Weekly Bulletin Articles
Yesterday I drove many miles to purchase something, never anticipating that the person would ignore my messages when I arrived. I feel a bit silly now, but the consequences — a day without study, a day without seeing much of my wife and children, and the sunk costs — are mine to bear.
When I returned home, my dog had been banished to the backyard for eating butter off the counter. Later I caught her trying to get something off the table. The consequences were hers to bear.
The confluence of these events brought to mind a conversation I had with a good brother recently. It concerned Ananias and Sapphira and their divine punishment for lying (Acts 5:1-10). As they were conspiring (see Acts 5:2, 9), I’m confident that they never saw death as a potential consequence.
Nadab and Abihu’s strange fire brought swift action (Leviticus 10:1, 2), as did Uzzah’s split-second decision to steady the Ark (2 Samuel 6:6, 7). I’m comforted in the thought that physical punishment does not necessarily imply spiritual punishment. Even so, death is the highest of physical judgments. Surely these men did not contemplate death as the consequence for their actions.
Likewise, we assume Adam and Eve did not foresee the consequences that would arise from their disobedience. Adam was certainly warned (Genesis 2:17), but what is death to one who has never seen it? Even if Adam had an inkling of that, he could not have anticipated how that punishment would actually be meted out: separation from God, eviction from the garden, denial of the tree of life. The result was a life of physical toil and difficulty, all while the spiritual connection with his Creator was forever altered.
It is important to state that just because we cannot anticipate consequences does not mean they are unjust. Adam was warned that he would be punished, he did not heed that warning. God gave instructions concerning the ark (Numbers 3:27-31; 4:15; 7:9), these were ignored. The failing is not in God’s judgments, but in our appreciation of them. Sin is so grave that the world is full of graves. Sin is heinous, and the fallout of sin is often very severe.
The repercussions are not just ours to bear. Many times others suffer or are blessed by the results of our actions. Surely Adam could not have fathomed the deep impact he would make upon all people who have ever lived (see Romans 5). The deaths of Nadab and Abihu demonstrated God’s holiness, and the reverence one must have when approaching him in worship (Leviticus 10:3). The deaths of Ananias and Sapphira brought a fearful respect upon the whole church and the world at-large. It demonstrated, among other things, that God could not be fooled, and that false honor is no honor at all.
The men who chose to follow Jesus suffered many physical hardships as a result of their choices. Yet they were so tremendously blessed spiritually. And the resulting effect of their decisions for all of us cannot be overstated.
Weigh carefully the decisions you make. Some decisions may appear important at first glance, but may not have a significant impact upon your life or the lives of others. Other choices will have a profound impact upon your life and the lives of those you love.
When our lives here are over, it will be tragic indeed to find ourselves in great torment thinking, “I never saw that coming.” But what a beautiful thought to be in paradise with people who helped us, or who we helped, get to glory.
“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Tim. 4:16 KJV).
“Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).
“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:1-4, NKJV).
When Christians look forward to the Second Coming of Christ with faith and hope, we often turn to Jesus’ promise in John 14:1-4 to bring us to a place prepared for us in our Father’s mansion. We may also turn to Revelation 20 and 21 where Heaven is described as a great city with gates of pearl, streets of gold, and wonderful blessings for those who will inhabit it eternally. The concept of “inheritance” naturally complements the idea of the Father’s estate which his children will receive. That is both Biblical and a source of great comfort and encouragement.
But Paul presents a slightly different perspective on that eternal inheritance in 2 Corinthians 5. Here the words house, building, and tent refer not to separate structures in which we live now or will live eternally. Rather they are metaphors for our bodies. This earthly house (verse 1) in which we live is mortal and temporary. It is described as a tent, such as the ancestors of the Jews lived in during the days of the Patriarchs. Those tents were portable, fragile, and offered only marginal shelter and security. Our physical bodies share all those characteristics.
But when those bodies are laid aside, God will give us new bodies that are heavenly, immortal, and eternal (verse 4). Given the idyllic conditions of heaven, dwelling places as such may well be unnecessary – our immortal, spiritual bodies will equip us for every need. (This is not to say that there will be no structures; those may serve other purposes than mere shelter and comfort).
The young may not be able to appreciate the blessing of a perfect immortal body to replace this human tent in which our souls live on earth. However, those who experience the pains, weaknesses, and debilitations of aging bodies can appreciate Paul’s description of our groaning to be unclothed from this worn-out tent so that it may be replaced with a beautiful new habitation for the soul which will be given by God. That incorruptible body (1 Corinthians 15:42-44) is truly glorious and is a portion of our inheritance which we will enjoy forever.