March 10, 2016
Solomon came to a point in his life where he had all the wealth he could possibly want and anything he imagined he could have, yet he was empty. As he reflected on life he saw the cycles and the contrasts. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”. Ecclesiastes 3:1. When we are young we assume we have many years of life ahead of us. Most people work toward goals…a bigger house, fancier cars, more gadgets. We earn money and then spend it foolishly on things of this world. We have hopes and dreams for what we want to accomplish in life and, like Solomon, we learn that all the money in the world cannot satisfy us. Sometimes our dreams change or have to be put on hold, and that can be discouraging. There are seasons in life and if we don’t change with those seasons we become frustrated and angry. God’s purpose for our life may be different than what we have in mind and if we live opposed to God we will never be satisfied. “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.“Ecclesiastes 1:14. The Hebrew word hebel is translated “vanity” and means vapor or breath. Our time on earth is short and all of the pursuits of our life will one day be as vapor.
“A time to be born, and a time to die…” Ecclesiastes 3:2a. A newborn child is a wonderful and miraculous thing to behold. There is so much hope and joy wrapped up in that little bundle of flesh. Babies are a clean slate with none of the mistakes that plague us as we grow and make choices. They may not have had time to tell lies or blame someone else for their actions, but these precious little humans are born with a sin nature. Before long they learn the word “No” and the terrible twos have begun. Rebellion against parents becomes a part of everyday life, but rebellion against God is much more serious. This first birth is natural and the child has no choice. It’s the second birth that happens by choice. More on that subject later.
Adam was a direct creation of God. He wasn’t born in the same way his children, and every generation since, have been born. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.“Genesis 1:27. God created Adam but did not make a robot. Adam had free will and was able to choose to obey God or not. God specifically told Adam not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but because Eve believed Satan’s lies and ate the fruit, Adam chose to also eat it. And so death became a reality. Because of Adam’s sin we all are under the curse of sin and death. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:22.God loves His creation and had a plan for redemption.
Life has seasons. Just as Spring turns to Summer and Summer to Autumn, we also have seasons in our lives. “A time to be born, and a time to die…” Ecclesiastes 3:2a. Death is a reality and the shadow of death is all around us. One of the hardest things we have to face is the death of someone we love. The longer we live the more loved ones we will lose. I first felt the heartache that comes from the death of a loved one when I was a child. I was 6 years old when my 14 year old brother was killed in an automobile accident. Since then, many people I love have died, including my parents, grandparents, friends, a miscarried baby, and most recently my husband. The heartache of the death of a loved one is always a part of us. We make plans for our future but too often we don’t consider that we may not live to see those plans come true. “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14. Life is fleeting and our plans are fragile. Death may change all of our plans. Are you ready to face death?
Death isn’t something most people like to think about, but it will come to us all. People plan for retirement, vacations, and many other events in life, but death isn’t something most people plan for. Do you know what will happen to you after you die? Many people think they are good enough to go to Heaven, but they haven’t read or believed God’s word. Some think if we aren’t “good enough” we will be reincarnated and get another try at being a better person. That’s not going to happen. Others think that there is a temporary holding place where the “not quite good enough” go to work on being able to enter Heaven. None of that is true. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” Hebrews 9:27.Death and judgment will come to everyone. You will either be judged and condemned at the White Throne judgment, or if you have accepted Christ as your Saviour you will be judged at the Bema Seat. We make our decision while living in this life and there are no second chances.
It all sounds very depressing and sorrowful. Don’t despair…there is hope. Life on earth holds many joyous occasions for most people, such as weddings, birthdays, and the birth of children. For a Christian, life after death holds even more joy because at last we will see our Lord and worship Him. How do we obtain eternal life? Jesus was very to the point when He spoke of eternal life. “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3. Jesus wasn’t talking about literally becoming a baby again and starting over, no reincarnation is involved. We are born once when we enter this world, but unless we have a spiritual rebirth we cannot hope for a joyous eternal life. “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:5-6. Jesus contrasted our first birth (water and flesh) to spiritual rebirth. Eternal life only comes through our faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is our second birth…born of the Spirit.
Sin is what separates us from God. Big sins and little ones alike make an impassable gulf and keep humanity separated from God. Jesus knew no sin, yet He shed His blood as the once for all sacrifice to take away our sin. This was God’s plan to bridge the gulf Adam’s sin caused. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:” 1 Peter 3:18.You may be the nicest person around, but unless you have seen the need for the saving grace of Jesus you are as lost as the most hardened criminal on death row. In fact, if that hardened criminal has humbled himself before Jesus Christ and accepted the once for all sacrifice of Christ’s shed blood, he will have eternal life when he dies. No sin is greater than God’s love.
Everyone will one day pass from this life to the next. One day it will be my turn to die. My only hope for eternal life is the fact that I have accepted Christ as my Saviour. “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” John 11:26. I believe. Oh, my Lord Jesus, I believe! My sins have been nailed to the cross and I’m forgiven. I’m not perfect in the eyes of the world, but in the sight of God I’m a new creation in Christ. When sin creeps into my life, I ask Him to forgive me. Salvation is still mine, but I need to say I’m sorry to the One who gave His life that I might live. You will also face death one day. Why do you think you deserve eternal life? Have you served on many charitable committees? Maybe you take care of someone who is ill or you’re nice to animals. Without faith in Jesus you have no hope of eternal life. “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.“John 8:24. You may belong to a congregation of believers, but if you haven’t accepted Christ for yourself then you are lost. Your parents may be Christians, but if you haven’t accepted Christ for your own salvation, then you need to do that now. It’s been said that God has no grandchildren. That means that your parents cannot make that decision for you. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10. This is the Bema Seat judgment and it isn’t one of condemnation. Christians will be judged by what we have done for Jesus and those things will be rewarded. The judgment seat of Christ is not to be feared, but the White Throne judgment is a different story. That judgment is for those who have not accepted Christ for salvation and they will be judged by their own works. Your idea of perfection will never be good enough to allow you to stand before God and be judged righteous. Only Christ’s righteousness will allow you salvation.
Solomon had good advice for young people. “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;” Ecclesiastes 12:1. The pleasures in this life are temporary. Don’t put off accepting Christ, because it may be too late. We never know when it will be our turn to die. Only Christ holds hope. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?” 1 Corinthians 15:55. He conquered death and because He lives, so will I. Solomon came to understand that honoring God should be something even young people do.
“A time to be born, and a time to die…” Ecclesiastes 3:2a. If you are reading this then you have been born into life in this world. Now it’s time to become born again…born of the Spirit. There will be a time to die and you don’t want to die without Christ as your Saviour.
God bless you all,
Ron Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed