ISN’T IT WORTH ONE HOUR TO CONSIDER YOUR ETERNAL DESTINY?
After the end of your physical life, you will spend eternity in one of two places, i.e., Heaven or hell. I hope that you read this article because of my concern for your eternal destiny, and I know that the only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ.
I know Christianity is true because the Holy Spirit lives in me and assures me that Christianity is true. Be encouraged that you can also know it is true. If you are reading this article with any interest and concern about where you will spend eternity, it is very likely that God is drawing you to Him. Keeping the above in mind, I hope and pray that you will carefully read this publication with a mind open to hear and listen for God’s voice calling you to Him.
All of what I write here has Scriptural support. If you would like to receive a more expansive copy of this article with endnotes, which set out the support, please e-mail me using the contact feature at the website.
Whatever you think of this article, God stills loves you more than you can comprehend. However, please understand that He holds you accountable for your sins, which is true for us all because we are all sinners. Ultimately, you have to deal, not with what I write here, but with God Himself. One day you will have to face the Holy Almighty God to answer for your life, and every day you live, is one day closer to that time.
Every day you probably spend much more than one hour watching the news on television or reading the newspaper to find out what is happening in the world. Yet, most of the news will become old news in merely a matter of days. You may spend hours at the gym every week working out to become and maintain physical fitness. However, the effects of aging eventually reverse the results from the gym. You may spend more than one hour a day just making small talk at work. While it is great to talk with your co-workers, in all likelihood you will soon forget most of these conversations.
While none of these activities is in and of itself bad, not one has an eternal consequence. In other words, one hundred years from now, it will have made no difference how much news you knew or how great your physical shape or how entertaining your small talk at work. You will be physically dead and your eternal destiny of either Heaven or hell will be set forever with no possibility of change.
If you wind up in hell, there will be no do-overs. You will be there for eternity. Some dilute the awfulness of hell, and others even challenge the existence of such a place. However, the fact of the matter is that the Bible teaches that hell exists and it is a place of eternal continual torment.
If you are willing to spend many hours a week at activities that have no lasting impact, is it not worth the one hour or so it will take to read and contemplate the contents of this publication to at least consider making an investment in your eternity? To at least give yourself a chance to respond to the only way of salvation, which is through God’s free gift of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
As my final introductory comment, the basis of this publication is the Holy Bible (i.e., the 39 Old Testament books and 27 New Testament books). I assume that you are willing to accept that the Bible is inerrant (i.e., in the original manuscripts true in all that they teach, and thus, without error) and infallible (i.e., cannot fail in matters of faith and practice). More simply, I assume that you accept that the Bible is true. If this is the case, then please initial below.
I believe that the Bible is without error) and infallible (i.e., cannot fail in matters of faith and practice). ___________
If you are not willing to accept that what the Bible says is true, a foundational issue undercuts all that I write here.
If you have serious questions about the truth of the Bible, then I suggest that you contact me at Centerville Bible Training Center. My e-mail is Belsheim@bibletrainingcenter.org. I can suggest some readings that will help you answer your questions about the authenticity of the Bible. Good sources include McDowell, Josh, New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee (1999), and Stroble, Lee, The Case for Christ., Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan (2000).
Now … I invite you to invest one hour for eternity by starting at the beginning.
In the beginning, God created the universe and all that was in it. The first two humans, i.e., Adam and Eve, were a part of God’s creation. God loved Adam and Eve and gave them all they needed to live life; provided, however, that they did not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God looked at the creation including Adam and Eve, and in Genesis 1:31, God said it was “very good”. At this point, God and man were at peace.
Yet, through the deception by Satan, who is a real created being, Adam and Eve ate of the fruit whereby through Adam’s disobedience to God’s clear command, sin entered into the world. This act of disobedience was the fall of humankind. The direct fellowship between God and man was broken. Since then, God and man have been at war.
Adam’s sin has been imputed to each one of us so that each of us was born with “original sin” because of the fall. Although original sin was not our direct personal fault, it has been our personal condition from birth. Whether or not you believe it is fair or unfair to carry Adam’s sin from birth, the fact is you do. Your condition will not improve by ignoring it exists or blaming others.
While postmodern American culture has greatly distorted the definition of sin, the fact is that many years ago (i.e., about 1400 BC), God gave man a standard of living in the form of the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are still the standard for today when it comes to the definitions of sin. After all, God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Exodus 20:1-17 presents the Ten Commandments:
1. You shall have no other gods before Me (Exodus 20:3).
2. You shall not make for yourself any graven image (Exodus 20:4).
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain (Exodus 20:7).
4. Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8).
5. Honor your father and your mother (Exodus 20:12).
6. You shall not murder (Exodus 20:13).
7. You shall not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14).
8. You shall not steal (Exodus 20:15).
9. You shall not bear false witness (Exodus 20:16).
10. You shall not covet (Exodus 20:17).
Even a quick glance shows that none of us, in and of ourselves, measure up to God’s absolute standard of the Ten Commandments. Let us take a closer look at four of the Commandments.
The First Commandment says that you “shall have no other gods before Me.” In this commandment, the scope of the term “gods” is broad. It includes anything that comes or has come between you and God. In order to have kept the First Commandment, throughout your entire life you must never have put anything above God. You must have continually loved God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
It is difficult to imagine that any one has lived their entire life without at least one time putting something between themselves and God, i.e., putting something above God in their life. This is because of the inherent sinful nature of man who does not want to love God. This is especially the case in a postmodern culture of relativism in which man rejects God’s truth and lives according to what is right in his or her eyes. The fact of the matter is that all of us have violated the First Commandment.
The Third Commandment says that, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” If you have ever used the Lord’s name in place of a four-letter word in disgust, then you have taken the Lord’s name in vain in violation of the Third Commandment. God’s name is a part of God’s holiness. It is a synonym for His glory and goodness. Devout Jews will not even speak His name because it is so holy. Yet, for a person to use God’s name as a cuss word demonstrates the contempt that person has for God. To use the excuse that it is just a word to them shows the disregard that person has for God. To use God’s name in vain is consistent with the sinful nature of man.
The Seventh Commandment says that, “You shall not commit adultery.” While many can say they have not engaged in sexual intercourse outside of marriage, this commandment has a broader scope. Jesus said that for a man to look upon a woman with lust was adultery. If you have ever looked upon someone with lust outside of marriage, then you have violated the Seventh Commandment.
The Eight Commandment says that, “You shall not steal.” You must appreciate that there is no restriction on the downward scope of the term “steal”. If you have ever taken anything at all no matter how small that was not yours, then you have violated the Eighth Commandment.
If you take a honest look at your life, you have to agree that you have violated at least once at least one of the Ten Commandments. To fall short of any of the Ten Commandments, even once at any time in your life, is sin.
According to God’s holy standard, you are a sinner. What this means is unless there is some intervention by God, were you die physically God would see you with your sins. And, because God is perfectly and eternally righteous and too pure to approve evil, God would have to punish you as an offender of His law and your eternal destiny would be hell. No matter how sorry or remorseful you would be, God still could not forgive sin and remain righteous. You would be like a confessed criminal defendant. One who has confessed to committing the crime must expect the judge to sentence him or her to do the time.
It is easy to see that you have a dilemma because God must punish you for your sins, and you, on your own, can do nothing to save yourself. Even so, man has, and you have possibly, tried to figure out ways to earn salvation even though good works cannot lead to salvation.
Surveys show that people have many non-Biblical works-oriented views of how to get to Heaven. These views focus on what man can do to get himself to Heaven. Hence, they are contrary to the teachings of the Bible.
For example, some folks believe that good deeds will get them to Heaven. Entry into Heaven is not scales of justice where we get into Heaven if the good outweighs the bad. No matter how many good deeds you do, you cannot earn our way to Heaven. The fact of the matter is that many “good” people will spend eternity in hell. For you to live an upstanding life by society’s standards, will not in and of itself get you into Heaven.
As still another example, other people erroneously believe that belonging to a certain church or denomination will get them to Heaven; yet, Jesus told the Jewish religious leaders that their religious affiliation was insufficient. Jesus told the Jewish people that their lineage to Abraham would not get them to Heaven. No matter what your affiliation or lineage, that will not get you into Heaven.
Still others say that faith in Jesus Christ plus one or more other actions (e.g., baptism or baptism according to a certain mantra) is a necessary requirement to save a person. Yet, to take any one of these positions is to say that Christ’s death on the Cross and His resurrection is in and of itself insufficient for salvation. To trust in something or someone other than Jesus Christ alone is a different gospel, and to follow a different gospel will not result in salvation.
It is easy to see that we have a dilemma because we are sinners who cannot earn our salvation. We can do nothing to save ourselves. We are in the condition of the person shown in the sketch below. No matter how hard we try, we cannot earn salvation.
It seems strange to say that God has a dilemma, but He does. God’s dilemma is that while the Bible says that God is righteous and must punish sinners the Bible also says that God loves all people not wanting anyone to go to hell.
