An Appeal Beyond the Here and Now
‘WHAT benefit do I get now?’ This is often the response when a person is presented a new idea. And it is indeed natural to desire good things now. At the same time we cannot afford to ignore the future. Certainly a guide to life would be sadly lacking if it did not hold out a hope or goal for the future. For, regardless of what a person has now, his outlook on the future has a strong influence on his present course.
The Bible does provide a sound hope for the future, a goal toward which to work. The apostle Paul, after nearly thirty years of living by Christian principles, said: “Godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.”—1 Tim. 4:8.
In the preceding article you have read the experiences of people who are getting benefits now because they changed their way of living. Did they do this by merely deciding to change and then following through? No. They saw that what they were doing was not good or was not bringing them the satisfactory life that they desired. They wanted some kind of change. But they did not know what adjustments they had to make, or how to make them. In some instances they observed Jehovah’s witnesses and saw that the Witnesses were happy and had altered their lives in a way that was beneficial. But they were unable to make such adjustments by their own will and strength. They had to study the Bible and see God’s purpose toward humankind. They needed help from God and from other Christians in order to understand in their hearts why they should make changes and to realize that they would receive God’s help to do so. They saw also that there were real benefits for themselves and their families. They needed a purpose in life, and learned that this purpose had to be patterned according to God’s purpose.
Yes, these sincere persons found that the things they needed to do for a better life now meant learning to live as the Creator made man to live—in peace with his family and with his neighbor, fearing and serving God, who only can guide one in the right way. The Bible says: “He has told you, O earthling man, what is good. And what is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God?” (Mic. 6:8) Also they saw that godly devotion holds promise of the life “which is to come.”
Health Needed for Complete Happiness
What do we need in order to be happy in a life ahead? Probably you will think first of good health. Without it, there is no enjoyment. How will this be provided in ‘the life to come’?
The Bible gives us assurance that good health will be the happy lot of the people when God’s kingdom alone rules the earth. Even now, obedience to God’s principles and commands helps a person to avoid many tensions and diseases that tear down one’s health. The Bible’s good sayings “are life to those finding them and health to all their flesh.” (Prov. 4:22) The Bible’s teachings are “healthful words,” not only in a spiritual sense, but also physically, because spiritual welfare is essential to physical health.—2 Tim. 1:13; 4:3.
But humans also need actual physical healing before they can come to perfection of health and vigor. Right living in itself will not bring such a curing of the body. Something more is needed. How will this healing be provided?
Man cannot heal himself, because he is imperfect by inheritance. (Ps. 51:5) He does things that are not right, especially when he is under pressure. This is because all are sinners, even those who do not want to do wrong. The Bible word used for sin actually means “to miss the mark.” Man cannot lift himself by his own bootstraps. Nor can one man rescue another, because all are in the same “mire” of imperfection that eventually results in death. The psalmist wrote that, regardless of a person’s status—rich, wise or powerful—“not one of them can by any means redeem even a brother, nor give to God a ransom for him; . . . that he should still live forever and not see the pit.”—Ps. 49:6-9.
Therefore, help has to come from God. Sickness is linked, in the Bible, with sin, and healing is related to forgiveness. King David realized mankind’s situation and he wrote to Israel: “Bless Jehovah, O my soul, and do not forget all his doings, him who is forgiving all your error, who is healing all your maladies.” (Ps. 103:2, 3; compare Luke 5:18-25.) We have to wait on this help if we wish to live in perfect health. When will this healing come? During the thousand-year reign of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. All evidences indicate that the beginning of this reign is very near at hand.—Matt. 24:32-34.
This is something to look forward to—a real goal for our lives—a real incentive to learn about God’s will for us and to follow it. But, you may ask, what guarantee do we have that God will do these things for us? Note, now, how thoroughly the Bible explains, as a solid basis for our faith, how carefully God has arranged for the healing and rehabilitation of mankind.
How God Arranged for Mankind’s Healing
Jehovah God loves that which he has created, just as a father loves his sons. Jesus, when on earth, said: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) This Son originally lived with his Father in heaven from a time before the earth was created. (John 1:1; Rev. 3:14) When he was on earth he alluded to his prehuman existence when he asked God in prayer: “Father, glorify me alongside yourself with the glory that I had alongside you before the world was.”—John 17:5.
Think what it cost God to send his Son to earth, transferring his life to the womb of a Jewish girl, so that he would be born a man, to live among an imperfect, sinful people! And think of the obedience of the Son of God and his love for God in giving up heavenly riches, to be treated on earth worse than a slave and finally to die an ignominious death. (1 Pet. 2:21-25) The apostle Paul wrote about what Jesus did: “Although he was existing in God’s form, [he] gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. No, but he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men. More than that, when he found himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake.”—Phil. 2:6-8.
Why was his death necessary as the means to deliver mankind from death? Because, not being the father of the human race, he was not the head of the human family. Neither was he the owner of humankind. The human race belonged to Jehovah God. God, in maintaining his own righteous sovereign rule over the universe, could not condone sin or overlook it. He could not, as many governments and judges do today, be letting criminals “get by” with their crimes, thereby weakening the moral fiber of the nation. There had to be a sacrifice, a ransom payment as a purchase price. That price had to be a perfect human life, just as mankind’s forefather Adam had had life but had forfeited it by sinning. His offspring were sold, without their consent, into slavery to sin and death. (Rom. 7:14; 8:20) Jesus Christ, becoming a man, had that necessary purchase price, which he gave. Jesus therefore had to become a second or “last Adam,” so that he could rightly and legally become a life-giver to them. (1 Cor. 15:45) Thus the scales of justice were balanced. God maintained perfect justice and righteousness in government while providing mercy and opportunity for helpless humankind.—Rom. 3:23-26.
