Boston has introduced us to three of the four states of human nature; innocence, corruption, and grace. Each state is a stage independent in their characteristics, but yet interrelated to one another in the grand scheme, which is the story if mankind. There appears to be a beginning and an end, if the plan is viewed from a distance, but when unpacked there is an infinity that cannot be understood from a mortal perspective. Limited by the ability to digest information and a hunger for more, we can only touch on a few of the aspects of Boston’s fourth state, the “Eternal State.”
Of all the biblical characters, Job had the greatest cause for looking forward to his death. Though he complains to God, he is confident in the fact that he will die. In an hysterical rant he states one truism, “For I know that you will bring me to death, the house appointed for all the living.” (Job 30:23)
A theme that runs throughout scripture is one of man traveling through a foreign land. The tabernacle was the temporary dwelling place of God and from Abram to Moses, God’s people had no permanent home. Even the temple and the promised land were shadows of God’s true kingdom. Life is at best a Motel 6.
I once spent two weeks living at a motel in south Georgia. Thin walls, musty carpet, and bad coffee made for a miserable junket. Time seemed to stand still as I longed for the day I could come home. Though that was a work assignment, even vacations never measured up to home sweet home. (One exception being my honeymoon in Hawaii, but those were extenuating circumstances.) However home is not truly home. Job had intimate knowledge into the concept that earthly life is not to be treasured. True pleasure awaited him in death. “My soul chooses strangling and death rather than life.” (Job 7:15) Few of us can appreciate Job’s thought process, but we must, at some point, consider our eternal state. The most basic fact of life is that all must die. From the moment of conception, though we are growing, we are also dying. The problem with God’s original covenant with man was that it had to be enforced with the threatening of death. Sin and death were instantly connected. When God made a better covenant, the Covenant of Grace, life became tied to death with positive implications. Only by death could life be obtained.
Understand, when we speak of life, there is both earthly physical and eternal spiritual life. This applies both to the regenerated and nonregenerated. Spiritual life is endless. The cessation of physical life is merely a stage of life. For the believer, regeneration gives new life to the spiritual man and ushers in a new and different eternal life. It is this earthly physical life that we are warned to correctly prioritize. God tells us to view this life as vane. Job says, “My days are vanity.” This idea of vanity is the same as God forbids when he commands not to take His name in vane. We are not to use His name, titles, nor attributes (ie holy, awesome etc.) in a flippant, careless nor meaningless manner. Compared to eternal life, this earthly life is to be considered meaningless. Solomon, in a totally different situation from Job, even had the correct take on life in Eccl. 1 where he confirmed it to be vanity.
Life is only a few degrees from death. Literally, our body can only stand to be a few degrees above or below 98.6 degrees. How nearly we live each day to death. A moment could separate our spirit from our body or in the twinkling of an eye the King of Glory could appear and deliver us into His eternal kingdom.
Death is the key which opens the door to eternity. One key unlocks the gate to two kingdoms, but only two. Some derive comfort from the popish fairy tale of Purgatory. As the story goes, there exists an intermediate realm where souls await there admittance to heaven. Here the dear departed soul stands suspended waiting on the righteousness or pleas of another to win their acceptance. Sadly, or perhaps happily, this is only in the imagination. Death will admit only those who, in eternity past, have had their names placed on the will call list.
Considering these things should make us compare how nearly we resemble those who reside in these two kingdoms. Who are our fellow travelers now? Do they resemble those who we will spend eternity with when we reach our destination? Does our apprenticeship in our current profession prepare us to ply our trade in the guild of the world to come? Is our work and toil made sweeter by the knowledge that the workday is nearly done? Do the evening shadows make the remaining labor cheerful?
Like strangers, do we wait by the road for the master to come out of the house and give us our wages? Jesus calls us in as his family to receive our blessing. Matthew 7, often misused for the “judge not lest you be judged” passage, also contains the misused “ask, seek, knock.” Christ is speaking to the church, the saved, when he says to “ask,” “seek” and “knock.” Our admittance to our own home is guaranteed. Do we look forward to our coming home?
Boston reminds us to look a death as God does. We are to differentiate between how death is portrayed by the world and scripture,for there is a distinct difference. We will consider that difference next.