IS YOUR FUTURE SECURE?
Security in life is naturally something we all cherish. To have the security of family, of home, of finances, of employment and of friends brings us happiness and contentment. Parents are concerned for the security of their children; governments are responsible for the security of their citizens. We appreciate the policeman on the street, the security staff at the airport and every measure taken to ensure that we can live in the absence of fear and uncertainty.
Yet we do live with the knowledge that our personal security, and that of the planet itself, is limited by the forces that are at work around us leaving humankind constantly exposed to all kinds of danger.
The United States, in August 1945, dropped its Atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ushering in the nuclear age. In 1947 the famous "Doomsday Clock" first appeared in “the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists”, a magazine which covers global security issues. At its inception the minute hand was positioned seven minutes to the figurative Midnight hour. The minute hand has moved backwards and forwards over the years but never far from Midnight. With the USA and Russia still retaining huge amounts of nuclear arsenals and the capability to launch an attack in minutes, a doomsday scenario can never be far away. Other countries too have clearly demonstrated their ambition to acquire and use the nuclear bomb. The world’s leading scientists are also very concerned by the serious effects of climate change upon the planet. Environmental damage has already caused destructive changes resulting in floods, storms and drought which leave behind a trail of death and devastation.
Since September 11th 2001 international terrorism continues to threaten the safety of many countries around the world. Millions across the globe suffer and die through the spread of incurable diseases, while the lives of millions more are cut short needlessly by food shortage and lack of basic sanitation. Because of the cruelty of abortion, millions of unborn children everywhere will never see the light of day.
Almost every day we hear of a road traffic accident that claims a life, of attacks on the elderly and violence on our streets; the truth is, we are vulnerable in an insecure and uncertain world.
Even if we do enjoy a long and full life, the inevitable fact remains; one out of one dies. Life is not permanent; time will end for each of us. Important as the issues of personal and global security are, the vital question is, Do I have Eternal Security?
INFINITY, ETERNITY OR NOTHING?
The universe, in which this small planet earth exists, appears immensely vast and limitless. Its millions of galaxies contain billions of stars of such dimensions and distances that to call it infinite seems appropriate! Yet, as science testifies, there are limits to its matter and measurements. The universe is amazing but not infinite.
But there is Someone greater than the universe. The Bible states, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" - Genesis 1:1. God the Creator is infinite, but more than infinite, He is eternal. The Bible teaches that He "inhabits eternity" - Isaiah 57:15. Simply put, God dwells in timelessness without beginning or end.
The writer in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes says, "He hath set eternity* in their heart” - Ecclesiastes 3:11. God made man in His image, the reflection or shadow of Himself, so that, unlike the animal kingdom, man is not only conscious of the eternal but like the God who made him, will exist forever.
At the dawn of the new millennium in the year 2000, as Sydney Australia began its celebrations, emblazoned across the Sydney Harbour Bridge was the word Eternity. This was thanks to the work of a Christian who for years sought to remind men and women of eternity by writing the word with chalk in elegant copperplate style on pavements and elsewhere throughout the city. Eternity displayed across the bridge was a fitting tribute to the labour of Arthur Stace and a potent reminder to the world; time ends and then eternity.
If God is greater than all, higher than all and wiser than all, then we can look to Him for answers to the predicament of man, and in Him find personal hope and assurance for the future.
Of course, you may believe that before this universe existed there was nothing and beyond this universe there is nothing. But can such a worldview really answer the origin, meaning and purpose of life? Can nothing times no one equal everything?
(* or ‘the world’)
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE WORLD?
If God is the Creator as the Bible affirms, then what went wrong with this world and particularly the man He placed upon it? Why is the human condition inherently sinful, rebellious and selfish? Why is our existence only transient and abruptly ended by death? Why does nature often become so destructive in the form of tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes? Is this the kind of world God wanted?
