I love standing on a bridge, staring into the fast-moving waters of a river, on their way to the sea from their source in distant hills. The length of a river is like the span of a human life. Some lives are long, but others, sadly, can be much shorter. None of us know just how long the river of our life is going to be.
Like a river, each human life has a source at conception followed, nine months later, by birth as a tiny baby. We grow slowly to maturity and, as adults, we experience all the adventures and ups and downs of life, till one day the personal river of our life enters the sea of eternity and our life on earth will be no more!
The Beginning and the End
Our physical human life has both a beginning and an end. Birthdays are celebrated with varying degrees of excitement. But whilst we rarely dwell on the fact, death is always an imminent possibility – especially as we get older. We all know when we were born, but none of us know when the end will come. But is death really the end?
A very sick man was being interviewed on TV. When asked how he was feeling he replied, “I’ve been wondering if I’ve been good enough!” Realising that he might not survive Covid, he was wondering what lay beyond the grave. Would he then have to face his Maker?
I love visiting new places, but I’m no lover of the journey. I could do without all the airport hassles and being cramped up for hours on end in an aeroplane. The process of dying is a bit like such a journey – a necessary part of reaching a new destination. As a Christian, I’m really looking forward to Heaven but, if I’m really honest, I am not terribly excited about the process of getting there!
But, unlike the man who was being interviewed, I’ve no worries about whether or not I’ve been good enough. For, the believer in Jesus has already been forgiven and accepted as a citizen of Heaven. It was Jesus who had to be good enough to pay the price of all our wrong-doings – or sin as the Bible calls it – not you! That’s the awesome reality of what it means to be a Christian. Jesus paid the price of our sins when he died on the cross and as a result, physical death, and what happens next, have no fear for anyone who truly believes and trusts in Him.
Right of Entry
When flying to the United States, from some airports, you can go through all the immigration procedures to America before actually leaving your own country. Then, when you land in the States you have no concerns. Your passport has already been validated and your entry qualifications have been pre-approved.
It’s a bit like that when a believer in Jesus dies – they already have their ‘right of entry’ into their new country – Heaven. Their entry qualifications were pre-approved before leaving Planet Earth! And that suggests a very important question: If your entry qualifications can be pre-approved, why wouldn’t you want to be sure of gaining entry to Heaven, before leaving Planet Earth?
Only One God
So, let’s ask some pretty basic questions about God, you, creation, good and evil, your life on Planet Earth, Heaven, Hell and what you can look forward to when you die. Let’s begin with creation.
No matter what scientists may say about the origin of the universe, it doesn’t make sense to think that the whole of the universe – which contains more stars than there are grains of sand on Planet Earth – could have created itself, out of absolutely nothing! It really is much more likely that a blind-folded chimpanzee could bash out an error-free copy of the complete works of Shakespeare on a typewriter – and then do it again!
Just as a painting must have an artist, and a bridge must have a builder, common sense dictates that a physical creation must have a Creator, the One who we call God. I know that, for some, this simple statement poses an even bigger question: Where does God come from?
But it would be a huge mistake to miss out on getting to know the God who made us, just because you don’t yet have an answer to the bigger question. It would be like a baby refusing to take milk from its mother, because the baby couldn’t account for where Mum came from!
No-one can ignore the fact that throughout known history man has looked heavenwards and asked, Who am I? Where did I come from? For, within every human being there is a God-sensitive spirit that, ultimately, wants, and yes, needs, to connect with its Creator.
In the event of sudden disaster, the universal cry of mankind is usually, “Oh God!” Why is it that from the very core of our humanity, people cry out to God in desperation when they are suddenly faced with the imminent possibility of meeting Him?
There are thousands of different religions, through which people try to find and worship God. Together they are abundant evidence that there is a God-shaped hole in every single one of us – a hole that mankind has always tried to fill, in a myriad of different ways.
But thousands of different religions can’t all be true, with their wildly different beliefs, can they? Absolutely not. Each religion may claim to be true – and no-one doubts the sincerity of believers in all the world’s religions – but sincerity is not a guarantee that what they believe IS true! The people who think the world is flat are very sincere about their beliefs!
