By Melissa McLaughlin
Have you ever wondered if the world is coming to an end? Ever wonder about Jesus coming back? Ever wonder about the end of your own life? What happens after we die?
We can all be certain of one thing… within the next 100 years we will all die. Whether each of us die as individuals or whether the world comes to an end, either way, our life on this earth will end soon. These physical lives are short and no one escapes death. No one. After death, then what?
How do we respond to the threat of the world coming to an end or to our own relatively imminent death?
Janet Parshall’s Story
To address this reality, I would like to share a story I once heard, told by Janet Parshall on the radio talk show, “In the Market with Janet Parshall”.
When Janet was a child, during the time of the Cold War, Russia and the U.S. were regularly threatening each other with nuclear bombs. It was common knowledge that if nuclear bombs were dropped nearby, masses of people would die. Consequently, schools at that time conducted bomb drills, similar to the fire drills conducted in schools today. The bomb drills were often called “Duck and Cover”.
During the weekly bomb drills, students hid under their desks, curled up in a fetal position, hands clutching and covering their heads. Some opponents of this practice argued that hiding under a desk would offer little help after a nuclear bomb was dropped. However, proponents believed that at the very least children were being taught to take cover in the event of a life-threatening or horrific event.
At any rate, with all the talk of bomb threats and the frequent bomb practice at school, anxiety started to creep into Janet’s mind and linger there. This anxiety was based on the very real possibility of an atomic bomb attack. Her uneasiness deepening, Janet came home from school one day and asked her mom what she would do if a bomb was dropped on their family, on their house, right then and there.
With complete peace on her face, Janet’s mom calmly and readily announced that she would walk outside, look up in the sky and call out, “Jesus, I’m coming home soon and I can’t wait to see you!”
Certainly, Janet found peace for her young mind through her mom’s display of total serenity as she placed her trust and hope in Jesus Christ. This strikingly courageous and peace-filled answer struck me to the core. The stillness of Christ flooded me, too, even as I listened to the telling of this story.
This is the peace that passes all understanding. This is the kind of calm assurance a Christian can experience in the face of death, in the face of bombs or at the thought of the world ending. This peace begins and ends with God.
Does God exist?
Do you believe there is a God? To consider this more deeply, I offer the most remarkable story of a man named David Wood, now an energetic Christian apologist. At the time, David was an atheist. For years, he fought vehemently against any belief in God. However, one day as he was glancing at a simple brick wall, David considered the precise, repeating pattern of the bricks and mortar. David contemplated if such a pattern could ever have materialized by chance. Could the brick wall have been set in place by a hurricane or a tornado blowing one brick on top of another and filling in the mortar in such a perfect pattern? David recognized of course, this brick wall could never come about by chance. The brick wall must have been designed and created by a bricklayer, a highly skilled mason. The pattern was too precise, repeating too frequently and too completely to be random. David then applied this same truth to DNA, knowing that one strand of DNA, the basic building block of all life, is comprised of a much more complex, intricate, precise and perpetually repeating pattern than the pattern found on a brick wall. Like the brick wall, for such a pattern of DNA precision to exist, there must be a Creator or Designer who made it. The pattern of life itself provides evidence of a God who created that life. David’s incredible story of transformation is found here, “Why I am a Christian (Former Atheist’s Testimony)”.
If we can agree God exists, can’t we all agree to believe God in whatever way we want? I’ve heard some people say, “You believe in what works for you and I’ll believe what works for me.” However, this is not a reason to believe something. We should believe something because it is the truth.
How do I know which religion is true?
