Sunday, 27 February 2011

Life is longer than you think...

How long do you think you’ll live? You might think that if you make three score years and ten (that’s 70!) that you’ll be doing well. Actually, life goes on a lot longer than that.
This morning Marcus was preaching from Revelation chapter 2, the letter to the church in Smyrna, to Christians who were facing the very real threat of death. Into that context Jesus announced himself as ‘“ the first and the last, who died and came to life. ” (Revelation 2:8, ESV) and went on to say “... Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. ” A crown, or reward of life for people who die? Jesus goes on to explain how that works...“ The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’ ” verse 11.

Let me explain. Remember what Jesus said to Nicodemus? He said that he needed to be born again. Nicodemus pointed out that he had already been born and that doing that again would be tricky to say the least! Jesus explained that he needed a second birth, he needed to be born spiritually, made alive by the Holy Spirit, and that life was eternal. So there are 2 births. Ever since Adam & Eve sinned, we have been spiritually dead - and predicted by God: “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” ” (Genesis 2:17). The day they sinned they were banished from God’s presence; they died spiritually.

So, there are two births (physical and spiritual), and two deaths (physical and spiritual), and what Jesus was saying to the Christians in Smyrna who were in fear for their lives was this: “You don’t have to be afraid of the first death, physical death, because you are not going to be hurt by the far more important second death, spiritual death.!” Note, it is those who conquer who are promised this. Later we are told how it is one conquers: “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. ” (Revelation 12:11,). It’s by Jesus’ blood! It’s through Jesus dying for us; He is the conquering King, and as we know, everything we receive in the Christian life comes to us through Christ, as we confess Him as Lord of our lives.

Two births, two deaths, and yes, there are two resurrections - the first spiritual, when you became a Christian, and the second, on the day that Jesus returns to make all things new! This will all come together when we get to chapter 20 and make that difficult chapter easier to follow! Just make a note of it now and remember - 2 births, 2 deaths and 2 resurrections! For the Christian, death is no longer what it used to be for us - and neither is life: it’s a lot longer than you think; it’s eternal!