“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in me has everlasting life.”
In a nine month period, my wife and I experienced the passing of two members of our immediate family. The means in which we approached each individual all centered on their eternity. Our son Eric passed suddenly, and went to his residence to collect what little of his possessions were left. There we found books about the heaven, the last days, and a bible. To this day, the verse from Jeremiah 29:13 is our hope,” And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” It is this verse that gives Sue and I hope we will see Eric in eternity, in the presence of the Lord. God is the only one who knows one’s heart, and our daily prayer if for God to grant us peace His judgment is righteous, holy, and true.
On the other hand, a few months ago Sue’s mother passed. The entire family was blessed with the foreknowledge of her passing in her final days. While still difficult to bear, all who felt led could say their final words. Sue and I rejoiced at the fact she was going to her real home. Being absent from the body, she was present with the Lord(2 Cor 5:8).
The truth is, eternity awaits everyone. Death is not a state of consciousness, but a state of separation. Eternity is beyond what the finite human being can imagine. We can only digest an age of one is expected to live, and even that is uncertain. “ Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” One may think living 85 to 100 years is a long time, which it may be. But compared to eternity? Eternity is where time does not exist. It is endless in duration. Eternity originated in the mind of God “ just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.. “ (Eph 1:4).
Eternity awaits all, and being certain of where one will go is very critical. While life is uncertain, death is. This is what separates human beings from all other creation on earth. We come to an age of realizing that we will die. Regardless of what one believes, death is unavoidable. Taking note of this fact, wouldn’t one want to know for sure their eternal resting place?
Eternal life is offered to us by Jesus Christ, who being God, in the form of a man, lived a perfect sinless life and willingly died on the cross to pay the penalty of sin all sinners deserve. In John’s first epistle, he talks of the fact that Jesus walked with his disciples, talked with them, broke bread with them, “which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled the Word of life”. John finishes this first epistle “ This is the true God, and eternal life”(1 Jn.5:20). We are promised eternal life by God through Jesus Christ. Our faith alone in Him gives us this assurance. Paul’s first letter to Timothy in the first verse, “ according to the promise of life(eternal) in Christ Jesus”. Titus 3:7, “ that being justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life”. Being dead(spiritually) in our trespasses and sins, it is only Christ who can spiritually resurrect us from this dead state to a renewed, born again person. The spiritual resurrection is all God’s work. As God breathed life into Adam, we are breathed into a new life living for Christ, and we are filled with the Holy Spirit. In a similar way, we were like Lazarus, who was dead, and Christ raised us up. There is nothing we can credit ourselves for in the work of salvation. “ not by works of righteousness we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; “ (Titus 3:5). We are unable to meet God’s perfect standard of righteousness by any deed or act of our own(Luke 18:10-14).
What kind of promises do other religions or cults make in reference to eternal life? Jehovah’s Witnesses claim there in no literal hell. They are however, judged on either obedience or disobedience. Why? What is the consequence of disobedience? Is perfect obedience expected? “ There is none righteous, no, not one”(Rom 3:10). If one breaks the law, the penalty is death. No one has ever been approached by a judge or a policeman and told, “ thank you for obeying the law”. It is expected of one to do so. JW also talk that for those who are not granted eternal life, annihilation is the sentence. When God approached Cain about the murder of Abel, God said, “ What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” Certainly a dead body can not speak, but as mentioned earlier, the spirit still exists. In Revelation 6:9-11, it speaks of the martyred remnant, “ And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
Very simply, annihilation is unbiblical.
Mormons believe that God was once a man, and through experience, knowledge, and “spiritual evolution” he became a god. “God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth”(Jn 4:24). Numbers 23:19 states, “ God is not a man, that he should lie…”. This teaching is unbiblical and is very similar to today’s New Age self-deification.
Many claim that God sending someone to hell is unbecoming of His love. All have inherited the result of Adam’s fall. We are born sinners, separated from God. In our rebellion we hate God. If one dies in their sin, they have failed to meet the standards imposed by God. God must deal with sin in the only holy, true way he can. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”(Rom 6:23). While eternal bliss in the presence of God is forever, so is condemnation. “ And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; “(2 Thess. 1:7-9). In Matthew’s gospel, Christ mentions it in one sentence. “ And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal”
Karma states a perpetual life of evil. When one is a victim of an alcoholic, he comes back in the next life to be an alcoholic himself. Where is bliss? Why can’t one retain the experience when they die and move to another body to inhabit? There is no progress. Bad Karma can be worked off in a lifetime. How can this be when evil perpetuates itself? Islam says salvation is obtained by obedience to Allah. It is only guaranteed by martyring one’s self in jihad. Other than that, is up to Allah to decide this, and one’s eternal fate is uncertain. Even if one adheres to it’s legal system of repeating creeds, prayers, works, fasting, and pilgrimage, salvation is uncertain. It is interesting to think that in Islam paradise is a place with 72 virgins and plenty of wine. This debauchery is the same thing they criticize Americans for. Very simply, Islam was founded by a dead prophet(Mohammed), while Christianity was founded by a risen Savior.
Eternity is immediate upon one’s physical death on earth. While man does not seek God(Rom. 3:11), what does God seek for? “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit”(Psalm 34:18). When one realizes they are poor in spirit, dead in their trespasses and sins, God will give that one grace to realize they are in need of a Savior. In Luke’s gospel, there is the story of two men who died, one a rich man, the other a poor beggar. The beggar is in paradise, in Abraham’s bosom, comforted. The rich man is in hell, in torment. The rich man cries out, “send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame”. Is this water the water that Jesus talks about to the Samaritan woman at the well? Could this be the water that “whosoever drinketh of the water I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into eternal life”. It’s obvious from this scripture that those who will have eternal punishment will have a conscience of eternal memories which consist of sorrow they have rejected their God and creator. Let us as followers of Christ, share with the gospel with all willing to listen, and answer those who ask; what must I do to inherit eternal life?