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If you died today, where would you spend eternity?

Would you go to Heaven?  Would you go to Hell?  Will you simply cease to exist?  Is there an afterlife?

The question of what happens after death is the most important question you can ask.  Sadly, many people never give serious thought to this question.  Few people consider it deeply, and fewer still can answer honestly that they know that they will go to heaven.  So many people today refuse to consider this important question. 

My friend, I hope that you are considering where you will spend eternity after you die.  Our lives on earth are very short compared to the time we will be alive and aware after we leave this life.  If you are unsure of where you will spend eternity, let me show you what God's word has to say about heaven, hell, and your eternal future.

First, the Bible teaches us that we are all sinners.  

This includes you, me, and every human being who has ever lived.  No matter how good a life you try to live, you have and still will do something that is displeasing to God.  There is no way around it.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:10 As it is written.  There is none righteous, no, not one.

This is something that you can know from your own experience.  We are all guilty of some sin. 

Even one sin committed will separate you from God and keep you from heaven.

James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
1 Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?
Ephesians 5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

No matter how good a person you are, you cannot earn your way into Heaven. 

 It does not matter how kind, compassionate, giving, honest, or helpful you are.  If you have committed even one sin, you are not worthy of earning your way into Heaven.  This is a mistake that many people make, thinking that if they are good people, they will be allowed into heaven, and that Hell is only for truly evil people.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

However, God loves you.  He loves all of his creation, and is not willing for any of us to perish.  He knows that we cannot escape our sin nature.  He also cannot allow us into his presence if we are tainted by sin.  The penalty for sin, which is death and eternal damnation must be paid.

Because of His love for us, he provided a way for us to be reconciled to Him.

John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

All that God requires us to do is put our trust in Jesus Christ, and receive Him as our personal savior.

John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Romans 10:9-10 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thins heart that God has raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

If we put our trust in Jesus, we will be saved.  Failure to do so leaves us to the fate we earned through our sin.  Trusting in our own works or religious rituals will not lead us into salvation.

John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already because he hat not believed in the name of the only begotten son of God
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works lest any man should boast.
Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Even though salvation is a gift, many reject the gift because they love their sin more than they love the Lord, or perhaps because they believe that simple faith cannot be correct, that there must be more to it.

John 3:19-20 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.  For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither comest to the light lest his deeds should be reproved.
1 Corinthians 1:22-25 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

The Bible assures us that we can know that this is the way of salvation.  Not merely hope, but know!

John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
1 John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God

What does it mean to be "born again"?

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Being born again is a matter of faith.  It is putting your complete trust in the Lord to not only save you from eternal death and Hell, but to be your personal Savior, Lord and Master.  Know that there is nothing you can do to earn salvation, but simply put your trust in the Lord.  If you choose to do so, you will no longer be the same person.  You will be a new being, born anew in the spirit, and cleansed of your sins.  This does not mean that you will never sin again, or that you are now free to sin without fear of consequences, It simply means that you are now a child of God, and just as any child needs to grow to become an adult, you, too, will need to grow as a Christian.  Moreover, once you are born again, the Holy Ghost will work in your life to help you grow.  You will have the love and the power of God as your helper.  Can you imagine anything greater?!

What is repentance?

Matthew 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Luke 13 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Repentance is not a way to earn salvation.  The word "repent" means to turn away.  When you put your trust in the Lord, you are turning away from your sinful nature and putting yourself in His care.  Luke 24:47 clearly shows that repentance and remission of sins are two separate but related concepts.

Luke 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Likewise, repentance and being converted (born again) are two separate but related events.

Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.

Repentance is acknowledging that your sins are offensive to the Lord, and truly desiring to turn away from sin because you do not want to displease the Lord.  Note that this does not mean that you will never sin again.  As humans, we are incapable of living without sin.  If we have true faith, the faith will be demonstrated by our repentant attitude.  This is no different than remaining faithful in a relationship to your spouse.  You do not remain faithful to earn your spouse's love.  You are faithful because of your love for your spouse and because you do not want to break your spouse's trust in you.

