Recently, we were walking round a small country churchyard which, although it appeared to be regularly used, was somewhat in need of care and attention. In places, the paths were indistinguishable, and in one place, at the rear of the church, a small sign had been placed in the ground indicating the way to the church door. As the route to the door from that point was straight ahead the notice was marked with an arrow pointing upwards with the word ‘Entrance’. As this sign was positioned (I'm sure quite unintentionally) alongside a gravestone, it did make me wonder how many of those who had been laid in that churchyard would have made the journey heavenwards. Most of them, no doubt, if they believed in an afterlife at all, would be expecting to go to heaven, but, sadly, for some that would not be the case.
The Bible makes it clear that there is an alternative to heaven as an ultimate destination when we die. Jesus spoke openly about it, preachers of old regularly declared it from the pulpit, but today hell is not often a topic found on many ministers’ and conference speakers’ subject schedules. The idea that not everyone will go to heaven when they die, and that there is another beyond-life destination for those that don’t, known as hell, is not a popular concept, and, to many, totally repugnant.
Nevertheless the biblical truth remains that if we believe that Jesus died and rose again for us, we have access to heaven when we die (Romans 10:9), but, sadly, if anyone is not prepared to take that step of faith, then the words that Jesus used to describe their end is a place of ‘outer darkness and wailing and gnashing of teeth’ (Matthew 22:13).
We need to make the right decision now, while we have time to ensure our destination beyond the grave is the right one, and that it is secure through Jesus. Even the thief on the cross, at the side of Jesus, was promised a place in heaven, when he recognised and acknowledged who Jesus was (Luke 23:42-43).
Paul was certain where he was going when his life on earth finished. He said, ‘when we die and leave these bodies we will have a home in heaven’ (2 Corinthians 5:1). Do you have that assurance?
Let’s all take to heart the encouragement given by Peter, ‘Therefore my brothers and sisters make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 1:10-11).
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for dying for me and making the way to heaven open for me. Thank You that You are preparing a place there for me. Please help others to find that way, and reassure those who are doubtful. Amen.
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