Life Is Short, Eternity Is Forever
While waiting in the E.R. my youngest brother says to me, “Tami, I’m dying.” This was already understood by the whole family but he had never said those words before. After a few seconds, I broke the silence with, “Well, we are all dying, none of us get out of this life alive.” I know that probably sounded insensitive but it was true. But I also desperately wanted my brother to think deep and hard about the statements we were both making. I then asked him if he got right with God and repented of his sins. Our conversation pretty much fizzled out after he said, “Yes, I did. “ I so needed him to understand that he did need to repent for the sin in his life, he wasn’t innocent, none of us are. The conversation was awkward, to say the least, but awkward was the word of the day it seemed. You could cut the air with a knife it was so obvious I was offending him. He was in constant pain and organs were failing, I had to try and wake him up before it was too late.
You see, according to my brother he was saved and didn’t need to worry about his judgment day because just a few years earlier he was in a church that had an altar call in which the person next to him said, “Do you want to go to the front?” The look on his face said, no way, as he just stood there silently watching it all but the person was so persistent, they took him by the arm and lead him to the front of the church. He seemed to go reluctantly so as not to call attention to himself but they shouldn’t have done that to him, it needed to be his choice, not theirs. Besides, I didn’t agree with the whole alter call farce in the first place. https://www.gotquestions.org/altar-calls.html
My brother followed through, repeated a sentence, and they said he was saved. He walked away that day believing that was all it took. My brother continued in the same old ways he did before and I never did see a change in him in the years that followed. He never expressed a desire to even talk about God or what the Scripture said. In fact, he hated it whenever I did, which was all the time. Many times, he would humor me and listen briefly until he became exhausted with it and changed the subject. He claimed he didn’t need to talk about Jesus anymore because he was saved. One time he said, “Tami, I know Jesus, stop worrying about me” but I replied, “Satan knows Jesus, but that means nothing.” Anyone can claim they know Jesus but do they really? Just because they go to church, just because they pray at a meal or talk about Him means nothing. It’s not just knowing of Jesus that makes someone a Christian but desiring to know about Jesus and living our lives for Him that brings about change in us and gives us hope for our eternity. My brother didn’t live a life that reflected Jesus or salvation. I say this because God says in Matthew 7:16-20~ “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”
This means we can know a person by how they live, what kind of character they have; do they live as a Christian and show evidence of salvation? This can give us an idea of their spiritual life and if they truly are living as a person that is saved. Any one of us could look at a friend or loved one and judge by how they live if they know ‘OF’ Jesus or really ‘KNOW’ and love Jesus. If your best friend never goes to church and has a record of cheating and lying, then just because they say they know Jesus and are a Christian means nothing. At the same time, this doesn’t mean that when that person dies, they can’t turn to Christ in the very last hour of their life and be forgiven and saved, as the thief on the cross did. Luke 23:39-43 talks of a thief nailed to a cross for his crimes and as he hung next to Jesus he repented and acknowledged Jesus as his Lord. Jesus tells us he went to paradise with Him. Remember salvation isn’t based on how perfect you are but on our faith in Jesus as the perfect sacrifice. The thief was lost one moment, found the next, what a celebration!
Just as the thief got a chance to know Jesus, in John 9 a blind man also gets to know Jesus. When Jesus meets the blind man, He explains that the man was born blind so that God’s works might be displayed in him, and then Jesus heals him. The Pharisees brag to the blind man that God speaks to Moses and they are disciples of Moses but Jesus is a sinner and they don’t know where he comes from. The blind man says in John 9:31, 33, “You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” In John 9: 35-38 Jesus asks the blind man if he believes in the Son of Man and the man asks, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him? Jesus said to him, You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you. He said, Lord, I believe, and he worshiped him. The Pharisees ask Jesus, Are we also blind? But Jesus answers, If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”
It’s important to understand that the blind man comes to know who Jesus truly is because he was given the gift to understand and comprehend through his sight. After Jesus heals him, he realizes that Jesus was from God and proclaims his ignorance of who Jesus is and his need to see spiritually so he could worship Him. The Pharisees on the other hand had the gift of sight but were spiritually blind because they had the opportunity to see the truth. They claimed to know God yet wrongfully accuses Jesus of being a sinner and not from God. They willingly remained in sin and rejected the truth to not believe in Jesus, making them guilty.
