Life After Death

Chapter 5: Man's Last Chance (Part 1)

*Death not the end. It is just a journey to the next phase of our existence. The Biblical definition of physical Death is that it is the separation of the spirit from the body: “The body without the spirit is dead” (James 2:26). 2Corinthians 5:8 describes it as being: “absent from the body.” Death is the departure or exodus of our spirit from our body. Paul said just before his death: “My departure is at hand.” So, at death, we continue to exist as a spirit, but we no longer inhabit our body. When the spirit leaves the body, at that moment the body dies. Physical death is the state of the body, when the soul and spirit are separated from it, but our spirit-soul will continue to be alive. In our disembodied spirit we will enter the second phase of our existence - called the Intermediate State, awaiting our resurrection and final judgement, when we will be released into our final, permanent eternal state. 
 
 *At death - all mankind are separated into 2 different groups, righteous and the unrighteous. They go to 2 different places, have 2 totally different kind of experiences and have 2 totally different destinies. Moreover this separation is fixed at death, There will be no second chance after death to change one’s position. You just have this life-time to decide which group you will be in and what your eternal future will be. Now there are times when people may die, leave their body and have an out of the body experience in heaven or hell and then be resusitated hours or even days later. In fact, we have seen this happened to Jonah, Lazarus and Paul in the Bible as will as with others who were resurrected by having their spirit called back into their bodies.

In this sense God gives some people a 2nd chance by extending their life on earth. They may have seen the other side, but they had not yet fully crossed over. However, there comes a point for every person when the spirit leaves the body once and for all and cannot return. At this point his destiny is fixed forever.

 
 *Ken Hagin’s story
 
 The Bible says there are only 2 ways to live: 
“unto ourselves” or “unto Him.” 
 
 2Corinthians 5:15: “He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” 
 
 Likewise it tells us there are only 2 ways to die: “in the Lord” (Revelation 14:13) or “in our sins” (John 8:24).
 
 Revelation 14:13: “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labours, and their works follow them.” 
 
 John 8:24: “you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” 
 
 The state we are in upon death (under God’s grace or judgement) is the state we will remain in forever - scripture is clear on this point. To die ‘in the Lord’ is to die being safe and secure from all judgment under the shelter of the finished work of Christ and hence to enjoy eternal blessedness with Him forever. To die ‘in your sins’ is to pass out of this world eternally doomed for judgement. 
 
 Hebrews 9:27 talks about this separation at death: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this comes the judgement.” 
 
 The basis meaning of the word for judgement here is ‘krisis’ meaning separation or division. At death, as the spirit-soul leaves the body, it will be manifest to the person himself, as well as to God whether he is righteous in God’s sight or under damnation, whether he is in Christ or in his sins outside of Christ, whether he is under God’s mercy and grace or under God’s judgement. 

On the basis of his spiritual condition at death, God sends him to his appropriate place, either Heaven (in the Presence of God and 
His goodness) or Hell (separated from God’s goodness forever, but under His wrath forever). Therefore our intial private judgement which fixes our eternal destination, happens already at death.
 
 Luke 16:19-31, Jesus Himself shows clearly that the souls of the righteous and unrighteous continue to live and be conscious beyond death and are permanently separated into two groups.
  
 v19: “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 
 v20,21: But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fedwith the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 
 v22: So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s Bosom (Paradise). The rich man also died and was buried. 
 v23: And being in Torments, IN HADES, he lifted up his eyes 
and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his Bosom. 
 
 v24: “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 
 
 v25: But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 
 
 Notice that the two men in their souls go to two completely different places. The righteous go to a place of conscious comfort, but the wicked to a place of conscious punishment and torment. This clearly implies that God, in His justice, at the death of an unbeliever (having used up his last chance to repent and be forgiven) passes a sentence of guilty upon him, because in his time on earth, he had rejected God’s offers of mercy and forgiveness. It will become clear shortly that this sentence is final and irreversible. In this life is the SOWING, but after death is the REAPING. Although final sentencing happens in Revelation 20 at the Great White Throne the wicked are already found guilty at death and their destiny is then sealed. Abraham, knowing that God had sentenced him to this punishment, explains that it is not in his power to lessen his punishment, for justice must now be served.
 
 This judgement at death is irreversible: 
v26: And besides all this, between us and you there is a great Gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.” 
 
 This proves that our destiny is fixed at death. Neither the righteous or the wicked can change their location. In fact it is this terrible truth that caused the rich man to make a request of Abraham.
 
v27-28: “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore (because the doom of those in Torments is sealed at death and there is then no escape), father, that you send him to my father’s house, for I have 5 brothers, that he may testify to them lest they also come to this Place of Torment.’ (Notice Hades is an actual place, not just a state of existance! Even though people are disembodied spirits, they still have a localised existance and live in a definite place).

 
 Knowing that after death it would be too late for his brothers to repent and that they would then be assigned to the same fate as him, he wanted someone to go to the earth to warn them while they were still alive, before it was too late. He clearly knew that it was impossible for himself to leave his place of torment and thus to escape the justice of God. But he hoped that Lazarus in Paradise could be sent back to the earth to witness to his 5 brothers, so that they might repent and so avoid coming into Torments, for he knew that unless they repented and trusted in God at death they would descend to the same place of Torment and then it would be too late for them, for there would be no hope of salvation or escape from an eternity of condemation, punishment, torment and separation from the goodness and blessing of God. He felt the need to warn his brothers before it was too late, and he knew the time-limit for them was their death, for once they died in their sins and came to Torments there could be no escape from the destiny they had chosen in their earthly life. If this lost sinner felt enough sympathy for his lost relatives to want to warn them of hell (which he knew was real), how much more should we (who, just as surely, know that hell is real from the infallible Word of God)!
 
 v29-31: “Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him: ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.” 
 
