What’s on the Other Side? :: By Nathele Graham

How often have you wondered about life after death? If you ask ten people their opinion you’ll probably get ten different answers. Some people will tell you that we become angels while others will say that there is nothing beyond the grave. Some even think that reincarnation is true.

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many: and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:27-28)

That discounts reincarnation. Truth is always found in the Bible. This verse says we don’t die over and over until we get it right, but there is a judgment after death. Christ offered Himself as the sacrifice for our salvation.

Is it possible that we become angels after death? No. Angels are created beings and existed prior to God creating Adam. In the book of Job we’re given an account of a very tragic time in Job’s life. His children all died, he lost all of his livestock, and his health was impaired. Eventually God spoke to Job and wanted some answers from him.

“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7)

When God speaks of the “morning stars” and the “sons of god” He is talking about angels; they sang at the creation of the earth. That was prior to the creation of Adam so we humans don’t become angels when we die. Our body goes into the ground, but our soul lives on.

Prior to Jesus’ victory over the grave, a person’s soul would go to a temporary place to wait. This place was composed of two sides. One side was a place of comfort, called Paradise or Abraham’s Bosom, where those who had looked forward to the coming of the Messiah waited. The other side is a place of torment where souls who reject the Messiah await judgment and eternal death.

Jesus gave an illustration of two men who lived very different lives on earth and both faced very different eternities. There was a rich man. His god was money and prestige. Jesus doesn’t give his name. Then there was Lazarus who was very poor and in ill health. The rich man knew who Lazarus was but did nothing to ease his suffering. Both men died. Lazarus found himself in Abraham’s Bosom but the rich man served the wrong god and found himself in torments.

“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”  (Luke 16:23)

This man had gained riches on earth but lost his soul. He was very much aware of his pain and suffering; he also could recognize people he had known on earth and was able to speak with them.

“And 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.” (Luke 16:24)

He should have made a wiser choice before he died. The rich man also remembered his family who were still alive and still had a choice of where they would spend eternity.

“Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” (Luke 16:27-28)

Even today we make our own choice as to where we will spend eternity. You cannot work your way into heaven, nor can you work your way out of hell. Purgatory is not biblical nor is the idea of annihilation. This does illustrate, though, that after death we will recognize people and remember those who we have left on earth.

A misunderstanding people have about the afterlife is that it’s an extension of this life. If you’re “good” you go to heaven. If you’re bad you go to hell where there will be one big party with all of your friends. In the above account of the rich man being in torments, we clearly see that there is no party.

The rich man was miserable and was very aware of his misery. In truth his misery was just beginning. He’s been in torments for over 2,000 years and is still very thirsty. At the end of time at the Great White Throne judgment he will find himself cast into the lake of fire.

“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:14-15)

This will be a never ending place of fire and isolation. If you have not accepted Christ as your Savior, this is what eternity holds for you. If you have accepted Christ’s free gift of salvation you will have a mansion.

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:1-2)

Jesus is preparing a mansion for all who believe in Him.

The longer we have lived, the more friends and loved ones have died. Can they come and visit us? No. As much as we yearn to see our loved ones they cannot come to us. Grief grips our hearts when someone we love dies and King David was no exception. He made a very bad choice and committed adultery with Bathsheba.

Today this story would be featured in every gossip magazine. Bathsheba was married but became pregnant with David’s child and David made sure her husband was killed to cover up the situation. That doubled his sin instead of making things right with God. When we sin we affect people around us and so it was with this child, who became very ill. Nathan the prophet confronted David about his sin and David was repentant and grieved over his sin and over the sick child.

“David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth.” (2 Samuel 12:1).

David shouldn’t have given in to the sinful lust and murder, but now all he could do was go to God and pray. This little boy did die and David’s response surprised the servants who had been watching him grieve for seven days. David washed, went before the LORD and worshipped Him, then he ate a meal. The servants asked him why he had fasted and wept while the child was alive but didn’t grieve after the child died.

“And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:22-23)

This is an important lesson we all need to take note of. The child went to Abraham’s bosom upon death and David knew that the dead aren’t allowed to come back from the grave. He also knew that because he loved God, he would one day go to be with that child. David repented of his sin and one of the most beautiful psalms was written as David cried out to God.

“…Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.” (Psalm 51:1-3)

David could only go to see his child if he had repented and asked God to forgive him.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

David would see his child again in Abraham’s bosom.

Jesus conquered death. On the third day after the crucifixion His sealed tomb was empty. As the disciples gathered in a locked room in fear and to comfort each other, Jesus appeared.

“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” (John 20:19)

This gives us another clue about the afterlife. Jesus was able to enter a locked room but the disciples recognized Him. Thomas wasn’t there, but a few days later Jesus appeared to him. Thomas was overwhelmed.

“And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28)

When we see Jesus in heaven I’m sure that our response will also be awe, joy, and worship. Jesus had appeared to them, but remember that He is God and He had a lesson to teach the men who would spread the gospel. If you’re in a locked room and someone who has died appears to you, this isn’t of God. Rebuke the spirit in the name of Jesus.

There is to be no communication between people who have died and we who live this side of heaven. Because Jesus is who He is, He did appear on several occasions. He even ate food with them. From this we understand that we will be able to recognize each other after death and to socialize with each other. That is, we can in heaven.

If you have not accepted Christ as your Savior then there is a different life awaiting you. One of torment. When Jesus died on the cross He took our sin upon Himself. We cannot enter heaven if we die in our sin, but by truly accepting Christ’s blood sacrifice we will never suffer with the rich man in torments.

“Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”  (2 Corinthians 5:6-8)

Thank You, Jesus, for your sacrifice for me.

What’s on the other side? Either eternal life or eternal death. It’s your choice. There is only one way to live eternally in the presence of God, and that is by placing your faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians1:21)

That is only true for someone whose sins have been forgiven. Don’t delay in admitting you are a sinner and ask Christ to forgive you. It’s an eternal choice that you can only make on this side of heaven.

 

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Ron Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original Scripture is “theopneustos” (God breathed).

Be Faithful to Your Calling :: By Nathele Graham

Jeremiah was called to be a prophet. This calling was ordained by God prior to Jeremiah being formed in his mother’s womb.

“Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee: and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:4-5)

Like most of us, Jeremiah tried to make excuses as to why he couldn’t do what God called him to do.

“Then said I, ‘Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.’” (Jeremiah 1:6)

This “child” was probably about 30 years old when he spoke those words! He tried to wiggle out of his calling, but he did go on to faithfully obey God in a very difficult task. God sees strengths in us that we cannot see in ourselves, and He knew Jeremiah was capable of delivering the message that God wanted him to deliver. Jeremiah was to warn the southern kingdom of Judah that they were going to face God’s judgment if they didn’t turn from their rebellion. God knew Jeremiah was the man for the job.

“But the LORD said unto me, ‘Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.’” (Jeremiah 1:7-8)

We might look at Jeremiah as a failure because his words were ignored. Jeremiah could have given up after the first year of failure or he could have doubted that God had even called him, but he didn’t. The thing that has to be understood is that Jeremiah did what God asked him to do.

Whether or not the people listened wasn’t his problem. Had Judah heeded the words he spoke and returned to a right relationship with God they wouldn’t have spent 70 years in Babylonian captivity. God doesn’t call us to be successful…He calls us to do His work. Jeremiah preached for many years with no success, but he was faithful to what God called him to do.

The Bible is filled with accounts of God asking people to do things that they didn’t necessarily understand. For instance, Noah lived at a time when demonic wickedness was everywhere. In order to preserve the small remnant of His creation that hadn’t been genetically corrupted, God would send a flood.

Noah was directed to build an Ark and God gave him the building plans. Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives would enter the Ark along with some animals and they would be saved from the judgment. Noah was called to a great undertaking, and he was faithful to all God said:

“Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.” (Genesis 6:22)

Noah would have had a hard time understanding about the coming Flood and how the Ark would be used. The earth had been watered by a mist so rain and floods were unknown, but Noah got busy and didn’t question why. Because Noah had been faithful to his call and did what God asked of him, you and I are here today.

