Two days’ ago I was discharged from the hospital, after seven days recovering from necrotizing pneumonia, “killing” or “death” pneumonia. According to a website, this disease results in over 50 percent mortality. I spent several days confronting the real possibility that I soon would be seeing God, that I would see my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ face to face. And I rejoiced in this possibility. The thoughts of soon spending eternity with God gave me great joy.
But that was not to happen. I guess the Lord still has work for me to do here on earth. And so I will continue to proclaim where and when I can my faith in Jesus Christ, here in this newspaper, and wherever else I have opportunity. And so I proclaim my faith in Jesus. First I must proclaim that I am a sinner who can in no way earn my way into God’s kingdom. The wages of sin is death and that is what I deserve.
But God is a loving and gracious God, and while he demands the payment of death be paid for sin, he does not demand that I pay that penalty. Instead he sent his son Jesus to pay that penalty for me. Jesus died on the cross, enduring death as a substitute for my sins, dying that I might be forgiven for my sin. And for his sake God the Father has forgiven all my sin, not because I have done anything to earn this, but purely because I place all my trust in Jesus Christ as my Savior who died that I might live.
And this wonderful gift is not just for me. John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This wonderful gift of God applies to everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ as his or her Savior. You have this gift when you trust not in yourself but in Jesus and him alone for salvation.
And as Jesus arose in victory over death God assures us that trusting in him we also will arise from the dead on the last day to live with him forever. That day did not come to me this past week, but it will most assuredly come one day sooner or later. We are called to be ready for that day, placing all our trust in Jesus, not in our selves, assured that life in this sinful and evil world will end, and life with God in his wonderful world will begin.
Paul writes in Philippians 1:21 ff: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two. I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.” There is great joy to depart this world and be with God, but there is also great joy to remain here and do the will of God while we live here on earth.
And therefore we dedicate the lives we have here on earth to our Savior Jesus Christ, enjoying the time he has given us while still in this world. And at the same time we live in anticipation of a far greater life yet to come. My prayer for all of you is that you are living in joyful anticipation of that life to come, and at the same time living with joy the time God has given you on this world.