We’ve started this year with a lot of teaching about eternal life. The “What do you think happens after this life?” series has been followed by a series in Luke’s gospel, which features so much teaching around the theme of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Through all the sermon preparation here are five things I’ve been reminded of:
1: We don’t think enough about eternal life
God has set a sense of eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Innately we know there is more to life than just this world. And yet, we have so many competing responsibilities and ambitions that our lives become consumed by the urgent, day-to-day things and we take our eyes off eternity. Yes, by God’s grace, we are capable of amazing things in this world but we need to know it’s all pretty meaningless unless we grasp the importance of eternal life. King Solomon, one of the most successful men ever, understood this: “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:11)
2: We don’t talk enough about eternal life
Because we tend to stop thinking about eternal life we can really help each other by talking more about it. Jesus did – all the time. The topic of eternal life will come up so often in Luke’s gospel that you’ll have plenty of opportunity to discuss your hopes, fears and doubts around this topic. And remember to talk to children about eternal life. They certainly think about it and they’re also getting plenty of messages that will conflict with what the Bible teaches. So look for opportunities to share with children some of the things you’ve learned from God’s word about what happens after this life. Not sure what to say? You could start by just explaining the remaining points listed below…
3: We don’t deserve eternal life
We really don’t. A lot of people ask: “How can a good God send people to hell?” But the more I think about how God’s Son loved his Father, how he lived in this world and how (woefully) different I am to him, the more I realise that I really don’t deserve to be part of His eternal family. The better question is: How can a good and holy God accept anyone as his child in heaven?
4: We can be sure of eternal life
How can you be sure of something you don’t deserve? Only if its promised to you by someone who is perfectly trustworthy. God has promised eternal life for all those who put their trust in his Son. Not because we’ve earned it but because Jesus has! ““For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Romans 5:9– 10) “May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24)
5: We should live in the light of eternal life
The Apostle Paul said that, if you’ve been raised up with Christ then “set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:1–2) If we’re thinking biblically about eternal life and how, in Jesus, we can be certain of it, that will give us the freedom and confidence to really live for others and make the kind of sacrifices with our time, money and energy that reflect heavenly priorities.
C.S. Lewis wrote: “The Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have begun thinking less of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in; aim at earth and you get neither.”
by Murray Anderson