How do I know which faith system or religion is the truth? All faith systems and religions recognize there is a gap between God and humans. Other religions require humans to reach God through their own efforts. When we pause and consider this we must ask, could a human ever reach God? Christianity, on the other hand, is the only faith system where God reached down to humanity and did all the work for us. There is nothing left for the person to do except believe that Jesus was who He said He was, the Son of God and the Savior of the World. Believe it. John 14:6 – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Why do we need Jesus? God is holy, perfect, righteous, true and just. If God allowed evil in His presence, His goodness would cease being good. There is no human being who could ever be good enough or perfect enough to be in His presence in heaven. No matter how good you are, you are not good enough. Seeing our sinful nature, God sent His own holy, perfect, righteous Son, Jesus. All of humanity’s sins were piled onto Jesus and He took our place, sacrificing His own sinless self, accepting the just penalty for our sin. If we believe in Jesus, the required payment for our sins has been made through our faith in Him. Through faith in Jesus and His finished work on the cross, we are made holy and are guaranteed a place in heaven. Jesus made the way possible for us through His sacrifice. That’s why we need Jesus. There is no other way to stand before our pure, perfect, holy Almighty God. No matter how good you are, you are not good enough.
What happens after we die?
What happens after we die? According to the Bible, we will all stand before God one day when this life ends. 2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Think of it as a final exam or judgment for life. The good part? God would like to help you with this final exam by giving you the answers to these questions from the Bible and by sending Jesus to complete the hard work. Consider God’s first question like an entrance exam, as it will determine whether or not you will enter heaven. This is a sin exam or judgment. The second will be a judgment for the bestowing of heavenly rewards.
The first exam or judgment question when we meet God: What did you do with my Son, Jesus? God sent Jesus to die for your sins, to forgive you of your sins, to robe you in His righteousness and perfect goodness and to invite you to be part of His eternal family in heaven. Did you accept Jesus or reject Him? There is no middle ground – either you accept Him or you reject Him. If you accepted Jesus, that is your one and only entryway and ticket into heaven. There is no other way, because no one is good enough on their own. Your answer to this question will determine whether or not you enter heaven. If you rejected Jesus, you will not enter heaven. If you accepted Jesus, your sins have been accounted for by Him and you will enter heaven freely. Not on your merit, but on Jesus’ merit.
For those who do enter heaven, the second judgment or assessment is where God will reward His people. God will reward you in heaven for the ways you honored Him in this earthly life. God gave you many earthly gifts, such as: physical body, food, water, clothing, shelter, parents or guardians who raised you, family, friends, the Bible, the church. He gave you the gift of time, talents, skills and the opportunity for an education. God provided you with the opportunity to work and earn money. What did you do with all the gifts God gave you? Every word of encouragement, every dollar shared, every helping hand you offered, God saw every moment and smiled with joy as you reflected His goodness. God is watching all that we do and will reward us according to what we have done. Matthew 16:27 – For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
What About Hell?
Is there a hell? Many people say there is no hell, but this wish is not based on scripture. Jesus clearly and emphatically stated there is a hell where there will be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Jesus said many tough things. Many people prefer to pick and choose the easy things Jesus stated and ignore the tough things. But Jesus will not turn a blind eye or give a wink at sin and wickedness. Jesus was absolutely clear. He stated there is a place called hell. If we do not ask Jesus to pay the price for our sins by choosing Him now, we will pay that price for all of eternity. Matthew 10:28 – Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 22:13 – “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Who is going to hell? We will all live forever, either with God or away from God in hell. The choice is ours. As C.S. Lewis states, “All who are in hell choose it.” God will not force anyone to be in heaven with Him if they don’t want to be. If we didn’t desire to be near God in this short life, why would God require us to be with Him for all eternity in heaven? The only people in hell will be those who chose it.
How do I get to heaven?
The only way into heaven is this: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:29
You cannot earn your way into heaven. You cannot buy it. It is a gift that is offered by Jesus. You can only receive it as a free gift.
After believing in Jesus as my Savior and Lord, I have peace in this life. Why? Because even on my worst day, even if I am ready to take my last breath, even if bombs are dropping from the sky overhead, even if this weary world is coming to an end, as a believer in Jesus, I still know this…
*God created me.
*God loves me.
*Jesus died for me.
*Jesus saved me from hell and suffered the penalty for my sins.
*Jesus sent his Holy Spirit to live in me, to transform me and help me follow Him.
*Jesus wrapped me in his goodness and righteousness, so that is how God sees me now.
*Jesus won a place for me in His eternal family in heaven with God.
No matter what else happens to me, Jesus has given me these eternal blessings. Therefore, as a Christian, I have peace that passes all understanding.
Like Janet Parshall’s mom, who passed faith-based peace along to her daughter, I want to pass this same peace along to you. Let the bombs drop. Let death come. Let the mountains crumble into the depths of the sea. Though we may experience fear, we still have peace. This peace is not of our own making. This peace comes from Jesus, only Jesus. It is yours for the taking. Absolutely free, though bought for you at a terrible price. Jesus paid for your ticket into heaven. If you accept it, that is a gift no one can take away. And that is a peace that lasts forever.
Philippians 4:7 – And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The Time Between Time: Two Extraordinary Moments in God’s Story By Melissa McLaughlin
For excellent articles of evidence-based reasoning for our Christian faith, to deepen your faith and in order to explain well to others who are questioning or seeking God, please check out Lisa Quintana’s blog Think Divinely. Here is one of her articles Loving an Unseen God – Christians Accused of Being Atheists?
Eternal Realities Sermon by Rick Warren
Eternal Realities Audio Series by Rick Warren
Jesus and the Reality of Hell By Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
How Can We Show that Christianity is the True Religion – Daily Evangelism Post at RZIM
For a more personal experience of the “Duck and Cover” drills, visit Wessels Living History Farm.
Amen, Amen, and Amen! Hallelujah!!! That is some Holy Spirit power preaching right there! Praise God! God bless you Melissa!
I praise God for the Holy Spirit speaking through my words, even if just a little! God bless you, Ryan!
Thank you for this comforting message of faith and peace Melissa. I am reminded of Paul when he fervently asked the Lord to take away his ailment–whatever it was, physical or spiritual–and the Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient.”
If everything fails me, a hurricane wipes out my home and loved ones, if a thief hijacks my bank card and steals everything in my account, may I have the faith and the love for Christ to say, “Your grace is sufficient.” In Jesus name, Amen.
Dear Pam, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughtful insights! I pray, too, that come what may I will say, “Your grace is sufficient for me.” May we keep our eyes on eternity, for this life is but a blip. God bless you and keep you close to His heart!
How is your husband Melissa?
Pam, you are so kind! He is coming along, slowly but surely. Thank God!
I’m so glad to hear that. Thanks and praise to God.
What inspiring stories and true Scriptures you have shared here. Thank you for reminding us that Jesus is our peace, and He will carry us through those final moments that we each will have. Oh how I pray for so many that I love to experience that same peace with Him! Blessings to you!
Dear Bettie, thank you for visiting and taking time to share your comments! Yes, He will carry us through, to the very end. It is a peace beyond anything we can find in this life and bought for us at a very high price. I pray with you, for many hearts to find their true peace in Jesus! God bless you!
It’s a question we asked a lot when we were young and after a while we stopped considering it because the answer ‘soon’ seemed so far away. But it must always be on the front of our hearts and minds. Thank you, Melissa. Thank you
Dear Alethea, thank you for reading and taking the time to share your comments. It is important to pause and consider the brevity of life from time to time. God is so big and we are so small. But somehow, this is easy to forget. May the greatness of God and the greatness of His love for you be strong in your vision today! Bless you!
It is amazing to think something as simple as a brick wall could bring someone to Christ. An amazing read and it really gets you thinking.
You are right, the brick wall testimony is an amazing story. God will use the tiniest crack in our rebellious defenses to shine His light of truth into our minds and hearts. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your feedback! Blessings!
A beautiful post! Well done! All the essential truths we all need to acknowledge as we face the fact that we will one day stand before God. And written so well, as usual! God bless you, Melissa!
Melinda, I am truly humbled by your gracious words as my faith is strengthened by your work week after week. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment! May God give us eternal vision to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, seeing through these shadow-lands into the beauty of heaven that awaits. It won’t be long now, one way or the other. Bless you, Melinda!
True! The shadowlands can get pretty shadowy. 🙏🏼
Even Christians need to be reminded of these foundational truths.
