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 perfectness, 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 all of this. As a Christian, I have a peace that passes all understanding in this life.
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.
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?
For a more personal experience of the “Duck and Cover” drills, visit Wessels Living History Farm.