Now, I do not think Jesus is saying that blind people don’t have the ability to know Him, because they do. They can hear the stories of Jesus in the Scripture today and be presented with the Gospel but back then Jesus was making a point that the blind man didn’t have the same opportunities as the Pharisees. He couldn’t read, no one shared with him the knowledge of who Jesus was, he couldn’t ‘see’ the works of God’s creation to be without excuse as explained in Romans 1:19-20 but that people can be guilty of sin when they have opportunities to know the truth as the Pharisees did but then reject it.
We can read more on the meaning of that verse here, “Barnes’ Notes on the Bible~ “If ye were blind – If you were really blind and had no opportunities of learning the truth. If you were truly ignorant and were willing to confess it and to come to me for instruction. No sin – You would not be guilty. Sin is measured by the capacities or ability of people, and by their opportunities of knowing the truth. If people had no ability to do the will of God, they could incur no blame. If they have all proper ability, and no disposition, God holds them to be guilty. This passage teaches conclusively: 1) that people are not condemned for what they cannot do. 2) That the reason why they are condemned is that they are not disposed to receive the truth. 3) That pride and self-confidence are the sources of condemnation. 4) That if people are condemned, they, and not God, will be to blame. We see – We have knowledge of the law of God. This they had pretended when they professed to understand the law respecting the Sabbath better than Jesus, and had condemned him for healing on that day. Your sin remaineth – You are guilty, and your sin is unpardoned. People’s sins will always be unpardoned while they are proud and self-sufficient, and confident of their own wisdom. If they will come with humble hearts and confess their ignorance, God will forgive, enlighten, and guide them in the path to heaven.”
Saying we know Jesus just doesn’t mean much if we turn from Him in our lives as the Pharisees did. The criminal and blind man came to faith but the ones that were seen as a religious sect that accepted the Old Testament as inspired by God didn’t. When I talk about the thief, the blind man, and the Pharisees these were men that didn’t know Jesus and when presented with the truth, they were all given the opportunity to believe in Jesus. So, what about people that don’t have the ability to understand the truth when presented to them such as babies and the mentally disabled? What happens to them at death.
In 2 Samuel 12:22-23, we read about the death of David’s infant son, “He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
This shows that David had found comfort knowing he will see his child again but only by going to the same place his child went. We can only assume he believes the child is in heaven. He was in such sorrow while the child lay sick but after his child passed away David appears to have peace about where he believes his child to be and he stops fasting, cleans up, worships, and eats. David knows about God’s mercy and grace and believes the Lord will show his mercy and grace on his child and they will be together in heaven someday.
It’s always heartbreaking when a baby passes but looking at the story of David can bring us comfort as well. It’s common for people to wonder where babies go when they die or even the mentally disabled. How can we know for certain? Babies, and mentally disabled don’t know any better and don’t understand even what a sinner is, or why they need to repent, and even more so, know who Jesus is. You could explain the gospel to them a dozen times and they would never have the ability to understand it. That’s the difference, the blind man was given the opportunity to know the truth and he understood it yet with babies and mentally disabled they can’t comprehend the truth even if they were presented with the opportunity. Scriptures don’t specifically talk about where babies or the mentally disabled go after death. The only thing we have to go on to gain any knowledge from is within the Scripture’s accounts that speak of those that have died and by knowing the character of God such as in the story of the thief, the blind man, and David. Unfortunately, some faiths add to or take away from Scriptures to fit their own man-made beliefs such as infant baptism. Baptism is biblical but infant baptism is not. Some believe infants should be baptized so if they die, they go to heaven. Biblically, baptism doesn’t save babies or anyone, instead, it is a profession of faith, and a baby can’t profess faith in Jesus not to mention, Jesus wasn’t even baptized till he was an adult, which should tell us something. Baptism illustrates Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection and is done publicly of one’s own choice in a desire to express their love for Christ in the washing away of sins and believing the old life has died and a new life begins. It represents the dying of our flesh by fully being submerged in water (just as people that die are completely buried in the ground and not just sprinkled with a handful of dirt). Then when we rise from the water, we are a new person through Christ and have the hope of resurrection and eternal life. A new believer often shows evidence of their salvation by the desires for a biblical baptism. A lost person normally wouldn’t desire that at all. So, basically, baptism is pointless to a baby or someone that is mentally disabled because they are not capable of understanding the meaning behind it.
