I trust you are doing well and looking forward to Sunday.
The first week of August never passes without reminding me that 13 years ago (August 3, 2008) my father passed away and went to heaven. Seven years later (November 28, 2015) my mother joined Dad. As I get older I’ve become increasingly more conscious of death. I hope no one will think of that as a morbid thought – it’s just a reality of life. What's more, as a pastor I deal with death often.
Sadly, the default belief of most Americans is that when someone dies, indeed when anyone dies, he or she is assumed to go to heaven, or some such place. It’s quite common for an athlete to say while being interviewed following a victory and the death of a parent; “Well, I’m sure dad is looking down on me now and I hope he’s proud of what I’ve done.” Or when a person passes away after a tumultuous and difficult life, it’s not uncommon for many to say: “At least he is now at rest. He’s in a better place and for that we can all be grateful.”
The inescapable fact is that the western world simply assumes the truth of universalism. The suggestion that those who left this life in an unrepentant denial of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection as their only hope and that they need to trust Him alone for salvation are in heaven. The idea that anyone who does any earthly good might be eternally separated from God and subject to His judgment is believed by most to be outrageous! That teaching is regarded as elitist, inexcusably insensitive and unacceptable.
May I remind you that if people are in the presence of God it is only because in mercy and love the Holy Spirit awakened their hearts to their need for Christ and drew them effectually to saving faith. We aren’t justified by good works, humanitarian efforts or the ability to make people laugh and feel good about themselves. We are justified by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
We must never forget that salvation is an unimaginable expression of divine grace, mercy and love. That God should provide even one way for the salvation of hell-deserving sinners is remarkable. That salvation is available at all through faith in Jesus Christ is not a “scandal” but a breathtaking revelation of God’s amazing grace.
I am so grateful that God drew both my Dad and Mom to Himself in salvation and that they are in heaven today. Some day I will join them, not because of anything I have done, but because of the gift of salvation offered by Jesus Christ through faith in Him!
See you this Sunday in person or online
In the light of His glory and grace,