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Sunday, 31 January 2016

And then there were ...?

So, the first month of 2016 closes with yet another "celebrity" death being announced.  The front-page headline in newspaper; the top topic on social media; and, doubtless, the main subject of UK news programmes on both radio and television.  Terry Wogan is dead.

Now, I have every sympathy for the Wogan family.  I never met the man, but he always came across as a pleasant person who was willing to use his celebrity status in helping others.  However, what has happened is, at some point, going to happen to each and every one of us - at least while the rapture of the saints of God is delayed.  As Benjamin Franklin famously said: "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."  Actually, some people may manage to avoid paying taxes - but, as physical beings, we are mortal.

What, then, ought our attitude to this inevitable event be?!   There are, of course, those who believe that physical death is the end.  When I breathe my last, there is nothing.   My body may be buried, or burned, but anything of me that continues will only be in the memories of those who knew me.

Others accept that there is some form of 'after-life', but have the idea that where I spend it, and what it will be like, depends entirely on what I have done in this earth.  If my good deeds outweigh my bad deeds, then I go to 'heaven'; otherwise, I go to 'hell'.  Even the concepts of 'heaven' and 'hell' may differ from one culture to another.

Some are of the opinion that, when we die, God will forgive us all, and that everyone will end up in heaven "because a God of love would not want to see any of His creatures suffer"!

Yet another group believe in reincarnation.  I am born, physically, many times - either progressing 'upwards' if I live my present life as a good person (or animal/insect/tree/stone, etc!); or downwards, if the opposite is true.  Eventually, I may reach the pinnacle of human existence and be released from that cycle - to be absorbed into the 'oneness' that is the physical universe, but with no personal identity or personality.

Those, however, who accept the teachings of the Bible as the written Word of the One Who created, and Who sustains, all that is, hold a unique belief.   They (we!) believe that there is a very real heaven, and a very real hell.  We believe that where one spends eternity (timelessness - see my chapter on the subject in Great Words of the Faith; details above) depends, not on anything that I have done, or can do, but on the giving of Himself as a sacrifice, on a cross on a hill called Calvary, of One, Jesus the Messiah/Christ, in my place.  That sacrifice of the perfect Man was/is sufficient to cover the sins of every human being who ever lived, or who ever will live.

However, there is a "catch".  The idea that "all will be saved" conveniently ignores that the God Whose essential Being is, indeed, Love - and love that is actually beyond our feeble comprehension - is also the God Who is Justice, and Righteousness, and Holiness.  In the light of His laws and commandments, each one of us is deserving of nothing but His wrath and punishment.  As the apostle Paul wrote to the Roman believers in the 1st century AD: "... everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard." (Rom.3:23; NLT).

So, is that the "catch"?  No!  Paul goes on, in that same letter, to make clear that "... God showed His great love for us by sending [the] Christ to die for us while we were yet sinners." (5:8).  All that we are able to do, but what we must do, is to confess that we are sinners on the sight of Almighty God; that we are incapable of doing anything, ourselves, about our sinful state; and accept, by faith, the salvation that was gained for us at such great cost.  That is the "catch".  Salvation is free and full - but only to those who are willing to accept it.

Terry Wogan's eternal destiny is now sealed.  Forget reincarnation: "... each person is destined to die once,and after that comes judgement"! (Heb.9:27; NLT).  Where he, or any of the other "celebrities" who have recently died, will spend it is between them and Father God.  Nothing that you, or I, can do will change that.  For you, however, there is still time.  Have you confessed your sinfulness, and your sins?  Have you asked for the forgiveness that is available only from Father God?  Have you accepted, and professed, Jesus, the Christ, as your personal Saviour?  Are you seeking to serve Him as Lord of your life?  These are important questions - your answers to them will determine what happens to the real "you" when your mortal body reaches the end.  Please do not ignore them.  If I may be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact me via the e-mail address at the top of the page, or through my "AllExperts" page (Link below, and on the right).  Alternatively, seek the help of a genuine believer already known to you.  Whatever you do, act.  Follow the example of Boaz, of whom it is recorded: "... the man will not rest, but will settle the matter today." (Ruth 3:18).

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