The Bible gives the answer : "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned " - Romans 5:12. One small word, SIN, explains why man is in the place of alienation and under condemnation from God. Sin is the reason God's world is out of harmony and so often displays its ragged edges. Sin brought God's curse on the earth, subjecting it to the bondage of decay - Genesis 3:17. Sin brought waters of global judgment as shown in Genesis Chapters 6 & 7, the effects of which are experienced to this day.
At Creation God warned the first man, Adam, that the consequences of rebellion against His Word would mean death. Sadly, man chose to disobey the moral law of His creator in the hope of obtaining the dream of independence - Genesis 2:15-17. “No God for me!” is still the cry of millions who deny the transcendent Creator and the moral fall of Adam; but the legacy of man without God is a history stained with the blood and tears of humanity.
THE MAN FROM ANOTHER WORLD
Does God care about the condition of this world? If He is God why is evil allowed to exist? Why do the innocent suffer? Is all humanity left to struggle on earth while He remains comfortable in heaven? How can we ever reach or know Him? These are legitimate questions which many ask and to which God has provided the answers.
The good news is that He has reached down to us by sending His Son into the world. There was a man on this earth who unashamedly claimed that His birth was not His beginning. He clearly stated that He came from another sphere to fulfill the greatest mission ever undertaken. His name is Jesus – see Matthew 1:21-23.
Jesus spoke of His place of origin and Divine mission in the plainest of terms: "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” - John 6:38. And again, "I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly” - John 10:10.
Many view Jesus as merely the founder of Christianity or a good moral teacher of example and virtue, but as Christian author J Blanchard states, "to rank Jesus as the greatest, wisest, best or most influential man who ever lived is not to dignify him but to degrade him and to miss the whole point of who he was and what he did ".* What Jesus preached and taught could only have been the words of Him who spoke as the Son of God, the Creator and Lord of all. If He is not the Son of God then His teaching is not only at best meaningless but at worst ludicrous.
The Son of God came to earth as, “the Saviour of the world” - Luke 2:10-14; John 4:42. He not only shared in the human experience of hurt and pain but He was able to reach out and touch men and women with healing power and bring to them the warmth and fullness of God's love. Ultimately He died upon a Cross for our salvation. The gospel proclaims that He who made us actually died to save us. In Jesus we find the answer to our deepest need; forgiveness and relationship with God.
(* J. Blanchard ‘Is God Past His Sell By Date’. Evangelical Press)
A RUGGED CROSS AND AN EMPTY TOMB
The answer for human sin is found in the Atonement that the Lord Jesus Christ made on the Cross outside the city of Jerusalem at the time of Jewish Passover in AD 33. In a paradoxical way, the climax of man's rebellion was reached when Jew and Gentile united at the cross to reject the Son of God, yet it is through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross that God can offer us forgiveness. What men meant for evil God meant for good. The fact that the Lord Jesus was able to take the place of those under God's condemnation and actually endure their punishment, is what makes His Cross unique in all of history – “He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” - Hebrews 9:26; “For when we were yet without strength in due time Christ died for the ungodly” - Romans 5:6.
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus is verification that He dealt with sin on God's terms when He gave His sinless life in sacrifice, and therefore He was able to break the power of death by rising from the dead. The Lord Jesus went into death not as a victim but as a conqueror. Death could not claim Him, its power was broken and instead of holding Jesus it had to yield Him in the power of resurrection life! “Whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it” - Acts 2:24. When Peter and John arrived at the tomb in which Jesus was buried, on the third day after His crucifixion, all they found were the linen burial clothes. It was angels who said to the first visitors at the sepulchre “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” - Luke 24:5-6. The tomb was empty and it still is!
The Lord Jesus has purchased forgiveness from God for sinners and to all who believe in Him there is the assurance of Eternal life – John 3:36. Knowing Jesus as Lord and Saviour gives the guarantee of Eternal Security! To be saved is to be safe!
WHEN THE CURTAIN FALLS
One day we will play our final part on the stage of time and the curtain of life will fall for each of us. We cannot tell when and how, but the certainty of death is the prescription of all men. Described as the ‘Terror of kings and the King of terrors’, death is the enemy of man. Cold, relentless and cruel, it makes its onward march over the centuries respecting neither age nor gender.
