When the issue of death is dealt with – when the fate of death is settled and the fear of death is relinquished – the finding of life is revealed and the freedom to live is released.
BRINGING DEAD PEOPLE TO LIFE
People turn to any variety of self-improvement strategies – diets, exercise, yoga, meditation, positive thinking, religion – all trying to make big people smaller, weak people stronger, dull people brighter, bad people better, and good people “gooder”…yet only Christianity deals with the principal human predicament – that of bringing dead people to life.
Although training your body has certain payoffs, godliness benefits all things—holding promise for life here and now and promise for the life that is coming. 1 Timothy 4:8 (VOICE)
And you he has quickened to life also, who were dead in trespass and sin, in which you walked in time past according to the course of this world, and followed the prince that rules in the air – the spirit that now works in the children of unbelief, Ephesians 2:1-2 (NMB)
When you were dead in your sins, you were not set free from the sinful things of the world. But God forgave your sins and gave you new life through Christ. Colossians 2:13 (NLV)
This “realm of death” describes our former state, for we were held in sin’s grasp. But now, we’ve been resurrected out of that “realm of death” never to return, for we are forever alive and forgiven of all our sins! Colossians 2:13 (TPT)
Yes, there literally is “hell to pay” – the question is, “Who is picking up your tab?”
And so Jesus is able, now and forever, to save from the punishment of sin all who come to God through Him because He lives forever to pray for them. Hebrews 7:25 (NLV)
Where do you look for information and instructions? Not news, weather, and sports information. Not instructions on how to build, bake, or fix something. But “in the know” information and instructions like:
How to deal with real life situations?
How to interact with difficult people?
How to handle challenging circumstances?
How to respond when unexpected events occur?
Here’s where people “in the know” look:
That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts, warming hearts to faith.
The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes.
God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree.
God’s Word is better than a diamond, better than a diamond set between emeralds. You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring, better than red, ripe strawberries. There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. Otherwise how will we find our way?
Or know when we play the fool?
Where do you turn to uncover truth, to get help, to receive healing, to find hope?
Here’s where people “in the know” turn:
There’s nothing like the written Word of GOD for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live GOD’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks GOD has for us.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
People “in the know” know GOD’s Word is the best source for finding answers to life’s questions and in dealing with life’s problems. Nothing else is more practical, powerful, profound, and poignant. In the late 90’s a group named Burlap To Cashmere came out with a song titled Basic Instructions (Before Leaving Earth) which forms the acronym BIBLE (this song can be found on YouTube). Only The BIBLE reveals what has been, what is, and what will be. It explains who GOD is, who we are, and what this life is all about. GOD’s Word provides insight and understanding in regards to the happenings in our world today both near and far away. GOD’s Word puts life into life.
The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of the heart.
Unfortunately, we live in an age where most people are not “in the know” when it comes to the Word of GOD, but rather just say “no” to it. The majority of people place no value on the information and instructions it contains, and believe it is archaic and irrelevant. This passage describes the state of affairs today:
…because a time will come when some will no longer tolerate sound teaching. Instead, they will live by their own desires; they’ll scratch their itching ears by surrounding themselves with teachers who approve of their lifestyles and tell them what they want to hear. They will turn away from the real truth you have to offer because they prefer the sound of fables and myths.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
What is offensive about the Word of GOD? Why is it ridiculed, mocked, and ignored? How is knowing about GOD and knowing about ourselves a bad thing? Does learning to live fully and love fully have a negative side to it? Even people who claim to love Jesus and consider themselves to be Christians rarely or never read their Bibles – which is ludicrous. It’s like a person who claims to be a swimmer but never gets into the water; or a vegetarian who avoids eating vegetables.
So here are a couple questions:
Do you find information and instructions for living and loving from The Bible or from fancy fads, novel notions, and tired traditions? And when it comes to the Word of GOD are you “in the know” crowd or in the “no” crowd?
Too good for Jesus – this sounds strange doesn’t it? But isn’t this the way it is with some people? A few posts back I wrote about how The Bible separates people into two main categories: GOD-fearers and fools. One of the places this is referenced is Proverbs 1:7 which reads:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
GOD-fearers deliberately choose to acknowledge GOD as GOD and His Word (The Bible) as truth, they attribute all that is good, right, beautiful, and true to GOD, admit dependence upon GOD, accept that GOD is sovereign in all matters, and adore GOD by worshipping, thanking, and praising Him. Fools deliberately refuse to do these things. So all of us are either GOD-fearers or fools, right?
In addition, there are two basic things that keep people away from Jesus, one is ignorance, the other is arrogance. Fools then, come in two varieties – ignorant fools and arrogant fools. Now before someone gets their underpants knotted up, and thinks this is too insensitive, allow me to present a bit of personal disclosure. I used to be a fool of both types. First, I lived as an ignorant fool for many years before I investigated Jesus for myself. After that, I became an arrogant fool by allowing religion to justify my life rather than Jesus. I’m happy to say I am no longer a fool, but I am a first-degree jerk and jackass at times, since I am still very hard-hearted and hard-headed (just ask my wife). Thankfully, GOD grants many opportunities to help me develop, mature, and get over myself. I read a good book about Jerks a couple years ago titled Don’t Let Jerks Get The Best Of You, by Dr. Paul Meier, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993. It’s a good read for anyone who is interested.
Now back to the topic of fools. Here is something else that is found in Scripture:
Don’t respond to the stupidity of a fool; you’ll only look foolish yourself. Answer a fool in simple terms so he doesn’t get a swelled head. Proverbs 26:4-5
This sounds like a contradiction at first, but it isn’t, for the fact of the matter is ignorant fools and arrogant fools need to be handled in different ways. So it’s important to know the fool you are dealing with. Ignorant fools don’t deserve a response since they are clueless in what they are talking about, and if you attempt to enlighten them you will look just as ignorant as they are. On the other hand, arrogant fools deserve a response – a response that is in clear, plain terms that exposes their silliness and keeps them from getting even more full of themselves.
Ignorance can only be used as an excuse until information is presented. Once the GOOD NEWS message of Jesus is shared ignorance instantly changes into arrogance if it not accepted. Arrogant people struggled with Jesus since they thought they were already good – too good for anything He had to offer. They were unwilling to admit they were diseased and broken with sin, and they were infuriated that He would even suggest such a thing about them.
Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend My time with those who think they are already good enough.” Luke 5:31-32
Not much has changed. Today, arrogance (pride) is probably the greatest obstacle to Jesus as many people think they are already good enough. What a foolish notion. But this is the way arrogance operates – it lives, works, and plays in the arena of comparison. Arrogance is quite aware of everyone else’s deficiencies, but disinclined to consider its own – the very things Jesus came to save people from. And here’s the irony of it all, real fools actually think GOD and GOD-fearers are the fools:
For people who are stumbling toward ruin, the message of the cross is nothing but a tall tale for fools by a fool. But for those of us who are already experiencing the reality of being rescued and made right, it is nothing short of God’s power. 1 Corinthians 1:18
Nothing but foolish arrogance resists Jesus, rejects His message, and refuses His gift of salvation. Only arrogant fools believe they don’t need saving – that they are too good for Jesus.
Do they really believe they are already perfect? They must. What else could keep people from believing how someone else (Jesus) has already taken their punishment and paid their debt to make them free and clear, as well as clean and new? But still they say, “No Thanks, Jesus, I’ll take what I deserve.”
Better to meet a grizzly robbed of her cubs than a fool hell-bent on folly. Proverbs 17:12
Life was never supposed to be so hard…full of fears and failures, diseases and disasters, pains and pressures, sorrows and sufferings, worries and wars. Life was never intended to end in death either. But since “The Fall” in Eden, these things have become part of our everyday experiences. This is the way it works with sin. Truth is exchanged for lies, as the devil, the father of lies and chief thief, wrecks havoc upon the earth. Unfortunately, we humans are all too eager to aid and abet him in his dirty deeds.
For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44
Perhaps you disagree. Maybe you have been able to “dodge the bullet” so far, and your life has been pretty easy going. But what about those in your extended family? What about your friends? What about your neighbors and co-workers? What about your classmates? What about those people in other counties, other countries, other continents? Life is hard; really, really hard for an awful lot of people. It’s a world of hurt, and all these hurting people need saving from their situations and circumstances, from their brokenness and rebellion, and whether you believe it or not, so do you and me. And as for me, it always seems that the hardest thing I have faced, is the stuff I am dealing with right now.
Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him about what you have heard and seen – the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him: ‘God blesses those who are not offended by Me.’” Matthew 11:4-6
Jesus came upon the scene and drastic changes began to occur. Even though miracles still happen every day, we also know that Jesus doesn’t always provide physical healing, and He doesn’t always fix our problems. Instead, He walks beside us through our hard times, He shoulders our sorrows, He carries our burdens, He directs our path.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
Jesus came and brought GOOD NEWS. Jesus came to bring life back to its original condition. Jesus came to save us from sin, death, and the devil. He told us where to find salvation, how to receive salvation, and what to do in order to flourish in salvation.
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying. John 11:25
Jesus came to help. With Jesus, you and I receive forgiveness for yesterday, courage and strength for today, hope for tomorrow. Rather than life ending in death, Jesus made a way for us to transition into bigger and better life – full, abundant life.
Enter Jesus…and hard life becomes whole life.
In an instant life can change. Most of us already know this.
Things can go from delight to devastation…in an instant
One minute everything is awesome, the next awful. Our days are filled with news – both good and not so good.
In an instant…terrorists strike.
In an instant…a natural disaster occurs.
In an instant…a crime takes place.
In an instant…the caller tells us that our parent or child has died.
In an instant…the doctor explains that it’s cancer.
In an instant…the officer at the door says “there has been an accident.”
In an instant…your boss shares with you that your position has been eliminated.
In an instant…
So what do we do in these instances? How do we deal with disease, disaster, and death? Where do we turn when troubles and tragedies come?
But just as life can get real bad in an instant, it can also become instantly brighter…especially when JESUS is involved.
Here are a few recorded instances:
Matthew 8:3 Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.
Matthew 15:28 “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.
Matthew 20:34 Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! Then they followed him.
Mark 7:35 Instantly the man could hear perfectly, and his tongue was freed so he could speak plainly!
Luke 13:13 Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!
John 5:9 Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath,
Maybe you haven’t personally witnessed such instances, but maybe you have. Miracles like these still happen each and every day. And here is another instant that is near on the horizon:
It will happen in an instant, in a split second at the sound of the last trumpet. Indeed, that trumpet will sound, and then the dead will come back to life. They will be changed so that they can live forever. 1 Corinthians 15:52
Jesus will soon return…in an instant.
For some this will be the ultimate light ever seen and life ever known, but for most it will be the uttermost darkness and unending death ever imagined.
In an instant…life will change. What will this mean for you?