Matthew 18:1–6, and Matthew 19:13–15, are comforting examples of how God loves children and says for believers to be like children. He speaks of them being the greatest in the kingdom and that the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. I think of all the small children and infants that have died through abuse, abortion, and sicknesses and are in heaven now. God’s character is shown through such gentle words that bring much peace.
The reality of how short life is becomes painfully clear when a child dies. Life is short no matter what because the moment we are born we start to die, some faster than others. Job 14:1~ “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.” Compared to eternal life it is but a blink which is why God commands us to share the gospel to help people know the Lord and find salvation before they die. Once a person dies there are no more chances to get right with the Lord. Although God does the saving and ordained us before birth to be sealed for salvation, we are still called by God to point people back to Christ and His Word and share the gospel. We will never know the true outcome of anyone we share the gospel with but we just need to be obedient, reach out to the lost, and speak the truth.
Unlike the thief on the cross spending his life as a criminal yet becoming heaven-bound in his last moments with Christ, there are people that live their whole life as Christians doing good works on a daily basis yet will be Hell-bound without Christ. The word ‘Christian’ is a title that anyone can claim and anyone can fake but one thing’s for certain, they can never deceive the Lord. Anyone can say they read the Bible and know Jesus, remember, Satan knows Jesus! The question we need to ask is, does the Lord know us? Well, of course, our Lord knows everyone, but that’s not what I’m getting at. If you don’t have faith in Jesus and desire to seek after truth, even though you defiantly have the opportunity to you won’t know the Father’s will and instead, you will believe in things not of God. Then He will declare to you He NEVER knew you. Matthew 7:21-23~ “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
This is stating that they are not identified as true believers. They believe in a different god, a different Jesus. They may seem like a good Christian when they brag about doing good deeds like prophesying, casting out demons, and doing many good works in the name of God but that will not get them into Heaven because God sees right through them and knows their hearts.
When a person dies, no number of good deeds spoken at their funeral will get them into Heaven either. In fact, normally people speak about the deceased as a good person who’s in Heaven with Jesus now and suggest they are no longer suffering. I can only assume people say these things because they don’t know what else to say and they desire to comfort those in pain. There isn’t anything bad in what they say except biblically it’s misleading because we don’t know where they are. Sure, in some cases, there are people who do go to Heaven but not everyone. When people die, they ARE with Jesus but for the purpose of being judged, Hebrews 9:27~ ”And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after thatcomes judgment,” Revelation 20:11–15 tells us that the dead stand before the throne and are judged according to what they had done and if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Matthew 7:13–14 speaks of the difficulty in going to Heaven and says it’s a narrow gate and only a few will find it but many will go to the wide gate that will lead to Hell. Doesn’t seem like very good odds. When anyone dies, they are judged; they stand face to face with God but will they remain in His presence or be cast out? I’d like to challenge you that for every funeral you go to, remember these verses. This should cause you great concern for the lost. It shouldn’t be easy to assume everyone you know is Heaven bound because the truth is more people will go to Hell. This is why the saying, they aren’t suffering anymore, isn’t true for everyone either. For those that are condemned to Hell, it is a place of torment and pain. In the Bible, even the rich man in Hell wanted to warn his family about it but couldn’t. One of the more disturbing phrases I’ve heard at funerals is, “they are looking down on you” or “they are watching over you.” For many, this also means the dead are active or invested in the lives of the living somehow. Unexplained activity is often blamed on dead loved ones suggesting the dead are ghosts. Ghosts are not real, but demons are and they are not to be messed with. Turn to the Lord, ask for forgiveness, and pray, for He is the only one they fear. Just as people believe the dead watch over them, some believe Saints in Heaven are a bit different because they are seen as holy and will come to watch over us if we pray to them. They have been credited with helping people find lost articles and even selling houses, none of which is biblical.
