Evangelist Billy Graham has shared why Christians must continually be thinking about Heaven and preparing for the afterlife, arguing that "nothing will have a greater impact on our lives right now than thinking about eternity."
The 98-year-old founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association issued his thoughts on eternity in a blog post written in response to a reader who argued that the present is important - not the future.
"Instead of escaping from life, thinking about Heaven should make us be more diligent right now," Graham said, quoting John 9:4 - "As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me."
For Christians, the promise of Heaven should prompt us to live for things that will last, Graham said.
"So much of what we do is temporary and fleeting, and has no lasting significance," he explained. "But when we keep our eyes on Heaven, we'll want to live for things that have eternal value," he said. Jesus said, 'Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you' (John 6:27)."
Second, Heaven should make us want to live for Christ instead of ourselves, said Graham.
"Jesus came down from Heaven for one reason: to make it possible for us to be with Him in Heaven forever. He did this by becoming the final sacrifice for our sins by His death on the cross. Once you understand this and welcome Him into your life, you'll never be the same."
Ultimately, our goal as Christians must be to set our minds on things above and faithfully serve the Lord, because one day, we will all die and stand before His throne.
"Could anything be more important than being prepared for that day?" Graham asked. "Don't go down the wrong road, but turn to Jesus Christ and by a simple prayer of faith invite Him to come into your life today. Remember: Life is short - but eternity is forever."
In an earlier blog post, Graham explained that while it's important for Christians to prepare for Heaven, they are not just supposed to sit around waiting to enter eternity.
"God is just as concerned about our lives right now," he said. "He wants to guide us and help us live pure lives, and he also wants to use us to help others and point them to Jesus...Make God's Word, and prayer and fellowship with other believers a part of your life every day. God wants you to become more and more like Jesus, and you will, as your faith grows stronger."
Graham, who turned 98 in November, last year released his final book: "Where I Am: Heaven, Eternity, and Our Life Beyond."
"Heaven seems a mystery to many people," Graham wrote. "They wonder if Heaven is above the lofty clouds, or if Heaven will come down to earth. When I am asked, 'Where is Heaven?' I simply answer: Heaven is where Jesus is."
The evangelist testified about his confidence in his salvation. "[Jesus] told His disciples, 'I go to prepare a place for you ... that where I am, there you may be also!' So when my earthly life has ended and you wonder where I've gone, this will be the answer: I will be with Jesus-that's where I am."