Forever With the Lord

"Jesus said unto her, I am the Resurrection, and the Life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die." ... John 11:25-26.

When we come to the end of another year, it does not mark the end of our lives. Even death itself, whenever it comes, cannot mark the end of a believer’s life. Christians may, and do, go to "sleep" here in any given year, but this is not the end. Death is only another milestone in life.

Death is very real. The loved one who knows Christ (husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, or friend) is moved through death to another location of life, for "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord."

When the Lord told His disciples, "Let us pass over to the other side," there was never any question that they would make it there. True, there arose a great storm of wind. True, the Lord was at the stern of the ship, fast asleep on a pillow. True, they asked, "Master, carest Thou not that we perish?" But He showed them that He did care, for He arose and rebuked the wind and said unto the sea, "Peace, be still."

"Oh, yes, He cares! I know He cares;
His heart is touched with my grief.
When the days grow weary, and the long nights dreary,
I know my Saviour cares!"

"No water can swallow the ship where lies the Master of ocean and earth and skies!" He has given His unchanging word that not one of His own will ever perish (John 10:27-28). He will bring each one safely to the other side. He has not promised anyone a smooth trip, but He has promised every one of His own a sure trip.

"I am the Resurrection and the Life." He has defeated death. He declared triumphantly: "Fear not; I am the First and the Last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death" (Rev. 1:17-18).

"He rose, a victor o’er the grave;
He lives eternally to save;
He lives to bring me to the sky,
And I shall see Him bye and bye."

He is now on the other side of death. He lives in the power of an endless life. "He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:25).

He told Martha (and us): "He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." He did not say, "yet shall he live again," but "yet shall he live."

When the believer dies, he does not cease to be, but lives on, beyond death, in the presence of the Lord. True, his body goes to the grave and to corruption, but his body is not him. His spirit goes to be with the Lord.

D. L. Moody declared: "Some day you will read in the newspapers that D. L. Moody is dead. Don’t believe it! I will never be more alive than the moment after I die." The apostle Paul affirmed that "to depart and to be with Christ is FAR BETTER" (Phil. 1:23).

There are only two classes of believers in the world: those who pass through the portals of death, and those who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord. This is the grand event which they both await. The Christian is never told to look for death, but for the coming again of the Lord Jesus to claim His church, composed of all true believers in Him, whom He purchased with His own blood.

In John 11:25 we read of both of these: (1) "He that believeth in Me, though he has died, yet shall he live." At death, he goes to be with Christ, forever beyond the reach of death, disease, despair, discouragement, disappointment and doom; and (2) "...whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die." Those living when Christ returns will never pass through death at all.

Millions of believers are now at Home with the Lord, rejoicing in His presence. Their bodies wait for the Lord’s second coming. When He returns to the skies, He will raise those who have "fallen asleep" in Jesus, in bodies like unto His own body of glory. "The dead in Christ will be raised first;" then the living saints will all be changed, in a moment; and finally, they both will be caught up together in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.

"Changed in a moment, like Him to be! Oh, what a daybreak that morn will be!" "Our citizenship is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body..." (Phil. 3:20-21). "It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (I John 3:2).

Almost 2,000 years ago, God gave His greatest gift—the Gift of His Son. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). The countless millions who have received this Gift of all gifts will never get over the wonder of it all—that the Creator condescended to become the Redeemer of sinful man!

Who knows? The end of this year may bring that glorious new beginning which has no end. We await, with glad anticipation, that day of all days, that reunion which will last forever, when we meet to part no more! In view of that glad day, may we be like those Thessalonian believers who "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven."

"And though there intervene,
Rough seas and stormy skies;
Though by no mortal vision seen,
His glory fills our eyes.
There shall all clouds depart;
The wilderness shall cease;
And sweetly shall each gladdened heart
Enjoy eternal peace."

Because of that blessed hope, we can shout with the apostle Paul: "Thanks be unto God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" (I Cor. 15:57). Sure of heaven, we can now heed the call to get to work on earth: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (I Cor. 15:58).

"Let us, then, be true and faithful;
Trusting, serving every day;
Just one glimpse of Him in glory
Will the toils of life repay."

"Forever with the Lord! Amen, so let it be! Life from the dead is in that word. ‘Tis immortality. Here in the body pent, absent from Him, I roam. Yet nightly pitch my moving tent, a day’s march nearer home!"


SATISFIED

"I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness." Psalm 17:15

In hope we lift our wishful, longing eyes,
Waiting to see the Morning-Star arise;
How bright, how glorious will His advent be,
The unclouded Sun in all its majesty!

How shall our eyes to see His face delight,
Whose love has cheered us through the darksome night;
How shall our ears drink in His well-known voice,
Whose faintest whispers make our soul rejoice!

No stain within; no foes or snares around;
No jarring notes shall there discordant sound;
All pure without, all pure within the breast;
No thorns to wound, no toil to mar our rest!

If here on earth the thoughts of Jesus’ love
Lift our poor hearts this weary world above;
If even here the taste of heavenly springs
So cheers the spirit, that the pilgrim sings:

What will the sunshine of His glory prove?
What, the unmingled fulness of His love?
What hallelujahs will His presence raise!
What but one loud eternal burst of praise!

                                     ... James G. Deck