The Better Life Ahead

August 11, 2013 / No. 3684

Dear Radio Friends,
In the past weeks our program has aired timely messages on the truth of marriage. The messages were solidly based upon Holy Scripture and were applied practically to the real issues in married life.
One aspect that we tend to forget when thinking of marriage is heaven. I mean that our present life in marriage and in our family is preparation for heaven. That is true, of course, of all of our present life as Christians. Our present life as Christians is preparatory for the real life, the better life that is ahead.
This is especially true of our life as we live it in our homes and families. Marriage and family life has a God-given purpose, a purpose that is not simply the preparation for us to live this earthly life to the glory of God. Above and beyond that worthy purpose is a higher purpose. Marriage and family is the time that is spent, by God’s grace, in preparation for heaven.
We may say that the home and our Christian marriages are like a ship sailing now on an ocean of this present life with its storms and calm water, its sun and dark periods, but with its bow pointed toward home. We are homeward bound. The bow, so to speak, or the focus of our life, must be pointed toward the safe harbor that is on the other side, of which our Lord has assured us. That other side is eternal life, the reward that is earned for us through our Master, Jesus Christ.
Is this how you are living in your marriage? What is the direction of your home? Where are you going?
As Christians we make a confession. We confess that we believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting; that is, we believe that this present life is not the end, but in death our souls are brought to be with Christ, the Head of the church. And, further, we believe that in the end of the world, when Jesus returns once more according to Scripture, He will then raise our bodies from the grave and we shall live with Him forever in the new heavens and the new earth. That is our home. That is the better life that is ahead. That is what we confess: we believe the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
Have you ever asked yourself what that confession of faith had to do with your marriage and with your family life? You say to me, “Well, those two really have little to do with each other, right?” The hope of eternal glory, and present earthly marriage and family life—how often do you think about that in your family and in your marriage? How often do you connect your present marriage and family life with the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting?
The Bible, however, tells us that they have very much to do with each other. And just a little thought will convince you of it. Parenting is the instrument of God for the preparation of souls for eternity.
First of all, remember that God has created the family to prepare us for eternity. We tend to forget that. You look at your children today and you think, “I must prepare them for this life. They need to learn how to hold a job, to assume responsibility. We need to plan, as husband and wife, for their education, even their college education. We need to concern ourselves with their health, their earthly health. We need at the end to leave them at least a little something, don’t we?”
But God, to all of that, says, “You aim far too low. You miss the heart of it. You must prepare your children to die well, to live now for eternity.” It is the life of Christ that must be your concern. It is the true future of your children that must be your burden in this present life. In your home you must direct them ahead to the better life that is to come. In our hedonistic and materialistic culture, that is a great task. Are you, as husband and wife, living with your children today with an eternal perspective? That is the question we must have before us.
More practically and more pointedly, do your children see eternity in your eyes? They do look into your eyes, you know. They watch you as you look out at this present life. And as you look out at this present life, something shines from your eyes. What is it? What do they see in your eyes? What do they observe in how you spend money? What do they observe to be the goal and direction, the hope, of your life? What are you living for? What is in your eyes? What are you pressing after?
Still more. The Bible tells us that as parents we bring forth our children for eternity, and that we do this especially as mothers. Even the world sees that God has made parents, and especially mothers, as the ones who set the goal of life for their children. The Bible tells us this repeatedly. For instance, in the life of Moses, the inextinguishable flame of eternal life and the resolve that he was going to live his life as a pilgrim on this earth was kindled within his soul, by God’s grace, through the instrumentality of his mother, Jochabed, when he was in his first years—one, two, three, maybe four years that she had him with her in that mud-brick, thatch-roofed hut as a slave in Egypt. During that time, God, through his mother, embedded in his heart an eternal perspective, so that we read in Hebrews 11:23-26 that at the age of forty Moses said to his stepfather, Pharaoh the king of Egypt, “I’m homeward bound. I’m going to take up my place with a bunch of slaves, with a people who are despised.” He said to his stepfather, “I’m going to leave your palace and your throne for the affliction and for the reproach that come to the children of God in this present life. I’m going to do that, Pharaoh, because my hope is set on the hope of glory in Jesus Christ. I believe that there are far greater riches than anything that Egypt could provide for me. Pharaoh, I’m going to live my life for eternity.”
