With Christ Forever
Dr. John K. Mathew
A boy once asked his mother, “At what age do people die?” His mother told him, “Go to the cemetery and measure the graves.” After doing what his mother told him, the boy concluded that people die at all ages. The power of death is universal. It is no respecter of persons. It strikes down the young and old, high and low, rich and poor. The power of death is one against which we are helpless.
The Queen of England came to her point of death and cried out, “Millions for an inch of time!” But death does not wait, even for the Queen of England. The scriptures declare that “the wages of sin is death” and that death is painful. Yet it is not the end. Revelation 14:13 says, “Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on”... They will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.’
Death is a blessing only if we die in Christ, and if we die in Christ, we need to live in Christ. The scripture says that those who obey His commands, live in Him and He in them. The Bible tells us to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another.
Love enjoys great versatility. It is patient and kind. It does not envy. It does not boast, is not proud, nor is it rude. It is not self-seeking, easily angered, nor does it keep record of wrongs. When we truly practice these elements of love, we are experiencing the love of Christ because He is the embodiment of love. That is why the Scripture says if we live in Christ, we must be born in Christ.
Nicodemus shows up three times in the scripture. The first reference concerns his need for a new birth. When Nicodemus showed shock at Jesus’ idea of being “born again,” Jesus replied, “You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ No one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” Nicodemus could not conceive of the new birth though he was a Pharisee and religious teacher.
As the Ethiopian eunuch said, the new birth is not understandable unless someone explains it. History tells us that Nicodemus became a follower of Christ and followed Him to the foot of the cross. He who is born of Christ lives in Christ, and those who die in Christ will reign with Him. The apostle Paul admonishes Timothy, “If we endure, we will also reign with Him.” For how long will this be? Paul says, “The dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And we will be with the Lord forever.”
On the triple doorway of the great Milan cathedral in Italy, three inscriptions span the archway. Over one door is carved a beautiful wreath of roses with these words, “All that which pleases is but for a moment.” Over another is sculptured a cross upon which we read, “All that which troubles is but for a moment.” But underneath the great central entrance of the main aisle is the inscription, “That only is important which is eternal.”