Unfortunately, it’s easy to get caught up in the cares and pressures of this world and forget that we are here on earth for only a brief time. Then we face eternity. God’s inspired Word, the Bible, gives us a strong warning: after this life we will die and will face God’s judgment.
And that judgment is not based on whether or not you “were basically a good guy/girl” or whether you did a lot of good works. God’s judgment deals with your sins and whether or not they have been forgiven by the only remedy God offers—that is (Acts 20:21), repentance for your sins and faith in His crucified and resurrected Son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of the world.
Our sins have separated us from the perfectly holy God (Isaiah 59:2). So God, in sending His Son Jesus to earth to die and take on Himself the penalty due to our sins, provided the solution. Jesus is the only remedy. Good works are fine and proper, but they are insufficient to reconcile lost sinners back to God. That takes repentance from sin and faith in the crucified, risen Savior Jesus. He and He alone is the way back to proper relationship with God. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). The apostle Paul confirms this, telling us that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the “one mediator between God and mankind” (1 Timothy 2:5). The apostle Peter likewise pointed us to Jesus as the only pathway to salvation and eternal life: “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth …  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12).
Jesus warned us that there are two destinies for all who have ever lived—either eternal punishment or eternal life. Notice that they are both “eternal.” The fatal consequences of spurning God’s grace and the salvation offered only through Jesus Christ are spelled out in the apostle Paul’s description of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ: “…in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8, KJV).
Many people, even some Christians, follow man’s faulty thinking and deny the reality of a very real, fiery hell. Jesus Himself spoke of hell as an actual, ongoing place of torment. For example, He spoke of a rich man who died and went to hell, “where he was in torment … [saying] I am in agony in this fire … this place of torment” (Luke 16:23-24, 28).
Hell is a place to be avoided! It is a flaming, fiery place of ongoing torment. Lost, unrepentant sinners at the end of their lives are sent there by God for choosing not to come to God through repentance for sin and faith in the Savior Jesus. He died in our place on the Cross, taking our sins, so that we might be forgiven by God and spend eternal life with Him after we die. And this salvation unto eternal life through Jesus cannot be earned. It is entirely by God’s mercy and grace:
We saw (above) that there is a blessed eternity awaiting those who have received God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. And there is an indescribably horrible eternity of fiery damnation awaiting those who choose not to know God and who reject the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:8). With that in mind, and remembering our opening question — “What are your plans for 100 years from now?” — let’s see the heavenly perspective the Scriptures try to instill in us.
The patriarch Abraham had some dramatic encounters with God. Raised in a pagan culture many hundreds of miles from ancient Israel, He experienced a personal revelation of God. It changed his whole perspective and his life.
At the command of Almighty God some 4,000 years ago, Abraham left the security and comfort of his Chaldean homeland and followed God’s leading to the land of Canaan, which we now know as Israel. The Scriptures say that he lived in tents like a stranger in a foreign country (Hebrews 11:8-10). How could the patriarch leave the security of his ancestral homeland to travel strange roads to a strange land he had never visited? Quite simply, as our Scripture says, “He was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
That “city” Abraham envisioned was clearly not an earthly one, but a heavenly abode that Abraham longed for. He was “looking forward” beyond this life to an eternal habitation with God. And that is what motivated him to follow God’s call to leave behind the place he had grown up in to arrive eventually in Canaan, where he became the ancestor of the nation of Israel and of Israel’s greatest offspring, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, born to a virgin mother by the divine intervention of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:26-35).
Jesus said this about His followers (then and now). We are not of this world. Yes, we live here for typically 70-80 years. But heaven is our home. Just as Jesus’ true home was not this world, but heaven, so it is with us who have received Him in true repentance and faith as our Savior and Lord. The apostle Peter understood this clearly, as the verse just below declares.
Peter warns us not to get caught up in worldly desires. Why? Because they war against our having victory in our souls. His apostolic counsel to all is to consider ourselves as “temporary residents and foreigners” (some translations say as aliens and pilgrims) on this earth. The permanent home of all the Lord’s followers is with Him, in His presence for all of a joyful eternity: “In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11, KJV).
Hebrews 11 speaks of many of the great heroes of faith in God — distinguished, committed servants of God like Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, the prophets, and many more. All of them saw God’s wonderful promises “from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.” These great faith heroes, whose life stories are immortalized in the Scriptures, lived their lives not for present satisfactions, but in the light of eternity. Recall our opening question: “What are your plans for 100 years from now?” Their plans included serving God 100% in this life in light of the promises of eternal life with God, which promises they saw and welcomed from a distance here on earth. And what they “saw” in eternity made all the sacrifices and difficulties of this life pale into insignificance by comparison — “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17, KJV) [NIV: "an eternal glory that far outweighs them all"].
What then shall we do? Set your heart heavenward, where the Lord Jesus Christ is at the Father’s right hand. Set your mind, your thoughts, your focus “above, not on earthly things.”
Fix your eyes on Jesus! (Hebrews 12:2). That verse tells us that “for the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus at the cross went through the greatest horrors of torment imaginable to redeem us from our sins and to make a way for us into God’s presence. So come to Jesus in faith, fix your eyes on Him, serve Him daily, and look forward to an indescribably joyful eternity with Him, in His presence, after your life here on earth.
The apostle Paul knew that for the one who believes in and follows Jesus Christ, death is not to be feared. To the contrary, the born-again Christian at his or her death leaves the mortal body and goes directly into the Lord’s heavenly presence. No intermediate stops, no man-invented purgatory, but a direct entry into the Lord’s presence. The redeemed one’s spirit leaves the mortal body to be "present with the Lord." This joyful thought should motivate all our plans and dreams while we live here on earth. Keep your eye on eternity!
This is a very, very sobering Scripture for the lost, who have chosen not to serve Jesus Christ, when the Lord whom they have rejected descends from heaven and in flaming fire takes vengeance on those who dishonored His offering of Himself on the cross for them and their salvation.
But for the believer who follows and serves Christ, there is clearly-stated blessedness “when He shall come to be glorified in his saints” [followers]. As was quoted above (Matthew 25:46), there are only two destinations beyond this life for all who have ever lived: 1) for the lost, who have spurned God’s free offer of salvation, eternal punishment; 2) but for the righteous, who have come to God through faith in Jesus Christ, eternal life. There are no other options, and everyone will receive one or the other.
So what are your plans for 100 years from now? Will you find at your death that you have rejected Jesus’ free offer of salvation, thereby condemning you to an eternity of fiery damnation? Or will you pass peacefully and joyfully into the Lord’s presence at death, because you made Jesus Christ the Savior and Lord of your life? The choice is yours. Only one choice makes eternal good sense.
If God has touched your heart and you desire to know Him and to receive His total forgiveness of your sins through Jesus, there’s good news! The Lord loved you so much that He died in torment on the cross as the only perfect One qualified to pay the penalty for your sins. And He did that. Now He invites you to take His free offer of salvation and eternal life — by godly sorrow and repentance for your sins and sincere faith in Jesus. He will immediately receive you into His family, the family of God. If you want some help in praying a prayer of salvation, I encourage you to visit the website of the late, respected evangelist Billy Graham, where a brief presentation will help you make that eternity-affecting decision for the Lord Jesus Christ. May our God in heaven bless you mightily.
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©2020, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons & Bible
Studies by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.