Summary: Luke 16:19-31. In this parable, Jesus describes the fate that awaits those who perish in their sins.
ONE MINUTE AFTER YOU DIE
HEAVEN, HELL, & WHO WILL GO WHERE
ANGUISH IN THE FLAME
- Today we embark on an intriguing journey. We are going to attempt; hopefully with some success; to consider a subject that is at the very core of our existence. We are going to try to answer, in a substantive way, questions that relate to realities that we have not seen. These questions that will be addressed arise when we think about death; and more specifically what happens after death, if anything.
- Our map guiding us through this thought-provoking landscape is, as always, the Bible. Our purpose is to look to the Holy Scriptures and find what they say about the life to come. We do this because we believe that the word of God is the only authoritative and ultimately reliable source of information on this and every other spiritual issue. So let’s set out on this mission together. Let’s attempt to answer, from a biblical perspective, the question: What happens one minute after I die?
- Now in order to answer that question we have to assume a few things. Firstly, we have to assume that right now we are alive, and at some point in the future we will die. Right? We have to assume that death is a reality. Most of us don’t have a problem doing this. We are quite aware that everyone dies.
- From Scripture we know that the reason we die is because we have sinned against God. You probably know the story of Adam and Eve: in Genesis 2:16-17, God tells Adam “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
- When God initially created man and woman he gave them instruction: worship and obey me and you will live; rebel and disobey me and you will die – physically and spiritually. You know the ending: Adam and Eve rebelled and disobeyed and as a result the whole human race was catapulted into spiritual bondage and would experience physical death.
- So the first thing we assume is that we will all die; and we will all die because we are all fallen creatures under the curse of sin.
- The second thing we must assume is that after we physically die we continue to exist, but not here on Earth. We get one life on this planet; then we meet our Creator.
- The writer of Hebrews in chapter 9, while discussing the finality of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross writes that “...it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment...” So we are not reincarnated; nor do we cease to exist. Our bodies are buried in the ground and our souls go on to a particular destination.
- So we make these two assumptions because their truth is found in Scripture. We all die because of sin; and when we die our souls continue to exist and we are judged.
- Now, the Bible views history as linear. It had a starting point, and it will have an ending point. The starting point, of course, was when God decided to create the universe. The ending point will be when Jesus Christ returns to the earth to set up eternity.
- We read about this ending point in Revelation 20-22. Scripture tells us there that every single person will be resurrected and spend eternity in one of two places: the lake of fire or the new heaven and earth.
- And the difference between the two groups who will occupy each place is that those who are cast into the lake of fire do not have their names written in the book of life. The book of life is the record of those who will inherit eternal life.
- And Scripture is clear time and time again that the only way to receive eternal life is to trust Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord; as your only hope to escape the penalties of sin. You place yourself at his mercy, believing that his death on the cross and subsequent resurrection satisfied the wrath of a holy God on your behalf.
- So we begin our journey with the end in mind. We know that ultimately every human who has ever physically existed will exist forever in one of two places – places we regularly call Heaven and Hell.
- Our purpose today then, is to look at those who will not inherit eternal life because their sins are not forgiven by Christ, because they do not believe in him. We will start by looking at what Scripture says concerning their intermediate state.