Summary: What happens if I die before I have a chance to repent?
Every so often in religion class this question is asked, and it's a good one - what if I suddenly die before I have a chance to repent of my sins? Do I go to heaven or hell? Do you know what the answer is?
Picture it this way - you are a Christian - you believe in Jesus as your Savior from sin. You go to school that day, and it was a normal day. You didn't do anything really bad, and you didn't do anything really good. You weren't perfect that day, but no one is. Your committed little sins throughout the day.
And then you got into your car, and you went home, and everything was the same as it always is …
And then you' were suddenly dead, just like that. Someone else wasn't paying attention to what they were doing when they were driving, and their car collided with yours. The leading cause of death among teenagers is car accidents. 5 - 7 thousand teenagers die every year in the US because of that. What if you were one of them?
What if you didn't ask God for forgiveness for all the little sins that you committed that day? Is that how it works? Do you have to ask God for forgiveness right before you die, because if you don't, there are some sins there that you didn't repent of, and that means that you will go to hell? Is that how it works?
There's a little phrase in the Bible that answers that question, and it's found in Romans chapter 5. There it says that "we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand." Right now, you are standing in the grace of God. And as long as you have faith in Jesus, you are standing in the grace of God.
What does that mean, to stand in the grace of God? It means that every day, God is always forgiving you, always pouring out his undeserved love upon you, always blessing you, because you are standing in the grace of God.
Now what happens when we sin, while we are standing in the grace of God? Is that good? No. God wants us to stop that sin, whatever it is, and hopefully we do that sooner than later. But sometimes believers in Jesus don't stop sinning right away. Sometimes we forget to repent. Sometimes we don't have a chance to repent.
And so what happens if you get into a car accident and you believe in Jesus as your Savior, and you die before you have a chance to ask God to forgive you? Does your soul go to heaven or hell?
Remember, you are standing in the grace of God. God forgives you, even before you ask. God blesses you, even before you ask. No, he doesn’t give us permission to sin and take advantage of his grace. As believers in Jesus, we don’t want to sin. But what a comfort it is to know that every day, we are forgiven, we are standing in God's undeserved love.
And so, you're going home from school, and everything was the same as it always is, and suddenly you're in heaven. And you didn’t have a chance to repent of your sins, but you were standing in the grace of God and because of that grace, you are with God in heaven.
Romans chapter 5: We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.