If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable (1 Corinthians 15:19 NKJV).
From the passage above, the Apostle Paul is of the opinion that, there’s life beyond the grave. Life after death is a debatable topic. There are those who oppose to this idea; to them, physical death is the ultimate terminator of life. On the other hand, those who believe in life after death are of the view that, death is not the end of our mortal existence in this world. They argue that, each of us has a body and a soul. The soul is housed in the body; and goes somewhere after death.
This means, the soul does not die, but lives on perpetually. Such people project their belief into words and actions. For example, they would address their departed relatives as being around and looking down on them either to bless them or to acknowledge their accomplishments. Similarly, the way they prepare the dead bodies of their relatives for burial support their belief. They would even go to the extent of putting things like clothing, towel, blanket, soap, mat, money etc into the casket for burial. To them, these supplies help the departed to start a comfortable new life.
Christians believe in life after death. We also believe that, every person has a soul which is housed within the body. The end of our physical existence in this world is when the soul would return to his Maker to live forever either in joy or torment . This belief is captured in the word eternity – endless life after death; to be spent either in heaven or hell. This raises questions like; 1. How certain is heaven or hell; a place no one has ever visited and brought back a report. 2. How do we prepare for eternity in heaven? 3. Why would a loving God send anybody to hell? For answers, let’s look at the following:
THE CERTAINTY OF HEAVEN AND HELL
Though, heaven and hell have no geographical locations, both are real. Here’s why? People who have had near death experiences do narrate seeing their souls floating out of their bodies into an unknown blissful or scary place; depending on each individual's narrative.
Apart from the numerous scriptural references about heaven and hell, Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus gives us a glimpse of life after death. In Luke 16:19-31, we see a stark contrast of life between heaven and hell. Jesus painted the good life the rich man enjoyed in this world without planning for his soul after death. On the contrary, Lazarus, though poor in material things, he was spiritually rich towards God. When both of them died, they ended up in two different places. Lazarus was taken to the bosom of Abraham (heaven); whilst the rich man went to hell. Seeing the comfortable atmosphere Lazarus was in, the rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus to dip his finger into water to cool his tongue for he was suffering in hell fire. Abraham responded that was impossible because of the chasm between heaven and hell.
The rich man begged that, somebody from heaven be sent to the earth to warn people so they wouldn’t come to hell. Here’s Luke’s account of the story: 27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead’ ” (Luke 16:27-31). This parable is not to suggest that, rich people will go to hell. Rather, anyone who’s not rich towards God could end up in hell after death.
HOW DO WE PREPARE FOR ETERNITY IN HEAVEN?
The Bible says; 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:16-17). Not many days from now, we’ll be celebrating Easter – a time to remind ourselves of the suffering, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus. The reason Jesus came into this world is to reconcile mankind to God; a demonstration of the depth, height, width and length of God’s love for mankind.
This means, man’s preparation to spend eternity in heaven is through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. And so, anyone who would acknowledge his / her need of a Saviour and ask for forgiveness through the blood of Jesus; and invite him to be the Lord of his life is a candidate for heaven. The Bible says; 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
WHY WOULD A LOVING GOD SEND ANYBODY TO HELL?
The Bible says that, God created man in his own image (Genesis 1:27); and this means that, God has given us our wills as human beings. Another thing we should take note of is; even though, God is loving and merciful, he’s also a God of wrath. In as much as it’s not God’s delight to punish any of us through hell fire, he’s also a God who would respect the individual choices we make in life including our choice of either reconciling with him and go to heaven or rejecting him and go to hell. We all know that, life is full of choices. The choices we made yesterday have brought us where we are today. And the choices we make today will lead us to where we want to be tomorrow.
Some of us think that, heaven or hell is based on the works we do like feeding the hungry, caring for the sick and any other philanthropic work we do. Though, these deeds are good for humanity, the requirement for heaven is through the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
To help us put all the above in perspective in relation to where we want to spend eternity after death, I want us to reflect on these words from Moses from Psalm 90:1-12
Lord, You have been our [a]dwelling place in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever You [b]had formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
3 You turn man to destruction,
And say, “Return, O children of men.”
4 For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it is past,
And like a watch in the night.
5 You carry them away like a flood;
They are like a sleep.
In the morning they are like grass which grows up:
6 In the morning it flourishes and grows up;
In the evening it is cut down and withers.
7 For we have been consumed by Your anger,
And by Your wrath we are terrified.
8 You have set our iniquities before You,
Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.
9 For all our days have passed away in Your wrath;
We finish our years like a sigh.
10 The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
11 Who knows the power of Your anger?
For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.
12 So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Rev. Dr. & Rev. (Mrs.) Charles & Faustina Mantey
- My second book titled: Understanding Love: Biblical & Cultural Perspectives has been released. You may order your copy from Amazon.com or through the Publisher @ www.shidaanikei.com.
- The first book titled: African Spirituality: Did Africans know God before the arrival of the Missionaries? Could also be purchase on Amazon and shidaanikei.com as well.
- We will be grateful if you are able to support us financially to continue with our orphanage and church planting programs in Africa. You may send your donations by mail or through our website at www.disciplesrevivalchurhch.org and click on the donation page.
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Disciples Revival Church
30 Gordon Mackay Road
Toronto, Ontario M9N 2V6. Canada
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