(Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, ThD)
We are all on DEATH ROW from the moment we are born. Recently I saw a documentary of those on death row who had committed capital crimes. The anticipation of their deaths was horrific, yet biblical law requires the death of murderers (and others): “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man” (Gen. 9:6 NKJ). The reason given for DEATH ROW is that mankind is made in God’s image. So valuable is God’s image that anyone who would strike out at it is actually striking out at God Himself.
Our death is certain yet we live as if it were not so. We live only for this life, ignoring the future and ignoring our time to fulfill our own death row obligations before we leave this world. Such obligations are restitution to God for capital crimes. (All sins are capital crimes to the Holy Trinity.) In the case of murder, the only restitution possible is for the murderer to offer his own life. Of course, no restitution is possible, to kill God’s image requires an infinite payment to the infinite God. Thus the only restitution possible is for there to be payment to the Triune God, which we as finite humans cannot make. The only One who can make such payment is the infinite Son who makes infinite payment to the infinite Father, and He offers it in the power of the infinite Holy Spirit (see Heb. 9:14). The Atonement is intra-Trinitarian.
But we tend to live for trinkets, toys, and if we get to the end of our lives and have much money, we consider ourselves “lucky” and perhaps better than others because we’ve made it (whatever that means). The few who make it could lose everything in a few minutes if the Lord Christ so willed it such as a bank collapse, tsunami, earthquake, relative leaves all his money to someone else, we are swindled, etc.
We go to seminars to find out how to achieve financial independence, but we do not go to seminars to find out how to live for Jesus. Indeed, we need to attend a “seminar” every week, called “Church” to learn more about how to please Him.
Suppose someone dies with 100 billion dollars left behind. My paternal grandmother worked all her life for rich ladies as one who gave massages in Memphis. She drove to their homes. One of the ladies died, and someone asked my grandmother how much she left behind. My grandmother said, “All of it.”
My wife and I chose Matthew 6:33 as our theme verse for life when we married in July 1969: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [food, clothes, etc] shall be added to you.” The idea is found in the first verse my mom and grandmother had me memorize: “Those who honor Me, I will honor” (1 Sam. 2:30). Actually, that is only part of the verse.
If you put your hopes in this world’s “things,” they will suddenly be gone because you will be gone. Then what? Don’t run past this last sentence. You MUST answer what will happen to you after death so what is your answer? Two nanoseconds after death where will you be? What will you be doing? You’ll leave all your trinkets behind for others to fight over and abuse after it took you a lifetime to accumulate them. My maternal grandmother, uncle, and mother were not rich (my mother is still hanging on to life). About the only thing I received from my maternal grandmother was a marked Bible, which I would not take a million dollars for. In essence, she, my mother (95 and counting), and my Uncle left me a fortune that cannot be stolen or worn out by use: knowledge of the Triune God, faith in Him, which cannot be stolen:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith– the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9 NKJ)
Now that is true wealth!
I have an image permanently imprinted in my mind of my great-grandfather sitting in his room, his back to the screened porch, in his rocking chair with white hair majestically perched on his head, reading the old KJV Bible out loud to himself. He was not very educated. He was unaware that my mother and I had walked onto his porch. Then we greeted one another with hugs and kisses. A short time later he visited mom and me at our home, and he gave me a big hug and said: “Well, boy, I don’t guess I’ll see you again until we meet around the throne.” He was right.
“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26 NKJ)