Most of us have noticed that all of life is one long chain of hope and expectation, beginning at the dawn of conscious thinking and following each of us to the grave.
The little child looks forward to starting kindergarten; later he hopes to go to school and college, or to learn a trade or profession, to start a career.
The young man or woman looks forward to meeting the right life’s companion, to the romance of love, to getting married and raising a family.
Later he (or she) hopes to provide security for loved ones, looks forward to a challenging and meaningful life’s work, to serving God and man. When disaster or sickness strikes, they hope, and most of us pray, for healing and for brighter days to follow.
When we reach middle age, we begin to think about retiring, to make room for the younger generation to continue our labors, and to shoulder our responsibilities. Then we hope after retirement to be able to enjoy the evening hours of life in health, peace and in a measure of serenity.
Yet, no matter how long the span of life may be, death is inevitable; for life is like a journey, the duration of which is unknown. Inevitably the hour comes when one hears a voice saying, “This is the end of the journey, this is where you get off.”
What then? What happens after death?
It is at this point that people differ sharply in their views.
There are those who say that death is the end of everything, and that “dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return” is the final verdict written over every life.
Then there are those who believe in life beyond the grave, and who hope to obtain it by their good deeds and merits.
Still others put their trust in belonging to the right church and following the right set of doctrines prescribed by their creed.
Many seek the answer to life and death in science, only to find that science, by its very definition, is confined to that which is material and can be weighed and measured, or analyzed with telescope or microscope. For science deals only with that which is part of the physical, chemical or organic world. It provides no answers in the realm of the spiritual and moral.
Then there are those who seek an answer to their spiritual questions in philosophy.
From the dawn of civilization men have speculated on the subject of the soul and life beyond the grave, and have written endless volumes, each of which contradicts the others, depending on their philosophical principles or their personal predilections.
And so neither philosophy nor science can give an answer to man’s quest for the Truth, neither are they able to explain what is the ultimate destiny of man. There are only more-or-less attractive philosophical systems and speculative theories.
There is only one book which gives a clear and positive answer to the question of eternal life and man’s ultimate destiny. This book is the Bible. It is the book of Truth and of the eternal Wisdom of God, a God-inspired and God-given book which has withstood the test of human experience and history.
This book asserts that it was not the result of the will of man, “but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:21.
According to this book man is by nature sinful, disobedient to God, and under His condemnation. When the human race was still in its infancy it was said:
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5
Yet God did not desire that men should perish, but that they might be reconciled to Him. Therefore He sent a Saviour into the world who lived without sin—the perfect life—and laid down His life as the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world (John 1:29), thus bringing redemption to all who believe in Him.
It is He, the Man of Nazareth and the Son of God, Who secures eterlife for those who put their trust in Him.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23
Speaking to His disciples, Jesus said:
“Let not your hearts be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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 you. And 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. John 14:1-3.
This certainty of the resurrection and eternal life was the cornerstone of all the “kerygma” of the apostles, the proclamation of the Good News..
Speaking about the resurrection of Christ and of those who believe Him, the apostle Paul said:
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of them that slept.
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. I Cor. 15:19-22
Closely related to the Christian faith in the resurrection, is the hope of the return of Christ to this earth.
When the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to heaven and His disciples looked on, bewildered and unable to comprehend fully what was happening before their eyes, we read that two men stood by them in white apparel, who said to them:
“Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11.
For the return of our Lord, His Second Coming, the whole weary and sin-smitten human race is waiting, whether they know it or not, whether they believe in Him or not.
For without Him the world is lost and doomed.
The hope of the world bears the face of Jesus and its redemption rests in his pierced hands.
Jesus said: “I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. He that testified these things saith, Surely I come quickly.” Revelation 22: 16-17
And we who love Him and long for His coming answer: Amen, even so come Lord Jesus.