Parents often advise their children to prepare for the worst. Before Jesus’ crucifixion he mentioned two prepared places. In John 14: 1-3, he mentioned a place he’ll prepare in heaven for the elect who’ll be gathered from throughout the earth when he comes the second time (Hebrews 9: 27, 28). He’ll take them then unto himself to be forever with him (Matthew 24: 30, 31; 25: 30-34; 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18). In Matthew 25: 41, Jesus mentioned the place prepared for the devil and his angels – the eternal fire to which the non-elect, the accursed, also will be sent (Revelation 20: 10-15).
Each person will be judged based on what they’ve done in their earthly life and then sent to the place God has prepared for them (2 Corinthians 5: 10). Consequently, each person actually determines for themselves where they’ll spend eternity. We prepare ourselves for one of the eternal places God is preparing – heaven or hell – the best or worst of places.
While we cannot fathom how good heaven will be or how bad hell will actually be (1 Corinthians 2: 9, 10; 2 Corinthians 12: 2-4), to help us make the better choice, God does things to attract us to the good and to help us stay focused on that (Exodus 23: 20-26; Psalm 23: 1-5; Galatians 6: 7-9). When we don’t follow God’s plan as his children, he does things to help us get back on track because he loves us (Hebrews 12: 7-11; 2 Peter 3: 9). Although there will come a point at which he cannot help us anymore (Hebrews 6: 4-6; Amos 4: 1-13).
To minimize facing the negative aspects of God’s love through discipline, Peter advises us to be self-controlled and to prepare ourselves for action (1 Peter 1: 13). Our actions are to be based upon the fact that we know we’re going to be judged (James 2: 17, 12, 13; 2 Peter 3: 8-13). God has prepared good things for us to do and by taking advantage of those opportunities, we become prepared for heaven and make it look attractive to others (Ephesians 2: 10; 5: 15-17; 2 Timothy 2: 20, 21; Titus 2: 10; 1 Peter 3: 15, 16).That becomes much easier when we focus on our hope in the grace to be shown us when Jesus comes back because it leads us to cleanse ourselves from whatever is within that’s not of noble purpose so we can be prepared to do any good work (2 Timothy 3: 16, 17). God will even help us with that (Philippians 2: 12, 13; Ephesians 3: 20, 21).
We’d better prepare ourselves to meet God (Amos 4: 12). Otherwise, we actually mock his love and divinity. We’ve forgotten that we’ve been forgiven and face the penalty prepared for mockers (2 Peter 1: 3-9; Proverbs 14: 9; 19: 29).
In this life we’re either preparing ourselves for the best or for the worst. Don’t prepare yourself for the worst when it comes to eternity.
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at email@example.com