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Tag Archives: heaven and hell

Heaven is Not for Everyone

I am always cautious when I try to tackle an unpopular topic. Yet, whenever I attend a funeral where a member of the clergy assumes or suggests that heaven is for everyone, I cringe. While God is the ultimate judge, a person’s witness typically leaves behind a trail of bread crumbs for friends and family to follow. Depending upon actions, deeds and faith demonstrated, you will find assurance, doubt or uncertainty for the eternal fate of those whom you love.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it,” Matthew 7:13-14.

Jesus comments on two passages about heaven. The first focuses on the percentage of individuals that will end up in heaven or hell. The second details a necessary requirement to be forgiven by God. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus doesn’t beat around the bush, blunt to his audience. You have two choices, follow the narrow path that leads to everlasting life or follow the crowd down the road toward eternal loss.

Then He opened their minds to [help them] understand the Scriptures, 46 and said, “And so it is written, that the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance [necessary] for forgiveness of sins would be preached in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things, Luke 24:45-48.

One of Jesus’ final words before acsending into heaven focuses on how New Testament Jews can find forgiveness through repentance. Biblical repentance contains two requisites, turn away from evil and turn back toward God. If one of these two steps is skipped, true repentance is not achieved. Thus, if anyone wants to approach death with eternal security, 1 John 5:13, repentance needs to become a daily practice. While I hate to be a Debbie downer, the Bible clearly states heaven is not for everyone.

by Jay Mankus

Celebration and Suffering

News of an expecting birth is worthy of a celebration in the form of baby shower.  After labor ushers into this world a new human being, joy consumes families of this infant.  In the years that follow, there are a series of memorable moments, first steps, first words and first day of school.  As new parents work together to raise children, celebrating is often replaced by suffering.  From childhood to adolescence, life only gets more complicated, especially for first time parents.  At some point, celebration fades away as suffering intensifies.  I don’t mean to be Ebenezer Scrooge, but this is a reality of life.

Now it happened that the poor man died and his spirit was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom (paradise); and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades (the realm of the dead), being in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom (paradise), Luke 16:22-23.

After sharing the parable of the unjust manager, Jesus transitions into another parable.  Entitled the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus highlights a reason to celebrate and another to fear.  Using a story about a rich and poor man, Jesus uses a hypothetical scenario to detail what heaven and hell is like.  When Lazarus dies, God rewards this poor man with what Jesus calls paradise.  Meanwhile, a self-centered rich man who cared only about himself was sent to hell.  According to Jesus, hell is a place of eternal suffering, able to see those celebrating above, but unable to do anything to help their agony and pain.  This fact should convict and inspire the living to avoid a similar eternal destiny.

And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in severe agony in this flame,’ Luke 16:24.

In the previous chapter, Luke, a well known first century doctor recalls three parables that illustrate God’s grace, love and mercy.  Whether a possession is lost like a coin or pet, heaven celebrates each time a sinner repents.  Angels are programmed to embrace hearts that confess the error of their way.  Meanwhile, even if you are a prodigal son or daughter who has left your family, God will never abandon you.  These stories have been written to urge souls to surrender your life to follow Jesus.  Although this road is narrow as detailed by Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14, any worldly suffering that you might endure is worth this decision.  Therefore, do not ignore the passage listed above so that your eternal destination will be celebrated at your funeral rather than suffer, not knowing whether you are in heaven or hell.

by Jay Mankus

Undaunted

Earlier in the week, I watched a documentary on near death experiences.  Similar to an episode of Project Afterlife, Destination America examined the experiences of two individuals who flat lined, then came back to life.  During these interviews, the man and woman describe their moments hovering above their bodies and the heaven and hell like encounters that followed.  Rarely do people get second chances at life, but for those granted a special exception, perspectives on life radically change.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen, Hebrews 13:20-21.

While I don’t recall the exact title, this show tried to help others understand unsolved mysteries about life.  The man selected for this episode was a neuro surgeon, spending a large portion of his career saving the lives of others.  In this scenario, the roles were reversed as his life slipped slowly away after several seizures.  His recollections of the afterlife altered the path of his new life.  This surgeon recalls a place similar to the accounts of hell in the Bible.  Dark, alone and filled with a constant eerie noise, it didn’t take long for panic to set in.  Upon waking up days later, his wife and son could see the fear in his eyes.  Like the reality show Scared Straight, this man didn’t need to go to prison to quickly turn his life over to God.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect, Romans 12:2.

Meanwhile, the woman who was in a car accident, went through a much more pleasant experience.  Like scenes from the I Saw Heaven, this individual is reunited with family members who had died and gone to heaven.  She details one conversation, the last before waking up in the hospital.  An aunt tells this woman that her work on earth is not finished.  The Lord is sending you back to complete the purpose and will God has for you.  “Live fearlessly,” undaunted by the barriers and obstacles that exist.  After hearing this message, I feel like this applies to all believers, hoping to please God.  May this testimony inspire you to go through life undaunted, trusting in angels, divine intervention and God’s power to cross the finish line on earth.

by Jay Mankus

A Reservation with Darkness

The Stand by Stephen King initially was released as a novel in 1978.  The movie was then introduced as a mini-series on ABC in 1994 after a longer second version was completed.  One of the telling scenes in this drama occurs during a conversation between Harold Lauder and Nadine Cross.  After each exercise free will to follow Flagg, the character symbolic of the devil, each come to the realization, “we’re damned.”

These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them, 2 Peter 2:17.

At the end of chapter 2, Peter uses an interesting analogy.  I think the point of his words refers to God’s creations which are meant to serve a specific purpose.  Sometimes due to extreme or rare conditions, nature does not provide what it was designed for.  Thus, springs can dry up and mists can hide a powerful storm.  Likewise, whenever someone chooses to be a vessel of devil, a reservation with darkness is secured.

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies, John 8:44.

I’ve heard various projections of what heaven and hell will be like in sermons over the last 30 years.  One of the common threads of these messages is that you will be surprised by who is in heaven and who is not.  During a confrontation with religious leaders, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees and teachers of the law for their hypocrisy.  Sometimes even people you look up to can let you down, falling from grace.  Yet, in the end, be careful that you are not just following a legalistic set of rules.  Rather, may the words of the Bible transform your heart, soul and mind to become disciples of Jesus Christ.

by Jay Mankus

The Savior of the World

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it, Matthew 7:13.

Two times of year at Christmas and Easter, backsliders, the religious and prodigals reunite at church.  The motives for this annual tradition vary.  Some do this as an act of penance.  Others do this as an obligation to their friends or parents.  Meanwhile, there are those who hope this visit will transform their life, praying that the Savior of the world will become real.

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it, Matthew 7:14.

However, in recent years there has been some confusion over what the term Savior means.  Is Jesus the Savior of the World, for those who seek Him out?  Or is Jesus the Savior for the world, everyone included?  As Universalism expands throughout the world, the Pope and some evangelists are taking stances not found in the Bible.  Fearful of offending those outside the church, spiritual leaders are now claiming the God of the Bible is the same God as those whom other religions worship.  Unfortunately, this is not true.

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves, Matthew 7:15.

During his sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke about two destinations, heaven and hell.  Based upon his own words in the gospel of Matthew, those who enter hell is much greater than those who take the road less traveled.  While Jesus is the Savior of the world, He is not the Savior of all.  While this teaching may be unpopular, it comes straight from Jesus’ mouth.  I’m assuming the false prophets are those who stray from the Bible’s teaching, trying to appease a cynical culture.  In view of this, study the Bible for yourself in 2016 and you will discover the truth about the Savior of the world.

by Jay Mankus

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