By John Marshall Meisburg, Jr., 8-24-23
The greatest fear of the human heart is death. All over the world, people want to know what will happen to them when they die. They want to know if there is life after death. And the answer to this question is in the Holy Bible, the Word of God.
The Bible says that “it is appointed once for man to die and then the judgment”. Hebrews 9:27. So how do we prepare for that day? And how do we find salvation and eternal life with God?
The Bible teaches us that there is life after death. It says that although the body will die, our soul is eternal and will live forever. The only question is where our soul will live. The Bible says that there is a real Heaven and a real Hell. God sent His Son, Jesus into the world “to save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21. And the Bible teaches us that if we place our faith in God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and make Him Lord of our life, we will be saved from our sins and Hell and will live forever with Him in Heaven “with pleasures forevermore.” However, if we reject Jesus and His plan of salvation, we will be separated from God forever in a place of torment called Hell, or the Lake of Fire. John 3; Matthew 10:28; Matthew 25:41
Heaven is a real and glorious place. Jesus said “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. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3. Heaven is a place of perfect joy and peace with God: “Death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying nor pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4. Heaven will be marked with the presence of God Almighty with “pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11.
Conversely, the Bible teaches that those who reject Jesus Christ will spend eternity in Hell and the Lake of Fire. Jesus spoke of Hell many times. Matthew 10:28; Matthew 25:41; Mark 9:43; Luke 12:5. Jesus said: “Then God will say to those on His left ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41. Jesus also said: “Do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in Hell.: Matthew 10:28. The Bible tells us that every person whose name is not found in the Book of Life will be cast into the Lake of Fire, a place of perpetual suffering and misery. Revelation 20:15. The Lake of Fire is reserved for Satan, and all those who reject Christ. Hell or Hades is the temporary destination for the unsaved dead, and Hell itself will be cast into the Lake of Fire. Revelation 20:14. “The cowards, the faithless, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars will be thrown into
the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8.
So what must we do to be saved from Hell and the Lake of Fire?
The Bible tells us that “salvation is found in no other name, but the name of Jesus”, the Messiah, the Holy One of Israel. Acts 4:12. Jesus made it clear that He was the only way to salvation. He said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” John 14:6. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believed in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
Faith in Christ is essential to salvation. Jesus said many times: “Truly, truly I say to you, whoever believes in me shall have eternal life.” John 6:47. In John, Chapter 3, Jesus says: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up (on the cross) so that everyone who believes in Him would have eternal life.”
Jesus also said that in order to see the Kingdom of Heaven, we must be “born again”. John 3:3. What does this mean? It means that by faith in Christ we have been born again spiritually. It means that our minds and hearts are regenerated and renewed by God. We have repented or turned away from our sins, and we have turned toward God and His ways. It means that we have passed from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light! The act of water baptism is a wonderful
symbol of our new birth in Christ. The Bible says that we are a new creation in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17.
In the Great Commission, the last words of Christ on earth, Jesus said that all who believe and are baptized, will be saved: “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to all creation. And whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not will be condemned.” Mark 16:15.
Jesus also said that we must be reconciled to God through faith in Him. He said that to know God and Him is eternal life. John 17:3. This means that we must have a personal relationship with God – that we must know and love God, and that God must know us. He said that “in the day of judgment many will say I have done many things in Your Name, but God will says I never knew you, depart from me you evildoers.” Matthew 7:21. Man looks upon the outward appearance but God looks upon the heart. Church attendance and good works will not save you. It is only by faith in Jesus, and a sincere personal relationship with God will you be saved and have the gift of eternal life. “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven.” Matthew 7:21
Repentance, or turning away from evil and sin and Satan, is a sina quo non, or essential element of salvation. The first thing Jesus said in His earthly ministry was “Repent, for the kingdom
of Heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17. Repentance is not just saying you are sorry for sin and asking forgiveness. It is a change of mind and thinking, and an actual turning away from all things evil. Jesus said “be ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” By perfect, Jesus meant whole, or complete in Him, with a heart for holiness and a hatred for anything evil. We are to “love what He loves, and hate what He hates.” Romans 21:9. We must confess our sins and truly repent and God will forgive us: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.
The Bible also says that a public confession of your faith is essential to salvation: “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. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10. Jesus said: “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will acknowledge before my Father in Heaven; but whoever disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of Heaven. Luke 12:8. The thief on the cross next to Jesus made a public confession of his faith, and was saved.
Jesus rose from the dead to show us that death can be defeated, and that we can live again as well. “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” John 11:25. Jesus was the first born from
the dead and is our divine example of eternal life. Revelation 1:5.
Faith in Christ is essential for salvation and to save us from Hell and eternal punishment. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:16. “What must we do to be saved? Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, and your household. Acts 16:30.
We are also saved by grace and faith and not by good works. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works so no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23.
In the end times, the Bible says that many will call on the Lord and be saved. “For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord with be saved.” Romans 10:13.
Salvation by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is essential to avoid Hell and judgment and the wrath of God. Jesus warned us about this many times. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him (Jesus) is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because
he does not believe in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3: 17-18.
It is also important to keep the faith until the end of our life. Jesus said “He who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew And in Revelation, God says “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10. And, “He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.” Revelation 2:11.
We know that it is the will of God that all people will be saved. “The Lord is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance and salvation.” 1 Peter 3:9. Jesus said: “It is the will of my Father that everyone who looks on the Son and believe in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:40.
But God also warns us that few people will be saved. Jesus said: “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14.
Father God, thank you for Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ who came to Earth to give us the hope and plan of salvation. O God, keep us on the narrow path that leads us to salvation and eternal life! In the mighty name of Jesus we pray, Amen!
John Marshall Meisburg Jr. is a retired judge residing in Fernandina Beach.