We are brought to the place where Jesus is going to teach us about Heaven and Hell. The destiny of everyone who lives... death. I am going to die. You are going to die. We are all going to die... someday. We have all been to funerals, and there will be a funeral for us as well. The question then is, “What then? What happens when I die, what is on the other side?" Perhaps this is one of the most important question we can ask.
When it comes to death and what happens after death, Jesus gives us instruction. Before we get into the Scriptures, I do want to address the beliefs or views of hell that exists in the world. Why? 1) So you will know that the topic and the truth of Hell is relevant and significant, 2) and if you hold some of these views I might persuade you away from them, because they are wrong.
Here are the different answers we get to the question:
1) Naturalists: They will tell you that you do not have a soul. You are just a body, and when you die you cease to exist. There is no existence beyond this world, this present life, following your death.
This is not true.
2) Universalists: They teach that everyone, or most everyone, will go to heaven. That hell will be empty or not very populated. Some will say that all religions lead to God, that all paths lead to salvation.
This is not true, Jesus died because he taught that this is not true. There is a false view that some "Christians" hold that after you die, there is an opportunity to meet Jesus and eventually everyone will be saved, because Jesus will persuade us. This is not true!
3) Reincarnationists: They will tell you that we have multiple lives, that you die and then live over and over again... because you have to pay off your "karmic debt" to the universe.
This is simply not true.
4) Annihilationists: They teach that when people who have not committed to Jesus, and they die, they simply cease to exist, or they suffer for awhile in hell, and then sometime they cease to exist.
That is not true, but some teach that.
5) Catholics: They will teach what they call purgatory, which is no where in the Bible because it is not true. That people can die, suffer for awhile, as part of their work for salvation (which is a wrong concept to start out with), so that one day they can be in Heaven.
That is not true, though some people believe it.
The next and final question is “What does the Bible say, what does it teach?” This this in mind we are going to read the words of Jesus Christ.
6) Bible: Jesus Christ is the most loving, humble, serving, helpful and compassionate servant that has ever walked in our world. So, it may surprise us, that Jesus speaks of Hell more than any other person in the Bible. For every 13 lessons he gives, he gives 2 on hell, judgment, and punishment.
Some will say, "If Jesus is so loving, certainly he doesn’t believe in hell." To that, I would say, "Not only did the most loving person believe in hell, but he repeatedly teaches on it." Which means that our sin is more damnable than what we may think. This also means, it requires the most loving person to speak in the most starkest terms!
The very existence of Hell and the instruction of Jesus on Hell, should reveal to us how sinful sin really is... and how rebellious we really are.
We are going to read the words of God, together. We are going to read Luke 16:19-31.
But before we delve into Luke, I want us to know that we are two parts...
This passage is directed to believers. You and I, as image bearers of God, are two parts. We are a physical body and a spiritual soul. When you and I die, death shallows the body because of sin and our souls go on to live eternally, either in Heaven or in Hell. So, for the Christian, when we die, to be removed from the body (death) is to be with the Lord. So death is when we die physically but live spiritually. When the time comes for Jesus to return to the earth for a second time, all in Christ will be raised into new bodies in which we will continue to live. For the Christian when we rise, it will be like rising like Jesus did on the third day. When Jesus speaks, he speaks as God. He speaks as one who has conquered sin and death. He is the only one with absolute intimate knowledge of death and what awaits us on the other side.
These are Jesus' words… Luke 16:19:
Jesus tells the story of the life, death, and eternal life of two men. There is a name here... which we normally don’t get in a parable. Here is a man named Lazarus who’s wounds the dogs would come and lick. He is a believer in God.
Now, the religious leaders of the day, would think that Lazarus is cursed by God. Yeah, for real. They had this really bad idea and false understanding that if you loved God and God loved you, you would be healthy and wealthy. Lazarus was neither!
Lazarus placed himself near the gate of the rich man’s estate. This rich man ate gourmet meals, had a great house, maybe had servants, he wore the latest and most expensive clothing. He was comfortable. He was both healthy and wealthy. This man had feasts every day. Now, Lazarus places himself at his gate, dreaming that instead of the rich man feeding the table scraps to his dogs, he would send out his servants to allow Lazarus to eat the scrapes.
We can just imagine how the rich man would step over the poor man daily... while knowing that the poor man knew God.
One day, the poor man dies. We can assume that he didn’t have an elaborate or even proper a burial. Not a good grave site. No family to tend to such preparations. No head stone. Maybe a quick, little prayer. His broken body lies there dead, but we are told that his soul is transported to be with God. So, this parable is an example or a demonstration of 2 Corinthians 5:8. Now, Lazarus is in a place of blessing. He is sitting beside Abraham, the father of faithfulness; he is sitting with the saints. Now, Lazarus is no longer in pain and he is no longer hungry. He is blessed by God, and he loved by God.
Now... the rich man dies. Most likely he had a well attended funeral, which was elaborate. The finest tomb or headstone. Overall a great tribute to this wealthy man. And to be sure everyone thought, to be sure, "This blessed man is now in the presence of God." This was not the case. He died and went to Hades... Hell. As he is in absolute pain, as if he is trapped inside a burning building forever. He is experiencing conscience torment as he is aware of the pain, the pain of the everlasting flames.
Jesus is giving us the most graphic depiction of Hell. Jesus says this! You can not say that Hell is not loving. Jesus, who is love, says this!
We will all die, and we will either go to Heaven, a place of blessing, or Hell a place of suffering.
We all say when a person dies, "They are in a better place." Some don’t. Heaven in not just a place, it’s a person, and his name is Jesus Christ. If you don’t love Jesus, you won’t be going to be in the same place with him forever. Jesus speaks of Hell more than anyone else in the Bible. We need to know this.