You are right! I find it is also important for me to reason through these points, so my own faith is strengthened and so that I am prepared to help someone who may be asking questions about the Christian faith. I am better prepared to help point them toward Christ. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. I appreciate you!
I pray that many seeking souls will find this post and trust Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Thank you for this clear message of hope and everlasting life with God, our Father.
That is my heart’s prayer, as well. Thank you for reading and sharing this hope we have in Jesus, hope for the present and hope for all eternity. Bless you!
Oh Melissa, such a great time for such a wonderful post. Our world needs to here about our Jesus and what happens after we die. I think fear is gripping so many hearts with fear of the future and what might happen. I pray for many to read these words so they can be assured of their place in heaven.
I am praying with you, dear Yvonne. Certainly with each passing day we get closer to our own death as well as the return of Christ. I pray that the brevity of our lives will help us keep that eternal vision and hold on to the blessed assurance that Jesus is mine and I am His. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.
Wow! Amazing post, Melissa. Although I’m familiar with several stories of men who set out to prove that God does not exist, Lee Strobel and Josh Mcdowell, who both came to Christ in the process. I wasn’t familiar with David Wood’s story. But I love the analogy he made between bricks and DNA. How powerful!
Love Janet’s story too…drives home the point about trusting in our Savior in the “whatever might happen.” Thank you for these truths about eternity and what happens at the end of this life. Blessings!
Hi Karen, thank you for stopping by to visit and read my post! I appreciate your feedback. It’s true there are some well known stories of atheists who came to know Christ, like those you mentioned, but yes, David Wood has an equally incredible testimony. We live in uncertain times, not unlike the days of Janet’s childhood during the Cold War. May we rest in the peace of Jesus and help others find their peace in Him, as well. Bless you!
I love your heart for the truth! Being a Christian apologist, that is what my whole ministry is about – you should not believe something just on a feeling, but it should be because it is evidentially true. That is what sets apart the Christian faith from all the others – we have the evidence to back up our claims of truth.
In a “post-truth” culture, however, even claims of truth backed up with hard evidence are not what captures the heart of many these days. I would imagine it has more to do with hope, like you state in this post – the hope of heaven – that there is more to this life than what meets the eye. I think the world needs hope today as much as it ever has, and Christians have the anchor of hope in the person of Jesus Christ.
You and I are kindred spirits on this, Melissa. I am SO blessed to be getting to know you, and your writing is gifted and your heart is evident. Thank you for this post, and may God continue to bless your gifts.
Thank you for these kind and supportive words of encouragement, Lisa! I am so blessed by you, your faith and your apologetic ministry. It is deep thinkers like you who have strengthened my faith and helped me develop a better understanding of Christianity so that I not only have more confidence in sharing my faith, but I have the words and the reasoning to share in a believable way. You and others like you who are tackling the apologetic challenge have my gratitude and esteem. It is a bit scary to be honest, because it opens one up to much criticism and push back. I pray that the truth of Jesus, as written in the Bible, will shine brighter than any word, opinion, experience, feeling or false teaching the world can come up with. Jesus is worth it. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. Kindred spirits indeed. Keep writing, Lisa! God bless you.
Now I’m going to comment on the apologetic strength of this post. My first response was based on the comfort and beauty I felt personally regarding Jesus and our certainty in him. Now I want to affirm the winsome case you’ve built for faith in Christ and the existence of God. You wrote the way to salvation clearly and the arms of the Father wide open toward those who want him. There’s one way in. Jesus did the hard work, as you said. What a glorious, merciful, and kind God we serve! Thank you for this, Melissa! Now I’m off to share it abroad!
Thank you for the follow up response, Melinda! As for the case for Christ, I must give credit to all of the apologists I have heard, read, watched and followed over the past few years. I have learned so much from others who have taught me to think deeply about why I believe what I believe. Too many to list, but the apologetic ministry is a powerful force. May God use each word that is written by every person in this Christian community to touch hearts, open minds, heal hurts and calm worries by pointing readers to Jesus, one post at a time. Bless you!
Thank you Melissa
Your explanation of our Faith is both Biblical and straightforward. I love the simple way you dispel some typical puts offs like – a faith that works for me and one which works for you.
