Where Will Christians Really Spend Their Eternity?

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Where Will Christians Really Spend Their Eternity?

James R. Aist

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also.” (John 14:3)

I don’t know about you, but somehow I got the impression years ago that when we Christians die and go to heaven, our permanent residence will be in heaven with Jesus, not here on this earth. It would be as if our death would amount to a one-way ticket from earth to heaven, somewhere out in the vastness of the cosmos. Perhaps singing “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through” may have had something to do with this perception. Or maybe it was “Won’t it be wonderful there” or “I’ll fly away“; hymns about being away from this earth and with Jesus in heaven (somewhere else) forever. And its true: when we die, we will go to be with Jesus in heaven forever. But, that’s only part of the story of our journey from earth to our final destination. The rest of the story is, arguably, even more glorious and exciting than the beginning. Let me explain.

This journey of mankind began, of course, when God created Adam and Eve and placed them into the Garden of Eden. God was with them there, and their future would have been life everlasting with God on the earth. But, through the temptation of Satan’s lies, sin entered in and brought with it a spiritual separation of mankind from God (i.e., spiritual death). And that’s the way it was for thousands of years; Satan appeared to have been successful in destroying God’s utopian plan for mankind on the earth. Now the only way for mankind to dwell forever with God was to believe in God (and His promised Messiah), die, vacate the earth and go to heaven, where God was.

There was just one problem, however: the “sin problem.” And Satan knew it. He thought he had succeeded in permanently separating mankind from God spiritually. But God had a solution to this sin problem all along. So, in the fulness of time, God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins, so that we would not end up in hell, but have everlasting life with God in heaven. That’s fantastic, wouldn’t you say?

But wait. As things stand now, Satan still has succeeded in separating mankind from their rightful, God-given home; namely, planet earth. So here’s where it gets really exciting. When God gives the signal, Jesus will return to the earth with us and defeat Satan and all other evildoers. Then, He will set up His eternal kingdom where? Right here on a renewed planet earth, where it all started! From that time forward, God’s victory over Satan will be complete; we will have returned with Jesus to reclaim the earth as our permanent residence! So its really a round trip, you see. We win, and Satan loses!

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

 

 

Either Way, We Die for Christ

Either Way, We Die for Christ

 James R. Aist

“For to me, to continue living is Christ, and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:21

There has been an apparent uptick recently in the persecution of Christians for their faith in Jesus Christ. This persecution has taken many forms, including loss of property and/or livelihood, jail time and fines. Many have even lost their lives for refusing to renounce Jesus. These martyred believers have clearly died for Christ. But, what about the rest of us? Are we, too, called to die for Christ, even though we live?

Indeed, we are all called to die for Christ. While we live, we are to be dead to sin, so that we might live for Christ (Romans 6:11, 1 Peter 2:24). We may also have to suffer loss of property and/or livelihood, serve jail time or pay fines for our Christian faith. Jesus put it this way: “If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24).

For our further instruction, the Apostle Paul elaborated considerably on these points:

2 Corinthians 4:8-11. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; and always carrying around in the body the death of the Lord Jesus, that also the life of Jesus might be expressed in our bodies. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that also the life of Jesus might be manifested in our mortal flesh;”

Colossians 3:3-4; 8-9. “For you are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life shall appear, then you also shall appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death the parts of your earthly nature: sexual immorality, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. But now you must also put away all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, and filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie one to another, since you have put off the old nature with its deeds.”

So, you see, believers who are executed (martyred) because of their Christian faith die physically for Jesus and go immediately to be with Him (2 Corinthians 5:8). And, those who live on become dead to sin, make tangible sacrifices, live righteously and eventually go to be with Jesus as well. Either way, if you are a born-again Christian, you will die because of your faith in Christ and receive your reward in heaven when the time comes.

In the eyes of God, you and I are “to die for”, and Jesus did just that: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). Our fitting response, then, is to die for Christ, one way or another.

A Haven of Life

Bushtits mass on a birdfeeder in Salem, Oregon. A Haven of Life

By Angie Brown, Guest Author

            “There, there in the hickory tree. Do you see them?” I was telling my neighbor about the additions to my “bird sanctuary”: two scarlet cardinals. My back yard has a large stream that flows at the southeastern border of my property, called the Haskell Creek. This side of the water, between the house and the stream, there is an abundance of low bushes, some elderberry, sumac, and others I can’t identify. Several large hickory trees grow along the northern boundary of the three and a half acre lot.

Bird watching is relaxing and fulfilling. I spend many moments watching these interesting creatures that God has provided for us to enjoy. Their cheerful chatter and singing lightens the heart.  I try to identify the different ones. You can tell what they are, not only by color, but by their shape, their behavior, and the sounds they make. With the help of my son, I have set up a bird feeder on the large back lawn. The feeder is filled with only sunflower seeds, as I want to attract the smaller birds. Cracked corn and mixed birdseed tend to bring the larger birds, which I don’t particularly want.  Nevertheless, the crows do come to the compost pile at the far edge of the lawn. As I looked out my window one day, I saw a crow walking across the grass, dangling a used tea bag in his beak. He reminded me of Minnie Pearl’s hat with the hanging price tag. That gave me a chuckle and brightened my day.

Yonder in the pasture, as I refer to it, two or three decaying trees lie flat, felled by past storms. These trees make a good cover for the birds. They snatch a seed and hurry to crack and devour it. Birds need food, water, and a cover. What is here seems to be the elements for their survival. If you study birds closely, you’ll notice that they eat differently. The small ones take a seed and fly off to work on it. The large blue jays fill their beaks, jamming them full before leaving. Some like to eat on the ground, some in the feeder, and some in the tree or the tree trunk.

Directly to the south of the area, a luscious swamp has settled in, made by a small stream coming from a pond area across the street. This swamp gives the roaming mallards a place to feed on slugs and water weeds that are a part of their diet. Through my binoculars, which I keep handy at the window, I have observed hawks circling overhead, then lighting on top of a tall hickory tree. They watch patiently for a chance to assault the ducks as they leave the swamp.

I’ve also noticed other animals as well, around the foliage; for instance, a woodchuck or two squeezing under the pile of dead tree branches. Hopefully they will stay there and not raid my garden!  Further along are clumps of grasses, where I’ve seen rabbits frolicking. How fast a young rabbit can move when frightened!  They can also strip a garden of young shoots in no time. I’ve seen deer browsing nearby and have also heard that a bear was sighted in the area not long ago. Not surprisingly, two kinds of squirrels appear often, all year long — the small red squirrel and the larger fox squirrel. It’s a joy to see some life out there on a sunny day in the dead of winter. The hickory trees provide food that the squirrels store somewhere in a cozy nook to sustain them.

Above all, though, the birds are my favorite interests. Someone once said that birds, not rooted to the earth, are among the most eloquent expressions of life. The return of the birds each spring means renewal, confirming the continuity of life.

(For more stories by Angie Brown, click HERE)