I suppose it is a sign of growing older when one gets into the habit of reading the obituaries in the newspaper. Especially if you have been in one place for a very long time, you find the names of friends, business associates and people with whom you have come into contact written up on the obituary pages. It is a sobering reminder of our mortality as human beings.
Once, I was looking over the "obits" while visiting my home state, and was saddened to find the picture and name of an old friend and former business associate, who had died of an extended illness, fairly common in older folks. It was a lengthy write-up about his accomplishments as a student, military veteran and well-known expert in his field of insurance claims. It went on to detail his love of baseball and his other outdoor interests. It also recounted his love and devotion to his family, which was exemplary.
This fine man was a very active member in his church, serving as a deacon and in various positions of responsibility within his denomination.
I attended the funeral and was not surprised to see the large funeral chapel filled to overflowing with standing room only for his many friends and business associates. Two ministers presided and offered a touching and meaningful eulogy about my old friend, stating that his was, "A life well spent…" They ended the service with a long prayer asking for solace and comfort for the family.
Sadly, the words they spoke were not truly comforting at all. You see, the ministers may have been very sincere, but they got it all wrong! They said at several points in their remarks that the deceased "is in a better place" and that "he is with the Lord in heaven" looking down on the proceedings. They offered no Scriptural evidence to back up their claims, nor did they mention the resurrection of the dead even once.
How could trained ministers, having studied the Bible as the Word of God, get it so wrong? How could they miss the plain message of the Scriptures in the Old and New Testaments? The Bible gives the plain answer in Mark 7:9: "He said to them, 'All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.'" Traditions, which have nothing to do with what the Bible teaches, have been adopted down through the centuries by most of the "mainstream" churches. These traditional practices have replaced the plain teachings of the Bible for these denominations. Since these churches do not obey the Scriptures, they have lost their understanding of the purpose of human life and the reward of the "saved."
The hope of the early Christians was the resurrection of the dead. There are many plain references to it in the Old and New Testaments. The Apostle Paul gave this defense before Felix, the governor: "I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust" (Acts 24:15). He also wrote concerning the death of man: "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Corinthians 15:50–52). The change he referred to occurs at the resurrection of the dead.
God has a plan and it is revealed in the annual Holy Days that He has commanded to be observed. You can read about these Holy Days in Leviticus 23. Jesus kept them, the early Church kept them and God's Church today still observes these special days which reveal an understanding of the marvelous plan that God is working out on this earth. You can have this understanding, too. It is vital, if your life is to have real meaning, and for you to know what lies ahead for those whom God is calling in this age.
Understanding these vital but basic truths will help to ensure that yours will be, "A life well spent…"