It was Jesus who spoke of the eternal and real world of Heaven and Hell. He described two men, one rich the other poor, in life, in death and in eternity – Luke 16:19-31. Through relating their experience He was letting us see beyond time into our future.
But how can a God of love send people to hell? His Holiness demands that He judges sin. His justice condemns the guilty, BUTthe good news is He is rich in mercy – Ephesians 2:4. God does not want to send anyone to hell but rather He desires to take all to heaven. The Bible states, "God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” - 1 Timothy 2:3-4.
That is why He gave His only son to die! "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” - John 3:16.
Remember, your eternal destiny in the next world is not a matter of chance but of choice.
THE FOUNDATION OF HOPE
Saul of Tarsus was a Jew with persecuting zeal against the name of Jesus and all Christians who followed Him. He was however, uniquely converted on the road to Damascus and commissioned by the Lord Jesus to take the gospel among the nations – Acts 9:1-19. He obeyed and around AD49, ultimately arrived on the continent of Europe at Macedonia, an area which is now part of modern Greece. He made his way to the city of Philippi and from there he travelled west about 100 miles to place called Thessalonica, where under severe persecution Paul preached the gospel and left behind many followers of Jesus Christ. Shortly after his departure he wrote them a letter to confirm, among other things, the extent of salvation and that the death and resurrection of Lord Jesus is the foundation of Christian hope in life and in death.
Salvation not only gives the assurance that at death the believer in the Lord Jesus will arrive securely in heaven, but it includes much more. Salvation offers the hope of bodily resurrection for those who die, and the change to immortality for those who are saved and alive at the coming again of Jesus. One day, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the body of every saved person that is buried will be raised again in power and glory, and the saved who are alive will be changed to enjoy the presence and Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ – 1 Corinthians 15:52. Paul wrote of the sure foundation of such a hope: "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him… For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
What is your hope for the future? Are you Eternally Secure in Christ?
SEEING INTO THE FUTURE
With knowledge of the dangers, men can predict what may be ahead for this world and warn of potential nuclear war and environmental disaster in the future, but it was Jesus who told of future events with absolute certainty. He told His disciples that His death would be by rejection and crucifixion. Indeed, not only did He predict it months before it actually happened but hundreds of years! The Old Testament prophet Isaiah spoke of the manner and meaning of Christ's death over 700 years prior to its fulfillment: "But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” - Isaiah 53:5-6. How did Isaiah and all the other prophets know of such things? The answer is quite simple; they knew by revelation from the Lord Himself, for He alone knows the future!
Jesus also spoke of future events concerning the nations of the world. He told of days of great tribulation coming, in which there will be enacted the greatest deception men have ever known through the work of a False Prophet and a World Ruler, under the control of Satan. These will be days when God will judge the world for its rebellion and rejection of His Son, and take possession of what is rightfully His. It was Jesus who described the severity of this time in startling words: "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” - Matthew 24:22.
In the last book of the Bible, called "The Revelation of Jesus Christ", Jesus further expanded and confirmed the details of events leading to His coming to earth in glory, when the "Battle at Armageddon" will take place, and Christ will establish His kingdom in this world – Revelation 1:1-3; 16:12-16; 19:11-21; 20:1-6. It will be then that the words which have been recited by millions for centuries will find their true fulfillment: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven …" - Matthew 6:9-10.
Does all this sound farfetched and typical of this type of literature? Consider these words: "Nineteenth-century Oxford scholar Henry Liddon drew attention to the fact that Jesus fulfilled to the letter no fewer than 332 Old Testament prophecies and it has been calculated that twenty nine Messianic prophecies were fulfilled in the final twenty four hours of his life alone".* Hardly coincidence! It is very reasonable to believe that if so much of His word has already been fulfilled then the remainder of the warnings, promises and prophecies will find their answer in reality some day soon.
Is Your Future Secure?
(* J. Blanchard, ‘Does God Believe In Atheists’. Evangelical Press)
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