As I was growing up, wondering about life after death was a part of me. Perhaps you've had a similar experience. As I sat in a local church I attended back then with my parents in Minnesota, I heard vague notions about how one day my "consciousness" would somehow be transported to some kind of "heaven." It was up there somewhere where God lived. I apparently was going to live there forever if I was fortunate.
What will happen to those who've died without understanding God's truth? Will they yet receive the opportunity to be saved? Or will they be tormented in hellfire forever after being condemned in the last judgment?
Despite common belief, people do not have immortal souls. Rather, God's ultimate purpose for our lives is that we be given eternal life in His family through a resurrection. In fact, the Bible reveals that there is more than one resurrection.
A few days ago, I watched one of the videos showing members of a terrorist group in Iraq killing truckloads of people. Most of the victims were young men. Bullets were put into heads by cold, cruel hands. It was a blood bath. It is the face of pure evil.
Let's go back over the second part of Luke:16:22And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;, which states, "The rich man also died and was buried." Let's pause once again to ask a fundamental question. What does the Bible reveal about the state of the dead? "For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing…For there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going" (Ecclesiastes:9:5For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten., Ecclesiastes:9:10Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.).
What did the rich man do next? "Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame'" (Luke:16:24And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.).
*That is, except Jesus Christ, who came down from Heaven (John:3:13And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.). But when you read in Luke:16:22And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; that "the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom," it's easy to assume this means Lazarus was taken to heaven.
The most common interpretation of Jesus' parable of Lazarus and the rich man is that we all have immortal souls that go to either heaven or hell immediately at death. But does this parable really say that?
What will happen with the unsaved masses that died tragically never knowing God or Jesus Christ? What about friends or loved ones you know that died prematurely? Will they go to heaven or go to hell? God has a plan for a great "family reunion" in which all are given "equal opportunity" salvation. It is a plan you cannot afford to miss and it is right in your Bible. Listen to this sermon to get a first hand account from someone that has been there when tragedy strikes.
If God is truly a God of love and mercy, why does He not intervene? Some have concluded that God simply doesn't exist. The answer, however, is much more complex. What does the Bible reveal about the causes of suffering?
Life is precious to us. We don't want to die. But what really happens to us after death? Scientists, philosophers and even theologians don't agree. Where can we go for answers? Shouldn't we seek them from the Creator of life?
Few things could be more important than what happens to us when this life ends. Most people believe the Bible teaches that we will go to either heaven or hell at death. They might be surprised at what it really says!
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