Sunday, June 5, 2016

FACING ETERNITY

Raised from the Dead
The spiritual realm is real. There are many, including some friends of mine, whose experiences prove there is more to life than what we see with our eyes and touch with our physical senses. I am sharing some of these testimonies in the paragraphs below.
H A Baker was a missionary to China from 1919 to 1950. In his book Visions Beyond the Veil he tells of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that fell upon the children of his mission’s orphanage in China. The children saw visions of heaven, hell, demons, and angels.  I recently read the book Heaven Is For Real, written by a pastor about the experiences of his pre-school son who was taken to heaven and back during a surgery in which the child almost died. The testimonies in these books are amazing.

I have an acquaintance in Charleston, SC who was struck by lightning in his yard and was technically dead. His spirit left his body and was lifted into the air above his house. From there he looked down and saw his body being placed into an EMS vehicle, and his wife standing in the yard asking the Lord not to take her husband. He saw heaven, Jesus, and family members who were there. He was overwhelmed by the beauty, peace, love, and wonders of it all, and did not want to leave. Jesus told him he had to return, and suddenly he was back in his body. He tells how he was upset and depressed for a couple years because he had to return. Then realized he needed to rejoice and share his wonderful testimony.

I have a friend in California named Marvin Ford who died of a heart attack and lay in the hospital dead for 30 minutes. His spirit left his body, and from above he could see the doctor and people gathered around his body. He was suddenly in the presence of the Lord and saw the overwhelming and inexpressible beauty of heaven. The Lord showed him many things during that visit. Then he looked down and saw his pastor entering the hospital to pray for God to raise him up. “Uh oh, Lord," he said, “here comes trouble.” He knew he had to return but did not want to. Nevertheless, the pastor prayed and God sent Marvin back. This was the beginning of a preaching ministry that has taken him around the world.
I had a professor in college who died and was raised from the dead when prayed for by this same pastor.

A Near-Death experience During Surgery
Below are excerpts from a letter sent to me my by good friend Ashur Cordes from Minnesota. He tells of his near-death experience that occurred during surgery in which the doctors did not expect him to survive. A Christian nurse on duty told the family, “The only thing that will save him now is prayer.” So the family went into the intensive care area and prayed. They called on friends around the world to pray. Then Ashur had a miracle. His spirit left his body and he saw the Lord right there with him, and he saw heaven in the distance.
He was so amazed that the Lord was right there like a brother hugging him and healing him.  Feeling he did not deserve to be in the Lord's presence, he asked, "What about my sins?’ The Lord’s response was, "I took care of that on the cross." The answer was explained by John 3:16. For God SO LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."
Ashur then saw what appeared to be a stream of crystal clear water flowing from the Lord to his body along with a golden light that surround his bed. Suddenly he was healed.
There are medical records that verify and confirm his condition and recovery.

Ashur later spoke with a Christian friend in Fargo who was not at the hospital but who had prayed in his home about 10 miles away.  Ashur in his vision actually heard his friend praying and a week later was able to quote the prayer back to his friend word for word. He also heard the prayers of others around the world praying for him. He describes it this way: “I was very aware of prayers flooding in for me. I heard those prayers. Then I heard the Lord's order that the prayers be answered. And those prayers were in His mighty and kind hands, and HE directed them into my heart while I watched from 8 feet above my bed. I was healed.”

 “It did not feel like death.”
Lonnie, another one of my Christian friends, was in a hospital bed and close to death. He could feel himself slipping away and knew he was one moment away from eternity. God’s incomprehensible love and inexpressible peace were so real that he actually wanted to go on and be with the Lord. He very profoundly described his experience in this way: “It did not feel like death.”  He experienced the reality of the Apostle Paul’s word that death has lost its sting, and the grave has lost its victory…and that victory is through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 
The thing that shone brightest to my friends who came so close to death was the incomprehensible greatness of God's love and the awesome efficacy of the blood of Jesus and the cross of Christ. God really loves us and wants us to be at peace in Him.

Why Take the Risk?
It is very sad to be “without hope and without God in the world,” but it is even more grievous to face an everlasting eternity without the Lord. There are many who do not believe in God, and they assume that death is the end and everyone at death enters some sort of oblivion. There can be no comfort or peace in this ideology since, if true, it would mean the eternal loss of all we love, and gives no hope for anything beyond this current life, which is so short and in itself holds so much suffering.
There are also those who believe there is a God, but who do not aggressively seek to know Him. They take the risk that God grades on the curve. They think, “I have been a good person. My good outweighs my bad, and so I’ll make it into heaven because I am a good person.” The problem with this is that the scripture makes it very clear we are not saved by our works or our own righteousness, but only by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and by his grace (unmeritedd favor) and by faith rather than good works. The problem with the “I am a good person” approach is that it leaves a person unsure and simply not really knowing, and with no real peace. The person who makes a firm commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord is the one who faces death with true peace, hope, and certainty.

Live in Peace, Rest in Peace
Will Durrant in his volumes on world history gives a vivid account of the difference between the pagan Romans and the persecuted Christians of that era. It was said of Christians that their lives consisted of persecutions above ground and prayers below ground. Here are some very profound quotes from Durrant:
“In the catacombs below Rome Christian graves tell the terrible tale. Heads were found severed from the body, ribs and shoulder blades broken, and bones often calcined from fire…But despite the awful story of persecution, note the inscriptions on the Christians’ graves."

"Here lies Marcia, put to rest in a dream of peace.”

"Lawrence to his sweetest son, borne away of angels."

“Victorious in peace and in Christ.”

“Being called away, he went in peace.”

Pagan Epitaphs
But look at the contrast in the Roman pagan epitaphs:

"Live for the present hour, since we are sure of nothing else."

"I lift my hands against the gods who took me away at the age of 20 though I had done no harm."

"Once I was not. Now I am not. I know nothing about it.”

"Traveler, curse me not as you pass, for I am in darkness and cannot answer."

Our assurance in Christ
It is a fearful thing to face eternity without God. Knowing these spiritual realities we should cry out to God to know Him and serve Him, and to intercede for our loved ones.  I pray daily for my family, friends, and others on my prayer list. I cry to God for their salvation and for them to know Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. The greatest grief for me would be to stand by the coffin of a loved one without full assurance of his or her relationship with Jesus.
"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."  Romans 5: 1-2.

 “Lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner (Christ) has entered for us…”  Hebrews 6: 18-19.

 

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