Sunday School Lessons


Commentary by Walter Albritton


August 31


If You Accept God’s Invitation, You Can Be There

When the Roll is called Up Yonder!


Daniel 12


Key Verses: Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. -- Daniel 12:2


            Daniel is a book that Christians must take seriously. We dare not dismiss it as “apocalyptic literature” that has little relevance for us as disciples of Jesus.

            Years ago Josh McDowell gave us an excellent book about Daniel, titled Daniel in the Critics’ Den. Since a copy may not be handily available to my readers, let me share with you some of McDowell’s important conclusions:

            1. Christ’s references to himself as the “Son of Man” were inspired by the prophecy of Daniel.

            “Nowhere in the Gospels is this illustrated more graphically than in Matthew where clear references to Daniel’s vision of the Son of Man (Daniel 7:9-14, 22) are made repeatedly (Matthew 16:27,28: 19:28; 24:27-31; 25:31 ff.; 26:64) along with many more references to the power and authority of the Son of Man. There can be no doubt, from all these references to Daniel’s Son of Man vision, that Christ clearly viewed it as authentic prophecy referring to Himself” (p. 3).

            2. The reliability of much of Scripture depends upon the reliability of Daniel.     

            “If Daniel is authentic prophecy and its recorded visions are accurate descriptions of the future given by God Himself, then Christ’s view of it and of Himself are true. But if the book is a fraud, then Christ as mistaken concerning it, and much of the basis for our faith in His integrity and authority must come under severe questioning” (p. 3).

            McDowell quotes scholar William Newell: “If the keys of the Bible, up to the Psalms, hang on Moses’ books, those of the rest of the Bible, through Revelation, hang on Daniel; and indeed very many of the prophetic Psalms fail to open to us till we see their solution in the wonderful visions of the faithful seer of the captivity” (p. 3).

            McDowell underscores this important conclusion: “A reading of the Book of Daniel reveals that he was a man of great integrity who had the divine gift of interpreting prophetic dreams. The book records miraculous events in Daniel’s life and includes several remarkable prophecies, most of which are centered around the coming of the Messiah and the end of our present era” (p. 8).

            All of this is relevant because one cannot study the Book of Daniel without observing its influence upon our Lord, and upon the Gospels. Jesus took Daniel’s ideas of judgment and eternal life and enlarged them, offering us a clear picture of what lies ahead for everyone. Judgment is certain, and in the end, the righteous will be rewarded and the wicked will be punished.

            Today’s lesson raises again the question: Is there life beyond the grave? Skeptics say No; Christians who embrace the Truth as Jesus taught it say Yes. Actually, our Yes is a shout, for our hope is that heaven awaits those who have been saved through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

            This summer I have been inspired by reading the biography, John Adams, by David McCullough. Adams was a brilliant man and a man of faith. McCullough says of Adams: “His faith in God and the hereafter remained unshaken. His fundamental creed, he had reduced to a single sentence: ‘He who loves the Workman and his work, and does what he can to preserve and improve it, shall be accepted of Him’” (p. 650).

            That is a tribute we should all desire for ourselves – to have others declare that, despite the disappointments and difficulties of life, our faith remained unshaken!

            Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, died this past July 19. Bright suffered from pulmonary fibrosis. During his last days he was confined to his bed and on supplemental oxygen 24 hours a day. Not long before his death, he wrote this:

            “If the Lord tarries, my day to enter glory will eventually come. What a wonderful day that will be! But it is a win-win situation for me. If I go, I will be with my wonderful Lord whom I have served for almost 60 years. If I stay, I will be able to joyously serve Him even more than I have in the past…. As long as I am here, as long as I have breath, I will praise and serve the Lord.”

            Such an attitude is worthy of our imitating!

            Over the years, ugly old Doubt has come by to see me. Fortunately, God gave me the wisdom to refuse him overnight lodging. With the help of my friend Faith, I sent him on his way with a swift kick.

            As a child I learned to sing wonderful hymns about heaven. One may seem trite to some – “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.” However, the longer I live, the more I believe the truth it proclaims. One day, the trumpet of the Lord will sound, and time “shall be no more.” Then, by the grace of God, and unworthy though I am, I will be included in that number when the roll is called in heaven.

            Faith in Jesus, and in the Word of our God, makes it possible for anyone who believes to have this glad confidence: “When the Roll is called up Yonder, I’ll be there!”

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