Saturday, March 26, 2011

After Death, What Cometh?

The following is adapted from the daily devotionals of Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

We Shall Be Going to Our Father’s House, Our Father’s Home, Where Jesus Is

Some dwell here for years while others come to earth but a few hours before their departure. Well it is to recline in earth’s shady groves for a long time, satisfied with the hope of resurrection when the time of fruition comes.

To many saints, old age is the choicest season in their lives. A balmier air fans the mariner’s cheek as he nears the shore of immortality; fewer waves ruffle his sea; quiet reigns, deep, still and solemn. From the altar of age, the flashes of the fire of youth are gone, but the more real flame of earnest feeling remains.

Pain does not break the calm of the sweet twilight of age, for strength made perfect in weakness bears up with patience under it all. Ripe fruits of choice experience are gathered as the rare repast of life’s evening, and the soul prepares itself for rest.

We shall be departing from all we have known and loved here, but we shall be going to our Father’s house—to our Father’s home, where Jesus is—to that royal city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. This shall be our last removal, to dwell forever with Him we love, in the midst of His people, in the presence of God.

The Lord’s people shall enjoy light in the hour of death. Unbelief laments; the shadows fall, the night is coming, existence is ending. Ah no, cries faith, the night is far spent, the true day is at hand. Light is come, the light of immortality, the light of a Father’s countenance. Gather up your feet in the bed; see the waiting bands of spirits! Angels waft you away.

Farewell, beloved one, you are gone, you wave your hand. Ah, now it is light. The pearly gates are open, the golden streets shine in the jasper light. We cover our eyes, but you behold the unseen; adieu, brother, you have light at eventide, such as we have not yet.

Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord
(for we walk by faith, not by sight):
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
(2 Corinthians 5:6-8)

“Today Shalt Thou Be with Me in Paradise” is the Whisper of Jesus to Every Dying Believer

If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.
(1 Thessalonians 4:14)

What is this sleep? The idea connected with sleep is “rest,” and that is the thought that the Spirit of God would convey to us when “sleep” is used in Scripture to indicate “death.” Sleep makes each night a Sabbath for the day; sleep shuts fast the door of the soul and bids all intruders tarry for a while so that the life within may enter its summer garden of ease. The toil worn believer quietly sleeps, as does the weary child when it slumbers on its mother’s breast.

When the body “sleeps” in its lonely bed of earth beneath the coverlet of grass, do not imagine that the soul sleeps in insensibility. “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” is the whisper of Christ to every dying saint. They who are “dead in Christ” have not perished, for surely they behold their God. They “sleep in Jesus,” yet their souls are before the throne of God, praising Him day and night in His temple, singing hallelujahs to Him who washed them from their sins in His blood.

Blessed is death, since, through the divine power, it disrobes us of this workday garment to clothe us with the wedding garment of incorruption. What an awaking shall be theirs! They went to their rest with the furrowed brow and the wasted features, but they wake up in beauty and glory. They were laid in the last resting place weary and worn, but they shall not rise as such. No, the shriveled seed, so destitute of form and comeliness, rises from the dust a beauteous flower.

Happy are they who die in the Lord: they rest from their labors and their works do follow them. Their quiet repose shall never be broken until God shall rouse them to give them their full reward. Guarded by angel watchers, curtained by eternal mysteries, they sleep on, these inheritors of glory, till the fulness of time shall bring the fulness of redemption. Blessed are the “dead in Christ,” they who “sleep in Jesus.”

Every Time a Believer Leaves Earth for Paradise, It is an Answer to Christ’s Prayer

“Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given me, be with me where I am.”
(John 17:24)

Death smites the best of our loved ones: the most generous, the most prayerful, the most holy, the most devoted must die. And why is this so? It is through Jesus’ prevailing prayer: “Father, I will that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am.” It is this prayer which bears them on eagle’s wings to heaven. Every time a believer mounts from this earth to paradise, it is an answer to Christ’s prayer.

