Chawnghilh's Blog

Heaven and Hell —which?

Posted in Qualitus : Habitus by chawnghilh on December 5, 2009

Apart from considerations of heaven and hell, is a Christian life still the best choice?

Both for time and for eternity, God’s way is best. Whether or not a traditional heaven or hell loom ahead, we should live uprightly before the Lord. It is in our best interest now to obey His Word, not merely as insurance against the day of death. How do we know this is true?

The book of Proverbs, for one, develops this core idea : Righteousness brings lifelong benefit to those who practice it, while evil assures its own negative payback (4:18; 11:18, 19). Repeatedly we read that the fear of God extends life, but the years of the wicked are shortened (3:2; 9:11; 10:27). Both material and spiritual blessings follow in the wake of those who trust and obey the Lord. The same conviction — that the righteous are blessed over the wicked — permeates scores of other sacred texts. It is indeed a golden rule of faith that what we sow in life, we tend to reap from others and from God (Gal. 6:7).

Jesus says He has come so His disciples may have life more abundantly (John 10:10). How is this abundance experienced? Christ explains by offering all the love of the Father (15:9), fullness of joy (v. 11), and His peace (14:27; 16:33) to His friends. These are not promises for a future kingdom but assurances to be realized now, through the Spirit. The abundant life, then, speaks of a quality for today, not just a quantity of “eternal life” yet future for Christians.

The Bible’s “yes” to your question is sustained by those who testify that Christ’s grace and truth generate good stuff for them here and now. Surveys consistently indicate that people who practice faith live longer and are typically more content than others. Generous, service-oriented people report being happier and more successful now than those driven by selfish desires. Righteousness is its own reward.

One familiar verse suggests an alternate view to this: If our hope is in this life only, we are most miserable (1 Cor. 15:19). Taken at face value, this text offers the notion that we’d be happier as non-Christians now, if it weren’t for the promise of resurrection and eternal life. Why would Paul say that? Is he unpersuaded that a clean, honest lifestyle pays off now, as we claimed earlier? No, he knows that the genuine Christian life always attracts the reproach of Christ and the cross, bringing opposition and hardship to its followers. Why would one choose a path on which suffering is certain, unless its end held something far better?

Without reversing Proverbs, John 10:10, or the golden rule of righteousness, the Corinthians verse reminds us that a truly Christian life is one in which the disciple daily lays down His life for Jesus. This living sacrifice makes perfect sense only in light of the resurrection of the dead and return of Christ to judge the world. Without a final reckoning, Paul says that Jesus’ sufferings and our motivation to share in them don’t carry much weight. Life is difficult, even at best. Christians have no guarantee of present health, happiness, and unbroken success. God’s way is always best, but that fact will become perfectly clear only when we see the resurrected Christ at His coming.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: