The Afterlife

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I DIE?

The Bible tells us that God has, ‘planted eternity in the human heart’ Eccl 3:11. In other words, everyone has a sense, deep within them, that there is something beyond our life on earth. From a big picture perspective, God created us for a relationship with Him. He wants people to receive His love and love Him in return. Part of loving God is to choose to put Him before ourselves. To live for Him and not yourself. To do His will instead of your own will. Since God is love, it really makes a lot of sense to have Him at the center, filling you with His love and guiding you to fullness of life!

Your allotted time to receive or reject God’s love will end when you die or when God brings this age to an end (He has a set time for this to take place). You enter the next age when you die or, when Jesus Christ returns in His glory. When you die, you will either be with God (Heaven) or apart from God (Hell).

Jesus said, ‘whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.’ John 5:24. If you receive Jesus Christ and believe in Him you will be forgiven by God, be brought into His family and live with Him for eternity.

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

If you choose to reject Jesus Christ you’ll remain separate and apart from God now and through eternity.

What is it?

One of the big questions people ask is, ‘what happens when I die?’  This is one of the wisest questions anyone can ask for this simple reason.  If there is a Heaven and a Hell, you don’t want to wait until you die to find you’re in the wrong place!!  It’s wiser to thoroughly investigate the evidence now to give yourself the best chance of ending up in the right place.  If there is a Heaven, you want to make sure you’re there when you die.  If there’s nothing (as some people think), then you’ve simply used some time to investigate!

Interestingly, there have been a growing number of major movies recently on Heaven (e.g. ‘Heaven is for Real,’ 90 minutes in Heaven’ etc.) which suggests people are very interested in this topic.

Experience

As I wrestled with God, after the suicide of our precious son Alex, God gave me a deep understanding of eternity.  I had a crystal clear view of the teaching in the Bible about our time in this age and what happens in the next age.

The Bible tells us that God has, ‘planted eternity in the human heart’ Eccl 3:11.  In other words, everyone has a sense, deep within them, that there is something beyond our life on earth.  From my broken heart, the awareness and understanding of eternity was released and became very real to me.

From a big picture perspective, God created us for a relationship with Him.  He wants people to receive His love and love Him in return.  Part of loving God is to choose to put Him before ourselves.  To live for Him and not yourself.  To do His will instead of your own will.  Since God is love, it really makes a lot of sense to have Him at the center, filling you with His love and guiding you to fullness of life!

God’s thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours

God is all knowing, all powerful and all seeing, and He knows who has decided to reject Him or to accept Him.  Through Jesus Christ, Godhas made a way for you to have your sins forgiven (you have to be purified to live with God) and to come into His family.  Jesus has shown you what God’s love looks like, including taking the punishment you deserve for the things you’ve done wrong.  You receive God’s love and come into His family through Jesus Christ.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

With God or apart from God for eternity!

If you receive Jesus Christ and believe in Him you will be forgiven by God, be brought into His family and live with Him for eternity.

 To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12

Jesus said, ‘whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.’ John 5:24

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

If you choose to reject Jesus Christ you’ll remain separate and apart from God now and through eternity.

What happens when I die?

 

Your allotted time to receive or reject God’s love will end when you die or when God brings this age to an end (He has a set time for this to take place).  You enter the next age when you die or, when Jesus Christ returns in His glory.

When you die, you will either be with God (Heaven) or apart from God (Hell).

If you’ve received Jesus Christ as your Savior you will go immediately to Heaven.

To be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 2 Cor 5:8

What will Hell be like?

 

The judgement for rejecting Jesus and for all the sins committed on earth will be eternal separation from God.  People joke that they will have fun in Hellbut, it will anything but fun.  As a formless spirit, each person will be punished according to the level of their sin on earth.

The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows.48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:47-48

‘What is Hell?  I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.’ Fyodor Dostoyevsky

12 Benefits of Living with an Eternal Perspective

Scripture teaches that life in the current age is just a hand breath or a vapor relative to what is to come i.e. the rest of eternity.

You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.  My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath. Ps 39:5

 For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. James 4:14

 The benefits of living for ‘the things above’ are many including:

  1. Better decision making

 Teach me to number my days a right that I may gain a heart of wisdom

 Ps 90:12

 The choices you make in the current age determine where and how you will spend the rest of eternity!Understanding this truth will help you to make the wisest decisions for your eternal destiny!

“It becomes us to spend this life only as a journey toward heaven …. to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life.  Why should we labor for or set our hearts on anything else, but that which is our proper end and true happiness?” – Jonathan Edwards.

  1. More Treasure in Heaven

 Jesus said, ““Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt 6:19-21

When you realize you can store up treasure in heaven that will last forever, it makes no sense to focus on very short term benefit in this age at the expense of eternal treasure!  The result is a laser focus on completing the work that God has planned for us to do (Eph 2:10, John 17:4).

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Tim 4:8

  1. More freedom to obey God’s will

The worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Mark 4:19

Living for the things above sets us free from earthly worries, wealth and desires so that we can better serve God and do His will!

  1. More Fruit and Impact for the Kingdom of God

Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown. Mark 4:20

 When we live in the sweet spot of God’s call and will for our life, we produce much fruit and have a huge impact for the Kingdom of God.

  1. GreaterMaturity

The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. Luke 8:14

Maturity in the Kingdom of God comes with obedience to the will of God!

  1. Greater Witness and Impact for the Kingdom of God

We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard. Acts 4:20

Because they believed, the first disciples considered the sharing of the gospel of more importance than their very lives!!

I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. 20:24

The apostle Paul gave his life to spread the gospel.  He understood the brevity of his life and the importance of the gospel to rescue precious souls!

Wherefore knowing the terror of The Lord, we persuade men. 2 Cor 5:11

“If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.  The Apostles themselves who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the slave trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven.  It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.  Aim at Heaven and you will get earth thrown in; aim at earth and you will get neither.” C S Lewis

  1. Freedom from being worldly

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.  People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.   If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.  Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.Heb 11:13-16

Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 1 Pet 2:11

In the light of eternity, the things of this world lose their allure!

  1. More Hope

If we who are [abiding] in Christ have hope only in this life and that is all, then we are of all people most miserable and to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:19 AMP), 1 Pet 1:13

  1. Greater ability to endure pain & sufferingfor Christ

 We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Cor 4:16-18

Having an eternal perspective equips you to see your suffering in the context of the glory that will result from what God has called you to go through.

For the joy set before Him (Jesus) He endured the cross. Heb 12:2

  1. A longing for Jesus’ return

And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. 2 Tim 4:8

Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Tit 2:13

The Father wants a bride (the Church) for His precious son (Jesus) that is longing for His return.  Sadly, much of the Church in the West is indifferent to Jesus’ return!  Speaking honestly, many would say they want certain things to happen before Jesus’ second coming e.g. to get married, to have children or grandchildren, to grow your church etc.  All these things are good but they should not come before our ‘first love!’  The Holy Spirit wants to do a work in our hearts to prepare us for Jesus’ return!

  1. Greater Joy

Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. John10:20

For the joy set before Him (Jesus) He endured the cross. Heb 12:2

God wants us to have His joy in the current age but the greatest joy is based on what’s to come!

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Col 3:1-3

  1. A Greater understanding of Justice

For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. Matt 16:27

 The time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment. John 5:28-29

We never lose out in God – nothing is wasted in the Kingdom of God.  No one gets away with anything – everyone is rewarded or judged for what they do on earth.  For those in Christ there is reward for faithfulness for those outside of Christ there is judgement.

What is the link between my suffering and eternity?

There are many reasons why you may be suffering now.  It may be because of something terrible or evil that has been done to you or it may be because of one or more bad decisions that you have made.  Whatever the reason, God wants to comfort you, set you free and turn the evil around for something good.

Sometimes, God has a particular calling on our lives to suffer for Him.

For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. Phil 1:29

When Job asked God why he was suffering so much, God didn’t give him a direct answer.  Instead, He points Job to His creation.  In other words, there is a much bigger story going on in human affairs than our very limited minds can comprehend.  Sometimes, God calls us to fulfil a particular task that He has written into our story.  On the face of it, the task may seem unfair or even cruel but, when it’s viewed in the context of the bigger story and the realities of heaven, it looks very different.

