What’s at the End?
Very good question that I think everybody, even those who call themselves an “atheist”, is pondering. The End I’m referring to, obviously, is death. It’s something we cannot physically analyze, observe, or have an effect on. No scientist can conclude with absolute certainty what happens after death occurs. Sure, we know that the body is buried, but what about our soul, our spirit? The Bible tells us what comes after death. This won’t be very in-depth regarding each point, but enough to get an idea.
First, for those who think they can cheat death, I’ve got news. Psalm 89:48 asks, “what man can live and never see death?” -Nobody. So many medical procedures exist nowadays that attempt to cheat death (and they even have skin creams that ‘rejuvenate’ your face so you don’t have to look like death when you’re 140 years old), but death is something that humans don’t have any impact on. You can try all you’d like, but you’re still going to die at some point.
What does death mean? Death, in the physical sense, is separation of ‘us’ from our body. We are eternal beings, but these bodies are not. There is also a spiritual death, which is being cut off from God eternally. This may seem like a silly question, but has death always been around? Don’t blurt it out yet. According to Romans 6:23, the wages (keep that word in mind) of sin is death. Now if death is the wage, or in other words the payment of sin, that means we’ve earned it. It also means without sin, there would not be death. Back in the Garden of Eden, before Adam and Eve sinned, there was no death. Adam and Eve were designed to live forever – that was God’s plan, and even though man screwed up, God still has that plan in mind for us. Physical death is not an ultimate end, but only transition away from our life on earth. In Hebrews 9:27, it is stated “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment”.
Judgment? I thought that we’re spared judgment since we’re Christians?! Well, yes and no. I’m not saying our actions have any impact on our sentence – Romans 3:23 tells us that everyone (Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, that neighbor that spends all his time serving in the homeless shelter) has sinned and fell short of God’s standard. So by our actions, we’re dead meat. However, go back one verse to Romans 3:22 – which says, “we are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ…and this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are”. We will all go through the final judgment, but our faith in Jesus Christ will be the single thing that saves us from the death sentence we have earned.
However, what us believers in Christ do with our life will be judged. Jesus told us that even every idle word we speak will be judged (Matthew 12:36). God has given us this life for a reason, and we are responsible for what we do in it. Do we spend our time serving ourselves, or do we spend our life asking what God wants us to do?
Those who have accepted Christ as their savior live in Heaven for eternity. Don’t misunderstand this- those who are in Heaven are there only because they have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice, not any amount of works they did. The thief on the cross next to Jesus asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus went into Heaven (displaying his faith in Jesus) and Jesus told the thief that he would be with Jesus in paradise. Just a historical note, death by crucifixion was considered a horrible death – it was meant to be torturous. It is not just a death sentence, but a slow, painful, humiliating death. It wasn’t handed out for small matters, but for large offenses. This thief was not what people would consider “Heaven material”, yet he was justified by his last-minute faith. Anyways, what is heaven? It’s eternity with God. It’s a return to God’s original plan to live among us! Our sin normally would be unacceptable in God’s presence (think unwashed scrubs and dirty scalpels in an operation room) but Jesus’ blood has washed us clean of sin, making us right with God, allowing us to be close to Him again. Heaven is a place without suffering, a place where God provides our needs. It is a place where we receive rewards for what we did for God’s kingdom on earth (Matthew 10:42). There’s much more to be said about Heaven, but that’s it for this post. Just be excited!
For those who haven’t placed their salvation in Jesus Christ, their eternal home is Hell. Hell is eternal separation from God’s presence. Hell is where we ALL should end up, as again, the wages of sin is death (physical and eternal). Our choices (sin) are disobedience to God, and because God is just, he has to punish us. God, since He is perfect, cannot be around sin, and so our sin separates us. Hell is not God’s will for the human race though -He doesn’t want a single person to end up there, so He sent His Son, Jesus, to make the sacrifice for OUR sins (something we can’t do) so we could be justified and clean in His sight. So make no mistake, God doesn’t send anyone to Hell; those who end up there do so because they reject the only way possible to be saved.
As you can see, death for the believer in Christ should not be scary. But it should give you motivation in this life. God has set a span for our life, and we do not know how long that span is. He has a plan for our life, and we (obviously) can only accomplish that while we are still alive in this world. Beyond that thought, we should be further motivated knowing that everything we do on this world will be judged – things we did for God’s kingdom will last, everything else (our wealth, our career, our collections of stuff, etc.) will burn up. Don’t do useless stuff here, do something eternal! Invest in someone’s life. Disciple others, bring them closer to God. Do what God wants you to do.
If you read this post and it scared the crap out of you because you don’t know where you’ll end up, don’t be afraid. You can be sure – for Jesus Christ was sent that all who accept his sacrifice for our wrong-doing can be right with God; can be Father God’s child! The entire Bible revolves around God’s plan to redeem mankind- Adam and Eve screwed things up for the rest of us, but all the prophets from Moses to Malachi have declared that God will send His messiah to set things right. Jesus is that messiah, filling all the Old Testament prophecies (humanly impossible), living a sinless life, dying for our sins, rising from the dead (our bodily resurrections to follow His), and sitting at the right hand of Father God, declaring “Ah yes, [insert your name here] – they’re justified by me and right with you, Father”. All you have to do to accept his sacrifice, to remove the separation between you and God, is to confess your sin to God, tell Him you know you can’t save yourself and that Jesus is the only way you can be saved, and to place your faith in Jesus and have Him be the boss of your life. Calling Jesus the boss of your life might sound scary, and it’s your life, right? It’s actually not yours, but a gift from God – and He has the absolute best plans for your life (better than you can come up with) and trust me, it’s a decision you will never regret. If your heart wants to be right with God, if you don’t want to be separated from God by your wrongs any more, pray this wherever you’re at with me:
“God, I’m a broken man/woman. I’ve disobeyed you, and that’s the reason we’re separated. God, I am sorry for my sin and I turn away from it. I understand that Jesus is the only way to save myself, so Jesus, I give my life over to you now. Come live inside me, make me right before God. Thank you for dying for me, I accept your sacrifice. God, thank you for this new relationship with you. Keep me living for you, not my own wants. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”
If you prayed that and meant it in your heart, go reread the last part of the Heaven section. Get excited, for because of placing your faith in Jesus, you’ll be there when this life is done!
The BOTTOM LINE: Death should not scare those who accept Jesus as savior, but motivate them to live for God. If death does scare you, make sure you’re right with God – and that’s only through Jesus Christ.