The story of Lazarus and the rich man is a stark reminder of this truth. The rich man is in torment, and then Jesus says that he looks up and sees Lazarus in the luxury of Heaven.
At this time, the rich man wants a gift. "Please Lazarus, just put a drop of water on my burning tongue. I desperately long for relief." He is told, by Abraham, that there is a great chasm, a big deep space, between them and there is no exceptions. No one from Hell can visit Heaven, no one from Heaven can visit Hell. There is no visiting hours! Death seals the deal of where you will be. This life is our only opportunity we have to make a decision. In the case of the rich man, he already mad his decision.
Hell is the wrath of God in its "acting" form. Sadly, some will pick one of God’s attitudes, such as "love" and reject or make war with His other attributes. But God holds all of the contents of His character perfectly, and wholly. What you and I like to do is pick one thing about God, and then elevate it above all other things of God. Many times people will take the attribute of "love" and make it THE attribute of God. News flash: God is not loving... God is love. Which means, whatever He does is loving and holy (set apart) and therefore at the same time a God of wrath, because God is a just, fair, impartial God. The wrath of God is mentioned in the Bible over 600 times. God is a God of wrath, and if we stand in His way, we get wrath. But since God is a loving God, He sent His son, his only son, into this world, to taste death, and conquer it. Which means, if you do not know Jesus, if you do not believe and trust in Jesus, if you do not belong to Jesus…. You are in the path of the wrath of God…. Hell. Jesus tells us, that this rich man is aware of his agony, and it is eternal never ending. It is torment. It is flame. It is burning. A never ending "eating of your flesh."
Many stand in the way of God’s wrath. God’s wrath is on them. They may be ignoring it, thinking because of God’s grace, that being their wealth and health, everything is OKAY. Just because God gives you such graces, doesn't mean that everything is alright. It may mean God is giving you grace so that you turn to Him. For those who do not love Jesus, this life is as close to Heaven you will be. Hell awaits you. For those who love Jesus, this life is as close to hell you will be. Heaven awaits you.
Here are the opinions we have... John 3:36:
Heaven and hell are not ultimately the issues. Jesus Christ is the issue at hand. Heaven and Hell are just the aftermath of the issue. Which means, let us not overlook Jesus to start arguing about Heaven and Hell. Ask yourself, "Have I received Jesus as God and savior?" If so, life that is everlasting, like what Lazarus experienced, is what awaits for you. If not, the wrath of God remains on you.
Those are the opinions... Heaven or Hell. Forever life or forever suffering. Blessing or suffering. Grace or wrath. There is no exceptions. And you are no exception.
In writing these things, I know you will have a lot questions. Below are the questions I received by a local church:
I just want to start off with that I am not advocating that anyone take their own life. That is not what I am saying. I would have a lot of sympathy and compassion for a mother, father, sister, brother, relative who has killed themselves.
We are one person, two parts. We have this immaterial, invisible soul that belongs to the Lord. Paul says to be away from the body is to be present with the Lord. He actually says that to die is to gain. So we have this physical body, we are vulnerable, and life challenges us with more than what we can take. For example, many who kill themselves their bodies are in rapid deterioration, increased pain, and complexity. Because we are one body, with two parts, the body and the soul affect one another. Sometimes what happens when we are suffering and under terrible pain, is that we are medicated or self-medicated and that messes with our thinking, our state of mind. It can effect our sleep, our eating and overall health. Chronic pain, and even depression can be a chronic pain, can do things physically, psychologically, and spiritually. Because we are one person, all of our being... the physical, mental, and spiritual… they work together. Work together for us or, often times, work against us.
That being said, many may not be themselves. They may be medicated, sleep depraved, and are in constant chronic pain. They are not doing well. They are sick.
With all that being covered, if you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, your eternal relationship with God is forever sealed. The very fact that Jesus died on the cross for all of our sins... sins past, present, and future... means any sin we commit, if we belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, our sin is covered by the Lord Jesus Christ. Because when stand before God, He doesn’t see you for you, He sees His son. Because our identity is in him, not our sin. Amen!
There are things that the Bible calls the unforgivable sin, the unpardonable sin, the sin that leads to death, In their context, all these refers to someone who is not in Christ, one who is not a Christian in what they are doing or saying. They are doing or saying: "Jesus is evil, Jesus is demonic, Jesus is Satantic." They reject Jesus. The only thing God can not forgive is if a person doesn’t receive His son. If you do not receive Jesus, you are still in sin, your sins are not forgiven. But if you receive Jesus, your sins are forgiven. Which means all of your sins are forgiven: past, present, and yes... even future.
If someone knows the Lord, belongs to the Lord, walks with the Lord, has received the Lord genuinely, and has lived their life as a believer, and at the end their body gets ravaged, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and they feel like a burden and they make "THAT" decision... Now, I am not advocating that decision. I am saying we need to give them a lot of grace, a lot of sympathy, and lot of compassion because under those circumstances, they were simply not themselves, and what they were going through was hard.
I just want to encourage us, that if they loved Jesus, if they belonged to Jesus, even though they did something they should have not done, when they opened up their eyes they saw Jesus! God is willing to help and love any of his children... because Jesus on the cross is greater than anything we can do to undo what he did for us on the cross.
So I want to encourage you, even though a person doesn’t make a wise choice, their decision they made earlier to follow Christ, and Christ’s decision to forgive them on the cross overrides any other decisions that are made. We can look forward to sharing resurrected bodies and a right mind with them in heaven. So when you think of the deceased, think of Jesus!
Answer: We don’t know what we will be in Heaven.