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Essential Preparation for Eternity

Posted on May 24, 2020

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Essential Preparation for Eternity

Acts 1:6-14

Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35

1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11

John 17:1-11

On Thursday this week our President called for the reopening of places of worship. He defined communities of faith as an essential part of our way of life. He stated that some governors have deemed abortion clinics and liquor stores to be essential while places of worship have not and he feels that many churches and other places of worship have been treated unfairly. I must say that I appreciate these words of the President and the fact that he has said so publicly. However, I must clarify that our church is not quite ready or prepared to go back to regular services. There is much for us to do still for us to meet the CDC and the President’s guidelines on the path to reopening our church. I will be meeting with the church board this Tuesday to discuss what services will look like and how we can continue to keep everyone safe when we do reopen. We will reopen soon but will do so as safely as possible. We have a duty as a church to care for and protect all who are most vulnerable to this terrible illness.

All this being said, I was thinking about this word essential and how it applies to our faith. I think all of us have different interpretations on what is and is not essential in all areas of our life. For example, what is essential and non-essential education? What is essential or non-essential food? What is essential and non-essential activities? What are essential and non-essential businesses? And even these days, what is an essential or non-essential illness? The answers to these questions define how we live and how we make our decisions in life. However, the question that I believe is most important is what is essential for our salvation and eternity?

Depending on what denomination you follow or what time period you were born the answers to this question may vary. I recently watched a version of Pilgrims Progress and I was reminded of this very thing as Christian is trying to find a way to help remove his burden. At one point he is led off the path by Worldly Wiseman and is told that this other path will be faster and easier and that he will quickly be able to remove this burden on his back. This path leads him to the mountain of legality. All he sees is a bunch of commands to follow. Legality tells him that he can remove his burden but he would first have to come up too him. The only way to climb the mountain of legality is to follow all the commands. However, the more he tries to climb more and more commands are produced that push him back down. Some have viewed this legality as essential for eternal salvation however just like this character in Pilgrim’s Progress, no matter how hard we try we can never keep all the rules.

The disciples in Acts 1 were waiting for something else that was important for their eternity and the eternity of all of us. They prayed and waited for the Holy Spirit to come. Before that, they were anxious to know whether Jesus was going to restore the kingdom of Israel now or later. Jesus explains that it is not for them to know when the time will be as they are not the authority but God is the authority. There are those however that believe it is essential that we know the day and hour of Christ’s return. Therefore, they have tried to predict this time for centuries however always end up being wrong. What he was really saying here was that it is not essential for us to know when the kingdom will be restored but it is essential for us to prepare ourselves for when that time may come whenever it may be.

Since the beginning of this pandemic it appears that everyone has their own agenda. There are those who have obviously used this event as an opportunity to further their own power or to further their own desires for government or even culture and society. Even so there are also those who genuinely care about others and genuinely care about helping people than they care about their own status or getting their own way. Through these political clashes the church has had to find its way and adapt. As we have been able to reach more people I think we have also gained in an increase of attack as well. Peter tells us that we should not be surprised of such things. He explains, “do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” We are told to be humble and cast our anxiety on to him as he cares for us. He deems us, his creation, essential to His kingdom and therefore he cares for us. He also warns us that the enemy prowls around like a Lion looking for a way in and looking for a way to devour. However, we are called to resist and stand firm. This is a part of our essential preparation work for our eternity.                   

John 17 explains what exactly is most essential for our salvation and eternity. Starting in verse 2-3 it says, “For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, who you have sent.” The most essential thing for our salvation to eternity is to know the Lord and we may now the Lord by knowing Jesus Christ. He came so that we might know the Father through him. This is absolutely essential for eternal life and true joy as we live in this life. Christ is no longer in this world but in this chapter, he prays for our protection by the power of his name so that we may be one as he and the father are one. In order to help keep us one he sends us his spirit to dwell in us, with us, and through us so that we may live out this essential message and help others in their own essential preparation for eternity. This is most important, that we know the Lord and that he reigns in us. We know more of what that means as we prepare for next week which is the week of Pentecost. It is my hope that we can be prepared and ready on this day to safely resume meeting together. How fitting to come together on the day of Pentecost. The day in which we celebrate when the fire fell. Let us make the essential preparations today as we allow Christ to reign in us and through us.