I have a somber topic to discuss today. A friend experienced the death of a friend. Read on:
I want to believe she cried out to Jesus right before she died and is now in heaven. But I get this sinking feeling that that was not the case. The thought of her in hell almost gives me a panic attack. I can’t stomach it. But if we believe the Bible, that’s where she is. We don’t know “for sure for sure” but unless she had given her life to Christ in those last moments would that not mean she is not with Jesus now?
Do you need to be a true follower of Christ to enter the narrow gate? Or is just claiming that you believe enough? I just don’t think so…
Heartbreaking. I’ve heard lots of people talk about this at the death of a loved one. I’ve been to lots of funerals in lots of different churches and heard lots of different things from the pulpit. Most people like to think that good people die and go to heaven. Sick people go to heaven. “At least he’s in a better place now,” echoes the halls of funeral homes. Some say that simply baptizing a baby is all it takes to enter that “better” place. My friend is wise to recognize and seek the authority of the bible in all this.
Indeed, from the front of the bible to the back, a central message is God’s call of repentance and salvation to a broken mankind. Over and over, we find examples and instructions on salvation. For the sake of brevity, let’s take a look at two passages, one of which my friend referred to.
Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
John 10:1, 7-10 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.”….So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
We also learned from Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus that something changes in the person who enters heaven.
John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
We see this played out over and over throughout the bible, the most concisely so by Paul:
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.
Certainly, scripture teaches us that salvation causes a noticeable and substantial change in people. While it is true that some may “fake” their salvation, God knows the heart of man. One cannot fool God. Furthermore, that charade cannot be maintained.
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 know you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Matthew 24:13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Now, it should be noted that the actual time one is saved before the end of their life might be quite short.
Luke 23:42-43 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
So, it is possible for salvation to occur as the bullet is traveling down the barrel.
Before we move on, let’s make sure we understand that Jesus is the only means to salvation.
John 14:6 Jesus said to them, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men to which we must be saved.
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
Good. We now know how to go to that “better place” and avoid the other one. However, it is not quite that simple. More tomorrow when we’ll look at how one actually becomes saved. Stay tuned.
Father, thank you for your Word to guide us through these most difficult times when a loved one dies. Amen.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers