What About Your Future?
The course of life can be described in many ways. One of the most common is to say that each of us moving from the past, through the present and into the future. We all understand as well that we are moving at an incredible speed. So soon does the future become the past and so soon does the present disappear. The road called “time” is a mysterious and wonderful thing. It can be scary, as well, for we feel we are being hurled into an unknown future for which we are hardly prepared.
Yes, to most of the people who now live on earth, the future is unknown and frightening. The frightening aspect of the future is made more so because, as we all know, it contains for us childhood, maturity, old age, and then we too are touched by the hand of death. We are gone.
There is a group of people, however, for whom the future is not unknown and it is not frightening. These people face this present life as a great adventure and they look to the future with bright anticipation.
Who are these people? They are a very special group who have taken the time to read the instruction book about the future and from it they have gained great reassurance. These people who walk with bright assurance and genuine anticipation for the future–these people are that group called “Christians.”
Having read the instruction book, the Bible, Christians are not afraid of the future. From the Bible we Christians have learned a number of facts about today and tomorrow that are the source of the calm assurance that in all things, all will be well. Describing God and his relationship to those who believe in him, the Bible says, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27). The believer therefore knows that God is, that God is Himself eternal, and that the arms of His sustenance and protection are everlasting.
Understandably, therefore, the Christian has a confidence that fears neither death nor destruction, for we know we are eternally protected by our powerful and everlasting God. We also know that this eternal God specifically presides above our future. This being the case, we are sure that nothing can ever happen to us which will separate us from the love of God and the promise of His eternal protection. Jesus Christ spoke about those who believe in Him, saying, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one” (John 10:28-30).
The believer therefore can say with the poet:
I know not where His islands lift
The believer operates in the wonderful confidence, the sure knowledge that he is safe and that nothing, not even death itself, can separate him from the love and provision of God.
The believer is also confident that even in this life he has the promise of the unfailing presence of Jesus Christ. Our Lord said to his own, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20). This promise of the never-failing presence of Jesus Christ is one of the greatest promises in all of the Bible. It is like the bridegroom standing next to his bride at the wedding ceremony, promising to be true “in sickness and in health, in adversity and prosperity, for better or for worse, as long as we both shall live.” Christ has made that firm and unshakable promise to every believer and nothing in this world or the world to come can change that.
What the does the future hold? For the believer it holds the privilege of living powerfully in this exciting world plus the promise of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began. There is coming a day when he will be translated from earth to heaven, where the believer will partake in joy that cannot be described and know happiness forever.
But what about the unbeliever? To the one who has not come to know Christ, the Bible makes no such promises and brings no such assurance. What does the future hold for one who has not believed in Jesus Christ?
It holds, first of all, a life in this world that will be wasted. The person who is not a Christian will finally have to sum up his life by saying with Peter. “We have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing” (Luke 5:5). The man of the world, the pitiful creature who does not know Christ, is dumb before the question, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt.16:26).
In addition to this, the unbeliever faces in his future the prospect of living in a brutal, murderous, terrible world. Christ Himself spoke about a time to come and said, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, not ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matt. 24:21-22).
During those days called “the Great Tribulation” at least one-half of the population of the world will die in the terrible catastrophes which will break upon the earth. Man, by his efforts (whatever the social utopians may say), will not bring to pass perfection. Rather, he will so ruin the world that it will take divine intervention to assure the survival of humanity. The future of this world is not a happy prospect for the unbeliever.
But, of course, the future on earth is not all there is. There is eternity to come. There the unbeliever will face the fearful occasion of standing before God in judgment. The apostle John beheld an amazing sight: “And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from Whose face the earth and heaven fled away, and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened; and another book opened which is the Book of Life” (Rev. 20:11-12).
No person who is not a Christian can safely ignore this picture of his inevitable future. Every person who does not know the Lord will appear before Jesus Christ on this awesome Judgment Day. At that time he will confess that Christ is Lord, but alas, it will be too late. The future holds for the unbeliever that time of precise examination in which all of his vaunted boasts about goodness will be shown to be pure and damnable nonsense.
There is one more final occasion which the unbeliever should keep in mind. Having been condemned before the throne of God, he will face the awful consequence described in the Bible. “And whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15). Here is one of the most fearful warnings in all of Scripture. It comes from the eternal God and is a description of the most unimaginable judgment possible. Nevertheless, let every unbeliever understand that his ultimate fate is here described–it is the lake of fire.
What then does the future hold? It holds bliss and eternal joy for the believer. It holds sorrow, judgment and the second death for the unbeliever. A person is no fool who becomes very concerned about the future that is fast bursting upon each one of us.
Notice that the single difference between ending up in heaven and ending up in hell is contained in that word “believer.” What is a believer, and how does belief make an eternal difference?
The Bible very clearly says, “He that believeth on the Son has everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
What then does it mean to believe on Christ? We discover the answer in the same page of the Bible. Christ spoke to a sinful woman and said, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, ‘Give me to drink,’ thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water” (John 4:10). One receives the gift of God which is everlasting life when he understands and believes two tremendous facts. It is when he believes who Jesus is and the gift that He offers to us.
Who is Jesus Christ? He is the Son of the living and eternal God. He is God Himself in the form of human flesh.
What is His offer? What did He do for us? On the cross of Calvary He was made sin in order that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. To believe on Jesus Christ means to believe this. It means to trust in the fact that Christ is God and that His sacrifice on the cross produces the gift of eternal life for us.
We hope, therefore, that the question of every person is now, “What must I do to be saved?” This was the same question asked by a jailer in Philippi. The apostle Paul’s answer was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31).
Our earnest invitation, therefore, is to believe on Christ, and you will be saved.