August 18, 2013 / No. 3685
Dear Radio Friends,
Is your family homeward bound? Is your marriage on track? Are you and your children living toward a better life?
I am asking the question whether or not in our families and marriages as Christians we are living consciously out of our confession that we believe the resurrection of our body and the life everlasting in Jesus Christ. Do you live with an eternal perspective? Do you understand that this life is preparation for the life that is to come, which is, according to God’s Word, far better? Or do you live simply a carnal, earthly life foolishly, living only for the things now and the present, believing that this present life can satisfy you? Or do you, by grace, fix your hope upon Christ, not in an abstract manner but by living your present life with your eye above, seeking to be faithful to Him and seeking to be prepared with your children for that day when you shall enter into the glorious kingdom of your Lord? Are you, then, homeward-bound travelers to the true and eternal shores of glory? Is your marriage on track? Are you and your children living toward the better life?
If so, then two things will now, by God’s grace, be true of you. First of all, you and your children, and you as young people, will live ready to die. Ready to die means simply living today in Christ, now. That is what it means to be ready to die in the biblical sense. To be ready to die is to live moment by moment in the Lord Jesus Christ, doing His will and walking with Him in faith.
As young people, we have a tendency to think that our future is invincible and that we are indestructible. Sometimes we can be shocked. I can recall that, as a young person, I would be shocked when a friend of my own age died, or was diagnosed with cancer or some other crippling disease. Somehow it always appears to us that that is going to happen to someone else. Someone else is going to be diagnosed with cancer — not I. Someone else is going to have the sudden fatal car accident. That happens only to other people, right? I am invincible. I am immune. It is not going to happen to me.
The Bible, of course, corrects us. God asks, How do you know that? Psalm 90:12: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” We are in the hand of God moment by moment.
When we know that, when we live daily by a true faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior, and when we trust in His righteousness as our only acceptance with God, then we are ready to die. But if do not live in faith, if we live apart from Christ, if we live foolishly in a deliberate sin, and if we vainly think that we shall be accepted of God on the basis of something we are or do, then we are not ready to die.
The question is this, as a young person, where is your heart today? At the moment of death, where will it be? Is it fixed upon the cross today? And do you believe, by grace, that you are saved, not because you are a good person in yourself, but because God, by grace, has saved you through Jesus Christ? Then, believing that, you will not just have it in your head, but you will live out of that true faith. Day by day you will deal radically with your sin. You will live your life for the spiritual things of God’s kingdom. You will take the Word of God into your heart. You will be homeward bound.
The life that we now live as children of God in our marriages, in our families, as young people, must be a life that is directed toward eternal life. What does that mean? Well, it means a number of things. First of all, it certainly means, according to Scripture, that we shall live in confidence and assurance. Confidence and assurance will mark the life of children of God because of their faith in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Read the Scriptures. Was there any doubt in the mind of the apostle Paul when he wrote, under the inspiration of the Spirit in II Corinthians 4 and 5, that we know that when this earthly house is dissolved we have a building not made with hands, eternal in the heavens? Was there any doubt whatsoever in the apostle Paul? Read those chapters. Remember that the apostle Paul lived in the day of Greek culture—the Greek gods and the philosophy of Plato, with all of its spin upon what life is and what comes after death. The apostle Paul was not in any doubt. He did not join the collective philosophy of his day and say, “Well, I have a contribution to make.” No, he said, “I know, absolutely! The resurrection of the body in Jesus Christ and the life everlasting.”
We shall live, then, with confidence and assurance. Do you have that as a young person in your college class, wherever that class may be in the coming fall, a class perhaps in botany, as you are going to be a nurse, or psychology if you’re going to be a teacher? In the midst of that class you make a good confession. You say, “I know in Christ that my soul at death shall be taken up to Christ my head, and my body shall be raised at the last day and will be made like to His glorious body, and I will live in a new heavens and a new earth where righteousness shall dwell. I know that!” Then, apart from grace, the class ridicules you. They say, “Well, prove that one.” How do you respond? How do you know? Or do you just keep quiet?
