“To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilisations. To boldly go where no one has gone before!” I’m sure you know these are the opening lines from the iconic TV series Star Trek. At the beginning of every episode, Captain James Kirk of the Starship Enterprise says “Space: The final frontier”
Most of us will never get to test that frontier but there is another frontier we all face with a 100% certainty. Death is usually the last thing we want to talk about and yet it comes to us all, sometimes prematurely. And too many people are ill-prepared. When a loved one in mid-life is diagnosed with inoperable cancer, your world is turned upside down. Your faith is tested. Your priorities and hopes for the future are changed, instantly, radically, irrevocably. And so by the way does your circle of friends. Invariably it gets smaller, but I’m thankful for those who have stuck with us over the past five years, who have encouraged us to persevere.
On a recent flight I read an article in the airline magazine about a rather unique watch called a Tikker. It doesn’t just tell you the time – it tells you how long you have left to live. The author of the article, Ben Hamersley writes, “Do you have any idea how long you have left, well, actually? In total? To live? I do. It’s counting down on my wrist as I type this. I have, according to my watch, 44 years, ten months, five days, six hours, ten minutes to go. Even less by the time you read this, of course, and the information is coming to me every time I glance at my wrist. I’m wearing a Tikker watch, calibrated against my date of birth, nationality and other pertinent things, and displaying a forever depleting time left to my, actuarially predicted, statistically average, time of death. The brainchild of Fredrik Colting – a Swedish former gravedigger…” Fredrik obviously had plenty of time on his hands. We all do, and one of the things I love to do on a flight is watch the map of the world going by and the timer ticking down to the arrival time. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have one for our life journey? Fredrik hits the nail in the coffin by observing,
Are you ready to boldly go? We’re bombarded by images of the young, rich and famous, but Britain’s older celebrities are often more inspirational. A recent body image survey by lifestyle websiteallaboutyou.comhas revealed that of 700 women, aged between 35 and 65, 86% think they are ageing better than their mothers’ generation. It’s a fact that the older we get the more we think about the future. That’s partly because the older we get, the faster time seems to pass us by. How often do you think about your future – your long term future I mean? Say 100 years time? When you think of eternity what goes through your mind? Do you expect to live for ever? Do you want to? Do you know that you have eternal life? I mean ‘know’. Really know. Not ‘hope so’. Not even ‘think so’ but ‘know’. Know to the very core of your soul? Do you? If not, then this morning is for you. If you are sure, then my second question to you is this: How do you know that you have eternal life? On what basis? We will answer that question as well. My hope is that not one of us will leave today unsure of our eternal destiny.
Now I can’t give you that assurance. Only God can. Only God’s Spirit can give the assurance that you have eternal life. And that is linked to the other great promise at the heart of the Christian faith, the assurance of sins forgiven. Knowing your sins are forgiven and that you have eternal life are base camp on the Christian journey. The past forgiven and the future secure so that in the present, you can live 100% for Jesus. How does God give us that assurance? The Word of God. The Holy Spirit of God applies the Word of God to our hearts and minds and convicts or convinces. Only he can give you the assurance that your sins are forgive and that you have eternal life. In our series on the Great “I am” statements of Jesus in John’s Gospel we have come to John 11 which contains one of the more personal and poignant encounters between Jesus and some of his closest friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Lazarus is ill and dies. The sisters send a message to Jesus that Lazarus is unwell and would he please come. But Jesus waits until Lazarus has died and the family give up hope before he decides to arrive. His first encounter is with Martha. Jesus makes one of the most profound promises ever recorded:
“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).