Amen to you proclamation of Faith
Thank you, Bob, for reading and for the kind support. I have been an avid fan of numerous Christian apologists and have learned so much from them. For me it’s helpful to have the foundational components of our faith laid out in a reason-based flow. I pray it may be of help to others, too.
What a powerful story and amazing example of the practical application of trusting Jesus, come what may! I need to remember walking and audibly speaking my trust in Jesus so my kids can see and hear and know God is who gives me peace in trouble.
Yes, I agree! I was truly captivated the day I was listening to this powerful story. You have a great idea for living it out – to be mindful as moms to verbally express our trust in Christ during difficult moments for our kids to witness and remember years after we are gone. God bless you and your ministry to moms!
I am repeating this:
I will trust and love Christ come what may.
I will trust and love Christ come what may.
I will trust and love Christ come what may…
Thank you for posting words of truth that we need to both hear and share out in the world today.
I am repeating those words as well. May the truth of the gospel ring strong to the depths of our souls and ring out to others through our love and our voices.
Bless you, Elaine!
Thanks for sharing.
I often think about the fact that I’m lucky not to have experienced wars like the older generations.
Often, I tend to forget how lucky I am for being able to live a peaceful life.
I really enjoy seeing what you’re doing here.
Dear Edna, it’s true, we forget what a blessing it is to have not experienced war like so many others have. May we not take this for granted. Though I feel the unrest all around us, I wake up to the sound of an alarm, not gunfire. May God keep us ever mindful of our many blessings. Thank you for reading and commenting! I appreciate your help and support.
God bless you, Edna!
I’m happy to help 🙂
I just love the idea of running out with arms open, ready to meet Jesus! If we are reminded of this, it makes this whole life and death thing such a simple concept.
I agree! Her response to death was powerful and freeing. I pray we can keep our vision of eternity before us always. Bless you!
I really, really love this post! It makes the gospel so CLEAR and easy to understand. I’m thinking of sending it to my son who walked away from Jesus, but I don’t want to be pushy. He knows how I feel…anyway, thank you for this.
Dear Nicole, thank you for visiting and for the kind support! I am praying for you and your son. May God open the right doors at the right time that will open his eyes, mind and heart to the truth of the gospel. I pray that whether it is through these words or someone else’s, that God will help your son and others find Jesus as our only hope.
I love this post, Melissa. It is a thorough explanation of the Gospel and really accessible. Good job.
It’s interesting that you mention Lewis. He had a much more inclusive soteriology that most American Evangelicals. He believed that while Jesus is the only way to heaven, there might be followers of Jesus who wouldn’t pass the “litmus test” of what we think of as Christians. It’s similar to Jesus’s statement in the Gospels that “I have sheep that are not of this fold”. It’s tough to get into matters of salvation with people that are excellent people, full of kindness and mercy, gracious, generous and good, but they aren’t Christians. I’ve struggled with that for as long as I can remember.
In all, I really enjoyed your post, and I appreciate you stepping through it.
Thank you, Chip, for your gracious words! First of all, I learned a new word today from you, soteriology! I will try to find a way to use that at some point in my future! All joking aside, it has been burning in my heart to find a way to explain the good news of Jesus from the ground up, meaning starting with the existence of God. I pray that this message may help point someone to Him. As for Lewis, I wasn’t aware of that element of his beliefs. I always understood that “sheep not of this fold” referred to Gentiles like us added to the Israelite family. As Jesus states in John 14, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” I do take Jesus at His Word on this. As for the final judgment, we know it will be God’s decision only to carry this out. Though many people may appear outwardly kind and loving, we know that inwardly we all have sins of the heart that sometimes no one but God can see, but He does see. I believe God will give people every possible chance, but He will not force them to choose Jesus. As we wait for that day, I lean on the Bible for truth, as it is the source for our faith in Jesus and the Rock beneath my feet in a world of shifting sand. Bless you!
No reason to worry, period. May our peaceful lives make others hungry for Jesus. Amen.
No safer place to be than in the arms of Jesus.