So how about you?  Are you ready to accept the Lord as your personal savior?  If you are, but are unsure about how to do so, you may contact the Church, or any of the members listed on the Church page by telephone, E-mail, or in person at our Church.  If you feel comfortable doing so, you can pray now, and accept Him as your savior.  If you are uncomfortable about praying, don't worry about "doing it right."  There are no magic words, and the Lord can see into your heart and into your thoughts to see what you really mean.  Here is a sample prayer:

Heavenly Father, I am coming before you because I know that I am a sinner.  I know that because of my sin, I am unworthy to be in your presence, and have cut myself off from you.  I ask you today to come into my heart and into my life, and save me from eternity in Hell.  I know that I cannot earn my way into heaven, and I want to accept your free gift of salvation, provided by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the cross.  

If you just prayed this prayer, or one with the same meaning in your own words, and if you were sincere when you prayed, you are now a child of God.  Your sins have been forgiven!  You are my brother or sister in Christ!  You have been granted salvation, and nothing can take it away fro you!  If you are truly saved, you can never lose your salvation.  The Lord Himself declares this when he says in Hebrews 13:5 "I will never leave thee or forsake thee."  Because of this we can boldly say, "The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me."

Once you become a Christian, the next step is to grow as a Christian.  

This means learning who the Lord is, what he expects from us, and living to please Him.  This is not something we do to earn our salvation.  That is already done.  Instead, this is a response to our salvation.  For me, personally, when I finally understood the depth of the suffering Christ wet through for me, I began to understand just how deep His love for me, and for everyone on earth is.  How could I be so petty as to take that gift for granted?  Can you?  As you learn and grow, you will come to realize, just as countless others before you have, that what the Lord expects and wants for us is only what is good for us.  Living within His guidelines will never be more of a burden than you can bear, and the rewards for doing so are more than you can imagine.  The following section of Matthew 7 tells us what we can expect in this life through obedience:

Matthew 7:7. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
9. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
10. Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

So how do you grow?

Read your Bible.  

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

Reading your Bible is the only way to know what God has reveled to himself.  Knowing what the Bible says is the most important thing you can do to help you grow.  Many different people will try to tell you many different things about God, about salvation, and about many other things.  The only way to avoid being misled is to never blindly follow any one person, Church, or religion without first testing their claims against the claims of the Bible.

Pray. 

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Prayer is your only source of direct communication to God.  Prayer puts you in touch with the Lord, and allows you to build a personal relationship with Him. Often prayer itself can offer strength, as well as a closeness with God.  Prayer is equally as important as understanding scripture.

Find and attend a Bible believing, Bible preaching Church

When choosing a local Church to attend, you should find one that preaches the Bible, and the Bible only.  Be wary of false teachers who will try to lead you astray.  If a Church teaches anything that is not Biblical, or is opposed to Biblical teachings, get out!  The purpose of the local Church is to provide you with instruction, to help you grow, to worship God, to provide fellowship with other Christians, and to reach non-believers and bring them to Christ.  Every chance to hear the Word of God preached, and every opportunity to grow and learn should is a blessing.  Take advantage of it!

Note that nowhere does the Bible instruct us to join a specific Church or denomination.  The Church, as defined in the Bible is simply the whole body of believers in Christ who have been born again.  However, you should find a Church that holds the Bible in highest authority, and does not teach anti-biblical concepts such as the idea that we must somehow earn our salvation.

Many "Christian" denominations claim to be the one and only "true" Church.  They claim to have the only correct beliefs, and that all others are misled.   While finding a good Bible believing Church is important, you should not be overly concerned with joining the "right" Church.  You should be concerned with finding a Biblical Church.  All true Christian denominations have core beliefs in common, such as the nature of God, salvation by grace apart from works, reliance on the Bible, and many other fundamental beliefs.  What we refer to as Churches are the local buildings or denominations.  However, these are not what the Bible refers to as The Church.

The Church is made up of all who have been saved by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  Local congregations and Christian denominations may vary in forms of government, and which parts of the Bible are stressed, but the core beliefs of Christianity do not vary.

Other groups, such as the Latter Day Saints, the Jehovah's Witnesses claim to be the "only true Church" and yet twist, pervert, and deny many clear Biblical teachings, especially salvation by Grace apart from works.  You should be very careful to examine any teachings that are non-Biblical.  Do not put your trust in men, who are imperfect.  Put your trust and faith in God, who is perfect, and the Bible, which is His revelation to us.

 

 

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