The Only Thing That Matters
Death brings about a peculiar reaction in people. Folks talk about hypnosis, well I think there is such a thing as "deathnosis" (yes, it has come to the point where I am now making up words). What is deathnosis, you ask? It is the altered state of consciousness people enter when the topic of death comes up. It is a fantasy-based mindset in which the realities of death and the hereafter are glossed over in favor of whatever fluffy alternative a person chooses to believe.
For example, have you ever noticed how everyone who dies is said to be in a "better place"? If Jesus says that most people are actually traversing the broad road which leads to destruction, then what is this better place of which people speak (Matthew 7:13-14)? In addressing the topic of death with others, it has been said to me, "Well, so-and-so is now reunited with all of the family and friends who went on before them, so I know they are okay." Really? What if these friends & family are in Hell? Does it soothe their conscious and turn their time in Hell into a great celebration because they are together again with those deceased loved ones? I have seen obituaries so doctored that I couldn't even recognize the person described. Deathnosis.
I am not saying to speak ill of the dead. What is done is done, and there is a judge we all will face after our deaths (Hebrews 9:27). I am saying that we must face the truth about death and the condition of life after death. This reality is not going to change just because we don't want to accept it. No amount of preaching the deceased into Heaven is actually going to get them there if they did not live for Christ. Do not go through life falsely believing that your "good" works or motivations will save you...they won't.
In fact, almost nothing will get people more riled up than to refuse to
glorify the dead. They are aghast at the fact that the only thing
which matters is whether a person knew Christ and were known by Him (Matthew 7:22-23). It is inconceivable to those in the world (including many professing Christians) that God will reject those who have not given themselves as living sacrifices in obedience to Christ.
It doesn't matter whether you spend your days feeding & clothing the poorest of the poor in the streets. You can be the leader of a great nation or an unrelenting champion for social justice. All that matters is that which has eternal weight and your entire eternal destiny rests solely on one thing: your relationship with Jesus Christ. To many in the world this is illogical and even fanatical. People ask me, "You are willing to discount all that a person had or did just because they denied Jesus Christ?" And my answer is, "Yes!".
Matthew 19:17; Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19). Further, I know from my own experience that such is true. In my first job after college, there was a co-worker who had no car. She also lived quite a distance from the office and had two small children whom she had to pick up on the way. Even though she lived in a different direction than I did, I offered to give her a ride home in the evenings so that she did not have to walk. Was this a "good" thing to do? Sure. Was it a selfless act? Not in the least. You see, I gave her a ride so that "I" would be seen. I wanted everyone to see what a wonderful & giving person I was. I couldn't have cared less about this particular woman or her struggle. From the outside I may have looked magnanimous, but on the inside I stank to high Heaven.
don't know the motivations behind what other people do...and maybe not even always behind what we do ourselves. The heart is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). The world wants you to believe that we can be good people apart from God. Do not fall for this lie. Oftentimes, what we interpret as people's acts of kindness are really something else indeed outside of Christ. People may be trying to impress others with their own self-righteousness. It can be expressions of false humility. They may be trying to earn God's [or people's] acceptance through good [dead] works. They may be trying to do penance for the sin in their lives. All of this represents a failure to trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Good works just do not give you insight into the true condition of the human heart. Even the most defiled heart can still be nice to his neighbor. This is why God does not judge by outward appearance and urges us not to as well (John 7:24, 8:15-16; John 2:1-9). God looks at the heart (Genesis 5:4; Psalm 7:9, 26:2; Isaiah 13:14; Ezekiel 14:4; Jeremiah 11:20, 17:20; Joel 2:13; Hebrews 4:12-13).
"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8
The value of our lives is not based on what others have meant to us or what we have meant to them. That is self-centeredness. The hardest thing for people to accept is that this life is not all about what we want...and neither is our death. Our eternal destiny is not some happy-go-lucky fairytale independent of the life we have lived on this earth. For all eternity, we will reap either the consequences or rewards of the choices we have made here and now.
Know this, the person whom the world gathers around with much fan-fair to raise as a Godly example is likely to be one most estranged from God (John 15:19, 17:14-16; 1 John 4:5, 5:19). We cannot walk in truth by adopting worldly standards of righteousness. Don't be lulled into accepting such depictions simply because it soothes fallen man's conscience not to have to deal with the realities - and consequences - of sin (Romans 6:23). No matter what you have believed, no matter what reputation you have in
the world, no matter how may good deeds you have done, the question of
eternal importance is, "Have you been reconciled to the Father through the Lord Jesus?"
"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which
are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the
voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in
Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." I Thessalonians 4:13-18
There is a hope and a comfort we can find in our existence after death, but only for those who are found in Christ. That hope and comfort is that we will be forever with Him; sharing in the riches of His love, power, and glory.
No matter what any man says, the Bible is abundantly clear. Everyone is not going to some pie in the sky after death. You had better know that every departing soul from this world is going to come face-to-face with a Sovereign Judge who will only be concerned with one thing: "Have you obeyed my word?" (Matthew 7:21). As people say, there are no atheists in Hell. Every single person there knows that Jesus Christ is most certainly very real. Don't wait until it is too late to get to know this fact for yourselves.
"And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." Hebrews 2:15
The following is a good series on the topic of death by Min. David Pawson: