October 24, 2010

To Live is Christ — knowing what will last

Perhaps it’s my age, but frequently I’m thinking about things that will last beyond my life. I know that the stuff in my house will last longer than I do, but not by much. For instance, quilts have been known to last a hundred years more or less, but I don’t know if the quilts I make will last that long. My computer may not make it even a year or two from now. Wood, plaster, most of it eventually turns to dust.

However, people last. Jesus said everyone has eternal life. This could be a surprise to some, but He was clear that not everyone goes to heaven. Everlasting life is not about how long we live, but where we are after we die. 

Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. (John 5:25–29)
An important note is that when Jesus talks about “good” and “evil,” His definition is different from what most people think. In His mind, “there is none good but God.” Jesus made this plain to those seeking eternal life. To be “good” our only chance is to have His goodness. This is the wonder of faith — it puts those who believe “in Christ” and changes them from the inside out, giving them something they did not possess without Jesus.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new . . . For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21)
I’ve called that the big trade. God took my sin and gave me His goodness. Because of that, Christians have the goodness of God and can do good.

So, people last. Some will experience eternal life separated from God. Others have eternal life with God. Those others are able to bear “fruit” that will also last forever. 

You did not choose me. I chose you and sent you out to produce fruit, the kind of fruit that will last. Then my Father will give you whatever you ask for in my name. So I command you to love each other. (John 15:16–17)
I know some of what that “fruit” is. It’s described in the Bible as both attitudes and the actions done with those attitudes motivating them.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control . . . (Galatians 5:22–23)
This fruit cannot be produced apart from faith in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Some try to imitate this fruit, but the difference is the source of it, the motivation behind it, and the results. The fruit that God wants will glorify Him, not promote me.

So with all that in my head and heart, the challenge is to live as this kind of person, someone whose life is chock-full of those things which will last forever — in eternity — with God. Since I can take only everlasting things with me into eternity, this choice is a no-brainer.

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