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Bible Correspondence Course - Lesson 20
Bible Correspondence Course - Lesson 20

by Herbert W. Armstrong

He wanted an eternity-lasting vacation in heaven.

“Let me see if I understand your view correctly,” a college professor challenged. "You say a Protestant teaching is like being on a lifelong railroad journey. At the end of the line is a switch automatically set to send you down to hell where you will burn and burn forever but never burn up. But if, at any point during the journey you accept Christ, He will overlook your sins, and the switch at the end of the journey will be changed to shoot you straight up to heaven when you die. And in heaven you will have no responsibilities but only an eternal vacation with nothing to do.

“But you don't believe that. You believe one must first repent of his sins, change to living according to God's Law, strive to overcome, grow in grace and Bible understanding, develop Godly righteous character, and then in the resurrection you will be given immortal life as God's free gift, but you will live forever here on earth and be given responsibilities as a reward according to your character development during this life – ruling over and teaching others. Do I understand you correctly?”

“Well,” I smiled, “something like that.”

“Then I don't want your kind of religion,” he said emphatically. “I don't want to be saddled with responsibilities for all eternity. I'd rather just accept Christ, decide for myself how I'll live the rest of this life and then go to heaven with nothing to do for eternity.”

The above conversation took place some 36 years ago. This man later reached retirement age and was retired on a pension. He got his wish of having nothing to do but just live out his years on a small pension. During his retirement years I met him again. He was a very unhappy, frustrated man.

“I wish,” he said, “I had something to keep me busy like you have. All I do is sit here in my little living room all day long, day after day, with nothing to keep me occupied. It's the most boring existence I could imagine.”

Later I had a report from one of our ministers in his city. “He is now 87 years old,” said the minister, “and the only thing he thinks of is wanting to die and end his loneliness.”

And he soon did die, a frustrated, unhappy old man. He got his wish at last, for several years, of no responsibilities and one long vacation, mercifully ended in death. In the Great White Throne resurrection he will come alive for judgment. Perhaps he may find the way of repentance, a changed life living God's way, and discover the way to happy, vigorous, enthusiastic life living by God's Law of outflowing love, discovering the thrills and ecstasies of accomplishment, achieving success in enjoyable responsibilities.

I look back on some experiences in my own life. As a young advertising man at age 20, I was given the responsibility to try to sell a magazine advertisement to a certain manufacturer. I succeeded. As I left the factory office with signed contract in hand, it seemed I was walking on air. A feeling of ecstasy thrilled me as I walked from that office.

Years later, I had completed my first evangelistic campaign of nine nights, with three new converts baptized, the very first of my entire ministerial experience. The fact that God had blessed my efforts with this accomplishment electrified me through and through in a far more intense thrill of joyous ecstasy than I had ever experienced before. I have learned by experience that nothing else is as satisfying and rewarding as achievement of a responsibility accomplished.

Eternal life is offered us as God's free GIFT upon real repentance, accepting Christ's sacrifice – but repentance means turning from the ways of sin and henceforth living according to God's way of outflowing LOVE. It cannot be earned. But those who are given this matchless GIFT will be rewarded according to their spiritual works during this present human life. Some will qualify to rule over one small city. Some over many cities and some over entire nations.

What many do not realize is that, in the resurrection to eternal life, we shall be composed entirely of spirit. We shall never become tired or weary. We shall never suffer ill health. We shall be strong and vigorous, and find our greatest pleasure in creative work well accomplished. We shall be constantly looking back on happy accomplishments, and anticipating even more pleasurable accomplishments ahead. It will be one continuous pleasure after another for all eternity.

Responsibility means opportunity for that which leads to greater happiness and joys than any other possible existence. The greater one's reward earned during this life is simply the greater gift of pleasurable and even thrilling life which shall continue forever.

A fifteen-year-old teenager eagerly looks forward to being given the responsibility to sit behind the steering wheel of an automobile, with his foot on the throttle of power. He has the youthful energy and vitality and eagerly desires to release these powers within him. That is merely an example of the attitude we should have over the prospect of being given the POWER and vitality for the responsibilities in the Kingdom of God.