We know from the Word of God. Faith is not guessing. Faith is reality. Faith is truth. Faith, based upon the Holy Scriptures, is an absolute certainty—a certainty of those things that eye hath not seen nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, according to Scripture. So we base our faith upon the Scriptures. We go to the Scriptures and we say, “But this does not rest in debate, this does not rest in human argument, this is not decided upon the scale of human reason. The Scriptures have spoken. Christ lives, I know He lives, He lives within me. I am risen already now by His grace. I believe in Him and I shall be raised to be with Him in glory. Because Christ lives, I will live also. And the Holy Spirit testifies of these things in my heart.”
This is also the confidence and the assurance that is so important for parents as they rear their children in the home. We are surrounded by secular unbelief, which tells us that the best thing a parent can do is to do nothing. That is, not to impress upon their child any firm conclusions about morality or Christianity or what happens after death. After all, nobody can be so sure about those things, and if we just have nice feelings about them, then we keep them to ourselves and do not try to impose them upon others. Then we are being the mature parent. Such is the folly of this world. The folly of the world is: The future is not ours to see. Our children are to be sent off into the big unknown. Parents remove firm landmarks, the only true landmarks to guide them, God’s Holy Word. No, as parents we must have a certain confidence, a certain assurance that is given to us by faith.
Now, mother, the hand of your little child is small. It takes only little things to fill it up. So you give them little things. You tell them when they are with you, before they even go off to school: God is great; God is good; Jesus is our Savior; we are going to heaven; your soul—you take your finger and you tap it on their little chest and you say, there’s a soul in there. That is who you are. At death, that soul will be taken by the good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, to be in heaven with all the angels and all the saints of God. Jesus will be there. And then, one day, our bodies, even when they grow old and die and are put into the ground, are going to be raised by the power of God and we shall leap and dance in the new heavens with joy in our hearts. You tell them those simple things. And you know what? The hand of your little child is full. You do not present options concerning these things. You do not guess. You tell them the truth. You tell them, Now we’re going to live as pilgrims with our eye and our face toward heaven. And then you show them how to live as a pilgrim as you face earthly setbacks and you deal with your hard times.
Not only will we then live in confidence and assurance, but we will also know how to view earthly things and how to behave toward earthly things. With the hope of life eternal in our hearts, as families and in marriages, we will understand the vanishing reality of this present world, and the corruptible and non-satisfying reality of the things of this present time. The apostle Paul gives us very good instruction in I Corinthians 7:29-31. He says to us that the time is short, and that it remaineth that those who have wives be as though they had none; those who weep, as though they wept not; those who rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; those who buy, as though they possessed not; and those who use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passes away.
We need to know that word today. We need to understand what that means. It means that marriages, heartaches, and possessions are all transient. You need to know that, if you are to live in marriage and live with your possessions in a proper way today. We need to hear that Word of God today, especially concerning the earthly things that so worm their way into our hearts. That is the sin of greed and covetousness that is as spiritual cancer aimed at the destruction of the hope of life eternal in our breast. We are living in a consumer culture. Advertising bombards us relentlessly. We are told that things will give pleasure and that we must have those things right now. Future cost must yield to present personal gratification. We are in a time of consumer debt and credit cards and no final accounting and payments deferred. How does this affect us spiritually? How are we raising our children?
The Son of God said, “Take heed. A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things that he possesses but in being rich toward God.” Young people, what really is life? What really is value? What really will give you joy? To be able to purchase the latest CD? To have the latest clothes? To be able to spend what you want when you want? Is living this: that you get a job so that you have enough money to throw around and have a good time? Is the amount of money in your wallet what makes you a man? Is that how you live? What about those jobs that have at their heart the preparation of children for the kingdom of God, for being a husband and a wife in a Christian home? Do you set your hearts upon that? That is where it is really at. That is the heart and the focus of where the grace of God is performing wonders in the preparation of souls for eternity. Do you want to be involved in that work? What about Christian schools and being a teacher there, or the work of the church? Is your heart set upon heaven? Or is your heart taken up with the consumer culture? Have you swallowed the lie that things and earthly pleasures are what life is worth living for? Do you know the true wealth that is in Christ?
What about dating? How do you evaluate a young man? He’s willing to spend money on you? He takes you out to a nice restaurant? Well, it might be enjoyable to go out to a nice restaurant if he can afford it sometimes. But as you sit there, and as you watch him, how do you evaluate him? What he’s willing to buy you? Or do you ask the question: What treasure does this young man have in his heart? Does he have a treasure? Does he have the treasure of Jesus Christ?
