On faith: Good news on the afterlifeNo wonder the Gospel means “good news.”
By: Pastor John H. Reppe, Basset Congregational Church, Brimson, Lake County News Chronicle
The Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul is always an interesting place to visit — perhaps even more so until Sept. 5. The featured exhibit is centered around King Tut. His tomb was discovered by British explorer Howard Carter in 1921 and its fabulous contents have attracted worldwide attention ever since.
Besides the many items relating to everyday life – furniture, cooking utensils, clothing – visitors are given insights in burial and embalmment customs and religious beliefs, many of which refer to the afterlife. Indeed, the prominent factors were preparations, such things as boats with which to cross the river, garments suitable for the transition and possibly servants deemed necessary for any duties required. An afterlife was simply assumed.
Today we too instinctively feel there is a life to come. Generally we refer to it as heaven. Other cultures use other terms: Valhalla, Nirvana, the happy hunting grounds. All indicate this common belief, as so many obituaries reveal.
Yet, unlike King Tut’s subjects, we seldom give any real thought to what heaven will be like. It seems we are content to take a “wait and see” attitude. Or perhaps we fall back on a statement St. Paul made in this regard. He wrote, “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has the mind of man conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (I Cor. 2:9)
Sadly, the Bible teaches that not everyone will reach heaven. The old spiritual song rightly puts it: “Not everyone who talks about heaven is going there.” Jesus reminds us in John’s Gospel. Speaking of Himself: “I am the way and the truth and the life.” But then He adds a further statement that we wish He hadn’t: “No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
We come to the Father when we believe that in dying on the Cross He paid the sin price for all who trust Him for forgiveness. As He tells us, “…whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned. He has crossed over from death to life.” No wonder the Gospel means “good news.”