A Godly Perspective
Everywhere we turn these days we are hearing disturbing news about the coronavirus (COVID-19). It is scary to see the high numbers of people infected, and to hear about deaths from the virus. Perhaps you are old enough to remember other health scares like Ebola, Zika virus, SARS, MERS, e coli, and AIDS.
Why do we tend to get scared and panic? What is it about an out of control viral infection that causes such levels of fear? I think there are two main reasons. First, we like to think that science (medicine) and the government will keep us safe from such diseases spreading. But outbreaks like the coronavirus remind us how vulnerable and helpless we are to cure or prevent the spread of a new disease.
But the main fear is that we may contract the disease and die. Even though the percentage of death from this virus is relatively low compared to some pandemics in history, it is still a fact that some of the people who get the virus do die of it within a matter of days.
We don’t like to think about death, let alone our own. We assume that we are healthy and will live a long time and can think about death later. But we don’t know if we have years, months, or just days left on this earth. We can be 100% sure that death will eventually come though. None of us will escape it.
Coronavirus might be a “blessing in disguise.” Getting us to think about our mortality – the fact that we will one day die – is actually a good outcome. We might evaluate our priorities, plan our will, buy life insurance, and put together a “bucket list.”
"But the most important consideration is spiritual. Are you ready to stand before your Creator and God as the Judge?"
The book of Hebrews in the Bible clearly warns us, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) Romans further tells us that in that day “God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to [the] Gospel” (2:16). We have all sinned and offended a holy, righteous, perfect God and deserve punishment.
You might be panicked, thinking there’s no time to do enough good works now to outweigh the bad you’ve done in your life.
Remember the story of Jesus on the cross? There were two thieves who were crucified on either side of Him. One mocked Jesus, but the other turned to Jesus in the final hours of his earthly life and asked Him to be his Savior. Jesus promised him that that very day he would be with Jesus in heaven. There was nothing religious the man had to do first. It was a transaction that took place in his heart right then and there.
The thief certainly hadn’t earned the right to go to heaven. But, neither have you nor I. God makes clear in the book of Ephesians (2:8-9), “For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not of works, lest any man should boast.” Every religion is built on a system of doing good works, observing special holidays, and performing rituals. But Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life – no man cometh unto the Father but by Me” (John 14:6).
"Salvation is in the person of Jesus Christ, not in following a church or agreeing to a creed or doctrine."
Jesus said (in John’s gospel, 5:24) – “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
Maybe in Sunday School you memorized John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
We all have sinned. We have broken God’s commandments and lived selfish, unholy, proud, self-righteous lives. We deserve God’s eternal judgment. But God demonstrated His love to us “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) In other words, Jesus took our punishment and paid for our sin when He died on the cross.
Romans 6:23 explains the gospel this way – “The wages (paycheck) of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
No matter how short of a time you have left on this earth . . . no matter how you have lived your life on this earth up to this point . . . it is not too late to call out to Jesus for salvation. “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved!” (Romans 10:13)
"Those who have accepted Jesus’ free offer of salvation, and have been 'saved' have a peace as they approach the end of this earthly pilgrimage."
There is a confidence that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord!” (2 Corinthians 5:8). Do you remember the 23rd Psalm? King David wrote “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me . . . and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Job, the author of the oldest book of the Bible, was confident when he wrote, “though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:25-27).
The Apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, wrote eloquently about the new body believers will receive – putting off this sinful, decaying flesh, and inheriting a perfect, eternal body that will live in heaven forever. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality…then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death of sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (I Corinthians 15:53-57)
Maybe right now your heart is aching for that peace and confidence and you are confused about how to have this relationship with Jesus. Do you have someone in your life who has talked to you before about Jesus and salvation? They would love to come to your side right now and explain more! At least pick up a Bible and read John 3 and Romans 3 and Romans 5 for yourself, asking God to reveal Himself to you through His Words.
Don’t put it off. This is truly the most important decision you’ll make this earthly life. In fact, deciding not to pursue this further is actually making a decision that will haunt you for all eternity. You will outlive your funeral – somewhere for all eternity.