Jesus Christ is now mankind’s Purchaser. Every one of the human race belongs to him, to be dealt with according to the will of God. To Christ, who bought all persons with his own lifeblood, all are precious. Though a person may feel insignificant, his life is very important in Christ’s eyes. He will not allow one deserving person to lose out on life. Therefore we can be assured of the kindest, most fatherly treatment under his Kingdom rule. (1 Pet. 1:18, 19; compare Luke 15:4-10.) You can, accordingly, be absolutely sure of receiving right, just, merciful help, including healing of all your sicknesses, if you accept and abide by God’s universal principles of love and obedience to him and love for your fellowman.—Matt. 22:37-40; Rom. 13:8-10.
How do we know that Christ can do this? Well, first, he is again alive, having been resurrected by his Father, Jehovah God. (Acts 2:32) And not only does he own the human race by right of purchase, but also he has the power to do everything necessary for them—things that he could not do while remaining on earth. The apostle Paul writes: “For this very reason [his obedience to death] . . . God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground.”—Phil. 2:9, 10.
Christ’s resurrection is therefore a foundation for faith—a guarantee that we will get help. More than that, it is also a guarantee that “those under the ground,” those dead in their graves, will receive a resurrection. (Acts 17:31) Whether their past life was good or bad, they will have opportunity to learn of the ransom provision, to take hold of it and be obedient during the righteous rule of the Kingdom. (Acts 24:15) They can eventually reach perfection and, as with the rest of obedient mankind, become members of the family of God.—Rom. 8:21.
A Righteous “New Earth”
Perhaps we cannot fully grasp what it would mean to become children of God. Nevertheless, we find enough in the Bible to give us a glimpse of how grand this will be. Think of living on a beautified earth free of pollution, sickness, crime, hatred, racial tension and wars. Imagine the unadulterated enjoyment of the beauties of earth—majestic mountains, cool, refreshing forests, flower-decked gardens, sparkling Streams and rivers and unpolluted oceans. These, the Holy Scriptures assure us, will constitute our permanent home.
But even more enjoyable will be the people—healthy, radiant, rehabilitated to perfection of mind, heart and body. To be happy, you will also need work for both your mind and your body. This means that the paradise earth will not be free from challenges to be met, though all anxieties and oppressive situations will be things of the past.
Men and women will carry out the command that was originally given to humankind, but which they failed to do. What was that? To “subdue” the earth and have in subjection the entire animal creation, on land and in the sea and air. In doing this, problems will be met that will tax and exercise their ability and ingenuity.
Animal and plant husbandry will delight many. Doing for others things that one has the talent and ability to do will be a delight. The earth is a tremendous scientific “laboratory,” with enough secrets to keep men occupied in study and research forever. Each discovery opens up new doorways, new vistas, with benefits for mankind. So from Jehovah God, the never diminishing source of energy and wisdom, will come everlasting joyful occupation for men and women. (Isa. 40:28, 29) Life will really have purpose. And nothing will mar the security of that world, to dull the luster of living. As to the unpleasantness of the past, God’s Word says: “The former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart.”—Isa. 65:17.
These descriptions are not merely hopeful dreams. The promises of these things are set down in the Bible, the Word of a God who “cannot lie.” (Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18) When Jesus was on earth he gave ample assurance that he can and will heal and bless mankind. (Mark 1:40, 41) He performed innumerable cures of all kinds of diseases. This he did, not dependent on the individual’s faith, but by his own power and because of his love for men. His cures were instantaneous, not gradual treatment by medical means nor requiring special diets, surgery and hospitalization. Those healed were made “sound in health,” able to work.—John 5:9.
Some were resurrected by Jesus, even though, in at least one case, bodily decomposition had set in. (John 11:38-44; Luke 7:11-17; Matt. 9:18-26) All these cured and resurrected people died, however. Their healing was not to perfection of body. Why? Because it was not yet time for Christ’s kingdom to rule and to remove this present system of things. This must be done first. Otherwise the old system would be an obstacle to health, security, happy family life and peace. Christ’s rule as with an iron rod will remove this system in what will be a “great tribulation” for this world. (Matt. 24:21) This system of things, together with its injustices and oppressions, must pass off the scene altogether. This will clear the way for the uninterrupted rule of righteousness. Those truly living according to the Bible’s guidance will survive. (Rev. 7:9, 14, 15) Accordingly, we should not fear this event, but look to it as deliverance for us.—1 John 2:17.
Then, as the closing chapters of the Bible tell us, the “river of water of life” will begin to flow to humankind. Drinking of this “water,” which symbolizes God’s provision for life through Christ, and eating “fruit” from the “trees” lining its banks, employing the “leaves of the trees . . . for the curing of the nations,” the inhabitants of the earthly paradise will be raised up to perfection. (Rev. 22:1, 2; 7: 15-17) Through this arrangement God “will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”—Rev. 21:3, 4.
Even the very best, happiest, most productive life you could live now would be far short of life in God’s new order. That life will last, not a mere seventy years, nor even a hundred or a thousand, but forever. Certainly godly devotion today has also an appeal for the future, holding a “promise of the life now and that which is to come.” (1 Tim. 4:8) Only an almighty, all-wise and loving Creator could provide this. Jehovah God and his Son look forward with great anticipation to the time that He will do this. Does not this knowledge of God’s good purposes toward mankind motivate you to adjust your life in harmony with the Bible, the guide that God has provided? If so, you, too, can be in eager expectation of the millennial rule of God’s kingdom over the earth.
[Picture on page 25]
God guarantees that the entire earth: will become a paradise. Is this not incentive for you to learn about God’s will and purpose?