I find myself filled with thoughts of eternity at the moment. My father-in-law died a couple of weeks ago, and I conducted his funeral. A couple of days before he died, Lorraine and I went and prayed for him, and, being aware that his time was short, released him to God’s keeping and into God’s presence. At the same time, a good many friends are at the moment struggling with serious illness, and we can’t prevent ourselves from asking questions about their ultimate future. And I just seem to have had quite a few questions asked me recently about what I believe about the future life, whether by Christians or non-Christians. These are not theoretical questions, they are very real ones, about life and death, and what we can hope for in the future. I teach on eschatology and the book of Revelation in our Bible school year after year, with great delight. Each year I teach it, it fills me with more hope and promise for the future. It is not about theoretical questions about millennia and Armageddon, but about hope, promise for the future and faith in the midst of trial and suffering.
I am disturbed that many Christians do not seem to be concerned about the reality of hell. Jesus was. Actually, he talked more about hell to be avoided than heaven to be gained. The awful reality of hell is about separation from God forever, that is, separation from all that is good, pure, honest and true, and immersion in everything that is negative.
At the same time, the promise of heaven is one of our great hopes. To be in the presence of God – for ever! – and to be totally immersed in love, joy, peace, blessing is an incredible hope, all ours because Christ came to liberate us from sin once and for all, and project us into his kingdom of goodness and blessing. It’s wonderful! The apostle Paul said: “If for this life only we have hope, we are of all people most to be pitied!” (1 Cor 15.19). In other words, the good news of Jesus is not just about giving us a better life here (because we walk with God and he walks with us!), but it gives us hope for the future life, eternity shared with God our Father and the Lord Jesus.
This is why we preach the gospel – good news! This is why we plant churches. This is why we send pioneering teams in countries where the light of Jesus shines dimly. This is why we seek to share on every level with our friends the truth as we know it. This is why all of us are called to give ourselves to show and proclaim the love of Christ wherever we are. This is why Christian leaders refresh their vision and zeal regularly. This is why in many countries, Christians will not be muted in their sharing of the gospel, even though the prevailing culture is against them. This is why we invest in Christian schools, because we want our own children to understand the good news of Jesus that changes the world – and eternity! This gives hope for transformation today, and transformation in the future, into our resurrection life in the new heavens and earth.
The gospel is full of power and full of hope. That’s why we want to get it out far and wide!
International Team Leader