The apostle Paul summarized his approach to life on this earth when He said, ‘I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.’ (Acts 20:24).

Some people think that setting your sights on the realities of heaven (Col 3:1-3), means you have no focus or vision for the things on earth.  In fact,  a scriptural understanding of the things above or, the next age, means you will be even more focused on God’s will while you’re on earth.  Notice, Paul said his only aim was to finish the race and complete the task that had been set for him on earth.

‘So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.’2 Cor 4:18

7 reasons why it’s unwise to believe nothing happens when you die e.g. just nothingness!
  1. The more we discover about our universe the more it points to God (intelligent design).
  2. The historic evidence for Jesus Christ living on Earth is not in dispute and the evidence that He was and is fully man and fully God is overwhelming – His teaching, character, miracles, prophecies (over 300 in the Old Testament) and resurrection from the dead(over 500 people saw Him over a six week period).
  3. The Bible – a unique book written over a 1,500 year period by 40 authors in three languages and yet giving a perfect tapestry telling God’s story of human kind in the current age from start to finish.
  4. Moral Law – most people know it’s correct to be punished for doing wrong (we want criminals to be caught and punished). If you refuse to allow Jesus to take your punishment for you, you will have to pay the penaltyyourself.  Simply dying and going to sleep would mean someone can live a totally evil life and never be punished for it!
  5. Eternity in our hearts – the fact that you’re reading this article indicates an interest in the afterlife which suggests that we’re wired to want something more. Eight out of ten Americans believe there is an afterlife (Gallup 2004).
  6. Near Death Experience (NDE) 13 million Americans have reported an experience of the after-life e.g. after being clinically dead! (Van Lommel, Consciousness Beyond Death).
  7. Common sense – the love, beauty and unbelievable detail and order in the universe suggests this age is not meaningless but that there is a divine plan.

The weight of evidence strongly points to the fact that you will not go into nothingness when you die but that, as scripture states, first death and then the judgement!Either you believe and accept that Jesus paid the penalty for your sins and you receive His gift of forgiveness and eternal life, or you will pay the penalty yourself.

Each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment. Heb 9:27

Eternal Rewards

Rewards are mentioned over 100 times in the New Testament that Jesus will give to His followers when He returns in glory.

For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. Matt 16:27

Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. Rev 22:12

What will it be like in Heaven?

To the thief who received Jesus as His savior as he was dying beside Him on the Cross, Jesus said, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43

A new body

You will receive a new bodyFor we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.2 Cor 5:1

When our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1 Cor 15:54

You will be with Jesus forever!

When our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1 Cor 15:54

‘Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.’ John 17:24

And so we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thes 4:17

You will be with your loved ones who received Jesus Christ in this age

A wonderful reunion awaits us when we will meet up with our loved ones who have gone ahead of us to Heaven.  I have more of my immediate family in Heaven than I do on earth – my precious children Rebecca and Alex, my dad, my brother (Will) and sister (Jax).  Oh! what wonderful times we will have catching up with loved ones and meeting people who walked on earth before us, including the great champions of the faith – Abraham, Moses, David, Paul etc.  God loves parties and celebrations and there will be some amazing times.

It will be a place of unbelievable beauty

No mere man has ever seen, heard, or even imagined what wonderful things God has ready for those who love the Lord. But we know about these things because God has sent his Spirit to tell us.  1 Cor 2:9-10

God reveals eternal things to us by His Spirit and that is what He has and is doing to me.  The certainty I have about eternity gives me great hope and joy for the future.

Many people who have had near death experiences report that that the beauty they saw in Heaven was unbelievable such as, the colors of the flowers and the grass, incredible singing and sounds and the most beautiful fragrances.  Often the people who have seen Heaven can’t find the words to describe what it’s like.  That makes total sense because it’s in another dimension, a spiritual one, although with physical forms as well.

Fourteen years ago I was taken up to heaven for a visit. Don’t ask me whether my body was there or just my spirit, for I don’t know; only God can answer that. But anyway, there I was in paradise, and heard things so astounding that they are beyond a man’s power to describe or put in words. 2 Cor 12:3-4

Jesus said He was going away to prepare a place for you and then He’ll come back and take you to be where He is—Heaven!  Since our current universe was created through Jesus (1 Cor 8:6), we know that what He’s preparing for us now is going to be incredible.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.  They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Ps 36:7-9

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Ps 16:11

There will be no more death!

One of the reasons Heaven will be unbelievably beautiful is that there is no more death!  In this current age, because we have rebelled against God, death is very present in every part of creation.  Particularly, at the individual cell level.  As well as causing aging to humans and finally death, it also impacts all the other living things on earth – plants, animals, trees, insects, flowers etc.  It’s hard for us to imagine an environment without the effect of death.  An environment that never ages or dies but remains vibrant, beautiful and full of life – eternal life!!

There will be no more suffering

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. Rev 21:4For those of us who are suffering now, can you imagine it all being over?  Peace, quiet, rest, then we will fully enter the joy of the Lord!!  Sometimes my heart breaks when I think of the millions of people who are suffering all around the world – people in sexual and other slavery, the orphans and widows in war zones, those with diseases, the poor and hungry…. God’s heart breaks for every person on the earth but He patiently waits before bringing this age to an end.

Will there be animals in Heaven?

God doesn’t destroy what He has created,after all, it’s very good (Gen 1:31).  Yes, there will be animals in heaven, including, I believe, our previous pets.  This is confirmed by scripture including Jesus riding on a white horse (Rev 6:2-8, 19:11) and Elijah being taken up to heaven in a chariot pulled by horses (2 Kings 2:11).

Why doesn’t God stop the suffering now by bringing this age to an end?

Because, when this age is over, there are no ‘second chances’ and if you’ve rejected Jesus Christ you will face eternity apart from God’s love!

He isn’t really being slow about his promised return, even though it sometimes seems that way. But he is waiting, for the good reason that he is not willing that any should perish, and he is giving more time for sinners to repent. 1 Peter 2:9

Will there be other living creatures?

Yes, there will be angels with us in Heaven and I expect that Jesus may have a few amazing surprises for us as well – have you noticed that God loves surprises?

Will we eat?

Yes, you can look forward to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:6-9).  For starters, there’s going to be an unimaginable wedding feast – incredible food, singing, dancing, celebration etc.  And we will carry on having fantastic food through eternity.  Also, because everything will be perfect there will be no wastage and no killing of animals!

Fun and Laughter

God created fun and laughter and so we can expect lots of it in Heaven.  And, many of the things we love now I believe we’ll do in Heaven but with even greater fun and laughter.  For example, both Alex and Rebecca were brilliant runners and I always wanted to run a 4 X 400 with them (I’m sure we can persuade Ben to join in as well!).  I think the Lord will arrange something for us, maybe against some of the disciples!!  Of course, it will all be with pure motives and none of the self-ambition we see on Earth.

Pure Motives

Our joy and motivation in heaven will be simply to bring joy and love to Jesus.  We know something of that motivation now – it’s true that we get more joy out of giving a present to our loved ones than receiving.  Thankfully, we won’t think or act like we do on Earth – self will be fully gone – crucified with Christ on the Cross (Gal 2:20).

Living in a higher Dimension!

We will think and live on a different dimension – a heavenly one.  We won’t be constrained by the natural laws of this Earth – time and matter.  There is no time in heaven for us, since we will be with the Lord forever (although the inhabitants of heaven do track time on earth – Luke 15:7, Rev 6:10). And the constraints of matter, the laws of gravity etc. will be gone – Jesus vanished before them (Luke 24:31), He walked on water and He rose up before them into Heaven (Acts 1:9-10).  I think we may well be able to fly in heaven!

Telepathy!

Our ability to communicate will be at another dimension – we will be able to talk verbally but we will also be able to communicate by what we now call telepathy – Jesus knew what they were thinking – Luke 5:22.

What about marriage?

Our relationships will be at a much higher dimension of love and joy.  Although we won’t have marriage as we currently know it on earth, we will know and be with our loved ones.  The intimacy of marriage as we know it now (e.g. sex), will be replaced by something even better!!

What will we do in heaven?

We have work to do and responsibilities to fulfil.  The level of responsibility will be determined by our faithfulness to God’s calling on our lives in this current age – see Rewards below.  Always remember though – our motives in heaven will be pure – to please Jesus.  Alongside the work, we will also do many of the things we do now – share meals together, go for walks (or maybe a fly together!), rest, laugh, play practical jokes on each other etc.  The highlights will be time together with Jesus  – unbelievably beautiful praise and worship.

Remembering!

God loves us to remember His love and faithfulness.  All through scripture God tells His people to remember what He has done.  Partly to encourage them but it’s also to bring Him glory.  We’re living in His-story and it’s right that He should get all the praise and glory for how He is working out His good, pleasing and perfect plan (Rom 12:1-2).

Therefore, I believe that through eternity we will be able to replay the story of human kind from God’s perspective.  We will fully see His good, pleasing and perfect plan and we will marvel and give Him even more praise, glory and honor when we see what He has brought about.  We’ll see how God protected us from every evil attack and we’ll see how and why He allowed suffering in our lives to carry out His eternal purpose e.g. as with Joseph.  And we’ll see how He never left us or forsook us!

As with a tapestry, sometimes our lives can seem a complete mess and God doesn’t seem to care but, when God reveals His side of the story to us, we will see how unbelievably beautiful and amazing it has all been.  We’ll see what He has accomplished through our lives!

Will we feel remorse for our loved ones who aren’t in Heaven?

Since there is no more death, or mourning or crying or pain in heaven (Rev 21:4), I don’t think we will feel remorse or miss our loved ones who decided to reject Jesus.  Instead, I think we will be overflowing with gratitude and thanksgiving.  We will thank God for Jesus and His justice, mercy, forgiveness and grace.  We will thank Him through eternity for being such a wonderful Savior!

What will happen to the current Earth?

God doesn’t destroy the beautiful things He has created but, He does redeem and restore them.  Our rebellion and sin against God released terrible death, pollution and destruction on the current Earth.  When Jesus returns in His glory, His enemies will be defeated and locked up for one thousand years (Rev 20:2-3).

In the current age, everyone enjoys and benefits from God’s love, even if they have rejected or even hated Him.  Being apart from God’s love in the next age means being apart from love – just imagine what that will be like.

What happens during the thousand year reign of Christ on Earth?

Jesus Christ will oversee the restoration of the current earth to how God originally planned it to be.  We will all be given responsibilities in this work, according to our faithfulness to His calling on our lives in the current age – see rewards below.At the end of the thousand years, a new heaven and the restored earth come together and, from then on, God will dwell together with His people (Eph 1:10)

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.Rev 21:2-3

What happens to people who reject Jesus?

At the end of the thousand years everyone who has rejected Jesus will be judged for the things they did wrong in their lifetime (Rev 20:11-15).  The level of a person’s sin and evil will be reflected in their sentence.  No one gets away with anything they do on this earth.  If they haven’t received forgiveness in Jesus Christ, they will be punished for their sins!

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Heb 4:13

What are the eternal rewards?

Eternal rewards are the things that God gives us to please Him.  Our joy in Heaven will be to please Jesus – to serve and bless Him.

Jesus was referring to these rewards when He said, ‘Store up treasure in heaven’ – Matt 6:19-21

Why does God give rewards?

The rewards that God has promisedusare not given as a bribe but as an incentive.  God has wired us to respond to rewards and there are many  scriptures that encourage us to act in a certain way for a reward.

Honor your father and mother. This is the first commandment with a promise:  If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” Eph 6:2-3

 They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 1 Cor 9:25

Are we saved by Grace or by Works?

Your salvation is only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ – Eph 2:8.  You can’t get into heaven by your own good works – Eph 2:9.

Saved for Good Works!

However, a key part of yoursalvation is that you respond to God’s love by completing the good works He has prepared for you.  Your faithful service to God is the fruit of your salvation.  Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruit.” (Matt 7:16)And, God will reward you for faithful obedience to the work/calling God has given you in the present age.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:10

 From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48

 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. John 17:4

What does God reward you for in this age?

God has called you to a specific work and He will reward you through eternity for how you complete your calling.

 

Faithfulness

This is very high on God’s agenda – He wants us to be faithful to the work He has called us to.

 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.Eph 2:10

It doesn’t matter what the work is (big or small), just that we’re obedient to our calling.

‘I don’t pray for success, I pray for faithfulness.’ Mother Teresa

‘Well done!’ the king exclaimed. ‘You are a good servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward.’ Luke 19:17

 

Endurance

God may call you to endure suffering from various sources.  Your endurance will be rewarded with the crown of life.Crowns are rewards that we will use to bless and glorify Jesus throughout eternity. They will be part of the equipping as we rule and reign with Jesus and will show the authority we have been given.

To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations. Rev 2:26

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Rewards of the crown of life James 1:12

Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life. Rev 2:10

 

Good shepherds

Pastors are called to take good care of the people God has entrusted to them. A good job will be rewarded with the crown of glory.

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;  not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 1 Pet 5:2-4

 

Longing for Jesus’ Return

God wants a Bride that is longing for Jesus’ return (not indifference to His return).  We will be rewarded with a crown of righteousness for longing for Jesus’ return.

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Tim 4:8

 

Outreach

God has called us to the Great Command to love(Mark 12:29-31) and the Great Commission to ‘Go and makes disciples of all nations’ (Matt 28:19-20).

I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings.

 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  1 Cor 9:23-25

 

Encouragement

There is acrown of rejoicingfor the encouragement we give to Christ followers to prepare and present them for Jesus’ return.

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 1 Thess 2:19

Further Scriptures referring to Eternal Rewards

Matt 10:41-42 Rewards of the prophet and the righteous man

Rev 11:18 Rewards to Gods saints and servants

Crowns of gold Rev 4:4, 3:11

Jeremiah 32:19 (AMP) Great [are You] in counsel and mighty in deeds, Whose eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, to reward or repay each one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings

Psalm 62:12 (AMP) Also to You, O Lord, belong mercy and loving-kindness, for You render to every man according to his work.

Jeremiah 17:10 (AMP) I the Lord search the mind, I try the heart, even to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.

Matthew 16:27 (AMP) For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory (majesty, splendor) of His Father with His angels, and then He will render account and reward every man in accordance with what he has done.

John 5:29 (AMP) And they shall come out–those who have practiced doing good [will come out] to the resurrection of [new] life, and those who have done evil will be raised for judgment [raised to meet their sentence].

1 Corinthians 3:8 (AMP) He who plants and he who waters are equal (one in aim, of the same importance and esteem), yet each shall receive his own reward (wages), according to his own labor.

Psalms 31:19 (NKJV)  [Oh] how great [is] thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; [which] thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!

Colossians 1:5 (NKJV) For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

1 Timothy 6:19 (NKJV) Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

James 1:12 (NKJV) Blessed [is] the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

1 Peter 5:1 (NIV)  To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed:

1 Peter 5:4 (NKJV) And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Revelation 2:10 (NKJV) Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast [some] of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

Matthew 19:29 (NKJV)  “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.

Luke 18:29-30 (NKJV)  So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”

Mark 10:29-31 (NKJV) Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, there is no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the gospel 30 who will not receive in this age a hundred times as much – homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, fields, all with persecutions – and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matt 5:12

Ruth 2:12 (NIV)  The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.

Psalm 19:11 (NIV) Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

Psalm 58:11 (NIV) So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.

Proverbs 11:18 (NIV) The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.

1 Corinthians 3:8 (NIV) Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.

Signs of the Times
  1. Israel established and blossoming – Matt 24:32
  2. Wars, famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world – Matt 24:7
  3. Birth pangs – :8
  4. Persecution – :9
  5. A falling away – :10
  6. Many false prophets and deceptions – :11
  7. Sin rampant, love grows cold, lovers of self and money – :12 & 2 Tim 3:1-5
  8. Gospel preached throughout the world to all nations – Matt 24:14
  9. One world government
  10. Single language
  11. Global issues e.g. global warming, financial, terrorism, and disease
  12. Genetic engineering
  13. Signs in the heavens – blood moons – Gen 1:14
  14. Decline in natural resources e.g. water
  15. Decline in magnetic field
  16. 6 Days and then the Sabbath
  17. As in the days of Noah – :37-39
Summary

‘Scripture gives us many indications as to what our Heavenly home will be like. Firstly, it is in a different dimension to how we live on Earth today – “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. But God does reveal it to us by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor2:9). By the Spirit of God and scripture we can start to see and understand what Heaven will be like!