This also affects us in how we are going to rear our children. We must understand that as parents it is not the things that we give them, and it is not necessary that the things we give them be new. The most important thing is not that we have a home filled with plenty of bedrooms, so that every person in the family has his own bedroom and can close the door and stay in there, and that in it is everything one could possibly want. That is not the goal. The goal is the truth of God. Do not sell that. Fathers, do not buy into the world’s economy. Do not sell spiritual assets. Do not make this world your goal.
Probably most of you fathers work in some type of industry and you know what a smooth sale is in earthly things. Well, there is no one so smooth and oily as the devil. He says to you as a father, “Give me just a small amount of your spiritual capital and I will give you the world. Give me just a few hours of work on Sunday, just a few—just once a month. Give me those hours at supper time, the overtime hours, so that you’re not going to be home at the supper table with your wife and kids. Give me those hours, because you’re making double time. Hand over to me,” says the devil, “hard and fast convictions on the truth.” The devil says, “Let me be your financial budget manager. And let’s arrange that budget around some of the things that you would really like. Give me just a little bit of your spiritual capital. You don’t need to sell it all to me. In fact, you may have 90-95% of it. And enjoy it. By all means enjoy it! Go to church, too, if you want. Just sell me a little spiritual capital and I’ll give you the world.”
Do you want to know what you are going to get if you go into his economy? You are going to get many cares, many worries. You are going to have children who grow up who are distant from you and do not know you because you have not been there. You are going to have a marriage broken up. And you are going to see children who have not learned the one crucial lesson of being a Christian. That crucial lesson is: Sacrifice. And we will end up like Lot—fleeing Sodom alone.
Rear your children for the important things, the things of life eternal. Rear your children, with your wife, in the Word of God. Rear your children in the church of God where the truth is proclaimed. Rear your children homeward bound.
Then you will have joy and hope. You will have the assurance in your heart that you shall ever live before God’s face. Your future is bright. It might not always be that, in the earthly sense, we are bubbly. But deep down, in our hearts, we will have the joy of Jesus Christ. Joy is the whisper of Jesus Christ saying to me, “You are mine.” In college, as a young person, you will speak of the joy and the hope that is yours in Jesus Christ. You will speak against the tide of the politically correct speech. And you will say, “I’m not afraid of tomorrow. I have a faithful Savior who will hold my soul.” And others will look at you and note your testimony.
You will live with joy as a mother before your children. And then your children will come in and will ask you, “Mom, the lady next door had some very bad things happen to her and she is screaming and crying and there’s something so hopeless in her cries. Mom, we’ve seen you cry, too. But your tears are different. Your tears are soft. Why are you different from her, Mom?” Then you will say, “Because, by God’s love, I have joy in my heart and hope. I’m going home! The way may be hard. The way may be apparently impossible. There may be many fears and attacks on the way. And the cherished hopes of this life may disappear. But I’m going home. I’m not distressed. I’m not in despair. I’m not forsaken. And I’m not destroyed. For I have a perfect hope in Jesus Christ.” That is how you raise your children.
Then we will labor and we will long for that day. There are many who will say to us that this hope of eternal life makes the child of God careless in terms of this present life. In the church they will even write a book to catch attention and say, “Heaven is not my home,” supposedly trying to get at this: If you preach and teach that the hope of the Christian is life eternal—to be with Christ—then you will not be of any value or worth to society now. Supposedly that is the idea. Well, I will not enter into that right now to show that that is utterly false. But this is what I will say. The life of those who hope for life to come in Christ and who live with that hope of glory, who live not for this life but who live for the life to come—that life is going to prove that they are wrong. You will be the hardest worker in the class. You will be the most responsible person. You will not be lazy. You will help others. You will be the first person on the block to lend a hand and to help out. Why? Because we know that our labor is never in vain in the Lord. We know that our life shall not disappear. Living in the hope of Christ, we shall live now to the glory of God. And we will live with a longing. I want to go home. I am eager for Christ to come back. The apostle Paul says, “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.” You want to be there, do you not? Do you not want to be home in your true home, with the Father’s love and with the elder Brother, Jesus Christ?
Then, husbands and wives and families, let us be resolved that we do one thing in this present life and that we do it well. Let us be resolved that we will direct our steps toward home.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word. And we pray that it may enter into our hearts. Wash away and pardon us of all of our sins. In Jesus’ name, Amen.