The Bible tells us that Pharaoh responded in wrath. Moses feared not the wrath of the king. There was the wrath of Pharaoh. We envision it: “What! What’s gotten into you, man? After all that I’ve worked for, and after all that I’ve saved up for your life. The power, the throne, the wealth of Egypt—you can have it all. What’s the matter with you? What gets into your head?” In terms of this life, Moses was accounted a failure and a fool in the eyes of this world. But he was no fool. Moses, out of love for God, laid hold upon the truth of eternal life. He lived his life for it. And this was kindled in him through a mother. Through a mother, God directed Moses’ eyes to the true and the eternal riches.
Now do you see the connection between life eternal and your family life and your marriage? When we confess as Christians “I believe the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting,” we are not talking about something that is valuable only to an aged saint who is at death’s door. It certainly is valuable to us then, is it not? But this confession of our faith speaks practically to our present situation in our homes and families. It speaks to all of us. It speaks to you who are middle-aged and to you who are burdened down with all the cares of this present life and your family, marriage, and in your job. You must say, in the midst of all of it, I know, I believe, I confess that I have a home in glory and I am going there! Therefore, we do not faint. The Bible says in II Corinthians 4:16, “For which cause (that is, for the cause of the hope of eternal life) we faint not” in this present life. We have direction. We have hope.
But this is also true for you as young people. This is the only true direction. Without this direction you wander in the maze of the world, which ends in eternal ruin and hell. But this is the sure guidance. Young people, keep your eye upon that which will not fail. Keep your eye upon eternity, the hope set before you.
This hope of life eternal is not, then, just something to remember at the moment of death. But it is something that you need to remember as a young person today lest you plunge yourself into this life and say, “This is all that there is. Live it up. Let’s party!” And you end up wasted and hopeless.
We live our life now in the family for the better life ahead, for we believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
That confession of our faith tells us that this present life is not the end and it is not the end-all. Did you understand? We do not believe that this life is the end, that when we die, that is the end. We have a life that is to come, which is far better, says the apostle. But we also, therefore, believe that this present life is not the end-all. This present life is preparation. It is but a brief time of preparation for the eternal, for the better, for the full, and for the glorious life that is ahead. That is our Christian faith. II Corinthians 5:1 reads: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” When I die, says the apostle, it is not the end. It is the beginning of a better life. Now I am in a tent. Then I shall be in a building. The important life is that which is to come.
This shows how poor the life of millions is today. You are poor, according to God’s Word, if this life is all that you have and you pin your hopes on this life. This life is all there is for you? Then you are poor, utterly poor. If that is so, then, of course, it makes sense that the world, apart from Jesus Christ, would be in a frenzy. The world, apart from Jesus Christ, says, “We’ve got to do it now. We have to have it now. We have to spend it now. Let’s eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” So a mother will say to her daughter, “Your romance had better begin now at the age of 9 and 10 and a boyfriend at 11.” And, young people, they offer to you credit cards so you can spend now. You can have it now. Do not worry about debt. You must have it now. They come to us in middle age and they say, “Your life is slipping away. You ought to leave the wife that you don’t want and the family that shackles you, so that you can follow your own dreams. After all, this is all there is. You’ve got to have it now.”
If we get caught up with the “now and have to have it now” idea as children of God, then we are denying our faith. We are denying Christ. This life is not all there is! It is not the end-all. But my life, says the Christian, is in Christ right now. And the fullness of that life is waiting for me in glory. I believe that, says the Christian. Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I feel in my heart the beginning of eternal life.
Therefore, we are to live our life in our marriage and in our family for the better, for the life that is ahead. We read in Philippians 1:23 and 24, “For I am in a strait betwixt two,” says Paul, “having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” This present life is good for us as Christians. “For me to live is Christ,” says the apostle. But the perfection of that life in Christ in glory is better. This present life is necessary. It is valuable. It is preparation time. We do not despise this present life. We do not think little of our present homes and marriages, our families and children. We do not say concerning those things of God’s covenant and of bringing up our children and living with our families in the love of God, “It doesn’t matter.” It does matter! But at the same time, the life that is ahead, where we will be with Christ, is better.
