sunset sailing ship webIn previous issues, we looked at ideas for leaving behind a legacy free from regret and filled with memories and examples for others, fueled by wishes, hopes, and goals you have set. All of these have temporal value, meaning they bring only temporary benefit. Everything eventually wears out over time, even a good name or reputation. Your legacy may not benefit future generations, and certainly will not benefit you when you are gone. 

 

After building a strong case for leaving behind a good legacy in the previous four issues, it sounds like we are deflating the whole value of the concept. That is far from true. In this last installment, we will answer the question posed in the last issue: “There are things to do before you die, but what about afterward?” After all, it is called the “afterlife,” so we had better prepare for it. 

The best place to start is in the Bible. Hear what the prophet Isaiah says: “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed” (Isaiah 51:6). We know we are all going to shuffle off this mortal coil, but someday, there will be no mortal coil from which to shuffle. However, God Himself has offered a legacy to all: His salvation and righteousness. 

As certain as death and taxes is the judgment: “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). God created us to love and serve Him, and it is His right to do so. However, men and women have been sinning against Him since the beginning: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). This is why we all die. But death is not the end of our existence — We live on in either a place of bliss or a place of torment, based on one simple decision made during our lifetime on Earth. 

God has given us the choice to love Him or turn from His offer of eternal salvation. Jesus died to spare us from the eternal penalty of our sins. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The apostle Paul explains the gospel this way: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3–4). As with any gift, we must take it from the giver’s hand. 

Think of how you would feel if you offered a priceless gift to someone you dearly love, only to have them toss it aside and proclaim that they hate you and never want to see you again. In a small way, that shows how God feels and reacts when we reject the gospel, and it has eternal consequences. Here is an example of a true spiritual legacy, as written by the apostle Paul to Pastor Timothy: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5). Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone say that about your grandchildren because Grandpa and Grandma gave their lives to God through Jesus Christ?

 

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