears anew. Hence through the ages there has been an endless, futile, hopeless search by explorers and scientists for the elixir of life, something that will eliminate or postpone death. But the search will ever end in complete failure, for we are born to live and bound to die. (Heb. 9:27). "There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit, neither hath he power over the day of death . . ." (Ecc. 8:8).
We learn that death came into the world by one man. (Rom. 5:12). God's law was transgressed and man was removed from the tree of life and left to die. (Gen. 2:3 ). Man's posterity suffers the effect of his sin, in that all die physically; we do not have access to the tree of life.
Life is brief and uncertain. It is indeed a slender thread that holds us to this world. And we know not when it shall be clipped suddenly and we shall be hurled out into eternity from which there is no return to earthly relationships. We are constantly standing on the brink of the grave, only a heartbeat away from death, only a breath from eternity. "What is Your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." (James 4:14). "'Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down; he fleeth also as a shadow and continueth not." (Job 14:1, 2). Here today, and gone tomorrow! Then comes eternity for the prepared and the unprepared.
Endless eternity! Will we live there? Is there life bevond the grave? Is the cradle the beginning and the grave the end? Are we "like the little dog Rover, dead all over"? Are we without hope? Robert Engersoll, the fanrous infidel, said at the funeral of his brother, "Life is but a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry aloud and the only answer we hear is the echo of our waiting cry." Here is the cry of anguish of a sorrowing, faithless, helpless and hopeless man. How sad! Paul said, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." (I Cor. 15:19). We long for a life beyond this world of suffering, and sorrow, for a reunion with faithful loved ones. Do we hope in vain? Is our faith futile?
The Bible produces faith and offers hope, comforting the mourners and beautifying the grave. Thus we sing the song of hope: Beyond the sunset's radiant glow, there is a brighter world I know; where golden glories ever shine, beyond the thought of day's decline." Even the Old Testament faithful expressed their hope in confessing that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth, desiring the heavenly country. (Heb. 11:13-16).
There will be a resurrection and reunion of loved ones. ( I Cor. 15; I Thess. 4:13-16). The grave is not the final end but the beginning of another phase of life. It is like going into a new room where we have never been before. Hence "precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." (Psalms 116:15). And "blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours. . ." ( Rev. 14:13 ).
After death comes the judgment. (Heb. 9:27). It will be for all men. (2 Cor. 5:10). The prepared and the unprepared will be there. ". . . The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they
that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." (John 5:28-29). Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:15). The unfaithful will be cast out. (Matt. 25:30). The faithful will go away into everlasting life. (Matt. 25:46).
How will you stand in the great day of judgment? Prepared or unprepared, saved or lost? Where will you spend eternity, in heaven or hell? 'You can prepare now for heaven. God's plan of salvation is simple. Jesus "became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." (Heb. 5:9). He that doeth the will of the Father shall enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 7:21 ). God's will is that one believe in him (Heb. 11:6), in Christ (John 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess faith in Christ (Acts 8:37), and be buried in baptism for remission of sins (Rom. 6:4; Acts 2:38). Then one rises from this watery grave to walk a new life as a new creature in Christ, having been born of water and of the Spirit. (Rom. 6:4; 2 Cor. 5:17; John 3:5). We must endure to the end in faithfulness. (Matt. 10:22; Rev. 2:10).
Consider the brevity and uncertaintly of life, the certainty of death, the coming judgment, and eternity. Prepare your life now to meet God in death, in judgment and in eternity. "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." (Rev. 22:14).
Truth Magazine IV:8, pp. 21-23