A Personal Checklist for All of Us Before Leaving Earth
Study Guide, January 10, 2021
Pastor Clay Olsen
One of the things we focus on in ministry here at the Chapel is developing some resources to assist us all in carrying out Christ’s commission to us to go to all the nations, all the world, and make disciples for Him. Especially, in the evangelistic part of the Great Commission, we have developed some resources to help make witnessing a more natural part of our day to day lives, and to also help others better understand their need for a Savior and how to establish a relationship with Jesus Christ. And so, we are developing another help, another tool, for being active Witnesses for our Lord. And the more we see this world unraveling around us the more we see the need to get the saving Gospel of Christ out to a lost and dying world. We plan to condense what we are going to unpack in our study so that it will be in the form of a card that we can distribute to all with whom we have contact.
So, how many of you have a checklist that you go over whenever you leave your house for a vacation or for any extended length of time? Many have come up with their own checklist, maybe written out, or they just have certain things they review before leaving their home for a while. Or, how many instead just get miles away from home before you start to go over your checklist? Right…don’t you hate that when you are far away from home and then you think of what you forgot to think of while you were still at home?
Actually, that’s one of the things on Bob Vila’s recommended checklist for leaving home. You remember Bob Vila…the home improvement expert with TV shows and commercials. He had great tips and helps for homeowners. But one of his points on the checklist was to give a key to a trusted person who would not only check on your place regularly while you were gone, but who would also be able to get into your place for those times when it dawns on you that you forgot to check this or that. So that’s one great tip.
Some others were things like this: Be sure to set your thermostats to where they are not providing the same amount of heat or air conditioning you need when you are home…saves on your electric bill that way. And be sure to stop your mail or paper deliveries. Be sure to set check your home safety system, if you have one, or again, your trusted friend can check on your place for that as well. Also, it’s a good idea to turn your water off at the main valve if you are going to be gone very long, along with the water heater. And he suggests unplugging electric appliances, especially the coffee pot that we always ask about when we’re 50 miles down the road.
And then, Bob says to be sure and check the locks on your windows and doors before leaving on that vacation.
Super helpful information for us all right there. And so, think about it, since it is that important that we have a checklist before leaving our houses for an extended time, how much more important is it that we have a checklist before leaving this Earth for a really extended time…as in, until we return with the Lord when He renovates this Earth into His New Kingdom! Actually, that could be another series, right? Talk about a Home Improvement project…when Jesus renovates this Earth into His Millennial Kingdom! And then after that He’s going to completely resurrect the Earth into His Eternal Kingdom! What an amazing future we have ahead of us. But for now…back to the checklist!
And so, our checklist before leaving Earth is this: (And, again, we’re just going to start unpacking this information today before we condense it all into a witnessing tool.) So first on the checklist for all of us before leaving Earth is: “Make sure that you have been ‘Born Again’. Make sure that your human spirit has been born again.” And to emphasize just how absolutely essential it is to make sure that we have been born again is because that is exactly what Jesus said we must do in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. John 3:3- “Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” NASU And in two verses later Jesus said it again, that unless you are born again, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That, Friends, is the key reality that every person on Earth needs to know and to understand.
It is so important that Jesus literally said, “Truly, truly…” before He revealed this need of the new birth. Now, remember, Jesus is Truth. And therefore, anything that Jesus says is absolute truth. And if Jesus wanted to emphasis the importance of this truth He could have said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ One ‘truly’ would have been powerful enough. But instead, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” It’s like saying, “Of all the things that you have learned in your whole life…you must learn this: You must be Born Again.” So again, Jesus said that unless you are born again, you cannot see, you cannot enter the kingdom of God!
Are you amazing at how calloused so many people are about the concept of being ‘Born Again’? People toss the phrase around like it’s just some religious phrase that certain religious groups use to push their own religious ideas off onto others. But nothing could be further from the truth about this need of New Birth. And why is that? Because the New Birth is not about religious behaviors; it’s about the only way that anyone on Earth can establish a relationship with God!
