Chaplins Corner

Are You Ready

by Bill Barrows, Chaplain

The sudden and unexpected passing of Benji Norris and Greenville Police Officer Allen Jacobs has affected many members of our association. While I did not know Officer Jacobs personally, he was a “brother” by profession and belief. Benji, on the other hand, I considered a good personal friend with whom I had the privilege of spending time with and receiving wise counsel on SCIAAI chapter matters.

Benji was kind hearted on most matters and strong willed on matters he was passionate about. When it came to the SCIAAI, there was no greater advocate for the association. Only the SCIAAI Board, and a select few members actually know how Benji fought for the Association and those matters pertaining to SC firefighters in general. From training of SC firefighters to changing the arson statutes, Benji was passionate and vocal in these matters. This aspect of his life and influence will be greatly missed.

While we all live with the reality of death, the passing of Benji and Officer Jacobs are a reminder of how fragile life is, especially as firefighters and police officers. That “routine” call can suddenly turn into a nightmare for loved ones and friends. Which begs the question… Are you ready? Are your loved ones ready? Do you know where you will be after you die. Knowing what Benji and Officer Jacobs know now, I feel confident they would ask you and me the same questions, probably with more passion and urgency than they did before.

If your reply is that you will be in heaven because you believe in a God, I have news for you, even Satan believes in God and he will definitely not be spending eternity in heaven. “I live a good life, I am kind to my friends and family, I’m a decent person, and I even go to church” you say. The Apostle Paul addressed this thinking in the Bible in Romans 3:10-12, 23 by reminding us that “no one is righteous, not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”… “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s standard”.

The consequence of our sin, or not meeting God’s standard is death. In Romans 6:23 Paul states that the “wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus our Lord”. Fortunately, God provided a remedy for our failing to meet His standard in his son Jesus Christ, who paid the price (consequence) for our sins. Romans 5:8 – “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners”.

Romans 10:9-10, 13 explains how we receive salvation and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ; “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved… For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

So my friend, believing in God and being a “good person” (common thinking in my opinion) is not adequate for a right relationship with God or life in heaven after you die. As the above Bible verses, and many others I could reference, clearly indicate the ONLY way you will be in heaven after you die is to accept and believe in Jesus Christ, God’s son, who was born of a virgin and though he was fully man, he lived a sinless life. Jesus was wrongfully tried and crucified for my sins and yours, died and was buried, yet on the third day he conquered death and walked out of the tomb. He now sits at the right hand of God, interceding to God on behalf of those who accepted his payment for their sins.

Ultimately the question is: where will you be when you die? Heaven or hell? I encourage each and every one of you, as I am sure Benji and Allen Jacobs would do, to give this some serious thought. Don’t just take my word for it, get a Bible and research it for yourself. Don’t know where to start? I suggest the book of John. There you will learn who Jesus is, what he did while living on earth, and what he continues to do for all of us. As always, if you have questions or would like to speak with someone about how you can be sure of where you will be after you die, feel free to give me a call or email.