 Abraham says that God has already provided sufficient testimony to men through His Word to them in order for them to believe, without there being a special resurrection through a soul leaving Hades and being reunited to its body. However God does provide this extra testimony on occasions such as when Lazarus was raised after 4 days and ultimately when Christ was raised on the 3rd day. But even in the face of this extra evidence men still choose not to believe, if they do not want to surrender their lives in faith to God. 
 
 *This story proves that after death there are 2 possible places for men’s souls to go: Believers go to Abraham’s Bosom (also called Paradise), a place of blessing, whilst unbelievers go to a place of Torments (Pains), and their destinies are then fixed forever.
 
 *To understand the position of the unsaved at death, we need to realise that apart from the Redemption provided through Jesus Christ, all mankind already stands guilty before God as sinners, rebels and enemies of God, and so stand under His judgement. 
 
 Romans 3:9,10: “they are all under sin. As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one.” 
 Romans 3:23: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” 
 
 Not only are we in a state of sin in that we all sinned in Adam, but we have inherited a sin-nature from Adam and we have committed our own personal sins in thought word and deed, both sins of commission and ommission, falling short of God’s glory in that we have not always loved God with all our heart and loved our neighbour as ourselves. Therefore we stand as guilty condemned sinners in the sight of God, without hope, because and in His perfect righteousness and justice He must punish us for all our sins.
 
 As a result we were all: “by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:1) or as according to John 3:36: “the wrath of God remained upon us.” The wrath of God is His implacable hatred of sin, holy opposition to sin, His righteous anger and anger against sin in all its forms, which impels Him to move in judgement against it.
  
 Matthew 25:41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” God prepared the Lake of Fire for satan, not for man, but all those who follow satan in his rebellion against God must necessarily share his punishment and destiny. If not for Christ this would be our destiny, for in Adam all mankind followed satan in rebellion against God. Therefore all mankind in Adam is automatically heading for Lake of Fire. 
 
 Therefore a man does not have to do some terrible sin like commit murder to be sent to hell when he dies. He is automatically going there unless something is done about it. Thank God, in His love for us He did something! He sent Jesus, His Son, to die for our sins, taking our place and suffering the punishment and paying the penalty for our sins so that we could be forgiven.
 
 Romans 5:8-10: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” 
 
 In the Garden of Gethsemene, Jesus did not want to drink the cup of God’s wrath upon our sin and pleaded if there be any other way let it be, but God said there was no other way for us to be saved. That means if Jesus did not die for us, we would have no other hope to be saved, we were destined for God’s Judgement of Fire! If we could be saved by doing some good works or by being a nice person then surely God would not have put Jesus through the agony of the Cross, but it was necessary for there was no other way for man to be saved from eternal judgement. 
 
 Jesus bore the equivalent of eternal hell for all of us on the Cross. If it were not for Christ and what He accomplished on the Cross, all mankind would automatically go to eternal hell and destruction, for by nature we are all sinners under the wrath and condemnation of God. So it is not the case that you have to do something terrible to go to hell, but you are going to hell unless you take drastic action to escape it. Unless you do something about it, you are heading for hell and the only effectual thing you can do about it is to call upon the Name of the Lord Jesus to save you and He will (Romans 10:13). Our only hope to escape hell is to trust in Him and receive Him as our Lord and Saviour. If you do nothing you will just continue in our sins on the road heading to destruction. 
 
 Matthew 7:13,14: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Here Jesus said that the world as a whole is automatically on the broad road to destruction, and in order to escape it, you have to go through the narrow gate (there is only one way out and escape from destruction) and go on the narrow way to life (the narrow gate leads to) the narrow road to life). That narrow Gate and Way is Christ Himself: “I am the (only) Way (to Heaven), no man goes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
 
 John 3:16-18: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (to die for us), that whoever believes in Him (as the Son) should not perish (eternal destruction in hell), but have everlasting life (in heaven). For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world (because the world was already condemned as guilty), but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
 
 He who believes in Christ and receives His salvation is forgiven and justified (declared not guilty on the basis of the blood of Christ), and so will not be condemned, but instead have eternal life with God in Heaven. Jesus confirmed this in John 5:24: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgement, but has (already) passed from death into life.” 
 
 Romans 5:1 adds: “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 8:1: “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” This is wonderful news to the believer. God, the Judge, has already declared us forgiven and righteous in His sight. We already possess eternal life. Therefore when we die we do not enter a place of punishment for sin, but go directly to God’s Presence in Heaven. 
 
 However anyone that does not believe in Him, but rejects Him and His salvation, remains under condemnation. As we read in John 3:18: “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” In fact his rejection of Christ has compounded his sin and judgement.
 
 John 3:36: “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life,but the wrath of God abides on him.”
 
 God has given us this life on earth as a time of grace to give us an opportunity to repent and receive His salvation. In this life-time He patiently holds back His judgement and offers us His free-gift of forgiveness, but once this life is over it will be too late to receive it. This life is acceptable time of the Lord, the day of salvation, but if we do not receive Him, upon our death we will have to start facing the day of vengeance (punishment) of our God. 
 
 Appeal: *Warning to unbeliever: God loves you, but He is also just. You just have this life to choose life or death, heaven or hell. Don’t delay, get right with God.
 
 *Believer: reach the lost. they are headed for destruction. They need to be warned of their danger and hear the gospel of salvation.

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