Just as you can’t have conflicting ‘truths’ about what water’s made of, you can’t have conflicting truths about God. Wherever you go on the planet, water is always H2O – which means that each molecule of water contains two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. It can’t be anything else. That’s the truth. And wherever you go on the planet, God is always God. He does not vary from one place to another. There can only be one Creator, there can only be one God.
So, who is this one Creator God? And why does it matter?
The Bible begins with those never to be forgotten words – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” And John’s Gospel begins by telling us nothing that exists was made without Jesus. Which is another way of saying that the man Jesus, born as a baby as the Son of God, really was also God.
And here is a unique fact that distinguishes belief in Jesus (or Christianity if you prefer) from every single one of all the other religions. Jesus came to Earth looking for man, so God could have and enjoy a relationship with him. All the other religions are only an expression of man’s search for God, whereas Jesus came to be the answer to all those searching questions.
It’s a fact, therefore: God is looking for you. He loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. Jesus actually said He had come to seek and to save the lost. And He told the parable of the lost sheep which He, as the Good Shepherd is always looking for.
No-one looking at the world today could conclude that everything in it is good. There are extremes of evil as well as extraordinary evidences of self-sacrificial good. And honesty means we also have to recognise that, in each and every one of us, there is the capacity to do both good and evil. The Bible says it this way – we have all sinned and come short of God’s glory.
Jesus, the Son of God, came to Earth to pay the price for your sin and for mine. He became the Saviour of the World so that all those who believe in Him could become children of God and be born again into His Kingdom. Which simply means that the evil in each one of our hearts, which would exclude us from being able to enter Heaven, could be forgiven.
With our sins forgiven, our spiritual inheritance of eternal death can be replaced by the free gift of eternal life. This is called salvation, or being saved.
To summarise, therefore, we have a choice. We can choose to follow Jesus into life or remain in a state of permanent separation from God, which is death, or what the Bible describes as Hell. And that’s the eternal reality for all men and women.
When we choose Jesus in this present life, we are following the One who died for our sins. And because He was without sin, the curse of death was not on Him, the grave could not hold Him and He rose again from the dead. He’s alive now – and for evermore. He wants us to be with Him – now, for the rest of our earthly lives, and then, into eternity beyond the grave.
So, returning to the picture I painted earlier, of flying to the USA from an airport where you can be welcomed into America, even before you have left your own country, think about it this way. When you recognise the sinfulness in your own heart and, therefore, your need of a Saviour, and confess your sin to God and invite Jesus to be your Saviour and the Lord of your life, it means you can become a citizen of Heaven – even before you have left Planet Earth! You then have the entry qualifications for Heaven and have already become a citizen of the Kingdom of God. Your ‘spiritual passport’ is stamped ‘Heaven bound’!
Then, when your physical life does come to an end, you have nothing to fear, for your destination is already assured. That’s why the Christian believer has no reason to fear death. With your sins forgiven, the Saviour, who loved you enough to die for you, will be welcoming you into His Kingdom.
Our eternal existence after death is at the core of the Bible’s teaching from beginning to end. Which, therefore, begs the most important question that anyone ever has to face – where do you want to spend eternity?
So, what will happen when the river of your life joins the sea of Eternity? The choice is yours – enjoy eternal life or endure eternal death? Those are the options Jesus put to all people – including you and me.
Not only did the coming of Jesus divide the timeline of history, His teaching divided mankind into those who choose life and those who choose death. It doesn’t make a lot of sense not to Choose Life!
Your Choice! Your Prayer!
Thank you Jesus for making it possible for me to choose life, even though I deserve death. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. I confess and repent of my sins and ask you to forgive me. I invite you, Jesus, to be my Saviour and Lord and ask that when the river of my life runs into the sea of eternity I will find myself Heaven bound! In the Name of Jesus. Amen
The River of Life is Copyright © Peter Horrobin 2023. To subscribe to Peter’s Blog please go to: www.peterhorrobin.com