Many times Jesus and His people pull against one another in prayer. We bend our knees in prayer and say “Father, I will that your saints be with me where I am;” Christ says, “Father, I will that they also be with me where I am.” Thus the disciple is at cross-purposes with his Lord.

The soul cannot be in both places: the beloved one cannot be with Christ and with us too. Now, which pleader shall win the day? If we had our choice, if the King should step from His throne and say, “Here are two supplicants praying in opposition to one another, which shall be answered?” O! I am sure, though it would be agony, we would start from our feet and say, “Jesus, not my will, but yours be done.”

We would give up our prayers for our loved one’s life if we could realize that Christ is praying in the opposite direction: “Father, I will that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am.” Lord, you shall have them; by faith we let them go.

Mercy Me - Finally Home

Jesus Does Not Plead for Our Instant Removal By Death

“I pray not that Thou shouldst take them out of the world.”
(John 17:15)

Although Jesus prays that His people may eventually be with Him where He is, He does not plead for our instant removal by death—He does not ask that we may be taken at once away from this world to heaven. Instead, He wishes for us to stay here. For us to abide in the flesh is needful for others, if not profitable for self. He asks that we may be kept from evil, but He never asks for us to be admitted to the inheritance in glory until we are of full age.

It is a sweet and blessed event that will occur to all believers in God’s own time—the going home to be with Jesus. Yet how frequently does the wearied pilgrim put up the prayer: “Oh that I had wings like a dove, for then would I fly away and be at rest.”

But Christ does not pray like that: He leaves us in His Father’s hands until, like shocks of corn fully ripe, we shall each be gathered into our Master’s garner.

Christians often want to die when they have any trouble. Ask them why and they tell you, “Because we would be with the Lord.” We fear it is not so much because they are longing to be with the Lord, but because they desire to get rid of their troubles; else they would feel the same wish to die at other times when not under the pressure of trial. They want to go home, not so much for the Savior’s company, but to be at rest.

Now it is quite right to desire to depart if we can do it in the same spirit that Paul did, because to be with Christ is far better; but the wish to escape from trouble is a selfish one. Rather let your care and wish be to glorify God by your life here as long as He pleases, even though it be in the midst of toil and conflict and suffering; and leave Him to say when “it is enough.”

When the Eyes Close on Earth, They Open in Heaven, and We Shall Forever Be with the Lord

So shall we ever be with the Lord.
(1 Thessalonians 4:17)

Even the sweetest visits from Christ, how short they are and how transitory! One moment our eyes see Him, and we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, but again a little time and we do not see Him, for our Beloved withdraws Himself from us. Like a roe or a young hart, He leaps over the mountains of division; He is gone to the land of spices and feeds no more among the lilies.

O, how sweet the prospect of the time when we shall not behold Him at a distance, but shall see Him face to face: when He shall not be as a wayfaring man tarrying but for a night, but shall eternally enfold us in the bosom of His glory.

In heaven there shall be no interruptions from care or sin; no weeping shall dim our eyes; no earthly business shall distract our happy thoughts; we shall have nothing to hinder us from gazing forever on the Sun of righteousness with unwearied eyes.

O, if it be so sweet to see Him now and then, how sweet to gaze on that blessed face forever, and never have a cloud rolling between and never have to turn one’s eyes away to look on a world of weariness and woe! If to die is but to enter into uninterrupted communion with Jesus, then death is indeed gain and the black drop is swallowed up in a sea of victory.

That through death He might destroy him that had the power of death. (Hebrews 2:14)

O child of God, death has lost its sting, because the devil’s power over it is destroyed; so then cease to fear dying. Then, O child of God, what is there for you to fear in death, seeing that through the death of your Lord, its curse and sting are destroyed? Ask grace from God the Holy Ghost that by an intimate knowledge and a firm belief of your Redeemer’s death you may be strengthened for that dreaded hour. And now it is but a Jacob’s ladder, whose foot is in the dark grave but its top reaches to glory everlasting.

