“For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,”
I went to my uncle’s celebration of life yesterday. Lots of laughter from cousins who haven’t seen each other in decades. I have a large family on my mother’s side, and this was the first time in a long, long time that so many have been together at once. I suppose that’s the way it goes once the “kids” get married. The next time to gather is the “parents” funerals.
It was a typical service. My uncle is in a much better place, greeted there by others who have passed before. He now waits for the rest to join him. I don’t know who Jesus was to him. In the typical funeral, it doesn’t seem to matter. People say what feels good to them. Certainly, he has heard the gospel because my mother has shared it with him. You see, my mother became one of those “born-agains” back in the 70s. None of her siblings say that is true of them.
Ephesians 2 speaks of “election” with regard to salvation. The idea is that man is so wicked that s/he cannot attain righteousness required for eternal life. God, on the other hand, is gracious and extends mercy to those whom he chooses. Who those people are has been determined before the world was made. It’s out of our hands.
A lot of Christians think this is hogwash. That’s fine. Both those who believe in the doctrine of election and those who don’t agree that one must affirm faith in Jesus in order to be saved. We must believe in him. We both believe verses like Romans 10:13 and many others like it that say to the effect that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Is that all it takes? Simply voicing a creed or saying a simple prayer? Yes and no.
I’ve come to see that we Americans are pretty trusting and willingly bet our future on others while giving little, or any, thought whether or not they are trustworthy. We trust our finances to others, don’t we? Some of us put considerable money away and trust that money will grow and be there decades later. We really have no clue about what is being done with that money in the meantime. All we need to see is an occasional piece of paper that says our savings are growing. Far more people trust in the government to provide our needs through Social Security. Like private savings, we may be skeptical from time to time, but we are pretty confident that this money will be there.
The same is true with our salvation. We trust the majority of people who tell us we have nothing to worry about when we die. The process of dying is what we should fear, not what happens after that. Oh, sure, there are those who warn of the dangers of Hell, but most people don’t take them seriously. We certainly don’t like to think about the afterlife, but it is clear that very few seem to fear it – judging by what is said at almost all the funerals I have been to.
Is my uncle in heaven? I certainly hope so. Here’s one thing I am certain of. His sister, my mother, will be. Why am I so sure about that? Because her life lines up with what the bible describes as one who follows Jesus, in everything about her. Is the bible the definitive authority on death and the afterlife? Well, there is no other book that I am aware of that is like it. It was written over centuries by all sorts of people yet comes together like an orchestral masterpiece. The most incredible thing is that it predicts, unfailingly, future events. This book knows what is going to happen in the future! There is none other like it.
So, I’m really no different that others. I put amazingly little thought into my financial future. On the other hand, I am quite different in that I put a great deal of attention to the bible. In it, I find out about Jesus. My home is with him.
Father, thank you.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers
Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash