A Matter of Life and Death
There are several basic questions which, if you can’t answer, you really can’t call yourself truly educated:
Does God exist?
Is the Bible His Word?
What happens after death?
Why were you born?
What is the true purpose of life?
Where is the true church?
These matters are well worth considering. What should a person do with the human lifetime?
We in God’s true church are very fortunate to know the answers to these questions!
Man must die—even the truly converted. But why is it so? The answer, from the Bible, is that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Thankfully, Jesus' death bought us all life—if we’ll accept it, on God's terms.
Dad’s record album "Flowers in the Grass" (originally titled "A Matter of Life and Death") is a summary, in song, of the most important part of the gospel—the meaning of life. The theme is that man’s existence is passing, like a plant, only on earth for a brief time. Here today, gone tomorrow—that’s human existence. It’s a very fragile state.
So what should we be doing with our lives? Most people only try to acquire physical wealth. In God's church, we know that all you take with you when you die is what’s between your ears, your spirit in man.
Think about how the earth is the only planet of its kind—living—in the vast universe. Something very special is going on here. All people need to know why they exist. Mankind needs to know his own history—it all started, in the beginning, with God and Christ (John 1:1-3). Everyone needs to remember “pre-history” (what God reveals about history before He created Adam and Eve). Angels existed before men. One third of the angels rebelled against God. That is why God made man to have only a temporary lifetime--He wants be able to trust us before we will be given eternal life, to know that we will not follow Satan into rebellion.
These verses continue looking at the mortality of man. A human lifetime is filled with experiences. Some are pleasant, some are trying. But note verse 11: humans cannot understand things which God reveals without divine intervention. Revelation 5, for instance, shows God’s Word is a sealed book which Jesus alone can open. He only opens it to those to whom it is given to understand by God the Father (John 6:37, 44, 1 Corinthians 2:9-14, Matthew 13:10-11, Daniel 12:9-10).
If it is given to you to know God’s truth—if you are truly in God's church—then never stop studying! You must continually be led by the Holy Spirit so as not to be misled into error by Satan’s spirit. The true church of God is guided into all truth by God's Holy Spirit (John 16:13). The true church maintains its connection with God to renew His Spirit, daily (2 Corinthians 4:16)—that is the only way to avoid being led into error.
Ecclesiastes 3:12-14 and 18-22
These verses continue on the “flowers in the grass” theme. Keep it in mind—we want to overcome the state of our own mortality! God will do this for us, if we will learn to live according to His Laws—if we’ll adopt His character as our own. Those are His conditions for granting men immortal life (Matthew 5:17-19, 19:17, James 2:8-12, 1 John 2:3-4, Romans 2:13-29).
Upon death, the spirit inside men goes up—it goes back to God, who gave it. This is crucial! Notice it! What goes into your mind stays with you forever. So guard your mind well! It is your most precious possession. Be careful what you believe, especially about religion. Going to church is getting an education. A college student carefully selects a reputable program from the right school, to get the right education in a chosen career. Church is no different. All doctrines are not equal. You want what comes from God. You want doctrines that lay the right foundation. You want your life to be based on the Bible (Matthew 4:4, 7:24-29, 2 Timothy 2:15, 3:15-16).
This gives us our number one, overriding goal for life: develop the kind of character that keeps God’s commandments, naturally, from the heart (Hebrews 8:10, 10:16, Romans 13:9). We want to be worthy of being raised in the first resurrection. God will see to it we learn what is necessary for this--that’s why we have trials (James 1:2-4, Romans 5:3-4).
Philippians 3:10-15, 21
The drive to enter God’s kingdom has to be overriding, all encompassing, in our lives. It is like an athlete running a race—each one is trying for first place (1 Corinthians 9:24-25, Hebrews 12:1). Have the kind of zeal these athletes do. Their sport is their life—so it should be with the Christian and their calling. We must make preparation for God's kingdom our whole life’s work!
It's easy to make the mistake of putting material things first—but don't do it. Our needs will take care of themselves when God is our first priority (Matthew 6:21-34). It is Jesus’ job to ensure that we succeed in all things (Hebrews 4:14-16, 7:24-25, 8:1-2)! He is attending to both our physical needs and our spiritual needs. If we are listening to Him as our Teacher, we cannot help but succeed—if we follow Him. The wise man builds his house on a rock—the rock is God’s Word (Luke 6:46-49).
Our real reward for living properly and making that our own way of life is to be in the first resurrection. (Notice Luke 20:35 in conjunction with Luke 14:14, and Revelation 20:4-6.)
In 1 Corinthians 15, the “resurrection chapter,” we read all about the good news that we can live forever, in perfect health, with a spirit—not flesh—body (verses 20-23, 50-54). The message that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead is the BEST news there is—because all mankind can follow Him into the divine state in which He now exists (1 John 3:2, Philippians 3:21, Daniel 12:2-3, Matthew 13:43, 17:2, Revelation 1:14, 16). That is man's true potential—the reason we were made.
Now, think hard about this: the apostles gave their lives over to this cause. It is the most worthwhile thing a human can strive for—in fact it’s the only worthwhile goal because attaining it is the only success in this life that will last forever!
We have to learn to think in terms of eternity. We need to develop patience because we will have all the time in the world—literally.
And Jesus will judge whether or not we are ready for eternal life (John 5:21-22, 25-30, Acts 10:42, 1 Peter 4:17)—He will know if we deserve it or not by the end of our lifetimes. If we listen to Him and follow Him, God guarantees we will be ready in time (John 6:39, 10:27-29). So, keep the goal of life clearly in mind! Remember: there is a time to be born, there is a time to die (Ecclesiastes 3:2)—but there is also the time to be raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:22)!
This Bible study was given by Matthew Kalliman on 8/21/09