By John Larkins
Of course, we prefer to think of our living by our choices, rather than dying. But the decision we make about our dying is of far greater significance and will be done over a much greater time period.
Many of us believe that God created us specially, to be with Him after our time on earth. If you do not prefer to believe in a life after death, that is certainly your choice. If it turns out that we do not experience eternal life after death, we may have no awareness of that reality. On the other hand, if we are immediately in the presence of God, we may experience His judgement based upon our life record and on His promises, largely provided to us in the Bible.
There are many references in the Bible to the time Jesus said He would judge our world. For example, Matthew 25:31- 46 says, “When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of glory. And before Him He gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Jesus then explicitly explains His decision. Next, in Matthew 25: 41, The King deals with those others: “Then shall He say unto them on His left hand, ‘Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
It may seem odd that the devil has angels, but the explanation is that much earlier, when God announced His plan for the possible salvation of men, even though they sinned, if they repented, about a third of God’s angels rebelled. They supposedly objected to the Son of God also becoming the Son of Man by being born of a woman. The angels allegedly said that they would not worship the Son of God because He would become the Son of Man and therefore would be a lower status than themselves. Jesus Christ did not lose His identity as one member of God’s Blessed Trinity. Those arrogant angels were ejected from heaven and sent to hell with Satan, their leader. Now, if there is no life after death and subsequent judgement, those who ignore Jesus Christ’s establishment of His Church have nothing to fear.
Jesus acted as if He was going to lead a future salvation effort, however. After Jesus was killed and resurrected Himself, He gave explicit instructions to His Apostles about putting His saving plan into action. He appeared to the Apostles in Matthew 27:18-20: “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always: even unto the end of the world.”
This obvious delegation of His authority gave the Apostles the power, and their successors in the apostolic union, to teach everything in the Bible (which would not be written for many years and not compiled for about 400 years) and that which the Savior coached them about during their three-year training period. Look at the Acts of the Apostles to see what they did with Jesus’s commissioning them!
Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet said it rather well:” Ah, but what dreams may come in that sleep of death must give us pause.”
For the past 15 years, John Larkins has evangelized on the street, door-to-door, in tent revivals and in church situations. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.