(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
I read a sermon a couple of days ago in which the preacher mentioned “the next-to-the-last chapter.” I am taking his idea for this Gem because it is a life lesson we all need to learn, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic!
What is the thinking of so many people in this old world? It concerns the chapters of life:
- Chapter 1 – We are born into this world and spend our first years learning to walk, talk, and begin to take responsibility for our actions. This chapter includes the years of our childhood perhaps from infant to pre-teen.
- Chapter 2 – Teen years can be a difficult chapter, as we try to deal with the opposite sex while hormones rage; stretching our wings of independence, yet being under parental and school authority (and often chafing under it); trying out new things (some are good, some are terribly wrong choices) to see if it will fit in what we think our life should be.
- Chapter 3 – Deciding upon a possible life’s work and training towards that goal (both can change in this pursuit). Also finding that one with whom we think we want to build our life (this also can change..several times).
- Chapter 4 – Settling upon our choice of the one, and building a life together; adding others into the equation as children make their appearance; realizing and appreciating the sacrificial effort our parents made for us as we grew.
- Chapter 5 – Having raised our family, we now face ‘empty nesting’ where we hope to get to know that one in a deeper way. With good choices, finances are not such a struggle, for we have advanced in our work or business, savings and investments.
- Chapter 6 – is thought to be our last chapter, perhaps 20 years more or less, enjoying retirement, doing things you have not had time to do in previous chapters – travel, recreation, taking care of projects put off during other chapters, hobbies, etc.
Chapter 6 is our Last Chapter……..or is it?
Chapter 6 is really the Next-to-the-Last Chapter! We still have Chapter 7 ahead of us! And that Last Chapter can be wonderful beyond description! Or terrible, again beyond description! I have chosen two short Scriptures that highlight all this (taken in reverse order as to where they are found in the Bible):
- Hebrews 9:27 – “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” We are in the midst of a world-wide pandemic! Many people are afraid of getting infected, becoming terribly sick, and even dying. But we all are already infected…… with sin! And as a result, we all are dead spiritually! And we will die physically!
- Romans 8:18 – “For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” This Scripture puts a positive light on our Last Chapter! “Positive, you say? ‘…the sufferings of this present time…’ doesn’t sound very positive to me!”
We are told in Romans 5:12, “…through one man [Adam] sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all… because all sinned….”
And in Ezekiel 18 it is repeated twice, in verses 4 and 20: “The soul who sins shall die.”
But what about the things good people do? Be- fore God, who is absolutely holy and charges us to also be holy (see Leviticus 19:2; Matthew 5:48), this is how we appear, according to Isaiah 64:6: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteounesses [the very best we can do] are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
The reason death reigns is given in Romans 6:23: “…the wages of sin is death….” When we live in sin, and we cannot help but live in sin since we are all born sinners, we get paid – death!
Why are we so drastically paid? Because when we work at a job or business, we expect to get paid. And most people in the world are trying to work their way into God’s favor! But we are warned in…
➪ ...Titus 3:5 that salvation and deliverance from sin and death are “...not by works of righteousness which we have done....” ➪ ...Galatians 2:16 (English Standard Version) that “...we [should] know that a person is not justified by works...because by works...no one will be justified.”
- Romans 8:18 – “For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” This Scripture puts a positive light on our Last Chapter! “Positive, you say? ‘…the sufferings of this present time…’ don’t sound very positive to me!”
✞ God has ordained that this phase of life can be rough... ➪ ...by our own sinful and wrong choices. Isaiah 66:3 (God’s Word to the Nations) says, “People have cer- tainly chosen their own ways, and their souls de- light in detestable things.” Why? “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 18:9). ➪ ...by the sinful and wrong choices of others. In Matthew 5:11 (Easy-to-Read Version) Jesus tells us, His followers, “People will insult you and hurt you. They will lie and say all kinds of evil things about you because you follow Me.” ➪ Paul warns us in II Timothy 3:12, “...all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer perse- cution.” ✞ But there is coming “...the glory which shall be revealed....” ➪ The glory will be revealed when Jesus returns! (See John 14:3; Acts 1:11). He will come in glory (see Revelation 19:11-16), bringing glory to the earth! (See Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14; Revelation 11:15). ➪ We Christians shall be made gloriously perfect, designed to live forever with our God! (See Daniel 7:18; Philippians 3:21; I John 3:2).
There is so much more that could be said about what Paul wrote in Romans 8:18. It would take, and has taken, volumes to describe “…the glory which shall be revealed in us.” But there is something I want to emphasize about this Last Chapter, and it involves the other six chapters:
- The Last Chapter will last forever! …either in heaven or in hell!
✞ In heaven we shall forever be with the Lord God and our believing loved ones!
➪ I Thessalonians 4:16, 17 – “
For the Lord Himself
will descend from heaven with a shout, with the
voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of
God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught
up together with them in the clouds to meet the
Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with
➪ Revelation 21:3, 4 – “
And I heard a loud voice
from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of
God is with men, and He will dwell with them,
and they shall be His people. God Him- self
will be with them and be their God. And God will
wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall
be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There
shall be no more pain, for the former things have
”✞ But hell is also forever! ➪ Mark 9:47, 48 – “...you [will]...be cast into hell fire, ‘...where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ ” ➪ Revelation 20:10, 14, 15 – “The devil...was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tor- mented day and night forever and ever....This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” ➪ II Thessalonians 1:7-9 – “...when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ..., [they] shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power....”
Somewhere in the years represented by chapters 1 through 6, NOW is the time to open your heart and life to the Lord Jesus Christ! It is He who died, totally paying for our sins! And He lives forever to receive any and all who come to Him in faith believing. And He gives them eternal life! (See Hebrews 7:25). He only “…is the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6). The only alternative is hell!
Heaven or hell? Chapter 7 is coming!