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From the Pen of Pastor Clarence

The last two weeks have been a challenge. My mother passed away on January 6 at 97 years of age, and Dianne’s mother passed away nine days later on January 15 at 88 years of age. Both were in declining health. My mother had Alzheimer’s Disease for years and Dianne’s mother had a failing physical body.

Many of you have expressed your condolences. Thank you! Not only was there the stress of loss but also the tremendous amount of travel. My mother was in a nursing home near Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Dianne’s mother was in a nursing home in southern North Carolina. Our loss here is our mothers’ gain.

Now why do I give you the above information? Because death has been very much on my mind. The loss of two mothers can quickly focus your attention on ultimate issues. So, I have been thinking about death and its consequences a lot.

The Bible gives us clues about death and the beyond.

  • All of us are going to die because we are all sinners. This means that sin is a serious issue with God, the Creator of all that exists, and it should be a serious issue with us. Unfortunately, many people ignore or rationalize away the idea of sin. (Romans 3:23; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

  • Our physical bodies will not enter the next life. God made our flesh for this world, not for the next. Flesh is unfit for the next life. That is why we will be resurrected with new bodies fit for heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:42-50)

  • The Apostle Paul said that if you are a Christian, to be absent from the physical body was to be in the presence of Christ. In some way, the believer is known by and will know Christ at death. (Philippians 1:21-23)

  • There is an afterlife apart from God. If a person lives as if God does not exist with unconfessed and unforgiven sin, that person will have chosen a path that leads away from God. Even if they think they are going to heaven, they would be uncomfortable there. Because of the life they have lived, they will be more comfortable in the presence of evil and Satan. Too many people have told me, “Well, I guess I will have plenty of company!” They don’t realize that hell is to live in a loveless, selfish environment. There will be no fellowship or companionship in hell. (Revelation 21:8)

  • The Bible clearly states that all will be judged for how they have lived when Christ returns to earth from heaven. While God is the most loving, compassionate, and merciful being that exists, His judgment will be to carry out the choices we have made in this life. (2 Corinthians 5:10)

  • Those who are with Christ will experience no more pain or tears or separations or death. There will be perfect peace and love. (Revelation 21:4)

  • At the end, all things, including this earth that we mar and destroy, will be recreated into the perfect state of God’s original Garden of Eden.( Revelation 21:9-27)

  • Heaven will be here on this newly recreated earth where God

will dwell with His people for all eternity. (Revelation 21:3)

I know these are broad biblical strokes on death and the afterlife, but when you are facing your own mortality or the death of a loved one, these truths can become endearments, promises and comforts onto which we hold.

In today’s culture, there is little fear of God. Yes, I know the word ‘fear’ means ‘reverence’ but that is my point. People don’t hold God in high esteem, nor do they take seriously their relationship to Him. Most believe they will go to heaven, because they deserve it. So, they don’t worry about being judged and condemned to eternal separation from this loving God.

A lot of folk religion surrounds the idea of death. Folk religion is made up false ideas about God and heaven that are not biblical. For instance, someone told me recently, “When I die, I will no longer exist!” This is totally unbiblical.

From a discipleship perspective, we should be deeply concerned about how we live this life and prepare for the next life. Our hope as Christians is not in what happens here in this physical life, but in the life that is promised to come after we die. Are you in a 360 group where you can learn and discuss these kinds of issues as you prepare for that day when you too will die?

If not, go to Welcometo.Faith/groups for fins out how you can get involved.

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