The Good News - Home
The Journey Home
By David A. DePra
All through the Bible, God establishes a relationship between this life and the next life between this age and the next age. The consistent message is that what I do in this age has a direct bearing on the next. There is never any other thought expressed by God. You never hear Him even once suggest, "It does not matter what you do in this life. At death it all gets erased, and you receive a big reward, just for living." No. In fact, the opposite is the message of the gospel, and of every book in the Bible.
Of course, I am speaking within the context of the gospel. I am taking for granted that we know that we are saved "by grace through faith." The one thing we DO in this life that affects the next life the most is place our faith in Jesus Christ. Or reject Him. This frames and defines everything else we do after that.
If you have not embraced Christ as Savior, you are not going to heaven. You have no life in you. Rather than take this as a insult, or as a judgment against you, you might want to spend five minutes considering whether it is true. Do you think you can find the time to look into an issue which is going to affect your eternity? God wants to save you. You neglect Him, or refuse Him at your own peril. If you are going to reject Christ, at least do it intelligently, rather than as the outcome of an emotional reaction.
If you are saved, the issue is not what you need to do to get saved. You have already put your faith in Christ. The issue at this point is what you are going to do now that you are saved. Or to put it another way, you have been given a holy and righteous life within. What are you going to do with it? What are you going to BECOME because of it?
Citizens of Heaven
The Bible pictures those who are born again as citizens of heaven. Through the new birth, we no longer belong here. We are no longer HOME. We belong to God, and our home is the house, or inheritance, of God. In fact, we are pictured as HEIRS of the eternal riches God has given us in Christ. But the fullness of this cannot come until we get to heaven. Until then, we are like people born in a foreign land, who are on a journey back to our true home.
This is pictured wonderfully in the epistle to the Hebrews, when speaking of the heroes of faith:
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (Heb. 11:13-16)
What we see here are people who lived, not for THIS life, but for the next. Their attitude towards this life was that they were pilgrims traveling through it. They knew they did not belong here. THAT realization when practiced to Gods glory is a life of faith.
Now this does not mean that these people of faith did not live practical lives. No. They had lives. They had blessings, trials, challenges, and experiences. But they realized that all of those things although occurring here were being used to prepare them for the NEXT LIFE. The experiences of this life are merely part of our journey home.
Jesus said that if we were faithful in little, we would be faithful in much. The "little" over which we might be faithful is really anything here, in this life. This life is ALL "little" by comparison. But even though the things over which we are faithful here are "little" and "temporal," the faithfulness itself is nevertheless real. It is built through those things. And if it is built into us, we are then able to be entrusted with the "much" of the eternal ages.
Jesus talked continually about the danger of being possessed by this life. He spoke about living to serve mammon, instead of God. What He was getting at is a basic principle: I am either living for this life, or I am living for the next. If I am living for the next, I am faithful. If I am living for this life, I am unfaithful. I need to make up my mind which I will be.
God works with us on His terms. Consequently, He uses this life to prepare us for the next life. So if we are living for this life, even as Christians, we are going to be in constant conflict with Him. We will not be able to understand God, or His purposes. We will never be on the same page with God with regard to even our own lives.
All of us have to decide: What is our motivation for living? Do we feel at home and comfortable here, in this life? Do we seek to feel at home and comfortable here? Or are we willing to treat this life the only way God can treat it: As a foreign land through which we are making our journey home, back to God?
Nothing that this life holds can ever be taken with us to the next life. We cannot take historical experiences or events through the threshold of death to the next life. Rather, we take what we have BECOME through them. In effect, what passes to the next life is US all that we are.
If I am saved, my next life is going to be spent with God. This ought to tell us what is the most important thing we need to develop in this life: A compatibility with God. We need to be building that which is able to live and move with Him forever.
On our journey home we will encounter many things. But we can take none of them with us. All of them all that is of this realm is going to pass away. All of it. But what will be left is US. And God. What we become through this life, on our journey home to God, is going to determine how well adjusted we are to live with God forever when we get there.
None of this should be news. It works this way even within this life. The choices you made when you were younger made you into the person you are today. Indeed, the choices you made yesterday are in you right now, and have contributed to what you are today. The bad news is that once those choices are made, you cant change them. The good news is that there are always new beginnings in Jesus Christ. So even if what I have become in life is not a pretty sight, I am still free to make better choices those of surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord of my life. Then my journey home is back on track.
In the final analysis, we do determine what we become. Did you realize that? Of course, God makes it all possible. He saves us, sets us free, and brings into our lives all that He intends to prepare us for the next life. But we have to choose. It is only by faith and obedience and surrender that we allow God to use this life as a preparation for the next.
What all of this boils down to is really simple: We are made to live with God forever. Through the new birth, we are made partakers of the Divine nature, and have all the potential for the purposes of God. We no longer belong here. But we must live it out here. We must be faithful here. We must become adjusted and prepared, morally and spiritually, for our real home.
Our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ:
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. (Phil. 3:20-21)
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