Death & Eternity
Our Lord Jesus asked His apostles, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mk. 8:36-37). These questions of Christ get my attention. In an age when we are told that possessing material goods is the purpose of life, we need to go back and listen to the Lord’s words here.
Please understand that one’s soul is his greatest possession. The eternal soul of man is of such value that Jesus died so that men’s souls might be saved (Matt. 26:28; Heb. 5:8-9). The eternal soul of man is just that -- eternal. It will last after this world is on fire (II Pet. 3:10)! It is the immortal soul that continues. “Then shall the dust (our bodies) return to the earth as it was,” but the spirit of man will return to God’s care (Ecc. 12:7). Do we appreciate the true value of the soul?
I am not sure we always appreciate the value of the soul. As I observe men, I see them exchange their eternal souls for doctrinal error (Gal. 1:6-9, 3:1; Rom. 16:17; II Pet. 2:1-3). I see others exchanging their souls for drinking and drugs (I Pet. 4:3-4; Prov. 20:1; Gal. 5:19-21). Still, others will exchange their souls for ungodly acts like stealing, fornication, homosexuality, and lying (I Cor. 6:9-10; Rev. 21:8; Eph. 4:25-32). In other words, folks are saying that practicing these things are more important and are of a higher value than their souls’ salvation. Please reread Mark 8:36. What is actually gained when folks spend their lives in such sins?
We are very short-sighted, aren’t we? We think satisfying the flesh will result in a satisfied soul. Nothing could be farther from the truth! The fact is that if someone were able to acquire all of the gold in the world, the silver, the diamonds, the precious gems, the money, etc., none of this would equal the value of his soul.
Some, though, don’t even need this much to exchange their souls! Some will jeopardize their souls and even deny plain Scriptures to avoid contradicting family members or some respected person (Jn. 1:11; Mk. 7:6, 8-9, 13). Some do it by yielding to others’ ungodly pressure rather than listening to God (Lk. 8:13; Jn. 12:42-43). Yet, others exchange their souls by going back into the world after learning the truth (Lk. 8:14; II Tim. 4:10)! (Notice that I added Scripture references to show that the problems that plague us are the same problems that plagued people in the first century!)
Is it any wonder the words of Christ, not only in Mark 8 but throughout Scripture, are applicable today? Our needs and concerns are the same now as they were then. Our need to stand firm and hold tightly to our soul’s salvation is just as needed now as it ever was (I Thess. 5:21; II Tim. 1:13; Heb. 10:23)!
Friend, what will you give in exchange for your soul? Could it be you have already done this? Some folks are exchanging their souls for personal pursuits, personal sins, and pleasing self, and they are being short-changed! Don’t allow this to happen to you!
We can avoid this happening to us when we deny ourselves and follow the Lord (Mk. 8:34)! We can prevent this by determining to live by faith (Jn. 8:24; Heb. 11:6) and being baptized for the remission of sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38). Then, we need to live a faithful life to the Lord (I Cor. 15:58). Let us present our bodies as “a living sacrifice” to God (Rom. 12:1-2). We can make sure that our souls are not exchanged for the wrong things, but these kinds of actions and decisions must be made today! Now (II Cor. 6:2)! Some wait until it is too late. Don’t be like them!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
In Ecclesiastes two, Solomon names all of the things he had done as he searched for meaning to his life. He named the things he had built, the things he had done, etc., and concluded that all of this is a waste because “one event” happens to everyone, whether fool or wise (Ecc. 2:14). He would talk about this again in Ecclesiastes 9:2-3.
This “one event” is the great equalizer. It visits man and woman, rich and poor. In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon observed how it visited the wise and fool equally. This “one event” is no respecter of persons! What is the event all will experience? It is death (Ecc. 2:16).
Death is something that all men know will come (Ecc. 9:5a). It is also something men want to avoid or ignore until they can’t. Death is the antithesis of life. God contrasted it in this manner in Deuteronomy 30:15 and 19.
Why this “one event” then? Why do men walk the road of life into death? Simply put, it is because of sin. Sin brings death, physically and spiritually (Gen. 2:17. 3:19; Rom. 5:12, 6:2; Jas. 1:15). Physical death is something that is “appointed” to us (Heb. 9:27). Strong’s says that “appointed” in this verse means that death is “reserved” or “laid up” for us. Yes, “one event” happens to us all - unless the Lord returns first (I Cor. 15:51-52; I Thess. 4:15-17)!
We know everything in this life is temporary. “Moth and rust doth corrupt and … thieves break through and steal.” Thus our life is the same. We are born and are here for a limited time. “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Ps. 90:10).
