Many people (may I say most?) don’t like to ask the “eternity question”. It makes them uncomfortable because they don’t have an answer. And so they take the fabled ostrich approach: they stick their head in the sand and pretend that if they don’t think about it, bring it up, or consider it, eternity will just go away. But it won’t go away, will it? Ignoring the “eternity question” is like ignoring the doctor’s very unpleasant diagnosis. It’s like ignoring the “Warning: Bridge Out” barricade. Ignoring the “eternity question” is akin to ignoring death! Death and eternity are coming for all! And so the question is, “What then?”
“Well, I don’t believe in an afterlife!”, some argue. This is an increasingly popular response from those with a Naturalistic world-view. But the logical and even rational counterpoint must be, “How do you know there is no afterlife? Have you been on the other side to gather empirical evidence?” Ironically, the Naturalist eschews faith and demands empirical evidence. He demands to see, to touch, to measure, to smell, to feel, and to test before he will believe anything. Yet, Naturalists are quick to assert—with great confidence—that there is no afterlife! But that’s not an empirical assessment! It can’t be because the only people that have any experience with the afterlife are dead, and they aren’t talking! The Naturalist’s assertion sounds to me like blind faith!
So… what DOES happen after you die? Well, there is One Person who does know, and He IS talking. He is our Creator, Jehovah God! God shares what we need to know about the afterlife in an inspired tome called The Bible. Here is what God reveals to us about the afterlife.
Humans are spiritual creatures with eternal destinies — Human beings are a special creation of God. We are spiritual creatures and every one of us will live beyond our failing, physical bodies in one of two eternal destinies. One destiny is a place of ultimate peace, joy, contentment, fulfillment and fellowship with God. The Bible calls this place Heaven, Paradise, the Kingdom, and ultimately The New Earth. This is where God wants every person to be for He is, …not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (II Peter 3:9). Sadly, many will refuse His graceful invitation and provision.
The Bible describes the other destiny as a place of perpetual darkness, separation, regret, sorrow, unfulfilled longings, anguish, pain and torment called Hell and eventually, the Lake of Fire. This horrible place of punishment was initially created for the rebellious angel called Lucifer (we call him Satan and the Devil) and the angels that rebelled with him. Ironically, if any human being enters here—and sadly, many will—they must with contempt push aside the greatest rescue that has ever been planned and offered.
All human beings are born already condemned — If Hell and the Lake of Fire were not scary enough, the news gets much worse! By default, ALL human beings are born already destined for that horrible place! We all come into this world separated from a Holy God and already condemned because of a spiritual disease called “iniquity” or “sin”. Just as people inherit physical traits from their parents, we also inherit the sin nature from our original parent, Adam. Admittedly, this is hard to understand but it is the reality that God Himself declares and we prove it daily by our failures, anger, greed, judging, lusts, and pride. Truly, There is none righteous, no, not one… (Rom 3:10) and …there is none that doeth good, no, not one (Rom 3:12). To deny this is to deny the reality that we see in our very lives on a daily basis.
Our sin nature demands our physical death; sin is why our bodies get diseased, fail and die physically. But physical death is not the end of sin; we are also spiritually dead, and in this condition we can have no relationship with God. In our natural state of sin we will be eternally separated from God in that horrible place called “the Lake of Fire”. God calls this the second death, but it is not annihilation as some claim. John in The Revelation writes this awful description, And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night… (Rev 14:11). It is no wonder then that men and women prefer to “stick their heads in the spiritual sand” and dodge the “eternity question”, fleeing to grasp Naturalistic denials!
And so, if the story stopped here, our very existence would be one of terror and dread. Hopelessness would rule our lives. But praise God, the story doesn’t end in despair!
But God…! I tell you, these are the two most wonderful words in the entire Universe. The Apostle Paul wrote the following Good News or “Gospel” to the Christians who were assembling at Rome, But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). God’s solution for mankind’s dilemma was SUBSTITUTION: one Man would pay the penalty for sin for every human being that has ever or will ever be conceived. But He would be no ordinary man; He would be the God-Man. His name was Jesus of Nazareth and we call Him Christ, which means the Anointed One, i.e., the Messiah. He is the eternal, incarnate Son of God.
