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Chapter 19

Salvation, eternal life, death, hell and heaven

 

Young children often get to the crux of things much easier than adults. The simplicity with which they approach life, and their unspoilt nature, allows them to know what is important, without even thinking about it. Such was a class of 8 year olds taught last year. After teaching them the Christian religious education course for a year they were given the opportunity to ask questions.

What a surprise! The questions they asked were all in connection with life, death, heaven and hell! They did not realise it, but they were asking about the most critical issues of life. Oh that we all might understand and accept these things as a child!

The purpose of this chapter is to briefly explain each of these things, so that wherever they occur in the rest of the book they may be easily understood.

One of the purposes of this book is to provide you the reader, with information so that you can know how to become a believer in Jesus Christ and to live for him in this life, thus gaining the blessings which God has planned for all believers. The key element for this is salvation, which also leads to eternal life in heaven with Jesus Christ. Salvation is referred to in many other chapters of the book, but an attempt will be made here to give a more detailed explanation of it and its related issues.

Salvation.

The basic meaning of salvation is deliverance from sin and evil. What is being said here is that once a person is saved or has salvation and therefore now being looked after by God, they are no longer subject to the complete ravages of sin in this world. Also, because there will be no sin or evil in heaven, they will be totally delivered from it when they reach there.

Saying it another way, a person who has salvation here on earth has the benefit that the power of sin is no longer dominant over him, because he has the power from the holy spirit of God to combat it. Furthermore, in heaven he is totally free from all sin and evil. This is a most remarkable fact! Consider the sin of and in the world. To be free from all that evil. This is what salvation is! This is the goodness of God!

Salvation on earth is just a minor foretaste of what is to come in heaven. Exciting details about this follow soon. Salvation is provided for all men by Jesus Christ who is the saviour of all mankind.

Salvation is a matter for each individual person. This means it is not something that just naturally happens to households or nations. Every individual person must decide to accept or reject the offer of salvation from Christ. Also, salvation is only obtained by each person recognising that they need to confess their sinful state to Jesus Christ. Salvation cannot be had without the forgiveness of Christ being granted to each individual sinner. What you must do to obtain this free gift of salvation is explained in Chapter 25.

Eternal life.

Eternal life is one of the results of salvation, which ( let the reader be reminded) must be gained here on earth initially, as a result of a decision made by each individual person.

So, eternal life begins when a person decides to follow the directions in Chapter 25 and the spirit of God begins once more to dwell within them. After death, and when the believer is resurrected by the lord into the fullness of eternal life, he goes to be with Jesus in heaven. There, as the name implies, eternal life continues forever. It is endless in duration and is incomparable in quality.

Eternal life has an endless future. In the past, God has planned for the future of every individual that has ever lived. In the future, he will allow us to participate in his eternal plan, which is available to every person here on earth. This includes you and all other people on earth, whether they read this book or get it direct from the Bible. The truth of the Bible is the thing they need in order to be able to do the things that are necessary.

Heaven.

Heaven is one of the two great divisions of the universe, the other being the earth. It is the dwelling place of God the father,Jesus Christ and of the angels. Jesus has promised us that he has gone to prepare such a place for us. He has told us that his father's house has many rooms. It is a wonderful place to look forward to experiencing and to live in. It is also where those who receive salvation on earth will live forever. But what is heaven like?

Descriptions of the physical state of heaven are quite difficult as the Bible doesn't say a lot about it. The Bible does tell us that there will be a new heaven and a new earth as the old ones, which now exist, will pass away. However, we are told what it will be like to live there. There will be no crying, as all tears will have been wiped away, no sorrow or pain, no night and no death. Just consider those things! Can you imagine? It goes a bit beyond what is easy to imagine, doesn't it? That's why we have to rely on the Bible to tell us what we have to do to get there.

Perhaps the most important thing about heaven is that Jesus Christ will be there to rule and to watch over us. Our status as believers in heaven is almost unbelievable. Firstly, we will all be considered to be sons of God. Amazing! A son ( or daughter ) of the God who created the world and all that is in it. We will have a renewed life in the spirit, we will be forgiven just as if we had never sinned and we will be purified and have all the blessings of Christ.

Another important element of heaven will be the book of life, where the names of all believers will be found. Who gets into heaven? No one whose name is not in the book will get into heaven. Those whose names are in the book are those who have served Jesus Christ on earth. Jesus himself will separate the peoples of the earth on the basis of those who have served him and those who have not. He will judge us on the basis of our spiritual state, humility, service, endurance, faith and love, all things that we can only have and experience by having the spirit of God.

The Apostle St. Paul, one of the great saints of the Bible, had great insights into what it would be like to be in heaven with Jesus. He considered it would be better to be there sooner rather than later, but knew that he had a job on earth to do first. Heaven, with Jesus in control must be a great place. Is that where you want to be when your time comes? If it is, then Chapter 25 provides information for the first steps.

Death.

Death is a significant time for a believer in Christ and for him it holds no terrors as he knows that in death, he is resting in Jesus until the time of the resurrection. It is important to remember that the human being is made up of three parts; spirit, soul and body. See Chapters 13 and 16 for those details. As far as we understand the Bible, when a person dies on earth, the spirit returns to God in heaven and the person ( body and soul) rests in the grave. What finally happens to the person ( body, soul and spirit) depends on the expressed beliefs of the person when they were alive.

If the person who died was a believer in Jesus Christ, then they are assured of eternal life and immortality at the time of the resurrection. If they were not believers in Christ before their death, then their soul and body goes away to final destruction in hell. The bible calls this the second death. Although this is a brief explanation, it is the essence of what happens. You can easily see that it pays to be on the right side at all times in your life. No one can ever know when they are going to die. An intention to have a death bed change of heart could easily misfire if accidental death occurs.

Hell.

If heaven is going to be great, then hell just isn't the place to aim for. Of course people never aim to finish in hell. They either never get the chance to hear the good news about Jesus, or they are so selfish and independent that they don't think they ever need Jesus. Everyone needs Jesus! Not to find Him is to go to hell. What would that be like?

Hell is a place for all persons who had not, at the time of their death, been born again of the spirit of God. It is a place of the second death. This means that after their physical death on earth, they are raised by God at the resurrection, only to be sent to hell to die again.

It is a place of darkness, yet unquenchable fire. It is also the destination of all demons and their leader satan. Not a place to be! The good news is that no one has to finish up there. The alternative is much better. Believe in Jesus today! Have a Jesus inspired life on earth and finally go to heaven. Hope to see you there! In heaven that is!

An afterthought.

Some people just refuse to believe in all this. They put it in the same category as fairy stories. However, I would say to all readers that bible truth stands forever. Many clever people have tried to discount the Bible only to become believers in the course of their attempt to discredit it. Malcolm Muggeridge is an example of a person who did this and became a believer in the process. These truths and your decision about them, are all that stand between you and an afterlife in heaven or hell. It's really worth you spending lots of time reading the new testament and speaking to believers in Christ. If you seek God, he will meet you. He promises that in the bible, and he always keeps his promises. My prayer will be that every reader of this book will find and know the saviour of the world.

What this chapter has said.

  1. We need to have a childlike simplicity to understand these things.
  2. Salvation is deliverance from the sin and evil of this world.
  3. Salvation is an individual matter for all people.
  4. Eternal life is living forever under the protection of Jesus.
  5. Heaven is the place to aim for. Hell is not.
  6. Believers in Christ are not afraid of death. Unbelievers should be.
  7. Bible truth will always overcome intellectual reasoning.