Viewing life through this lens seems like things are hopeless. Not so. It is not simply “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.” Let us enjoy life and let us spend our life being faithful to God (Ecc. 12:13). This is because this life is but a step into the next. The “one event” ushers us into an eternity of bliss or an eternity of horror.
What will your death mean for you? What will it mean to those you leave behind? The way this “one event” becomes meaningful is if you prepare now. Believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Jn. 8:24), repent of your sin (Lk. 13:3), confess Christ before men (Rom. 10:10), and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). If you prepare for your eternity now, then your death can be one such as is described in Revelation 14:13. If not, then you will die in your sins and leave you family in sorrow.
Friend, don’t let your children follow your casket to your grave with them knowing you were not prepared for death! Now is the time to prepare. “One event” happens to us all, and it is not a surprise (Ecc. 9:5)! Are you ready? If not, why not? Get ready now while you still have time (II Cor. 6:2; Heb. 3:7-8; Prov. 27:1)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Peter wrote to the Christians and said, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you” (II Pet. 3:13-15).
What does Peter mean when he uses the term, “new heavens and new earth”? There have been many false doctrines that have arisen from a misunderstanding of this phrase. Some, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, have misunderstood this phrase and teach that one day we will live on a “rejuvenated” earth. Some teach that Heaven and earth will somehow be joined together as one mass. To them, this is the “new heavens and new earth.” Neither of these positions teaches what Peter is teaching. They are false. We need to respect the context of II Peter as well as the context of the Bible itself to know the truth and understand what this phrase means.
First, understand that the phrase “new heavens and new earth” is not exclusive to II Peter. It is found in four places in the Bible - Isaiah 65:17, 66:22; II Peter 3:13; and Revelation 21:1. Secondly, the phrase “new heavens and new earth” does not have to do exclusively with Heaven. It merely means a new order of things. While this phrase can refer to Heaven, as it is definitely a “new order” from what we are used to, it does not mean God’s abode exclusively. A prime example of this distinction is found in Isaiah 65:17 and 66:22. There, it means a new order was coming, and it did, about 700 years later! So, let us respect the context.
In Peter’s letter, I understand him to be speaking about Heaven, God’s abode, because he said that in the “new heavens and new earth,” righteousness dwells (II Pet. 3:13). This agrees with his first letter when he said Christians are recipients of an “inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you” (I Pet. 1:4). This “new order” is a place where we who have “escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (II Pet. 1:4) will live!
It obviously agrees with the immediate context, because Peter said the Lord will return and this earth will be destroyed by fire (II Pet. 3:10-12). Since this is true, we who are His children look for that “new heavens and new earth” (new order) where we will live in righteousness. We can’t do that on this sinful earth, but we can do it in God’s abode!
In preparation for this new order (in this context, Heaven), then let us make sure we are “diligent” to be “found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (II Pet. 3:14). In other words, let us be faithful to God and let us make sure we are living what we are teaching. How strong is our faith (Heb. 11:6)? Let it be seen in our actions (Jas. 2:18b).
Why has the Lord not returned yet? Read II Peter 3:15 and see that Christ’s longsuffering is still active. We also read about this longsuffering in verse 9. Let us thank God for His longsuffering. While we look forward to the new order of things and a new beginning, we can be patient and try to help one more come out of sin (II Cor. 5:11; II Tim. 4:2). What will you do today to help someone be free (Jn. 8:31-32, 36; Rom. 6:17-18?) Let us be active in serving the Lord and look forward to that new order with fondness!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
After Haman’s plans for killing the Jews, including Esther, were revealed (Est. 7:6), things moved very quickly. Mordecai’s enemy ended up hanging from the gallows he had made for him (v. 10). Not only this, but the ring Haman once wore was given to Mordecai (Est. 8:2). The position once held by Haman, Mordecai now held. The entire population of Jews, once oppressed, were allowed weapons and to have a fair fight against the Persians (Est. 8:11-12, 9:2-3). Yes, God in His providence caused a complete reversal in the plans of Haman “the enemy of the Jews.”
This is not the only time we read about this happening. When Jesus spoke about the eternal destiny of the rich man and Lazarus, we find another time when things were reversed (Lk. 16:19-31). Specifically, Abraham reminds the rich man, “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented” (v. 25). Upon analyzing the context, we see many “reversals” that took place between the rich man and Lazarus. Just like Haman and Mordecai, many things changed between them. I marvel at this because perhaps those five brothers he left behind thought of their brother as a godly man and one bound for eternal bliss. God knew what was going on “behind the scenes,” and this man got what he deserved. In reality, the rich man and Lazarus experienced a true reversal from what they had experienced on earth.
