Where will you be one second after you die?|
Are you sure?
Okay. Let's be honest. Depending on the person responding, the most likely responses might be:
- "Well, heaven of course!"
- "Who cares?"
- "I'll be with my homies, and wherever that is, is okay with me."
- "Nowhere, man! I'll just be dead."
So, I'll ask again . . .Are you sure?
This is such an important question that I'm not going to coddle you or beat around the bush hoping to not offend you. Frankly, I don't care if I offend you if it gets your attention and makes you think!
I'll skip over the first answer for now and just respond to the last three. Let's be honest. Except for one possible exception, those last three responses are mainly from people who don't want to take responsibility for anything. They just want to live their lives in the here-and-now and hope they'll have time at the very end to make an honest decision. Laziness and foolishness personified!
The reason I said, "Except for one possible exception," is because I know there are some who'd respond, "I'll just be dead," who honestly believe this life ends at death. I'm not going to try to convince you you're wrong, that there is life after death. There are many super-educated people with lots of letters after their names who have researched and written on the subject. And, there is so much evidence for the reality of life after death that it's hardly disputed anymore. So, I won't waste my time on this.
Instead, let's talk about that first response, the one from those who think they'll go to Heaven. Now, I'll ask you what I've asked before . . . Are you sure?
Or . . . do you just think so or hope so? May I ask, on what are you basing your hope?
Well, I'm mostly a good person. In fact, better than most.
Yes, I'm sure you are. Me too. But, y'know what? That just might not be good enough. Think about this.
You've probably seen those television commercials that compare two laundry detergents. They take two dirty socks or undershirts and wash each one in one of the detergents. Then after washing, they compare the two articles to see which one is whiter. Of course, the purpose of the demonstration is to prove that detergent "A" is the better value. But have you noticed, they never compare the formerly-dirty article with a new one that's never been dirty?
God's Word says: "but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." (2 Corinthians 10:12b)
And, really, isn't that what many people do when you ask them why they think they're going to Heaven? There are any number of things people may think qualify them for Heaven faithful husband, nurturing mother, loyal friend, honest employee, generous humanitarian, dependable church deacon, Sunday School teacher, choir director, soup kitchen volunteer . . . Or, they may think about the things they haven't done never robbed a bank or stole anything (they think those pens and paper clips from work don't count), never killed or even intentionally hurt anyone, never committed adultery, never drank alcohol or at least never drove drunk, never told any "big" lies, and so on.
When evaluating our own goodness, many of us compare ourselves to others; and if we look hard enough, even the worst of us can find someone whose actions make us look better. In other words, comparing one dirty soul to another dirty soul.
So . . . what happens when we hold ourselves up against God's perfect holiness and righteousness? There's no comparison! Even the best of us have to admit that we fall short.
Well, nobody's perfect!
You're right. That's exactly what the Bible says!
- "As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one." (Romans 3:10)
- "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
Notice, it says "all". That means my mother (who was a saint by most people's standards) . . . your mother . . . our grandmothers . . . and the pastor, church organist, and Sunday School teacher. As hard as it might be to hear, it also means the Virgin Mary and spiritual giants like Peter and the other Apostles, Billy Graham, the Pope, and Mother Teresa! And last but not least, it means me . . . and it means you . . . !
It means just what it says. All of us have sinned! All of us do things every single day that cause us to fall short of God's standard of perfection. This includes gossip, lying, pride, jealousy, mixed motives, nursing grudges, etc. Most of us, too, are guilty of sins of omission; that is, not doing what we know we should and could do.
The fact is that entrance into Heaven isn't based on good works, high morals, church attendance, baptism, or membership in the "right" church or denomination. In fact, the Bible says that no matter how much good you do, it isn't "good enough". "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags." (Isaiah 64:6a) That term "filthy rags" in the original Aramaic and Hebrew actually refers to menstruation cloths! Menstruation cloths! That verse is saying that, from God's perfectly righteous perspective, the things we do that we think are good look like menstruation cloths compared to His holiness!
Let me get this straight. Even though I'm a good
person by most people's standards, I'm really not a
good person? And I'm not going to Heaven?!
No, not if that's the only thing you're counting on to get you there. Now, here's where I was going to hit you with a whole bunch of theological stuff that probably would've sent you into the hills screaming. I won't do that to you. Even though it is important to know, it isn't important to know now.
What you need to know now is: 1) what I've already shared about us all being sinners and 2) that God has done for us what we couldn't do for ourselves.
- "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
- "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
- "But God has made clear his love to us, in that, when we were still sinners, Christ gave his life for us." (Romans 5:8)
- ". . . the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." (1 John 1:7b)
- "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
- "And the love of God was made clear to us when he sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him." (1 John 4:9)
- "And we have seen and give witness that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world." (1 John 4:14)
Well . . . I'm just not sure I believe all of that . . .
Vince Lombardi said, "The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender." And that's so true. What's also true is that "surrender" doesn't have to be negative. It can mean to simply cease struggling in favor of a better ideal or force. In this case, that better ideal or force is the most radical, outrageous, and extravagant love ever known in the Person of Jesus Christ. To the extent that you love your own soul, are you really willing to ignore or reject a love so freely and unconditionally offered? Well then . . . let me just leave you with these last few Scriptures.
- "He who believes on Him is not condemned, but He who does not believe is condemned already, because He has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God." (John 3:18)
- "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (John 3:36)
- "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." (1 John 5:11,12)
- "Truly, truly, I say to you, He who hears My Word and believes on Him who sent Me has everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death to life." (John 5:24)
In other words, being "condemned" has nothing to do with whether we're "good" or "bad". Until and unless we receive Christ as Lord and Savior (trust Him and Him alone to save us), we are already condemned!
It all centers on the Person of Jesus Christ. He lived the sinless life that we're not capable of living; He suffered the punishment we deserve; He died so we wouldn't have to; He rose from the dead so that we might rise also; and He ever lives so that we might live with Him forever. If we acknowledge we're sinners in need of a Savior, receive Jesus' sacrificial death as payment for our rebellion, and trust Him as Savior and Lord, we instantly become a child of God and heirs to the Kingdom of Christ.
"To Him all the prophets give witness, that through His name
everyone who has faith in Him will have forgiveness of sins."
Could it possibly be any clearer? Please! Don't leave here unless and until you're 100% sure! Once you've crossed that threshhold from this life to the next . . . it'll be too late!
". . . it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment."
Hey! Not so fast! You haven't said anything
about Heaven and what it will be like!
You're right. I haven't . . . for many reasons. Most of those reasons involve a lot of that theological stuff I mentioned earlier, stuff that's important for you to learn, but not really necessary for this discussion. Besides, believe it or not, you probably know as much about Heaven (or where most of us will live in Eternity) as I do. No more tears or sorrow . . . streets paved with gold . . . no more sickness or suffering . . . no more death . . . the lion lying down with the lamb, etc., etc.
So, what can I tell you? Just this: Imagine the most beautiful, restful, and peaceful place you can think of and then meditate on this: The Bible says, "...Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him." (1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV) In other words, what God has planned for those who have accepted His free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ is going to be so outrageiously exhorbitant and exceedingly beautiful that it will take your breath away!
Who can possibly describe something we've never seen or known? I can't. But I sure do want to be there to experience it! Don't you...?
So, I implore you one more time. Please! Don't leave here unless and until you're 100% sure! Once you've crossed that threshhold from this life to the next . . . it'll be too late!