We read in Ecclesiastes 7:1, “A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.” Solomon says that the day of one’s death is better than birth! How can that possibly be, we ask. Perhaps you have been present at the birth of your children. You remember the joy of birth. Better is the day of death than birth? If suddenly, in the middle of the night, your four-year old is taken to the hospital and dies? If your husband of forty years does not return to you, and dies—how is that better? Of course, we understand that, apart from Jesus Christ, it is not better. Apart from Jesus Christ, both days are bad days, the day of one’s birth and the day of one’s death. But the day of one’s death is better, for the child of God, than the day of one’s birth. How do you explain that?
First of all, that is telling us that life now is attended with the misery of our sin. Birth marks the entrance into all misery, whereas death, for a child of God, marks our entrance into the fullness of eternal life.
We have that eternal life right now. We are in Christ. And, as we read in Colossians 1:27, Christ in us is the hope of glory. Jesus said, “He that believeth in me, hath (not shall have) eternal life.” Nevertheless we are now in our flesh. And on this side of the grave we have much woe and toil. We have the unrelenting struggle against our sins. That comes to us as parents in a particular way. We bring up our children and we see our own sins. We bring up our children, as Christians, that they might be soldiers of the cross, that they might fight against sin, that they might know the truth and defend that truth. And we go through this present life now in our marriage and family with many burdens and many trials sent by God to prepare us for glory. He places upon us burdens, and the straps of those burdens cut deeply into our shoulders. But the life ahead is not going to have that. Sin is going to be gone. The burden will be lifted. The trial and the purpose of the trial will be over. Our pilgrim’s worn coat and our staff will be replaced with a glorious robe and the scepter of Jesus Christ. Through death we shall have a full communion with God. And we shall be changed, as in a moment, from utter destruction. We shall pass through the door and enter into Father’s house of many mansions in glory.
And we shall see His face. There is, you know, something in the Bible about that, about seeing God’s face. The psalmist says, “As for me, I shall behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.” The apostle Paul says, “Now we know in part, but then we shall know face to face.” When we go to heaven, I know whom I will see. At the moment of the Christian’s death, he shall see Jesus face to face. Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise.”
And so we bring up our children, our little boys and girls. We take them, sometimes, to a funeral home. They stand with us before the casket. Do not try to shelter them from that. Take them along. Maybe they see at the cemetery the pile of dirt and the coffin. And they see that their aunt or their grandpa is going to be lowered now, the dead body, into that grave, and covered up with the dirt. They ask you the question, “Where is he?” Do you, as a parent, believe? They look up into your eyes. They see your tears. Do they see the sparkle of hope and joy in Jesus Christ in your tears? You tell them at the grave, but you tell them also at home and you tell them in how you live, you tell them this: It is the life of your soul that is important. You say to them, when they are young girls, “Make your heart beautiful in Christ.” Then you tell them as a mother, “Beauty is not something that is found in a cosmetic case. It’s not to be found on the rack at Nordstroms. You’re not going to obtain beauty by Valley Fitness. That is not how you find it.” But you tell them about the resurrection of the body. You tell them of Christ’s complete victory over our sin and that when He comes yet once more, He will raise our bodies from the grave and He will make them like unto His glorious body. You tell your little children that one day soon the Spirit of Jesus Christ is going to blow upon cemeteries and blow upon ocean bottoms and blow upon open fields of corn, and dead bones shall live again. Children of God will come forth in glory. And in the new creation of God we will live forever and ever with Jesus Christ.
And so, as a mother, you tell your children about their bodies, even from the time they are little babies. You teach them respect and care and how to keep their bodies and about modesty because you believe that the body and the soul have been purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ and are now His. You tell your boys and girls their bodies are temples in which God dwells. The body is a creation that was made to praise God. Therefore, there is no room in that body for fornication, for drugs, for the things of sin. You teach your children to live for the life that is ahead, the life that is better.
Are you homeward bound? Are you living for this life? Or, in this life, are you living with the family for the better life that is to come?
Let us pray.
Father in heaven, we thank Thee for Thy Word. We do confess our sin and our weakness before Thee. But we praise Thee for Thy marvelous faithfulness and for the faith that Thou hast given to us in Christ. Now, O Lord, may we not get off the track. May we not set our goals upon the things that vanish in the day when the Lord returns to consume all this world and its sin, but may we live for that which endures, which is to be found at Thy right hand. May the hope of eternal life propel all that is done in our homes and marriages. In Jesus’ name, Amen.