“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement … ” (Hebrews 9:27 NKJV).
This week I have learned of the death of a friend’s father on the other side of the world. Such news causes one to reflect on mortality and related issues. We have all heard it, and probably said it ourselves: “Nothing is certain in life except death and taxes.”
Usually this is said with at least the tip of tongue in cheek. Yet most of us concede there is a lot of truth to this proposition from both perspectives. It is true that death is universal (i.e., certain), and taxes seem to be almost as much so. It is also true that not many other things seem to possess the same inevitability.
Change seems to occur in all arenas of life; things we believed to be eternally true are no longer accepted as such. Natural laws have become mere possibilities or suggestions. From a scientific system based on the belief that “what has occurred will continue to occur” we have transitioned to “relativity” (different circumstances produce different results) and “chaos theory;” that is (to put it simply) that literally anything might happen at any time, regardless of circumstance.
With these scientific and philosophical perspectives gaining much publicity and popularity, it is no mystery why meaningful, sincere faith is increasingly rare. Yes, the vast majority of the world’s population believes in some manner of divinity. But how much is their life based on that belief? Does it really affect their daily decision making?
Alternatives such as agnosticism and atheism are far more prevalent than ever before, especially among the educated. If nothing is certain, how can there be an eternal, unchangeable God? Even if such a being exists, if relativity and chaos prevail, he cannot be said to be all powerful. No God who is unable to control chaos could be effective in meeting our needs. How then can we place trust in him?
In the middle of this modern intellectual environment Christians continue to proclaim that God is, that he is one, and that he is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. In spite of widespread scorn Christians confidently “Walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
This faith is based largely on Scripture, but is supported by much experience and reason. It is not only death that is certain. There are other critical elements of life upon which one may rely, making faith in God reasonable, even essential.
First there is the certainty of judgment. For hundreds of years it was accepted as a universal law that “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This is also stated as the principal of causality – for every phenomenon there exists a cause, and for every cause (i.e., action) there is an effect (reaction). Modern chaos theory no longer grants that this is universal law, but note that this philosophy is still identified as “theory.” It is not proven fact.
Practical experience continues to demonstrate that one reaps what one sows (Galatians 6:7). The critical application of this certainty is that we as humans are accountable for what we do. Our thoughts, words and deeds will produce results for good or for evil. Divine judgment guarantees that all will face the consequences of their decisions in life (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Also certain is that one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things possessed (Luke 12:15). It is relationships rather than property or accomplishments which will define happiness and success. It is for precisely that reason that the greatest commandments are the commandments to love God and one another (Matthew 22:37-40).
Finally, it is certain that only God can provide security (Romans 8:31ff). All material creation is temporary and will come to an end (2 Peter 3:10). God is eternal and all powerful. Nothing can separate his beloved from his protection. In him alone there is safety and hope. In God we trust!