Every individual throughout every age of time has at one point or another in life has wondered what is beyond death.
Some believe there will be a decision made after death. I’ve heard people tell someone, “Go to the light.” The Bible, however, never gives any indication of any choice after death to decide one’s eternal destiny. The most vivid picture of a scene immediately after death found in the Bible is Luke 16:19-31. The story surrounds two people, one a wealthy man, the other a beggar.
In the Luke 16 account, when the beggar dies he is carried away by angels. The narrative for the rich man is not a happy one, “The rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments,” Luke 16:22-23. Once the moment of death arrives, people are carried to their eternal home – heaven or torment.
On the pain and agony side, the descriptions of hell from the Scripture are horrific, “Where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched,” Mark 9:44, 46, 48. Fire and brimstone not only rained down upon Sodom and Gomorrah, but it is also used to describe the place reserved for the unsaved in Revelation 19:20, 20:10, 21:8. If fire and brimstone are not enough, the fact that no one can leave once they arrive should cause people to tremble in fear in Revelation 14:11 and Luke 16:26. The Bible’s final descriptions of this place of agony are, “the lake of fire,” Revelation 20:15 and a “lake which burneth with fire and brimstone,” Revelation 21:8. In both the Revelation 20 and 21 passages the experience of going there is called, “the second death.” Those there have all died physically and have now died spiritually, to live forever in God’s place of punishment.
On the flip side, there is a heaven. This earthly life is filled with death, anguish and pain, but for the redeemed once this life is over these things will be done away with, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away,” Revelation 21:4.
The street of gold in Revelation 21:21, the mansions in John 14:2 and things we cannot possibly comprehend in 1 Corinthians 2:9 will be there. But the most glorious thing awaiting us in heaven is Jesus Christ Himself in John 14:3 and Revelation 22:3-5.
Many tend to believe our eternal home will be determined by our righteous living this side of death. The Bible clearly explains heaven cannot be obtained by being good such as in Matthew 7:22-23; Romans 3:20, 9:32, 11:6; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:4-5 and many more verses. The Bible vividly points out that our “righteousnesses are as filthy rags,” Isaiah 64:6.
Ask yourself this question, “How many banks do I have to rob to be a bank robber?” The answer, of course, is one. Now ask yourself this, “How many sins do I need to commit to be a sinner?” Again, the answer is one. Herein lies the problem. We are all guilty of something. We are all guilty of many things.
Before Jesus’ birth, an angel came to Joseph and told him, “thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.” The main purpose of Jesus coming to this earth was to die for our sins, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit,” 1 Peter 3:18.
As stated earlier, from the Luke 16 passage, there is no decision made after death about our eternal destiny. The decision, therefore, must be made this side of death.
Heaven itself is not the choice; it is a consequence of the choice. The decision is to trust Jesus’ work on the cross. It is there He paid for our sins such as in John 1:12, 3:15-18, 36, 5:24, 20:31; Acts 10:43, 13:39, 16:31; Romans 9:33, 10:9 and the list goes on. He is the sacrificial Lamb of God; the sacrifice that was made by God for our sins.
Preacher Tim Johnson is pastor at Countryside Baptist Church in rural Parke County, Ind. To hear sermons, view current news events related to prophecy and other things, visit preacherjohnson.com or email [email protected]