After someone dies, they do not remain on earth or come back from Heaven or Hell because in 2 Corinthians 5:8, the Bible tells us that when we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord. Hebrews 9:27 says man dies once then judged. Revelation 20:11–15 tells us the dead are judged and if they are not in the book of life they are thrown into the lake of fire.
So, it’s apparent that the only one that watches over us is our Lord. Psalm 121:7-8~ The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. It is also written in 1 John 5:18 that Jesus holds us securely, and the evil one cannot touch us. Jeremiah 1:19 says the Lord rescues. Psalm 3:5 says the LORD was watching over His children. Psalm 31:23 says “the LORD preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full.” If God is watching over us, then why would we want anyone else doing that? What makes us think our loved ones in Heaven want to watch over us when they are in a place that is so wonderful? I’m thinking I wouldn’t waste my time watching over anyone on Earth when I have all the wonders of Heaven to explore. Those in Hell wouldn’t be able to either or care because sadly they are suffering. Nowhere in Scriptures do we read the dead in Heaven or Hell are able or even unable to watch over us. But we can be sure that if they are watching us, they will be in complete agreement with the Lord’s dealings on earth. Those in Heaven are changed to have perfect understanding and complete peace with God’s will. There is a time where those in Heaven will follow Christ into battle and witness the wrath of God taking place as He kills and destroys everyone who’s evil.
My heart ached so badly when my brother died because all I knew of him was his fruits and they were not good fruits. Sure, there were times he was kind and had ways of bringing laughter to people but again being nice doesn’t get you to Heaven, it’s having faith in Jesus and being transformed in the mind and heart through salvation. You hate sin and desire to live a righteous life. The only thing I can hope for is that my brother had a ‘thief on the cross’ moment that was truly genuine and humble just before he died. God shows us an act of love in giving us the ability to repent and be forgiven but only while we live.
1 John 2:2~ “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” God provides THE way to the Father through Jesus; we can’t find Him in any other way. God is also so merciful to forgive but we mustn’t forget that God is also just, which means our sins must be punished. In order for us to escape punishment, Jesus must cover us with His blood and if we deny that gift then we pay for our sins apart from Jesus. Someday God will come calling for us all and you will either stand guilty before the throne of God or you will stand covered by the blood of Jesus and forgiven.
Everyone’s days are numbered and no one knows when God has appointed us to take our last breath. But think for a moment when we do, what is going to be the last thing we leave behind? What will be the last words from our lips? Are we going to leave something that honors God or will shame God? What will people say about you?
I know I deserve hell because I’m a wretched person but I am also grateful and thankful that God called me to be saved and Jesus has covered my sins and I will someday be in the presence of God for eternity. Not because of any good deeds I did or because I’m a swell person-I’m not. I can only brag that Jesus was the reason I was saved, changed, and forgiven at all. I don’t deserve any credit or a “Well done good and faithful servant”.
Do you have the assurance of salvation? “1 John 5:11–13, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life”. Who is it that has the Son? It is those who have believed in Him (John 1:12). If you have Jesus, you have life. Not temporary life, but eternal.”
For more on sharing the gospel click on this link https://biblicalbeginningsblog.wordpress.com/2021/02/02/through-the-narrow-casting-and-clutching-your-pearls-by-gina-cook/#respond
Above is an article written by Tami Dykes, Gina and Tami write Through the Narrow here at Tulips & Honey Hub. They’ll be posting articles every other Tuesday. Both are published authors, you can find Tami’s book here, and Gina’s book here. We’re blessed to have them apart of our team, and pray their writing will be as edifying to you as it is to us. – Lauren Hereford