Matters of Faith: A Time For Encouragement

By Rev. J. Loren Russell, MDiv.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”

John 5:24

The year 2020 will be forever etched in our minds as the year of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, a year of unprecedented numbers of deaths. Yet, in the core of so much death and sickness, we celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus just one week ago. While the celebration did not have its usual exuberance and gayety, remembering that Jesus rose from the grave reminds us that death has lost its sting and the grave has been defeated (1 Cor. 15:55).

That’s encouraging all by itself. But the hard facts of life are that we are living in the land of the dying going to the land of the living! There is no way for us to escape our physical death. We may never get sick, but our physical death is unavoidable. Everybody dies! Whatever the cause; coronavirus, cancer, old age, violence, everybody will die. We may not like the way someone dies; we may not like the time a person dies; we may not like that they died at all; but one thing is certain, all of us, one way or another, will die!

Do you remember the story of Jesus when He was talking to Nicodemus? Jesus told him that he must be born again (John 3:3). He didn’t say he should be born again, He said you must be born again! Born in the spirit. It does not matter when, it just matters that you are born again!

The joy that we shared on Resurrection Sunday gives us the assurance that we already have everlasting life. John 5:24 says that believers who die, pass from death into life! John says only those who believe have everlasting life. “Has: is in the present tense; “he who hears my word and believes in Him who sent me has everlasting life.”

So, the question that we must wrestle with is not why we die, it’s not how we die, it’s not even when we die. The real question we must deal with is “where do we go when we die?” The Bible says that sin prevents us from passing from death to life (Romans 3:23). But when you are a believer, big sins, little sins, sins of commission and sins of omission are all forgiven. For those who believe what the Bible says and what Jesus said in the text above, when they die, they pass from death to life! They miss judgment, pass through death and into life!

Remember, you can’t earn or buy a pass from death to life. It’s a gift that you must receive. As Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again!” (John 3:3).

What I like about God is that He’s not looking for our approval and He’s not looking for our understanding. When a believer breathes their last breath and becomes a child of eternity, they skip right over judgement and pass from death to life, everlasting life! James Montgomery wrote a hymn that captures the voice of God when a believer passes from death to life when he wrote,

“Servant of God, job well done.
Rest from your loved employ.
The battle fought,
the victory won,
enter your Master’s joy.”

During these unprecedented times, it’s encouraging to know that death does not have the final say, the grave is not the final stop, everlasting life is available now, judgment can be avoided, and we can go from death to life. If you believe, you too shall have everlasting life.

Be Blessed!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial Strategy & Consulting; an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx; creator/host of “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Soul 1 Radio, Monday’s 8:00 – 10:00 PM (626-226-1448), author of Matters of Faith: The Book.

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