The distance between glorified spirits in heaven and militant saints on earth seems great, but it is not so. We are not far from home: a moment will bring us there. The sail is spread and the soul is launched upon the deep. How long will be its voyage? How many wearying winds must beat upon the sail before it shall be reefed in the port of peace? How long shall that soul be tossed upon the waves before it comes to that sea that knows no storm? Listen to the answer, “Absent from the body, present with the Lord.” Yon ship has just departed, but it is already at its haven: it did but spread its sail and it was there; like that ship of old upon the Lake of Galilee, a storm had tossed it, but Jesus said, “Peace, be still” and immediately it came to land.

Do not think that a long period intervenes between the instant of death and the eternity of glory, for when the eyes close on earth they open in heaven. Living near the cross of Calvary, you may think of death with pleasure and welcome it when it comes with intense delight.

It is sweet to die in the Lord: it is a covenant blessing to sleep in Jesus. Death is no longer banishment: it is a return from exile, a going home to the many mansions where the loved ones already dwell.

Upon Death, What Wonder-world Will Open upon Our Astonished Sight

Upon death, what wonder-world will open upon our astonished sight? What scene of glory will be unfolded to our view?

For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither has the eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He has prepared for him that waits for Him. --Isaiah 64:4

What God has in store for us is truly beyond our ability to imagine. Even in this life, the love of God is beyond our ability to understand.

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. --Ephesians 3:17-19

Although no traveler has ever returned to tell, we know enough of the heavenly land to make us welcome our summons thither with joy and gladness. We have many ungratified desires at present, but soon every wish shall be satisfied and all our powers shall find the sweetest employment in that eternal world of joy.

O Christian, within a very little time we shall be rid of all our trials and our troubles. Our eyes now suffused with tears shall weep no longer. We shall gaze in ineffable rapture upon the splendor of Him who sits upon the throne. Nay, more, upon His throne shall we sit. The triumph of His glory shall be shared by us. His crown, His joy, His paradise, these shall be ours, and we shall be co-heirs with Him, who is the Heir of all things.

There Remaineth Therefore a Rest to the People of God --Hebrews 4:9

How different will be the state of the believer in heaven from what it is here! Here we are born to toil and suffer weariness, but in the land of the immortal, fatigue is never known. Anxious to serve our Master, we find our strength unequal to our zeal: our constant cry is, "Help us to serve you, O Lord, our God."

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. --Revelation 7:13-17

Here, our best joys bear "mortal" on our brows; our sweetest birds fall before Death’s arrows; our most pleasant days are shadowed into nights; and the flood-tides of our bliss subside into ebbs of sorrow.

Here, Christians are always unsettled; we feel that we have not yet attained. There, all are at rest; they have attained the summit of the mountain; they have ascended to the bosom of their God—higher they cannot go.

Ah! Christians, the hot day of weariness lasts not forever; the sun is nearing the horizon; it shall rise again with a brighter day than we have ever seen upon a land where all serve God day and night and yet rest from their labors. Ah, toil-worn laborers, only think when we shall rest forever! It is a rest eternal; a rest that “remaineth.”

Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. --1 Corinthians 2:9

Here, Rest Is, But There, It Is Perfect

In heaven, everything is immortal; the harp abides unrusted, the crown unwithered, the eye undimmed, the voice unfaltering, the heart unwavering, and the immortal being is wholly absorbed in infinite delight. O happy day it will be when mortality shall be swallowed up of life and the Eternal Sabbath shall begin.

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God gives them light: and they shall reign forever and ever. --Revelation 22:1-5

We Shall Be Departing from All We Have Known and Loved Here, But We Shall Be Going to Our Father’s House—to Our Father’s Home, Where Jesus Is—to That Royal City Which Has Foundations, Whose Builder and Maker Is God

This shall be our last removal, to dwell forever with Him we love, in the midst of His people, in the presence of God.