If the story ended here, all our lives would be hopeless because hell would be our eternal destination. However, there is a fantastic “rest of the story” that offers us certain hope and a 100% secure future through belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the only way to Heaven.
Even though Adam and Eve trusted the lie of Satan rather than the promise of God, God still loved humankind so much that even in the Garden of Eden, He promised to provide a way of making peace between Himself and humankind, i.e., salvation, by sending a Savior. As we will see, by sending a Savior to pay for our sins, God solved both our dilemma and His dilemma.
God sent Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, to seek and to save, i.e., to be our Savior. More specifically, God offered His Son to be our substitute when Jesus Christ took the penalty for our sin upon Himself.
Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. By being fully God, Jesus Christ lived a sinless life while on earth. Thus, Jesus Christ was the perfect sinless sacrifice. By being fully man, Jesus Christ was able to die a physical death (i.e., shed blood) and pay the price for our sins. He died in our place for our sins.
After He died, He was buried in a tomb. On the third day, He rose from the grave proving that Jesus’ death was sufficient payment to the Father for your sins so that you now have the opportunity for eternal life.
Thus, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross is the only way for God to remain righteous and yet forgive sin. It is a perfect demonstration of God’s love and God’s justice. Jesus’ finished work on the cross solved both God’s dilemma and your dilemma.
Just because Jesus Christ died on our behalf does not mean that this automatically applies to you. You have a choice to make. The Bible tells us that there are only two options.
One option is that you can fail to make a decision and eventually bear your own punishment. If you choose this option, after physical death you will face Jesus Christ at the Great White Throne Judgment. There, you will answer for your sins. Because you cannot be righteous on your own, you will face judgment, which will result in an eternity in hell.
The other option is that you, like the person who has gone to the right, can allow Christ to bear your punishment. In other words, you can trust in Christ alone to take the penalty of your sin, which He did when He died on the cross and rose from the grave for the purpose of taking your punishment.
If you are in your right mind, option two, i.e., trust in Christ, is the only choice.
If, after reading this article, you now have a sense that you are not right with God and bound for an eternity in hell if you should physically die, then in all likelihood right now the Holy Spirit is placing you under conviction of your need for the Savior Jesus Christ. In other words, God is calling you to Him. At this time you are like the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:29-30 who said [emphasis added]:
(29) And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, (30) and after he brought them out, he said, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'
Your question becomes, “What must happen for me to be saved?”
Here is the answer!!
There are two very basic facts about your present condition that you must believe are true. Here, “believe” is not mere “head knowledge” or something you grab onto in a crisis and let go of when things get better. Instead, “believe” means to confirm in your heart and your mind that you know and assent to and agree with the truthfulness of these facts, and that you act on the basis of these facts. To memorialize your belief, please initial. These facts about your present condition are:
1. I am a sinner who is separated from God, and in the absence of some intervention by God, my ultimate destiny for eternity is hell. Yes, I believe it ___________.
2. I cannot fix my sin problem, i.e., bridge my separation from God, on my own through my own good works, right living, giving money to church, serving in church, etc. Yes, I believe it ___________.
There are some basic facts about the Person of Jesus Christ you must believe are true. Again, to confirm in your heart and your mind that you know and assent to and agree with the truthfulness of and trust in these facts, please initial. These facts about Jesus Christ are:
1. Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, which means He is deity. Yes, I believe it ___________.
2. Jesus Christ was sent by God the Father from Heaven to earth and took on human flesh (i.e., He is the infinite God-man), and while on earth, lived a sinless life. Yes, I believe it ___________.
3. Out of His love for me personally, Jesus Christ voluntarily took my sins upon Himself, and willingly died a physical death on the cross as the full payment to God the Father for the forgiveness of all my sins. Yes, I believe it ___________.
4. After His physical death, Jesus Christ rose from the grave (i.e., was resurrected from physical death to physical life). Yes, I believe it ___________.
5. The resurrection of Jesus Christ proves that His death was satisfactory payment to God the Father for my sins so that I can have eternal life. Yes, I believe it ___________.
In the context of the above facts about your present condition and the Person of Jesus Christ, you must voluntarily make three basic decisions of your will:
1. I do, in fact, repent of my sins wherein I understand that repentance means my heartfelt sorrow for my sin, a renouncing of my sin, and my sincere commitment to do my very best to turn from my sin and walk in obedience to Christ. Yes, I do repent of my sins ___________.
2. I do, in fact, place my trust in the living Person Jesus Christ for forgiveness of all my sins through His death on the Cross, and for my eternal life through His resurrection from the dead as the sole means through which I have salvation. Yes, I do place my trust in Jesus Christ alone ___________.
3. I do, in fact, personally receive Him as my Lord and Savior, which means that I surrender my entire life to Jesus trying my very best to be obedient to Him as revealed in the Bible. Yes, I do receive Jesus Christ ___________.
While reciting a prayer in and of itself does not save a person, you could pray to God something along these lines meaning it from the very bottom of your heart, i.e., the seat of your mind, emotion and will:
Dear God, I know that I am a sinner who is bound for an eternity in hell if something doesn’t change. I know that I cannot save myself no matter how much I try on my own.
I believe from the bottom of my heart that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God who God the Father sent from Heaven to earth and took on human flesh, and while on earth, lived a sinless life, that Jesus Christ took my sins upon Himself and died as full payment for all my sins, and that Jesus Christ rose from the grave so that I might have eternal life.
I hereby repent of my sins meaning that I have a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of sin, and a sincere commitment to do my very best to turn from sin and walk in obedience to Christ as revealed in the Bible.
As the sole means by which I have salvation, I hereby place my trust in the living person Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sin through His death on the Cross, and for eternal life through His resurrection from the dead.
Jesus, I now ask You to come into my heart and be my Savior and Lord of my life. Amen.
If you sincerely prayed that prayer, then God has saved you and you have been born again as a new creature in Christ. Because this is the most important decision in your life (no other decision is even a close second), it is critical to review the components of the faith your have exercised with respect to the above facts.
First, saving faith has a knowledge component in that you must have knowledge of the above facts about your separation from God and about Jesus Christ and His role as the sole means of your salvation. Yes, I reaffirm that I have knowledge of these facts ___________.
Second, saving faith has an emotional component in that you really believe deep in your very being the truth and reality of the above facts. Yes, I reaffirm that I believe the truth and reality of these facts ___________.
Third, saving faith has a volitional (or action) component in that you personally trust in and rely on what Jesus Christ did for you so you could be saved, which is set out in the above facts. Yes, I reaffirm that I have exercised my personal trust and reliance on what Jesus Christ did for me (including died a physical death on the cross and a physical bodily resurrection from death to physical life). Yes, I reaffirm that I have trusted and relied on what Jesus Christ has done for me ___________.
If you have sincerely responded to the Gospel, then you are a child of God who has an eternal home in Heaven. Salvation is not the end, it is the beginning of a lifetime journey. Salvation is not “fire insurance”, but is a total and complete transformation from one who was at war with God to one who is now at peace with God. Right now, there are some things you need to consider.
First, now that you are saved, you cannot live in isolation from other Christians. It is not healthy from the physical, emotional and spiritual points of view. Please initial that you understand this. Yes, I understand it ___________.
Second, it is important that you begin to attend the right church on at least a weekly basis. The “right church” is a church that is doctrinally correct meaning its teachings are consistent with the correct interpretation of the Bible. Please initial that you understand this. Yes, I understand it ___________.
Any church you begin to attend needs to adhere to the following doctrinal statements:
WE BELIEVE the Bible is the Word of God, inerrant and inspired in its original autographs and is the complete and final revelation of God.
WE BELIEVE in one God, personal and knowable, and Who eternally exists in three persons, i.e., God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
WE BELIEVE that Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh, born of a virgin, without sin, the chosen Messiah Who will one day set up His kingdom on earth.
WE BELIEVE Christ died on the cross for our sins, was buried, rose again from the dead, ascended into heaven, and will one day return to earth again.
WE BELIEVE that all persons are sinners, guilty before God, deserving of judgment, and in need of the Savior who is Jesus Christ our Lord
WE BELIEVE that salvation from sin, death and hell is by God's grace, based on the work of Jesus Christ alone, and is received by faith apart from any human performance or merit.
WE BELIEVE that all believers in Jesus Christ are baptized, sealed and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and that He fills those believers who obey God and separate from sinful habits and lifestyles.
WE BELIEVE that eternal life is a gift from God and that nothing can separate the believer from the love of God.
WE BELIEVE in the eternal punishment of the unbeliever, and the eternal life of the believer.
WE BELIEVE that all believers should assemble in local churches for mutual edification, encouragement, evangelism, service and worship.
WE BELIEVE that two ordinances have been given to the church, that of baptism by immersion and the observance of the Lord's Supper.
Please e-mail us with your decision to respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we will try to help you to locate a Bible-believing church in your area that will help you with your spiritual growth. E-mail: Belsheim@bibletrainingcenter.org.
In Christ, Steve Belsheim