Life or Death?

John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

I remember thinking as a young man that I was invincible. There were often painful reminders that I wasn’t, from climbing in trees higher than I should, balancing on rocks that were far too unstable, or jumping off bridges that now seem far too high. The idea of dying seemed remote, I was too strong, too fast and too smart to get into trouble, at least that’s what I thought.

One thing I’ve learned from working in health care for almost 30 years is that life is fragile. We can die from just about anything, and as our human genome progressively distances itself from Adam, the mutations in each successive generation are lending themselves to all forms of diseases that make us vulnerable.

Life is not only fragile, it is also very short. We are reminded throughout scripture of how little time we really have.

Job 14:1-2 Man who is born of woman
Is of few days and full of trouble.
He comes forth like a flower and fades away;
He flees like a shadow and does not continue.

If our younger selves could have embraced this concept for the brevity of life, do you think it would have changed how we lived?

We can have so much energy when we are young and waste it, we can be caught up in anxiety for our future and realize later God was in control, or we can give ourselves over to sin and suffer the ravages of sin for the rest of our lives.

Psalm 103:15-16 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.”

Our time on earth is so short, the opportunity to impact the world for Christ or only live for ourselves becomes our great dilemma.

One of the age old questions of the world remains; what is the meaning of life?

A young man once came up to Jesus and asked a similar question.

Luke 18:18-20 “Then a certain ruler asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Why do you call Me good?” Jesus replied. “No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and mother.”

The question from the young man was “what must I do?”, Jesus immediately clarifies his question by settling this man’s position, did he come to see a teacher or did he recognized Jesus as the Messiah?— God incarnate. Jesus then proceeds to direct the young man to the law. If the young man is going to “earn” eternal life, he would need to demonstrate perfection in his life, the moral law reveals if this is true.

Jesus used the law in evangelism all the time, as well as the apostles who followed Jesus’ lead.

Galatians 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

Leading up to the turn of the 20th century, most church fathers understood the value of the moral law in evangelism. It’s only been in the last century where the church has abandoned the rule of the law in evangelism and replaced it with the prosperity message of blessing. This transition has done more to damage people seeking truth than any other move in church history.

Most atheists I’ve met have been ruined by bad religion.

As the rich young ruler came to the conclusion that he didn’t have what it took to earn salvation, he walked away in defeat.

If we can’t “earn” salvation, and since we have all broken God’s moral laws and are now condemned, how do we attain eternal life?

*The answer is found in death.

Attaining Eternal LIfe

John 12:25 “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

One of the spiritual paradoxes of truth is life is that it is found in death.

Jesus lost His life on our behalf, that we might be redeemed from sin that leads to death, not a physical death but a spiritual death. The sacrifice of Himself upon the cross became the model by which we are called to now follow that leads us to life.

Romans 8:10-11 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

So when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, His Spirit gives us life, He fills and renews us from a spiritual position of death because of sin to a position of eternal life. This is the message of salvation.

Romans 4:24 It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”

Living Life

We have a choice, we can choose eternal life that is found in Christ alone, or maintain our course of sin and rebellion that leads to the second death; the inevitable consequence of sin.

2 Corinthians 7:10 “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

The moral law produces the sorrow that leads people to Christ. The hopeful result of recognizing your position before God as a sinner gives you a right understanding of how to escape the clutches of Hell. Since the law makes known to us our depravity and hopelessness, it exalts the only solution to our dilemma—Jesus!

Romans 10:4 “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

The end of the law is the judgment of a Holy God, who has personally been offended every time we sin. The reality of life was founded upon the character of God. When we reject God’s holiness, we defile His name.

If we want to follow Jesus, we must die to sin, in other words we must relegate the patterns we lived by before to our past, and recognize following Jesus as our present and future reality. All that we hoped for, all that used to be our priorities in life we now count as loss. We accept Jesus as our King, we follow His Spirit in our lives and allow forgiveness of others to be our mantra while accepting God’s grace and mercy in forgiving us.

Living Death

If you reject the only hope of salvation, you reject Jesus as the mediator between you and God.

People who choose to follow the philosophies of the world, continue on as they always have, working, entertainment, family, celebrations, and their lives go on. Some can maintain a false front of peace, joy, or fulfillment, but they have locked away the dilemma that haunts them—their philosophy of life lacks any true meaning.

The righteous are those who follow God’s laws and are likened to a tree that God plants by His waters of life….the wicked are those whom God relegates in a different category.

Psalm 1:3-6 “He (the righteous) is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.”

Every person who lives apart from the grace of God found only in Christ is relegated as wicked before God. Sin is inherent in mankind, we cannot escape its clutches and desperately need a Savior. Without Christ, we are hopelessly lost and our lives will show forth nothing that has eternal value.

There is nothing good that dwells in us…goodness is only a defining characteristic of God. If we want to truly live life to its fullest, we will live for Jesus.

Life or Death—by God’s grace we’ve been given a choice.

Which path will you take?

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