“My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” -- Ezekiel 37:27

We Shall Be Made Perfect in Christ When We Go Home to Heaven

In this present dispensation, we are by no means perfect. Our minds are still darkened by the influence of sin; our consciousness is still beclouded by the effects of sin. The lust of the flesh often still dominates and controls us to a certain extent, and we do not live the fullness of our spiritual life.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. --1 Corinthians 13:12

Jeremey Camp - There Will Be a Day

As the apostle Paul has it, "We behold a dim image, as in a dark glass; but we do not as yet see face to face;" we do not fully understand the truth of God. Sometimes the darkness seems to break and there are moments when we behold more clearly the beauty of God's plan and the work of salvation. However, even at those best moments of our present life upon earth, the darkness of sin has not been fully dispersed and we do not see face to face. And as it is with our knowledge, so also it is with our will, with our feelings, and with our desires: our will is still under the influence of sinful perversion. But when the Lord Jesus Christ shall appear, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and 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. --1 John 3:1-2

There Is Laid Up for Me a Crown of Righteousness --2 Timothy 4:8

“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne.” --Revelation 3:21

Doubting ones! We have often said, “I fear I shall never enter heaven.” Fear not! All the people of God shall enter there.

“There is one throne in heaven that Paul the apostle could not fill; it was made for me, and I shall have it. 'But can I forfeit it?' No, it is entailed. If I be a child of God I shall not lose it; it is mine as securely as if I were there.”

Poor doubting ones, see the fair inheritance; it is ours. If we believe in the Lord Jesus, if we have repented of our sins, if we have been renewed in heart, we are God’s people and there is a place reserved, a crown laid up, a harp specially provided for each one of us.

No one else shall have your portion; it is reserved in heaven for you, and you shall have it before too long, for there shall be no vacant thrones in glory when all the chosen are gathered in.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” -- John 10:27-30

“Behold, I Come Quickly: Hold That Fast Which Thou Hast, That No One Take Thy Crown” --Revelation 3:11

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims,
Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles:
That, whereas they speak against you as evildoers,
They may by your good works, which they shall behold,
Glorify God in the day of visitation.
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake:
Whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors,
As unto them that are sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers,
And for the praise of them that do well.
For so is the will of God,
That with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness,
But as the servants of God.
--1 Peter 2:11-16

“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before His angels.” --Revelation 3:5

We Must Patiently Endure with Hope as an Anchor of the Soul, and We Will Obtain the Promise at the End, the Power of an Endless Life

According as His divine power hath given unto us
All things that pertain unto life and godliness,
Through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises:
That by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature,
Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
And beside this, giving all diligence,
Add to your faith virtue;
And to virtue knowledge;
And to knowledge temperance;
And to temperance patience;
And to patience godliness;
And to godliness brotherly kindness;
And to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you and abound,
They make you that ye shall neither be barren
Nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But he that lacketh these things is blind and cannot see afar off,
And hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure:
For if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly
Into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
--2 Peter 1:3-11

"Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name." --Revelation 3:12

“Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” --Revelation 22:14

Mercy Me - I Can Only Imagine


And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary,
There they crucified Him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand,
And the other on the left.

Then said Jesus, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

And they parted His raiment and cast lots. And the people stood beholding.
And the rulers also with them derided Him, saying,
He saved others; let Him save Himself, if He be Christ, the chosen of God.
And the soldiers also mocked Him,
Coming to Him, and offering Him vinegar, and saying,
If Thou be the king of the Jews, save Thyself.
And a superscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek and Latin and Hebrew,

And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying,
If Thou be Christ, save Thyself and us.

But the other answering rebuked him, saying,
Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds:
But this man hath done nothing amiss.
And he said unto Jesus,
Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.

And Jesus said unto him,
"Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise."

--Luke 23:33-43

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