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Heading North.

May 16, 2012

In Genesis 3:19, we read “..for you are dust and to dust you shall return”. Since the day that God pronounced “death” on mankind through Adam, God has been dealing with people destined for the “dust”. Some argue this was a physical death that followed the spiritual death after Adam ate the fruit. Scriptures are clear that God pronounced physical death on Adam. He was not supposed to “return” to dust, if he would have obeyed God. Adam was to share in God’s plan of eternal life – that is why the tree of life was there in Eden. God had given a taste of what it meant to “walk with him” since Adam and God walked together in the garden. Everything was not revealed to Adam, but God wanted him to be patient.

The Bible does not talk about spiritual death – but it refers to being dead in spirit. Being dead in spirit means choosing to ignore what the Bible is saying, because of pride, and twisting the scriptures to suit one’s view of the truth (especially when it conflicts with what one believes or wants to believe).

Can you imagine keeping a dead person in your household, part of your daily routine and in your family? We bury or cremate the dead (or leave them to the vultures in some cultures) – ensuring they are physically “gone”. We expect no physical remains from the dead that resemble a whole human being. We do not keep dead bodies around (except in medical schools or for relevant legal reasons – Ah, and the Egyptian Mummies!). They will begin decaying and will stink. They will not respond to your questions sitting at the dinner table. They will not talk when having a conversation in the living room. This idea of having a dead body around as part of the daily routine, is just absurd.

(Pardon my direct insensitive treatment of dead bodies. It is not to sound disrespectful towards a loss of a loved one and the grief that comes with it – I’m merely reflecting on the physical side of it)

However, God has no choice. His earth is full of dead people who conduct their daily business not knowing they are dead. God cannot have a conversation with them, they do not respond, and they stink. I was one of them. In what sense are we “dead”? In the same sense that Adam “died” the day he was destined for the “dust”. In God’s eyes, he was not going to inherit eternal life, and that meant he was already dead. God continued working with him, and everyone that followed – but all of them were destined to die some day. There were few exceptions like Elijah and Enoch, who did not die as other people had died, but they did physically vanish.

But our existence is not supposed to end at the dust. Remember, God said “return” to dust. That is where Adam started his life (physical dust was the raw material God used to make Adam, like Sculptors do). And that is where it ended. My destiny is the same “dust” that Adam went to. Yours is too. We shall all return to the dust after we die physically. We do not vanish into thin air.

But when God talks about eternal life, he separates the physical from the eternal. The truth of eternal life was hidden inside God, which he wanted to share with Adam. The only thing Adam needed to do was wait for the right time. Adam failed to wait. But God did not fail to wait for the right time.

The Bible tells us in Romans 5:6 “ the right time, Christ died for the ungodly”. By ungodly, it means not having any business with God or not concerned about matters of God – in short, being unresponsive to God. Like a dead person who is unresponsive to anything once he dies. Like a ignorant person who is unresponsive to any counsel.

God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, at the right time into the world. All those who trust in him are given the inheritance of eternal life, which will be given to them once they pass from this world. And it is God who works in us, the dead people, to help us hear his call at the right time to call us to this new life and hand over the deed of inheritance. This deed will be exercised after our physical death. Here’s a story that illustrates that. There was this man, Lazarus, who died and was buried in a tomb. Then Jesus arrives on the scene in John 11:38-44.

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Prior to raising Lazarus from being dead, Jesus said in John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

Now, lets ponder for a second on how exactly did Lazarus “hear” Jesus when he shouted “come out”, when he was already dead! He had no physical ability to “hear” since his ears had stopped functioning. Martha even made it clear that he has been dead for past four days. His tomb was stinking. Which means, the words of Jesus that reached his body inside the tomb actually did not go through the ears, but they had the power to get his heart ticking again. The only natural step for Lazarus to take after he was brought back to life was to step out (going in opposite direction or sideways would give him a nice bump on the head!). Funny observations aside, it was the “power” of Jesus’s words that brought Lazarus back to life. Kind of how God breathed life into Adam after he had sculpted Adam from the dust. Eventually, Lazarus did die and returned to the “dust”. But the point is – Jesus has power over death. Which means, he has the power to give eternal life also. That is what Jesus calls people to believe.

He exercised the same power over death and life by raising himself from the dead. He said it very clearly in John 10:18, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

Jesus has the authority to hand over this deed (promise) of eternal life to anyone who believes in him. After death, we see God sitting on his judgment throne, and if we have the deed from Jesus, then we are given the eternal life. Our destiny changes based on whether we believe Jesus or not – specifically, whether we believe that Jesus has the power to give us eternal life.

That is why studying the Bible and understanding Jesus’s words are important. That is why it is also important to teach the Bible. It is not to force or pester people to “convert” to Christianity, but to make available the knowledge of how to gain eternal life, as explained in the Bible. Finally, God does give everyone a choice. Whether we study the Bible or not, our conscience is constantly guiding us on right and wrong, and readily condemning us of being dead to God. By believing in man-made principles and religions, we know somewhere deep inside the futility of everything we believe and do. We know that none of that is anything close to being as powerful and authoritative as guaranteeing us the eternal life, like Jesus Christ does.

Finally, one may say that all I want to focus on is having good morals, doing good, being a good human being, and live this life as a happy person. Why get into the mess of God, truth, religion, who’s right and who’s wrong, and such. World history is filled with bad stuff that happened because of that. It is just enough to have good morals, and a good life, and enjoy life with peace. We all know that this thought is cowardice and escapism – not willing to accept the reality of sin and death. Wait until you lose a loved one or one of your loved one is harmed (naturally or intentionally). This “be good, do good” philosophy will fall apart. Because someone else did not follow the same. Then the question comes, what and who is right and who is wrong? Why would someone do that evil thing to you or someone you love? What is justice and why was it not delivered? How is this fair?

No matter how hard we try to do good works, do right things, be a good citizen, and be perfect people in the eyes of the world – it is all filthy rags as far as God views it. None of that has the power to bring us back to life eternal, and give us a seat of honor in the heaven with God. Nobody is righteous (in other words, right with God). Let’s stop avoiding the question of our destiny and the question of sin. Where are you headed, knowing that you will be faced with the consequences of someone else’s actions and not just your’s?

God waits. And that too without forcing people into his plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. True North is in Jesus Christ – but it is for you to explore. Are you ready with your compass of conscience?


From → Real in Christ

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