Saturday, 30 August 2014

In a Better Place, Part 1

That's what we say about the deceased when we're trying to comfort and console ourselves and others, that they're "in a better place." No more pain, no more suffering in that better place. But how do we know that? On what do we base our assumptions that there is a better place and pretty well everyone that dies is "in a better place." Does everyone get to go there? And if everyone gets to go there, would it really be a better place? 
This particular post will not be about the place, but about who actually goes there. 
If you follow my blog, you know that I believe the Bible is the only reliable source for truth, so, to quote an evangelist from 40 years ago,
What says the Bible, the blessed Bible?
This my only question be. 
The teachings of men so often mislead us.
What says the Bible to me?
Let's start with what is probably the most well-known verse in the Bible, John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (NKJV). This verse shows not only the love of God, but also the gift of that love, everlasting life through His Son. It presents a contrast between perishing and everlasting life. This dichotomy is also found in Romans 6:23:
I get paid wages in my job. It's what I work for. While I do enjoy my work, I probably wouldn't be willing to do it if I didn't get paid for it. It's what I have coming to me. Based on Romans 6:23, as a sinner, death is what I have coming to me. Some might balk at that and think, "I'm not a sinner. I'm a good person." Some of us seem to think if we aren't out and out criminals, we're not sinners. But whose definition of good or sinner are we going to use? The Bible says, "No one is good, but one. That is God." Matt. 19:17 NKJV. "There is none righteous, no not one." Romans 3:10 and "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23 NKJV. So, we are all sinners, deserving of death. 
How then do we get eternal life "in a better place?" Both John 3:16 and Romans 6:23 make it clear that it is only through Jesus Christ. Furthermore, Acts 4:12 states "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we might be saved." There is no other route to heaven, only through Jesus Christ. 
But how do we avail ourselves of this gift? Jesus Himself said, "Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3:3 NKJV. And how is one born again? First of all we need to acknowledge that we are sinners (Romans 3:23). We need to repent of the wrong things we have done (Acts 2:38), and ask God's forgiveness of them. Finally, we need to ask Jesus to live in our hearts and make us the people He wants us to be (Romans 6). 
And that's how we get to live "in a better place." It's not by being a "good person." It's not by our church membership. It's not by trying really hard and hoping for the best. Not everyone is going there, but we can all choose to be there by accepting Jesus into our hearts.
Need more info? The wonderful book, Steps to Christ, can be downloaded as a pdf or audio here. Or you can read the Bible Study guide, Get to Know Jesus