“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” (Hebrews 11:7)

Had Noah questioned God or decided to build the Ark according to his own way of thinking, all would have been lost. Faithful obedience to God will always prove to be best.

There are many accounts in the Old Testament where men and women were faithful to do God’s will. They did what they were asked regardless of whether or not people heeded their warnings. God called Abraham to leave his home in order to establish the nation of Israel. Sarah was called to follow her husband Abraham and to give birth to Isaac.

Moses was called to lead the nation of Israel out of Egyptian captivity, the shepherd boy David was called to be king and establish the royal lineage of the Messiah. Esther was called to reveal a plot to murder all Jews, and the list is long but inspiring. Each person did what they were called to do. God gives us the opportunity to be a part of His plan and it’s up to us to hear His calling and be faithful.

The New Testament is also filled with accounts of people who were faithful to their calling. For instance, God asked Mary to give birth to His Son. What an honor. When the time was right, Jesus began His ministry on earth and He began by calling men to follow Him.

“Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:16-17)

Simon (Peter) and Andrew responded to His call and eventually twelve men became His disciples. Each man had strengths and weaknesses, but together they spread the gospel and we are blessed today because of them. They weren’t perfect men, but they were faithful to their call. Peter had his rough moments, though, but we can learn from those moments and take heart.

After Jesus was crucified and had risen from the grave He met the disciples at Galilee. There He confronted Peter and called him to feed the sheep. Did Peter jump at the chance to serve Jesus? Well, as only Peter could, he shows us that our calling isn’t greater or lesser than what someone else is called to do. After Jesus told Peter what his calling was, Peter saw John nearby and wanted to know what he was called to do.

“Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?” (John 21:21)

Was Peter unhappy with his calling to feed the sheep, or was he excited and curious about what John was called to do? Whatever his reason Jesus made it clear that each had their own calling.

“Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.” (John 21:22)

That advice is for every one of us. Be faithful to your calling no matter what others are called to do. We all are called for a special task and God can use any quality we have to accomplish great things. When Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians he talked of the various spiritual gifts and how important each one was.

“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord…But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-5, 7)

Paul went on to say that various gifts are given to members of the body of Christ, but these gifts should not bring division. If someone is called to preach, that’s a wonderful calling but isn’t greater than a person given the gift of prophecy.

“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ… For the body is not one member, but many.” (1 Corinthians 12:12, 14)

We should never feel inferior because we don’t have a powerful ministry that reaches thousands or millions of people. If you’re called to that, good for you, but if you are called to serve food at the local homeless shelter witnessing to one person at a time, then do that as if you’re doing it for the Lord.

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” (Colossians 3:23)

Do what God asks you to do regardless of how small a task it may seem. You’re important to the Body of Christ. Don’t be daunted by what you’ve been called to accomplish. If the task seems too big, be sure you pray and stay strong by studying God’s Word. If the task seems too menial, be sure you pray and stay strong by studying God’s Word.

Let God judge your strengths and weaknesses and assign the task. He called Jeremiah to be a prophet and his calling was very different than what Ezekiel or Isaiah or Daniel were called to do. Noah could have laughed when God told him to build an Ark, but he was faithful to his calling, and his family was saved from God’s judgment.

Maybe your calling is to be a Christian parent who raises godly children. Don’t look upon that as trivial. It could be that you’re called to spread the gospel to the far corners of the world, or maybe your mission field is in your own neighborhood. Remember each member of the Body of Christ is there for a special purpose.

“If the foot shall say, ‘Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body.’” (1 Corinthians 12:15-19)

Each part is important to the whole body. If a part is not there, the whole body feels the loss. What have you been called to do? Each and every one of us is called to be a witness for Christ. Aside from that, God has called you for a special purpose. Study His Word so you can represent Him as best you can. Pray for His guidance and wisdom. Figure out what He wants you to do, then be faithful to your calling.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Ron Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original Scripture is “theopneustos” (God breathed)