Most of us never give life after death a second thought ... until some tragedy forces mortality into our consciousness!
The death of the Princess of Wales, for example, caused many to "think spiritual". The outpouring of grief worldwide, the emotional funeral service in Westminster Abbey, the subsequent public mourning highlighted the awesome fact that life comes to an end - sometimes suddenly.
So - what then?
The Narrow Gate
In Christian terms life after death - at least for the "good folk" - means salvation. It is uniquely Christian. And according to the Bible there is but one way, for no other world faith offers forgiveness of sin through the death of another person. That one way is through Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life, died as a human sacrifice for all mankind and to prove it was resurrected from the dead to live forever more.
To listen to most evangelists, though, "getting saved" is as easy as falling off a log. Simply feel bad about your lifestyle and give your hand to the preacher. Or read a little booklet, whisper a prayer and say 'I now let Jesus into my heart'.
Is that all it takes? Is it easier than applying for a job? Simpler than going shopping? Less complicated than turning on the TV?
Jesus Himself answers: "Enter in by the narrow gate; for the gate is broad and the way is wide that leads to destruction, and there are many that go in by it; but the gate is narrow and the road is shut in that leads to life - and only a few find it" (Matthew 7:13-14). He then proceeds to warn about false prophets who preach great sermons, drive out evil spirits and do all sorts of 'miracles' - but who in reality are preaching a false Gospel that leads to a false conversion.
No doubt millions find solace and relief from distress through a variety of Christian brand names. Many millions more are comforted in non-Christian religions - would even die for their particular faith.
But spiritual comfort and the martyr spirit are not salvation!
Seek - And Find
It's a total misconception to imagine that anyone can off-handedly choose to "accept Christ"! It is God who calls and draws a person to the Savior. On the other hand, no-one who sincerely desires salvation will be turned away. If at the sound of the true Gospel you seek Him with all your heart, God will in His time and in His way bring you to a real repentance - and salvation.
The true Gospel is such a precious matter that Jesus used the concept of "lost treasure" or a "costly pearl" to illustrate it. "Go and sell all that you have", he said, to "purchase" it (Matthew 13:44-45)! Not, of course, that salvation is anything other than an unearnable gift. But it is to be sought after, to be "taken by force", to be energetically grasped and held on to! Salvation demands sacrifice, it means deep-rooted personal change, it requires total dedication.
No - to "accept Christ" isn't as easy as falling off a log! It is not a sentimental journey. It's no panacea for every ill. To become a true Christian is a hard slog. It is a constant battle with our "old main" struggling to get off the cross. It is persistent self-discipline. It is war!
But the reward is - to live for ever!
What God has prepared for those who choose life is far beyond the wildest imaginations of the unconverted mind. Every necessary sacrifice, all the opposition and the persecution and even prolonged suffering that may afflict a Christian is as nothing when contrasted with our glorious future in the Family of God for all eternity!
Not A Lonely Struggle
But we must first count the cost!
Too many simply "decide for Christ" in a rush of emotion without any concept of what is real conversion. Then in the cold light of day - when there's opposition and disdain, when they begin to understand Christ's demands, when worldly pressures swamp them - they have no root and their faith withers.
When we come to faith with eyes wide open, however, we don't battle alone. For the same Jesus Christ who gave himself for us has given us everything necessary for life and godliness (11 Peter 1:3-8). We have his sure promise that he is with us even to the end of the age, or to the close of our life.
When we finally implore God to grant us repentance, and are baptized and receive His Holy Spirit then we enter a joy-filled life that will spiritually last for ever.
Do you understand the way to salvation? When the horrors of the coming Tribulation burst around our ears - will your faith be firmly rooted in the real Jesus Christ?
Write for two helpful free booklets: What Do You Mean "Repent"? and Coming To Baptism. You must be sure that you are standing on the Rock - and not on the shifting sands of a false conversion.
To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.
For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Issue 9, May/June 1998. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.
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