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That Which Lies Beyond

That Which Lies Beyond

      We all wonder about the future. I think that is part of human nature. If not, it is likely that we have seen enough change during our lives on earth, we have come to expect things will continue to change.   Many ponder their futures relative to relationships, careers, and all other aspects of human existence. But how many truly contemplate their “future” beyond this life?  

     To the student of the Bible, it is no surprise that Job 14:14 reveals that men who believe in God have long contemplated life and the “afterlife”. The Spirit had the penman of the book of Job ask the question, and point out that one must wait to see.   If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.

     Should we not understand from the statement of Job here that we have a purpose for our time here other than to “exist” and use the things God has provided for man?    It is for certain we cannot go to the “afterlife” in these bodies. All will undergo a “transformation” at the end of this life. According to 1Corinthians 15:53 this is a “must”. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. Is not our time on the earth so we may prepare for the change?  

     There is also a situation in 2Samuel 12:22-23 in which David revealed the way things work. His infant son, who had done no sin, died shortly after he was born. The infant had not time to sin, nor the need to prepare for what follows this life, but David had sinned. He had to prepare if he wanted to go to where the soul of his son was.  And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? 23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.  The psalmist was directed to write in Psalm 119:11 how he, and we are to make the proper preparation.   Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. 

    All souls will spend eternity somewhere. Some of God’s Old Testament people Israel, because of their sin, were in danger of being separated from God for eternity. In Amos 4:11-12 we have a record of the many warnings from God to His people. I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD. 12 Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.  Can we not see that in this dispensation of time, the Christian age, preparation must be made for that which lies beyond?

       Jesus was born, lived, and died under the Mosaic dispensation. He also preached in preparation for the kingdom, the church during His ministry. He did not come without preparation. In Matthew 11:10, Jesus Himself spoke of John the Baptizer, who was sent to “prepare” Israel to receive the Lord. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. This should show us that there are patterns in God’s plan for that which lies beyond.

       Israel, as a nation was chosen and given a Law to prepare them as the ones through whom the Messiah should come. John was sent to prepare the way for the Christ.   Christ, in accordance to John 10:10b, came to make preparation for mankind, so mankind could prepare for eternity. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. He provided the “means for Salvation” after He died on Calvary’s cross, then ascended back to His Father with that precious blood, the only blood that can remit sins.   Previously, in John 14:2-3 Jesus told His apostles He was going away, where He was and what He was doing while He was away. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for youAnd if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

       Then, in John 14:6 Jesus told Thomas He was the “way” to the Father. I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. This is where many miss the point and quite frankly lose out.   For some reason many think because Jesus died on the cross, all preparation has been made.   Colossians 1:5 does speak to Christians, and it does tell of what lies beyond for the faithful. For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Why then, does the Spirit have Paul write the brethren in Philippi and tell them to continue to prepare?   Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Had they not already become “children of God” through Jesus Christ? Yes, they had.

       But even Paul had to continually prepare for that which is beyond. His eternity was not “settled” until he finished this life. In Philippians 3:12 he was directed to write: Not as though I had already attained, . . . Then this is followed up by Philippians 3:14: I press toward the mark for the prize . . .

       Make preparation for that which lies beyond now! Obey the gospel. Then strive to serve God in accordance to His Word – Press toward the goal.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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