Secondly, “There will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Rev 21:4). Try and imagine what it will be like with everything remaining vibrant and full of life because, ‘no more death’ means no more ageing too!

Thirdly, what rest there will be when we are finally free of all sin and evil! No more nastiness and no more bombardment of negative thoughts from the devil. Only love and joy and peace and lots more!

Fourthly, we will all have work to do and beautiful homes to live in but most of all we will have abundant life, joy and pleasures for evermore, because we will be in the presence of the Lord, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Ps 16:11).

For those of us who have received the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, we really do have an unbelievably beautiful inheritance waiting for us in Heaven!’

Quotes about Eternity

C.S.Lewis identified that the Christians who have had the most impact on the current world were just those who has their eyes on the next.  Starting with the first disciples, ‘who turned the world upside down,’ many of the individuals quoted below made a significant impact for the Kingdom of God during their time on earth.  They lived with their eyes on the things above!

Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 1 Pet 2:11

 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Heb 11:13

 

C.S. Lewis

If read history, you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.  The Apostles themselves who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the slave trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven.  It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.  Aim at Heaven and you will get earth thrown in; aim at earth and you will get neither.”

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

“Most of us find it very difficult to want “Heaven” at all – except in so far as “Heaven” means meeting again our friends who have died.  One reason for this difficulty is that we have not been trained: our whole education tends to fix our minds on this world.  Another reason is that when the real want for Heaven is present in us, we do not recognize it.”

“Our life on Earth is the first page of a never ending story.”

 

Billy Graham

“My home is in Heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.”

 

Jonathan Edwards

And, “It becomes us to spend this life only as a journey toward heaven …. to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life.  Why should we labor for or set our hearts on anything else, but that which is our proper end and true happiness?”

“Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can.”

“Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs!”

 

Charles Spurgeon

“When that door is once shut, it will never be opened. There are some who dote and dream about an opening of that door, after death, for those who have died impenitent; but there is nothing in the Scriptures to warrant such an expectation. Any ‘larger hope’ than that revealed in the Word of God is a delusion and a snare.” 

He called those who fail to verbally warn of the reality of Hell “murderers.”  He said, “Have you no wish for others to be saved, then you are not saved yourself, be sure of that.”

 

D.L. Moody

“It’s not the jeweled walls and pearly gates that makesHeaven attractive. It’s being with God.”

 

Augustine 

“Have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find peace in you.”

 

Jim Elliot

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

 

Martin Luther 

“I would not give up one moment of heaven for all the joys and riches of the world, even if they lasted for thousands and thousands of years.”

 

Theresa of Avila  

While contemplating the issue of pain and suffering, she concluded that—from the perspective of heaven—all of our deepest hurts, greatest disappointments, and most tragic losses will appear “as no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel.”

 

Bill Johnson

“Issue of Reward is at least half the subject of faith”

“Eternity is the cornerstone of all logic and reason.”

“Eternity keeps us mindful of accountability.”

“When you don’t see eternity your thoughts become self centered.”

 

Others 

Each moment of life is a gift open to the possibility of eternity, and so what we do now matters for eternity. The gift of time enables us to prepare ourselves for an everlasting relationship with God. This is what gives significance to every one of our actions.”  Excerpt from The Faith by Charles W. Colson and Harold Fickett (2008).

‘The American Dream and the pursuit of happiness have morphed from a quest for general contentment to the idea that you must be happy at all times and in every way.’ The Atlantic, “How to Land Your Kids in Therapy.”

In other words, we want heaven for our kids. The Atlantic article notes that by giving kids a huge array of choices and protecting them from failure at all costs, their well-meaning parents teach them that they deserve perfection. The problem is that children who don’t persevere through difficulty become young adults who can’t deal with failure. When their parent-built heaven crumbles, the kids land in therapy.’  Stephen Witmer, Church leaders.com

SEE WHAT’S NEXT.

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR UPCOMING WEB

SERIES ON THIS TOPIC AND MORE!

No commitments. Watch anywhere. Cancel anytime.