SIMPLE TRUTH: The best of both worldsBy Staff Reports Published 12:42pm Friday, November 30, 2012
By Charles Christmas
Scripture foundation for this simple truth follows. “Train yourself to be godly. Godliness has value … for both the present life and the life to come.” (I Timothy 4:8) “If we live, we live to the Lord; if we die we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.” (Romans 14:8-9) “For whoever wants to save his life (for himself) will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a person to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:24-25)
The committed believer/follower of Jesus Christ is the one person who is in a win-win mode, always: in this life and in the life to come. A committed follower underscored this, writing from his prison cell in Italy. “If I go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet, I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. But, if there are needs God desires to meet through me, I am willing to continue in the body.” (Philippians 1:22-25)
Grace is not some solution to save you from hell and take you to heaven. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross is not some mere ticket to heaven. The grace of God and the cross and resurrection of Christ is a loud declaration from God saying to all: “I desire you to have the best of both worlds!” (See Titus 2:11-14)
We often hear a prayer or a plea that someone may be “saved” before it is “too late.” I know well what is meant. It is a good and great desire. But it is already too late; not to be forgiven, changed and to go to heaven, but to re-live their past life wasted in sin. Maybe I can explain what is meant by the prayer Louise and I have prayed for many years for my son and his family and my daughter’s sons. “O God, we ask that these family members (calling each by name) may become saved, sanctified, servants of yours.” Praise God we are seeing evidence of him working in some of their lives. I’m simply seeking to fix it in our minds that this thing called “being saved” or “salvation” is for this world first, and then for the world to come. O yes, I remember the deathbed conversion of the thief on the cross. And we must do all we can to bring that hope until the last hour for those who have lost an entire life, yet may desire mercy and grace at last.
My last article was written from the hospital bedside of my beloved 90-year-old sister. On the fifth night in which I watched over her, God sent his angels at midnight to carry her to the waiting arms of Jesus. Her husband and I had stood by her bed the morning before to ask our Lord to send for her, in his will.
There was grief, and there will be extreme grief for her beloved husband. But he was filled with thanksgiving and an inward joy and praise to the Father, because his wife had experienced “the best in this present world.” He had also experienced “the best in this present world,” with her, for 70 years. He was a hospital administrator and she was a businesswoman. But their entire life was devoted in being selfless servants of the Lord: in their immediate and extended family; in and through their church family; through civic and service and social clubs; to their neighbors and community; and as steadfast friends.
The bottom line of immediate thankfulness was the absolute certainty “that all things had been made new” for my sister. She was now “clothed with her heavenly dwelling and her dying had been swallowed up by life.” She was now “away from the body and at home with the Lord.” She shared the goal of the Apostle: “So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” That goal is what “the best of both worlds” is all about.
I was certainly humbled by the honor of bringing the message at the memorial service, as I was previously on six other occasions for family members. The entire experience was a celebration concerning “the very best of both worlds” for a godly wife, mother, sister and friend.
Will you have the best of both worlds? This is really what “eternal life” means. Eternal life begins now, not at death, for the believer/follower.
(A passing acquaintance called me from Kansas City while I was writing this article. He reads the column online and reported that the Lord met an important need in his life through an article. If you find any help, I encourage you to share it by a clipping, or by word of mouth or tell someone how they can read it online. Simply pull up Clanton Advertiser and in the “search” rectangle at the far upper right hand, write in the words Charles Christmas. A person may read the recent Thursday article and also scroll down for previous articles.)
—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.