The most significant reversal of all was the reversal Christ performed when He made salvation possible through His death, burial, and resurrection (Matt. 26:28; Col. 1:14, 20; Heb. 9:28; I Jn. 2:2; Rom. 6:2-6, 16-18; I Pet. 3:21). Satan thought that he had won. He had succeeded in tempting the first people to sin (Gen. 3:1-6). They sinned, and we have had to live with the consequences on this earth ever since (Gen. 3:16-24). Satan then tempted Cain (Gen. 4:1-11), Abraham (Gen. 12, 20), Moses (Num. 20), David (II Sam. 11-12), and every other man and woman on earth (Rom. 3:23)! He succeeded in getting humanity to sin and to jeopardize their souls before God.
Satan seemed to be winning until Christ came to earth! At that time, we see a reversal taking place. Christ was tempted like others, but did not yield (Matt. 4:1-11; Lk. 4:1-13; Heb. 4:15). He “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (I Pet. 2:22). Furthermore, when He died, He did not die in sin but died to be a sacrifice for others’ sins (I Pet. 3:18). Where Adam brought death, we see that Christ brings life (I Cor. 15:22). Yes, a complete reversal is possible in Christ!
Are you ready for a new beginning? Are you ready for “light, and gladness, and joy, and honor” (Est. 8:16)? Spiritually, you can have these things by following the Lord and doing what He says. Become a Christian (Acts 11:26; Mk. 16:16). Live faithfully for the Lord (I Cor. 15:58), and you can look forward to Heaven (another reversal from life on earth) when this life is over (Matt. 25:34)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Many today treat sin as nothing. Some tell us that sin is non-existent. Others treat sin as a fairy tale to scare children. Many people act as if they have “outgrown” sin, and they live their lives oblivious to the harm they are doing to their souls and the souls of others. Proverbs 14:9 declares, “Fools make a mock at sin ….”
When it was known that Haman’s law was in force, Mordecai “cried with a loud and bitter cry; he even came before the king’s gate … clothed with sackcloth” (Est. 4:1-2). He later told Esther how her life stood in jeopardy along with the rest of the Jews (v. 13-14). They faced death from a bitter enemy all because this enemy allowed his pride, envy, and anger to influence his decisions. Mordecai didn’t treat Haman’s actions as a joke or a fairy tale.
Sin is no joke (Prov. 14:9)! It is not silly, nor is it something where one gets a “slap on the hand” or has to sit in the corner to make things right. The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), and it is high time we realized how dangerous sin is! We see a picture of the horrible nature of sin when we read Mordecai’s response (Est. 4:1-2). He and his nation were going to suffer because of a man’s sinful action if something was not done quickly.
The same is true today. We stand in spiritual jeopardy because of sin (Ezek. 18:20). We have sinned because we have given in to our lusts and acted in ways we ought not (Jas. 1:14-15). What are we doing to correct the situation? Did we notice that after Mordecai cried, he got busy! We need to do the same thing.
Once we realize that we have sinned, we need to act to be free from sin (Rom. 6:17-18). I am impressed that in the New Testament when we read where people understood the heinous nature of their sin, they moved quickly to get out of it. They didn’t wait, but went “the same hour of the night … immediately” (Acts 16:33) to correct their error. This was not an accident but was the result of preachers telling them that they needed to act quickly (II Cor. 6:2). “Today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” is the message of the gospel (Heb. 3:7-8, 15)!
Do not wait until tomorrow or farther into the future. We have no lease on life (Jas. 4:14; Ps. 90:12). We must act quickly. The true face of sin is horrible. It is far worse than the physical death that Mordecai dreaded. Sin leads us to an eternal death where there is nothing but darkness, pain, and suffering for eternity (Matt. 22:13, 25:30; Rev. 14:10-11).
Mordecai hoped a change of the law might save them. In like manner, a “change of the law” (Heb. 7:12-14) has made all the difference for us. Since Christ died upon the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, we now have a way to become free from sin (Rom. 6:17-18). When we follow the Lord’s plan of salvation (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38), we can be free and do not have to face the consequences of our sin. The true face of sin leads us to an eternity away from the Lord in a Devil’s Hell. The remedy for sin is to be baptized and to remain faithful to the Lord (I Cor. 15:58). “Put on the armor of light … make no provision for the flesh” and enjoy the blessings that come in Christ (Rom. 13:11, 14; Eph. 1:3).
Christ defeated sin. Have you done what the Lord wants? The true face of sin is worse than anything you can imagine. Do not go to your grave in sin!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs