, Muskogee, OK

January 30, 2013

Fort Faith: The after-life is not a complete mystery

— Hebrews 9:27-28 says, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him (ESV).”

That’s pretty straight forward! From this passage, we know that someday:

1) Jesus is not going to bear the consequences of mankind’s sin anymore.

2) We’re all going to die once.

3) We’re all going to be judged.

4) Some people will be saved.

But where do we go after death?

Scripture points to what could be described as a waiting place called Hades (New Testament Greek word) or Sheol (Old Testament Hebrew word).

Within the waiting place, one side is described as torment, the other as paradise.

Both are written about in the story of the rich man and Lazarus (ref: Luke 16:19-31). We can tell a few things about what this after-life place is like because of a conversation between the rich man who was in torment, and Abraham and Lazarus who were in paradise.

They could talk but they could not cross from one side to the other.

Also, the rich man was not allowed to communicate with his five living brothers to warn them about the reality of torment.

In Matthew 24:36-51 and chapter 25 Jesus tells several stories and parables to illustrate that our fate is set after we die, since there is nothing more we can do to obey the Master.

The final judgment or the second coming involves something much different than the waiting place scenario.

It is described as a day, not days, and not an on-going process as people die, but rather a day in which no one knows the day or the hour (ref: Matthew 24:36). It is a day in which Jesus will return to bring his faithful home to heaven.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 says, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet call of God.”

Paul goes on to say that those who are already dead in Christ will rise first, followed by the saved who are still living.

We can presume that Judgment Day has not already happened since we are still doing spiritual battle, not to mention the fact that we have not yet heard the trumpet call of God!

The apostle Paul says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).”

People have a lot of questions about the specifics of Christ’s return, exactly how He will carry out Judgment Day, and exactly what heaven will be like.

But the fact that there are a lot of things we simply do not know should have no bearing on how we prepare ourselves to meet our Maker face to face.  Have a great week!

Reach Barrett Vanlandingham at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ at (918) 478-2222 or