This morning I woke to the news that a friend from high school had passed away yesterday from cancer. I had not seen him in 20 years.
Every one of us will die one day. And when someone in our lives dies, especially when it is a friend or loved one, it stirs up questions in our minds about what happens after death. Some of you may quickly blow that assertion off with “don’t be silly, nothing happens, we are dead that’s it.” Let me ask you something: can you truly imagine yourself not existing? Stop for a minute and try to imagine not existing; being dead. I bet you can’t, really. You at least envision everything being black/dark. But even in that scenario, aren’t you aware of the darkness? Be honest. I would guess that you can’t really imagine yourself not existing and here’s why: the Bible says that God has set eternity in men’s hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). People know, intrinsically, that there is more; they know they are eternal beings. The question then becomes, how do you know where you will spend your eternity?
Perhaps your answer when you read my question was “Yeah, I know what happens, we go to heaven. I’ll go to heaven with everyone else, I’m a pretty good person.” My next question to you, if that is your response, is how do you know you will go to heaven? How can you be sure? I am always amazed how the general population can so easily dismiss the claims of Christianity, or mock the faith, and yet when there is a tragedy all you see in the comments online are “he’s an angel now” “God’s got another angel in heaven” “he’s with grandpa now watching over you”* etc, etc. It really is fascinating, the contradiction demonstrated by folks. I believe it is yet more evidence that people do know that there is life after our earthly body dies. It is affirming the previously shared verse from Ecclesiastes that says that God has set eternity in people’s hearts. The trouble lays in the ignoring of such knowledge until someone dies. Then all the sudden it’s heaven and angels and hanging out with those who have gone before. Again, I ask you: where do you get such confirmation that what you hope for and cling to in a crisis, will be true for you? Eternity is a pretty big gamble, don’t you think, to just leave it to chance? Don’t really think about it or do anything while you are enjoying life, and just hope that it all works out? Folks, you put more thought into which restaurant you will eat at this weekend than that. Please, don’t kid yourselves.
I do know what happens when we die, and I will share that with you now since I’ve been asking you if you know. In Hebrews 9:27 it says that it is appointed for men to die once, and then after that is judgement. For those of us who have believed in God’s Son Jesus, and are placing our trust in His perfectly sinless life, death on a cross as punishment for our sins, and resurrection to life (the indication that Jesus sacrifice was acceptable to the Father, and His power over death) our judgement was taken care of by Jesus on the cross. So for we who believe and are born again “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8; please click on the link and read the entire chapter). But for those people who do not believe in Jesus and are not trusting Him to pay the penalty for their sins, they will face eternal judgement and condemnation “and these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46 please read this entire passage)
John 3:36 tells us “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” And I cannot leave you without sharing John 3:16-21: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
A few months ago I wrote and entire blog post explaining what the gospel is. I leave it here for you, please, please go read it.
Friends, the only time you are guaranteed is right now. Who knows what the next moment will bring? I plead with you, if you do not know Jesus and have not placed your faith in Him, to fall on the only One who can save! Tonight or tomorrow may be too late for you. Repent of your sins, and place your faith in Jesus to cover your sins, having paid the penalty on the cross. One moment after you cease breathing on this planet, your fate is sealed and it will be too late, forever. Forever is a long time.
Soli Deo Gloria!
*Edited to add: as far as my example of people consoling one another with the sentiment that dead people become angels. They do not. Angels are an entirely different order of created beings. Dead people are just that: people. Angels are angels. Also, there is absolutely no scriptural evidence that dead people in heaven watch over us. The verse in Hebrews about a great cloud of witnesses was referring to saints in the old testament who are examples of faith that believers can look to, not people sitting on clouds watching the happenings on earth. I addressed this verse here. I would hazard a guess that being in the very presence of God almighty is far more captivating than the wickedness going on down here.