James, the half-brother of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a leader in the Jerusalem Church wrote: “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away’’ (James 4:14 KJV).
For more than a week, all the National newspapers and the TV shows, centered on the tragic “untimely” death of DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) Secretary JESSE ROBREDO. He was only 54 years old; indeed too early to die for a good man and illustrious public official like him. It is quite obvious from his actuations and activities that the Secretary had no premonition as to when and how he would pass away.
My very much younger brother, BENIGNO D. CARIAGA II, only 58 years old, a retired Asst. Manager of Metro Bank, Main Branch in Davao City, died of heart attack. It was a surprise to me because he just visited me in my office five days before. Usually when he drops by my office, he will just peep by the door especially if I have a visitor, make a sign of his presence in his hand with a smile, but on his last visit, he entered my room, engaged me in a conversation for a short while despite the fact that, as usual, I was busy writing some pleadings to be filed in court. There was no indication at all, I observed, that he was in bad shape. The call of his daughter, Honey June to my daughter Atty. Susan who endorsed to me the cellphone at 5:00 AM last September 19, 2012, that her father died at the Davao Doctor’s Hospital a few minutes before, shocked me beyond description in words.
King Solomon, to whom God bestowed a supernatural wisdom, said: “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting; for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth (or feasting)” (Eclessiastes 7:2 & 4 KJV). Thus, it is always a wise gesture to visit the house of mourning of our relatives and friends.
By the way, I wish to express our unspeakable thanksgiving to all those who condoled with us during the wake, and for the beautiful and expensive flower given by our fellowship through the order of President Jun Basalo which is expressive of “LOVE” of a brother in the LORD.
James compares human life’s duration to that of a vapour that appears a few minutes in the early morning and vanishes away. Human life lasts normally up to less than a hundred years with some exceptions. Compared to eternity which is the guarantee and promise of the Lord Jesus Christ to all genuine believers of God, human life is very short. Thus, the Lord Jesus talking to Nicodemus said: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 KJV).
This kind of belief (or believeth in him) is not merely a head knowledge or intellectual belief, or informative belief but something RECEIVED in the heart of man which is evidenced by transformed or changed life.
Everlasting or eternal life resulting from the genuine belief in, and acceptance of, Jesus Christ as one’s SAVIOR and LORD is a gift from God. As in the case of any gift, this salvation is given free but only to those who genuinely believe that Jesus Christ is his only Savior and Lord. We do not have to pay for it; we are not given the gift of eternal life because we worked for it; but rather because of the LOVE of GOD to the genuine believer, not for any other cause or reason. Because if we can work for it, or it is the result of our good work, then salvation is the result of good works, which is no longer scriptural. Like any sensible and loving human father, he supports his children because he loves them, not because they are well-behaved or they are good. Most children, by the way have the tendency to be bad, for it is written, “They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no not one” (Psalms 14:3 KJV). Or take the case of a husband and wife. When the husband have no more love for his wife, his support for her stops. But for as long as there is that LOVE, the support continues, though the wife is not perfect as no one else is perfect, only Jesus Christ is perfect. Thus, the Apostle Paul said, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV). Paul also wrote,
“23 For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. 25 For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times. 26And he is entirely fair and just in this present time when he declares sinners to be right in his sight because they believe in Jesus. 27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds. It is based on our faith” (Romans 3:23-27 NLT ).
Consequently, because all have sinned, all deserve to die and be in hell, but God provided a solution to this dilemma, thus, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 KJV).
Since life is short and death is certain, what do we do to attain everlasting or eternal life after our physical death?
We must personally prepare. The time to prepare is now while we are alive and conscious and have understanding of things and events (2 Cor. 6:2). No one can prepare on our behalf. Much more when death has stopped our heart from beating and the functioning of all our senses and our mind have failed and stopped, and when death has closed our eyes and sealed our lips.
No beautiful and most expensive casket or expensive mausoleum could save us from hell or, right or wrong, wherever some believe our soul shall be after death.
King Solomon, inspired by the Holy Spirit said,
“5The living at least know they will die, but the dead know nothing. They have no further reward, nor are they remembered. 6 Whatever they did in their lifetime – loving, hating envying – is all long gone. They no longer have a part in anything here on earth” (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 KJV).
Now that we are still alive and are conscious, and can make prayer and confession, personally, (not by others or by the priest or minister), is the time to prepare. “ If we confess our sins (personal), he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 KJV). Even the Lord Jesus Christ had to prepare, with a beautiful assurance and promise to all genuine believers that they shall be with him in heaven after resurrection from their physical death. Thus, Jesus Christ said,
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:1-3 x x x “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.” (John 14:19)
When do we start preparing? Hebrews 4:7 records, “Today, if you will hear his voice (or read the word of God) harden not your hearts.” Only BELIEVE.
Glory be to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
(FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin, September 29, 2012)