Have you ever walked through a door that had an EXIT sign over it, not sure what awaited you on the other side? That’s how it is for many people as they approach their transition from life to death—their exit into eternity.
The Bible teaches that those who are true children of God enter our Father’s presence and eventually spend eternity in the New Heaven and New Earth. But those who refuse to believe and follow Jesus Christ will go to Hell and eventually spend eternity in the lake of fire.
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As the Apostle Paul wrote, when we die, we who belong to God are “absent from the body” and “at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). But is that all there is? Just live this life as we please, then simply enjoy Heaven and live happily ever after?
Oh no! No, No, No! How you live your todays will impact your tomorrow when you exit this life.
God’s Word tells us about the judgment seat of Christ and how rewards, crowns and treasures will be awaiting us in Heaven. The Bible also outlines how we will be in charge and how we will not be ashamed. It even tells us what we will be wearing at the Marriage of the Lamb. All of this happens after our exit!
So I ask: Are you convinced this is really going to happen? And if so, how does believing this play out in your earthly life?
Let’s see what God’s Word says about how we should live in light of eternity. Open your Bible (not your cellphone), mark the text, check the context, and then determine how you’re going to obey so you won’t “shrink back in shame at His coming” (1 John 2:28).
In 2 Corinthians 5:9, Paul said it was his ambition, whether in his body or out of it, to please the Lord. What is your ambition? Does your life show it?
Paul states the reason for his ambition: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds … whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Judgment? Aren’t all of our sins forgiven and our condemnation removed? (1 John 1:9 and Romans 8:1). That’s right, but the foundation of God’s throne is righteousness and justice (Psalm 89:14). The Father and Son cannot reward the slothful Christian the same as the one who lived as Paul did—crucified with Christ and bringing his entire being into submission to His Word and His will (Galatians 2:20, 6:14).
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In 1 Corinthians 3:1-8, Paul reminds the Corinthians that God rewards each of us according to our labor. The foundation is Jesus Christ, and we had better be careful how we build on that foundation: “Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).
The contrasts of the building materials are stark. One burns up and the other cannot be destroyed. One’s cheap, the other costly. What are you building with? Did you notice “receive a reward” versus “suffer loss”? May this alert you to the certainty of rewards. If you pay the cost now to live life according to His precepts, you won’t suffer loss. As you meet with God daily—reading His Word and praying—remember the Scriptures are essential to our life, and we are to live by their every word (Deuteronomy 32:47).
Treasures in Heaven
Because Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount to lay up treasures in Heaven rather than on earth (Matthew 6:19-20), we should evaluate our lifestyle and look at how we use the resources God gives us. When we exit this world, we can’t take anything with us, so why are we trying to leave so much on this side of death’s door? For whom are we leaving it? If you decided today to start generously supporting kingdom work, how would that change the way you live? The way you use your resources?
Ruling in His Kingdom
During Jesus’ final days, He told the story of three slaves and how they would be held accountable for how they used what was given them. Upon the master’s return, accounts would be settled. Read Matthew 25:14-30 and notice the phrase “put in charge.” Now examine Luke 19:11-26, in which Jesus called one slave “worthless” and took away what He had given him and handed it to the most faithful of the three. When Jesus sets up His kingdom on Earth, what will be your role?
Not Without Disciples
When you walk through death’s door, will you have disciples there to greet you? God has given you His Spirit, and you are His witness—charged by Jesus to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). Remember what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, “For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy?” Read 1 and 2 Thessalonians and find out why. Now, as Paul wrote, be an imitator of him as he was of Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Do you realize that we are going to attend the Christian “event of events, the Marriage of the Lamb?” How luxurious will your attire be?
Revelation 19:7-8 tells us that the Lamb’s “bride has made herself ready.” At the same time, it “was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Those acts, beloved, can only be done on this side of death’s door—before we exit!
Finally, do you realize that the prayers you and I pray in this life are stored as incense in Heaven, placed in front of the golden altar before God’s throne (Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4) and then cast to earth at the blowing of the seven trumpets? Are you helping the work of God through your prayers? (2 Corinthians 1:11).
We have much to do, don’t we, as we know not the hour we will walk through death’s door.
How I pray Paul’s final words will become ours: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7–8). ©2015 Kay Arthur
Bible verses are taken by permission from the New American Standard Bible, ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif.