By W.B. Dunkum
Time is probationary and as long as we are in time we are on probation. As long as we are on probation there is a tendency to neglect preparation for the great hereafter.
Just now we are floating down the stream of time, but only a matter of time until we will plunge into the ocean of eternity.
You, who are going down the slope of life, be encouraged, look up; some day you will dwell in a tabernacle which will never be folded or become weather beaten. Tomorrow you may put on immortality. Today you may be lame but tomorrow you may walk amidst the trees whose leaves are for the healing" of the Nations and then you will experience pain and sickness no more forever. "There the wicked cease from troubling and the weary be at rest."
From the day in which God drove Adam out of Paradise (the Garden) placing in the gate a flaming sword which kept everyone from entering until the day in which Malachi announced, "Unto you that fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings," our information concerning the Home of the Soul was very indistinct and vague. For a period of about 400 years, the door seemed to have been shut. John the Baptist began his ministry by saying, "Repent ye for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." It was not until Christ our Lord and Savior came down from heaven that the gates of the celestial city were discussed and became distinctly discerned.
During the long centuries preceding the coming of our Lord, the land of Canaan was the only heaven people seemed to have known very much about. To them it was an exceeding good land; a land flowing with milk and honey; a land of grapes and pomegranates and figs. With but few exceptions it was hard to get people to rise above this theory of heaven.
In heaven we will not be bothered with pains which are so common in the walks of life; but our time will be given wholly to the worship of the One who is absolutely immaculate.
We find in His service indication and earnestness of the happiness of heaven. Yet, we understand His service involves a self-denial and self-sacrifice not demanded in any other walk of life. We should not count our lives dear unto us. The disciple should be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord Jesus Christ affirmed Himself, "Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all
that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." Jesus is the first at the cradle to hear our feeble cry. He is the last to hold our hand as we slip quietly into the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
We see His footprints along the shores of Time. What a privilege it is to have Him walk by our side. We hear a .voice saying, "I have been with thee. I am with thee. I will be with thee. I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."
Our bodies will finally die, be buried, and will mold in the grave, but the time will come when the Almighty will impart life again into the muscles and sinews; the pulse again will beat with ecstasy, the eyes will flash with light celestial, and our vocal chords will again sound the praises to Heaven's King. Then death will be swallowed up in victory, then mortal will put on Immortality and the corruptible will put on incorruption. Then comes the saying, "O, Death, where is thy sting? O, Grave, where is thy victory?"
"There is but a step between me and death." I Sam. 20:3. God serves notice on us that we are judgment bound. We are creatures of two worlds, living here and expecting to live hereafter. The essential prerequisite for the next world is preparation.
Sin separates the sinner from among the pure. It compels him to dwell in the society of those who are like himself. This is the inevitable tendency of sin. In this world, separation is but partial. But in the next world separation will be complete and final. All sinners in one place and saints in another. The Bible speaks of heaven and the same Bible speaks of hell. Heaven is the eternal abode of the saints. Heaven is also called a city, the New Jerusalem. Hell is a place somewhere outside of the city of our God. As surely as the law of Moses shut all lepers out of ancient Jerusalem, so the law of God shuts all sinners out of the New Jerusalem, the place of our final abode.
This may seem hard on the sinner but how can it be helped? If men will be sinners, they must take what follows, and sometimes what follows is terrific and tragic. Your sins have separated you from God. If not washed away with the blood of Christ, they will keep you out of heaven. It is best for all concerned that sinners be separated from Christians. The Christian's future abode will be heaven, while the future abode of the sinner will be the pest-house of hell.
The Bible tells us who we are, where we came from, what we are here for and where we are going. And how to get there.
In the Morning will be:
1. The closing of life's labors.
2. The separation of dearest of friends.
3. The fixing of human destinies.
It will be:
1. Morning of rest from earthly trials and weariness.
2. Morning of delightful service.
3. Morning of clear vision.
4. Morning of glad reunion.
5. Morning never clouded by the shadow of death.
6. Morning of freedom from pain and suffering.
But 'in the fullness of time the Redeemer came; then it was an ancient order to discuss heavenly felicity from every angle. When He came, He brought us much information in regard to heaven being both a place and a state.
The sacred teaching about heaven is as indispensable to the Christian as the multiplication table is indispensable to him who would be proficient in mathematics.
Thus, for example, the Holy Ghost by the pen of the Apostle said, "In My Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you."
In heaven, prayer will be exchanged for praise and unmixed gratitude for blessings, the value of which we shall then realize. Nevertheless there will be prayer in heaven as well as praise. Heavenly prayer will likely be more fervent than terrestrial prayer. After glorification our prayers will likely be more reasonable than many we hear in this world.
Heaven is a state while yet on earth. The sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed. Being human there are times when tears will flow like rain and then there are times when there are no tears shed unless those of love, joy, and thanksgiving. There may be times in life when you feel like swimming in a flood of glory as God pours it upon you, and your happiness will be begun which will last forever.
Someone has well said -- "The fullness of heaven is Jesus Himself.
The duration of heaven is the eternity of Jesus. The light of heaven is the face of Jesus. The joy of heaven is the presence of Jesus. The melody of heaven is the name of Jesus. The harmony of heaven is the praise of Jesus. The theme of heaven is the works of Jesus.
The employment of heaven is the service of Jesus," See that saint upon the dying bed. He or she may have no sympathy and no background of religious training. But they have a foretaste of heaven. They have set their house in order for they are going to die and not live. Yet we are not going to die. It is only dust returning to dust. The grave will have no victory in it. Our Savior said, "Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." I am to be translated into a heavenly life. My poor body will be at rest, but my soul will be going forward in rapid and heavenly progression. I will not fear for safety, because I will be holding to my Father's never failing hand. "For I know that my Redeemer liveth."
God has made us rational beings and established for us a code of laws and placed us on probation under a system of rewards and punishments. Our reason and conscience will have a freehand in helping to direct us and everyone will receive according to the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or evil.
This is a life of sighs and sorrows, moans and maladies, troubles, and tears, griefs and graves and the groaning and the shrieks of the dying constantly remind us of the fact that this world is not our home. There is something about us that longs for that blissful abode.
In this world we have a mixture of sin and righteousness, sin largely predominating. The natural longing of every heart is for righteousness unmixed with sin. In the midst of opposition and conflicts we need our attention called from the cares of life to a better world. Having a foretaste of heaven we need to awaken sinners, arouse backsliders to return, lead believers 'into holiness and encourage the sanctified to press courageously and victoriously toward a better country of which we often delight to think, read, and hear.
We are in the greatest warfare of the ages and are called on to be soldiers. Do you have on the entire armor? Could the Lord who appointed you, leave, return, and find you at your post? The Lord has an armor and an outfit to make you a real soldier, You can be ready for the conflict, ready for sacrifice, ready for action, and ready to die.
Our citizenship is in heaven. While on the: way to heaven we should not sit around with hands folded and worship an experience and nurse a blessing when a lost world is calling for help. Our citizenship involves duty as well as privilege. The real heaven is not space beyond the Milky Way, but it is the enlargement of capacity for influence here, going about doing good, an enlargement of mind, heart, and soul, and the enjoyment of the world now in. Our religion must not be theoretical and visionary only, but objective, real, and practical. Let us enter the arena of everyday life with high courage, steady faith and a determination to demonstrate practical holiness and have a heaven to go to heaven in.
It is with a heart full of joy that we can look forward to the time when God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes, for we shall never say good-bye in heaven. In this world, decay and disappointment are written upon everything, but we can look forward to a home where there will be no change, "Incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not. away." It is blessed to think of heaven being as unchangeable as God Himself. A home God planned,. God built, God furnished and God finished. Home with the eternal God, the Home of the Soul.
Many have entered sin's smooth highway which leads straight to the gates of hell. On and on they will sweep passing rocks, cliffs, and gloomy deserts. As they near the falls, they can hear the thunders of hell. But don't forget that all has been done that infinite wisdom and boundless grace could devise. But all has failed. The hands that hold the scales of destiny have locked the seagates forever, and there is no way of escape. On you may pass through the regions of the lost in search for a long lost friend. It, is all night. You will pass howling demons, cursing fiends, sneering imps and writhing souls as they long for death but will never die.
See that hideous demon-like being yonder, in a dungeon of fire with contempt branded upon his brow. That is your long looked for friend who has been absent from the earth all these years. In this dark world there is no singing birds or blooming flowers. All is shrouded with the blackness of darkness and gloom and that forever. Since leaving this world he has not had one moment's relief from. anguish and pain. The undying worms and the poisonous fangs of the forked tongue demons have fed continually upon his undying conscience. There would be a jubilee in hell if lost souls could die and every black valley would echo a shout of victory. In hell he is always dying and never dies. He wrings his hands, tears his hair and gnaws his tongue, as he thinks of lost opportunities in this world and the length of hell in the next. He stands horrified, demon possessed, and demonized as he pauses on the brink of the lake of fire ere he plunges in seeking rest but finds none.
See! See! I :am forever lost in hell in spite of all my resolutions not to go. I am here to suffer the demands .of a broken law. Death and the judgment are past. The day of mercy is gone forever. I would not heed the warning voice of God, though it thundered in my ears from the cradle to the grave. I sold out for a trifle and am now reaping for a life spent in sin and rebellion.
Let me remind you of a matter of infinite importance. One hundred billion people have been buried in the past. They were once healthy, busy and as important as you are. Many of them have been gone a long time from this world, but the world is getting along nicely without them. Where are they? The world will some day get along nicely without you and where will you be? You never before had as little time to live on as you have now. It is but a short step between you and the grave. Death is nearer you with his icy hand and muddy spade than you ever dreamed. You cannot see one moment ahead of you. You may be in five steps of death's: dark river, the jumping off place. Is all necessary preparation made? That person has not lived yet who is wise enough to find a path leading back to yesterday's mercies, privileges and opportunities. The masses will never see the importance of living right until they see themselves by the light of death's lantern.
You may reject and despise holiness now, but it will be the password at the gate of heaven.