What awaits us on the other side of death? Is it heaven or hell? Many people do not care, or do not care to think about such matters. The here and now is all that matters, and whatever waits on the other side of death, be it heaven or hell, so be it. However, when we do cross over to the other side of death, and we come face-to-face with the reality of heaven and hell, everyone will care a great deal. Everyone will be knocking on heaven's door.
In the story of the rich man and the beggar named Lazarus, the rich man lives his life lavishly for the moment while the beggar lies at his gate where the dogs lick his sores. On the other side of death the beggar goes to heaven but the rich man goes to hell. We learn three significant facts about the other side of death from this story.
We will be aware of our circumstances.
In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, "Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire."
Our circumstances will be irreversible.
And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us."
We will not want anyone to join us there.
He answered, "Then I beg you father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment."
If eternity is a matter of heaven and hell, who goes to heaven and who goes to hell?
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolators and all liars - their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.
That seems right. All of those people we heard about on the evening news, the murderers, rapists, pedophiles and crooks will finally get what is coming to them. They will end up in hell while everyone else goes to heaven.
However, Jesus says,
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, "Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement." But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement.
You have heard that it was said, "Do not commit adultery." But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
When we entertain the thoughts of anger and lust, we are as guilty as those despicable people on the evening news.
Psalm 14:3 Psalm 53:3 Romans 3:12
All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
No one is good. If bad people go to hell and good people go to heaven, but no one is good, then who can knock on heaven's door and have the door opened to them?
Later the others also came, "Sir! Sir!" they said. "Open the door for us!" But he replied, "I tell you the truth, I don't know you."
Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, "Sir, open the door for us." But he will answer, "I don't know you or where you come from."
Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?" Then I will tell them plainly, "I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers!"
Heaven's door did not open for any of these people when they knocked, and they were good people, expecting to get into heaven. They are not accused of any crimes or malicious wrongdoings. Jesus does not list their character flaws or moral shortcomings. His only reason for not opening the door is, "I don't know you." We need to know Jesus, and he needs to know us, before we can enter through heaven's door.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
Jesus is here, with us, waiting for us to turn away from our selfish desires and turn toward his everlasting love. He stands at the door of your heart and knocks. He stands at the door of your thoughts and knocks. He is waiting patiently. Open the door of your soul to Jesus, and he will open heaven's door to you.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For him who knocks, the door will be opened.
We need to build a relationship with Jesus while we are here. Then, when we find ourselves on the other side of death, facing the reality of heaven and hell, we will be able to knock confidently on heaven's door, knowing our friend Jesus will open the door for us.
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
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