It is absolutely essential to understand that in revealing that mankind’s greatest need was to be ‘reborn’ in their spirit, Jesus bypassed all religious claims and all ritualistic demands by all the religions of the world. Remember, Jesus said this to one of the most religious men of the times, Nicodemus, a Teacher of Jewish religion, who, by the way, was also one of the most moral, decent, and one of the, all around, greatest guys you could ever know. And yet, to this religiously devout and morally dedicated man Jesus said, “You must be born again in order to enter into God’s Kingdom.” Why? Because being right with God means being is a ‘right relationship’ with God. And being in a right relationship with God does not start with religious practices, it starts with a reborn spirit! God does not unite His life with us by way of our religion and spiritual behavior. No, He unites His life with us by way of our relationship and spiritual birth. To become a true follower of Jesus Christ, you first have to become a family member with Jesus Christ. And that happens through becoming ‘Born Again’ in your human spirit; reborn into God’s forever family.
And so, at this point, in this witnessing tool, we’ll include a suggested prayer to help people call out to Jesus in repentance and faith in order to become ‘Born Again’ and to become a saved son or daughter of God’s.
Next in the checklist is this: Just like with the home checklist where you let a trusted person know you’re leaving; the checklist will be a reminder to us all to live your life in such a way that others do know that you are leaving. In a song by East to West, called ‘Live Like I’m Leaving’ it says, “I want to live like I’m leaving, like Heaven is in view, live like I’m leaving, I will be evidence of You. Through the shadows of my past, through tomorrow come what may, I want to live like I’m leaving, just like I’m leaving today.”
Now, we’re not sure this will be the second point on the checklist, it might be toward the last, we’ll figure that out. But how strange that people tend to live, even Christians tend to live like tomorrow is guaranteed, like they just assume that come tomorrow, they will still be here on Planet Earth. But, like just the song, the reality is, as James explains it, no one on Earth is to assume that we have tomorrow, at least not on this planet. Remember what James said about that? James 4:14-15- “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” NASU
So none of us know that we have tomorrow. Sure, planning is good and preparing for tomorrow is wise…as long as it is in connection with; “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” Jesus instructs us to do business until He comes, or until we go to Him. We are to build homes, have families, plant gardens, faithfully serve our world around us, yes, but again, in connection with building God’s family and seeking first His kingdom and serving His kingdom all the while we live in this world.
But the point about ‘tomorrow’ that we are to know is this: We don’t have ‘tomorrow’ – we only have ‘today’. And today, and every day, is a gift from God. For – “This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Ps 118:24 NASU Each day is a gift of God, and so is each tomorrow. And we can rejoice in this gift. But still, in our rejoicing, we are to live like we’re leaving; we are to live with Heaven in view so that the way that we live our lives will be evidence to others that we are living in utter dependence upon our God and getting ready to go Home to God.
Again, what did James say our short life on Earth is like? It’s like a vapor, like the morning fog…life sure does often seem like a fog, right? So live like you’re leaving, because none of know when we are leaving! Some of you may remember that in 1989 in an Easter service in the Methodist church in Salter Path, Pastor Foster Lee was preaching and then paused and said, “I feel heaven bending so low”. And moments later he died in the pulpit and woke up in Heaven! What a way to go! But the thing is, no one saw that coming…he didn’t…the congregation didn’t. But that’s the point – we ought to not only live like our time here on Earth is short, regardless of how old we are, but we are to also let others know about how brief all of our lives are on this Earth, because most people never think much about it, until they wake up to find that they are no longer on planet Earth. We are supposed to be ready at any time to leave this Earth, because it could very well be at any time!
Which emphasizes the first point on the checklist: So make sure you have been Born Again, so that every day you will know where you will be when it’s your day to wake up and you’re no longer on Earth. Everyone has an appointment with Death, unless Jesus returns to take His church Home first. And most do not know when that appointment is coming…it could be tomorrow…it could be today, you don’t know. But you can live like it’s soon or Jesus return is soon, and then live today like you’re leaving. Let others see that you are getting ready to go. And then commit to living today like you will wish you had lived today if you wake up tomorrow and you’re home…not this home, but home in Heaven. Live today like you are leaving tomorrow, because… “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
We have several more points on our checklist, but we’ll pause at this point. We’re excited about making this additional tool for each of us to use to help build up the family of God, build up the church for God. Jesus is the answer for the world today, and we can share that answer with the world around us day after day.