Monday, June 1, 2015

Some Thoughts on the Afterlife. By my pastor, Greg Laurie.

It's been said, “There are two things that are true of every person: we all want to be happy and we’re all going to die.”

Yes, death knocks at every door. There are no exceptions.

I know that sounds like a depressing thought, but consider this: only those who are prepared to die are really ready to live!

One thing is inevitable: we will die and enter the afterlife.

Ecclesiastes 3:1–2 says there is “a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die,” and in Hebrews 9:27, we read, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (NKJV).

That “time to die” may come later than you expected. On the other hand, it may come much, much sooner. Statisticians tell us that three people die every second, 180 every minute, 11,000 every hour. That means that every day 250,000 people enter into eternity!

The psalmist writes, “Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should,” (Psalm 90:12 TLB) and “You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to You; at best, each of us is but a breath” (39:5 NLT).

Phillip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, commissioned his servant to stand in his presence and every day say, “Philip, you will die.”

Before he died, Steve Jobs said, “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to Heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.” This is true; not even Steve Jobs escaped it.

After death comes the afterlife and then one of two destinations: Heaven or Hell. Most do not think they will go to Hell. For every American who believes he’s going to Hell, there are 120 who believe they’re going to Heaven. Yet this belief is in direct contradiction to what Jesus said: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it!” (Matthew 7:13–14 NKJV).

If we believe the Bible, most people today are not headed to Heaven. In fact, most are headed to Hell. And that is because of their own choice. And just as surely as there is a Heaven for believers, there is a Hell for nonbelievers.

God wants you to go to Heaven. That is why He sent His own Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for your sin. Trust in and follow Him and you can have the assurance of Heaven. You have God’s very word on it!

Hell is for real, too!

People are selective in their belief about God and the afterlife. For instance, they like the idea that God is loving, but they do not like the idea of a God who would send people to Hell. They don’t know how to reconcile this apparent contradiction.

They may be willing to believe that a Hitler, an Osama Bin Laden, or a member of ISIS would go to Hell, but not them or their friend. Phillip Keller points out, “In our culture, divine judgment is one of Christianity’s most offensive doctrines.”

The problem is that there is a lot of misinformation about Hell. For instance, some would say that Hell is a big party, ruled over by a cartoon devil with pitchfork, horns, hooves, and red skin; it’s all a joke. That’s not what the Bible teaches about Hell.

Know this: Hell is not a party and the devil does not rule over it.

According to Jesus,Hell was created for the devil and his angels.
The last thing God wants is for any person created in His image to end up in Hell.
Some might think Jesus would never have discussed such a thing as Hell. He is, after all, the personification of love and compassion. But it’s because He loves us that He spoke about and warned of it often.

The same Jesus who tells us of Heaven with all its glories also tells of Hell with all its horrors. He would never have said these things if they were not true. Most of the biblical teaching on the subject of Hell comes from Christ Himself. Jesus spoke more about judgment and Hell than about any other topic. Of about 40 parables that Jesus told, more than half of them relate to God’s eternal judgment of sinners.

Make no mistake about it: Hell is a real place for real people. As J.I. Packer wrote, “An endless Hell can no more be removed from the New Testament than an endless Heaven can.”

Years ago, John Lennon famously sang, “Imagine there’s no Heaven. It’s easy if you try. No Hell below us, above us only sky.”

You can “imagine” all you want, but Hell is real.

That is why we want to do everything we can to warn our friends and loved ones about it.
We need to tell them that God loves them and wants them in Heaven.
And is only possible by putting your faith in Jesus Christ.

So why the Great Commission.. for all Christians? Cuz God wants it like that. Likes to bless. 

In the Great Commission, we are commanded by Jesus to go and verbally communicate His good news of salvation to as many people as we can. If they respond to this message, we are to “make disciples” of them. That is, we are to help them to be grounded in their faith and be integrated into a local church. Then, we are to go and repeat this process.

Paul writes, “We proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about him, so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ” (Colossians 1:28 PHP). That’s the objective: lead people to Jesus and bring them to maturity.
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