Musings 78

Mat 25:41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 “Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

When we die, the worms will scramble for our bodies, our friends and family for our possessions, and the devils for our souls. What will matter then? (Thomas Shepard)

The most real of realities is that each human soul will spend eternity in one of two places. This is not some game and it is not some religious deception in order to dupe people out of their money, it is a simple to understand truth that Jesus taught while on earth and then after His resurrection He taught the same thing through His apostles. Our lives on earth have more meaning than we can imagine because they have meaning for eternity. While eternity is not something we think about much in the modern day, it is at the forefront of the biblical teaching and thought.

Thomas Shepard gets to the heart of the matter. Those who live for the moment may not hear what he is saying, but it is a powerful message. When we die and enter eternity, will we really care for the body that we pampered and fed and spent so much time on during our time on earth? It is nothing but food for worms at that point. What of all the possessions we spent so much time, money, and love on? Will we care about all those things we used our valuable time on? As our friends and family scramble to get the things we spent our time on rather than focusing on eternity, at that moment we will be very focused on eternity. When the devils are scrambling for our souls, what will our wish have been? Will we wish that we had pampered our bodies more, or perhaps obtained more possessions, or will we wish that we had sought Christ and His glory more? In other words, will we wish that we had lived for and thought more on eternity?

It is easily seen from the text above the vital importance of the church. But of course the Church is the body of Christ and as such it has to do with true believers. How we treat believers has a lot to do with our eternal dwellings and our level of torment or joy there. No, this does not teach a Gospel that depends on how we treat believers, but instead how we treat believers shows us our hearts. While it is true that Jesus taught that a cup of cold water given to one of those who believe in Him would not lose its reward, that is far from teaching salvation by works. What it does teach, however, is the importance of how we live now because of its relation to eternity. Church is vital to us because it is a place that is supposed to focus on eternity, though it must be admitted that in the modern day it is focused on the here and now.

While we do not go around thinking about it in our day, how we treat or don’t treat true believers is very important. The text above is not teaching us to go and start prison ministries, but instead it is teaching us how God views His children and how human beings are judged on how they treat them. We will be judged on how we treat Christ, but we are judged on how we treat Christ by how we treat His children. Indeed sinners are saved by the grace of God alone, but let us not grab that truth and flee from the great truths in this text. Jesus also taught us that the sign of being a true disciple was to have love one for another (John 13:35). The issue, then, is not so much of how hard we work, but of whether we have true love for believers or not. John 4:7-8 tells us that only true believers have true love at all, and that is because they have been born of God and know God.

True believers, then, are those who love God and as such they love others who are born of God. A person who truly loves true believers is a believer, though it is also true that sinners love those who love themselves and as such many of those attend false churches. But if a man or woman truly loves God and our hearts go out to them and we want to help them and do for them, this shows that a person has eternity in mind and Christ in his or her heart. Eternal life in Christ consists of a great love and as such when a person enters eternity with Christ that person has love for eternity. Oh the weightiness of eternity, but oh the dullness toward eternity we have in our day.

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