Yes, praise the LORD for those two wonderful words, "But God…!" We need to realize just what He did for us! The Eternal Son—the second person of the Godhead—became a sinless man through a virgin birth, He lived a sinless life, and then, on a cruel cross, He voluntarily shed His blood in our place and for us, thereby satisfying the demands of His own perfect righteousness.
And the wonderful news is that every human being can have the forgiveness of God—and Heaven as his eternal home—by taking advantage of God’s solution for sin, His rescue plan for sinners. As we just read in Ephesians, salvation is totally a gift of God’s grace and it is appropriated by faith, …not of works lest men would boast! Therefore it is DONE! There is nothing we can DO to earn or merit God’s forgiveness. The World is full of “Do Religions”, but God’s solution is expressed in one word: Done!
So, how can you and I take advantage of this infinite gift of God’s grace and forgiveness, this Divine Rescue Plan for lost sinners? Actually, it is as simple as A, B and C.
“A” represents “Admit” — Before we can experience God’s forgiveness we must agree with God's assessment, that being, we NEED His gift! Paul wrote in Romans 3:23, For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God..., and the prophet Isaiah explained that our sin separates us from God: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear (Isaiah 59:2). And in Romans 6:23 we read that the consequence of sin’s separation is death: For the wages of sin is death…! This is not only physical death but also that horrible second death, i.e., eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire. So first, we must realize our need and then admit our need to God.
“B” represents “Believe!” — Anyone who has watched an extra point attempt in an NFL game has likely seen the John 3:16 sign waving in the end zone crowd. That marvelous scripture reads, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. The word believeth means to put absolute faith or trust in something. And John says that "something" is the sacrifice of Jesus as our only means of forgiveness. Forgiveness isn’t through Jesus PLUS baptism. Forgiveness isn’t through Jesus PLUS our good works. Forgiveness isn’t through Jesus PLUS church membership. Forgiveness is simply putting absolute faith or trust IN JESUS!
And accompanying belief must be repentance. "Belief" without repentance is simply intellectual assent. The word "repent" literally means to change one's mind. For example, perhaps you were at one time smugly content in your own self-goodness and works. You thought, "I've not committed any heinous crimes, I've not hated anyone and I donate to charities because I truly care! Surely God will accept me!" But then, one day, you read Isaiah 64:6 and realized that our works and self-goodness are as filthy rags in the sight of God! This caused you to change your mind about how to obtain God's forgiveness and become accepted by Him. Or perhaps you had a naturalistic world-view, i.e., you believed that the cosmos started with a "Big Bang" and that molecules-to-man evolution explains our existence in the cosmos. And then one night as you looked into the starry heavens the Holy Spirit convicted you, and in your heart you admitted to yourself and to God, "All this didn't just happen by chance." You turned from that naturalistic fable and embraced God's explanation of our origin and His description of our spiritual condition and dire need. You "changed your mind". That is repentance. Jesus told the Jews of His day that unless they repented (changed their minds about how men are reconciled to God) they would perish (in eternal separation from God).
“C” represents “Call” or “Confess” — If someone has purchased a gift for you, and they extend it in your direction… how do you go about to make it yours? You must reach out and accept it… right? This is exactly how we appropriate the gift of God’s forgiveness! We have to accept it. When we cry out to God in admission of our sins and with a repentant belief (faith or trust) in the finished work of Christ on the cross, He saves us! Romans 10:13 reads, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, and just a few verses earlier in Romans 10:10 Paul wrote, For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
If you would like to counsel with a minister, we invite you to call our church office. One of our ministers will gladly visit with you on the phone, reply to your e-mails, or sit with you and provide Biblical answers.
• Call us at: 580-765-5840
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• Or sit down with us at our church offices: 1732 E. Coleman Road, Ponca City, OK
If you want to do more investigation on your own, we recommend a wonderful booklet by Pastor Cary Schmidt. It is entitled DONE. You may contact Central Baptist Church for a complimentary copy, or download a free complimentary PDF from author Cary Schmidt's Website.