Saturday, October 8, 2011

What Will Happen When I Die?

This question has plagued humanity for pretty much...ever. Of course just about every philosophy and religion (and every combination of the two) worth it's salt has an answer.

Atheists tend to believe nothing happens, that we're just a happy accident. At the end, nothing. Though i know one who believes his "conciousness," as energy will exist in some form even millenia from now. Some atheists like Ray Kurzweil think they'll be able to upload into a computer.

Muslims believe that Allah will judge them, weighing their good deeds against their bad. Hopefully their good deeds outweigh their bad, but even that isn't a guarantee. If Allah is feeling capricious that day and wants to mess with you, he could disregard the good deeds and send even the most devout Muslim to hell. Even if he's in a good and fair mood, how would anyone know if they've ever done enough good works? It's not like you or i can keep score.

A (reform Judaism) Jew told me that Jews believed that after death, there was nothing. Lights out, just like most Atheists. No judgment from God. It makes me wonder then what the point of keeping the 600 plus Mitzvoh would be if you're not rewarded or held to account over it. I'm sure other branches of Judaism would dispute the point on the afterlife.

Buddhists, Hindus and probably New Agers (since that's mostly westernized Hinduism/Buddhism with a pinch of selfish Americanism) believe their soul will be reborn into a new body depending upon how enlightened they became or how good they are in this life. There's even a bank that will set you up for your next life-that is if your new body can remember the password. There has yet to be a withdrawal.

Mormons believe that if they were good Mormons (men only, sorry ladies you can only go if your husband says so) will evolve into gods based upon their own merits and inherit their own planet to rule (don't believe me? Ask a Mormon about planet Kolob). This is all based on the writings of Joseph Smith (and the teachings of his successors), who had his hands in occultism of various sorts.

Those are just a few beliefs, there are hodgepodges of all the above, and even more distinct beliefs for other religions. But a common theme is that one will be judged for their good and bad works, and sent to heaven or hell accordingly, or sometimes just reincarnated based on that judgement. But nobody can say with absolute certainty since no one has died and come back. Well there was one, but we'll get to Him soon.

So, based on these beliefs, when is good, good enough? When are you ever good enough to go to Heaven or achieve enlightenment? There are millions of Buddhists, but none can claim they have achieved enlightenment. When can you or I, a finite creature, attain an infinite existence?

To avoid answering this question, some faiths skip the whole "good works/bad works" game and say that EVERYONE can go. After all, that's the only fair way, although that's not fair to those who did good. The worst thing is some of those people claim to be Christians. But if everyone eventually reaches the good place, that's great news for Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Jeffrey Dahmer, Jim Jones, Pol Pot and Dr. Mengele to name a few. And for those who did good, well, that's just too bad, we need to be fair, you'll just have to rub shoulders with mass murderers.

Despite the fact that these other faiths give answers, nobody can be absolutely sure.

Except for those who believe the Bible.

The Bible is absolutely clear on what happens when we die, and it also tells us PRECISELY what we need to do to get to the destination, we choose. Whatever that might be. Most know that the Bible says we either go to Heaven or to Hell and believe that God sends there which is partially true.

I've blogged about Hell (and the underworld for all spirits in general) so, feel free to dig around for that one. But to save time, here are the basics, as it pertains to you and i as humans beings.


Luke 16:19 - 31

There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:

And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,

And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that [would come] from thence.

Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:

For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.

Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.

And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.

And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

The rich man died and found himself immediately in hell. Notice he was in TORMENTS, not having a good ol' time with his buddies as my pastor might say. To quote another good teacher, Chuck Missler, "He knew he was in hell and what's more. He knew that he deserved to be there." That's a brilliant observation, because notice he didn't argue that point at all.

Also note, God is not present with the rich man as he suffers. He lived without God, and that's his eternal reward. Eternity without God's love which in itself is a torment. I think it's interesting to note that Jesus says that He is Living Water (to the Samaritan woman) and water is just what this guy is asking for. That water would ease his torment, i think that his thirst may be at least partially a thirst for God and the Living Water. He's a spirit at this point, so why would he want physical water?

Anyone in this Hell, I presume, will end up in the Lake of Fire described in Revelation 20:15, which i believe is a punishment reserved for Satan and his angels and by default those who rebel by rejecting God. Luckily God gave us humans a way out, if only we accept it.

Why did he end up in Hell, while Lazarus went to Abraham's Bosom? From what I've been hearing in podcasts and commentaries it's because the rich man didn't trust in God. This is evidenced by his actions towards Lazarus who was literally outside his doorstep, begging even for scraps. The rich man didn't love God or His neighbor, not even enough to give this kid some scraps or to pray for him. I'd say that's proof that his heart was wicked.

Now for the flip side which is good news. Not everyone will go to Hell, though wide is the gate, so many people will sadly end up there you and I don't have to go. We saw in Luke 16 that Lazarus was in paradise, because he had faith and hope in the Most High God. But keep in mind this was before Christ's death and resurrection.

It seems according to this text, and possibly elsewhere in the Bible, that the faithful dead went to a temporary paradise, but when Christ died and rose again, the souls of the faithful dead went with Him to Heaven. Notice what Jesus said about faithful dead people differs from what Paul said.

2 Corinthians 5:6 - 8 the Apostle Paul stated that now after Christ's finished work, a faithful dead person goes straight to Jesus, even though we will all appear at the judgement seat of Christ. (Verse 10). (Also, Revelation 20:11 - 13, though i might not be 100% right on that.) Still, Jesus is now at God's right hand, not in Abraham's Bosom implying that those who now die in Christ, go to God directly.

So how do we get to Heaven and avoid Hell? How do we become faithful? What will Heaven be like?

We can't get to Heaven based on our works. Ephesians 2:8-10 clearly says we are saved by grace. That grace is our faith in Jesus Christ, who He is, and what HE HAS DONE (John 3:16)

First, God the Father draws us towards Him, to Jesus. Then, in my understanding, it's up to us to accept or reject that truth. Many people hear this truth, and reject it, then decide it's not fair that God send people-including themselves-to Hell.

That's like getting told about a five star, all you can eat buffet thats free for everyone who comes to the restaurant and washes their hands. But then refusing to go in and telling the host it's not fair the owner wants people to wash themselves clean and won't feed the people who don't want to wash their hands or come into the restaurant! Would you want to eat even the best food with filthy hands, or filthy people?

John 6:44-48

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

I am that bread of life.

God's drawing us to Him with the "free buffet for everyone" sign on, and people just don't want it. Because they have to admit they are hungry and dirty, in need of cleaning and food.But how do we who want to, partake of this?

By repenting, and confessing our sins (1 John 1:9) and having faith in Jesus and what He's done, we are cleaned of our sins, and acceptable to God. Then we are free to go and be with Him.

No one eats before cleaning themselves.

Heaven of course, will be wonderful. Jesus describes Heaven and the Kingdom of God in the Gospels, i highly recommend you read those all the way through on your end. But we also get a glimpse of what Heaven will be like in the future.

Randy Alcorn has written a decent book about Heaven. But hardly anyone can do better than what God has given us. Take a look for yourselves.

So, there are really only two options of a destination when we die and the good news is we get to choose which one we want. God does draw us to Him, and gives us that faith as stated earlier and He also chose us before He created ANYTHING!

Ephesians 1:4-5

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Is that fair? Yes, because although God draws us to Himself, and fore oredained us, He also allows the choice to accept His offer.

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Right there, God makes it clear that He wants us all in Heaven with Him. He wants YOU there too. But because He is perfect, loving and just while we are not, we cannot be with Him in Heaven unless we accept His solution to deal with our sin. Can you think of anything more sad than you or someone you know going to Hell, eternally separated from God and in torment when they have the choice not to go? When God has clearly given us the way out? I can't.

So, God does not send anyone to Hell. He did not send the rich man in Luke 16 to Hell. The rich man wanted nothing to do with God in this life and lived accordingly, so he was rewarded with an eternity of what he wanted. Life without God and God's love. Read it Luke 16 again if you need to so you can see what an eternity without God's love is like.

Anyone now who does not accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and rejects His gift to us, is saying with with their life that they want nothing to do with God. So upon death, they will get eternity without God. Please don't let that be your choice.

But if you want to spend eternity with a God who loves you, He will allow you to based on what He's done in Christ. Ask Jesus into your life, accept His gift of forgiveness and ask Him to forgive you. Tell Him you are sorry, and turn from your sinful life.

So again. Do you want so spend an eternity with a God who loves you so much, He died a death He didn't deserve? Do you want to get to know Him, and care for others like He does?

Or do you want spend an eternity without God? An eternity in torment with Satan who rebelled against God, hates God and hates you and I?

It's your choice.

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