Many people enjoy a good discussion on religion.
Some of these discussions are delightful experiences. Usually they are between people who either are Christians or are seriously inquiring about the Christian faith.
Other people have no personal interest in the Christian faith, but like a discussion that can generate a lot of emotion. These people like to ridicule those who believe in Christ as their Savior and Lord. These conversations can be disagreeable because little will change and relationships can be damaged.
In today’s Scripture text, Jesus is with his disciples in the Upper Room where he institutes the Lord’s Supper. His disciples are depressed, for everything seems to be falling apart. Jesus announces that he was leaving them, and Judas goes on his way to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Peter would deny Jesus three times before the night ended.
In that sad setting, Jesus seeks to lift their spirit when he says, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe in me.” Our Lord was saying, Trust me, the time is difficult but I will be with you.
Bishop Ryle of the Church of England used to say, “A precious remedy for the old disease of a troubled heart (depression), is the pill of faith.” When we throw ourselves into the arms of faith, we can know what it is to not only be forgiven of our sins, but also to be given strength to face every conceivable thing that can come to us while we are here on this earth.
Now comes the question: What happens after death?
Is there a life after death? Many of our religious discussions center around this subject.
Jesus answers, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so would I have told you? I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3). Jesus assures them a heavenly home awaits those who trust him as Savior and Lord. This is the answer to the question that we are also asking. Heaven does exist. Jesus said so. Is that not enough?
Yet as clearly as Jesus’ answer is, the vast majority of people do not accept it.
Certainly the masses of people want to believe in some kind of existence after this life, but don’t know what it will be. Here are some of their answers:
1. I am trying to live a good life, and God will reward me.
2. The home in heaven will be enjoyed by all.
3. We can make the gospel of life after death acceptable to our culture; faith in Christ is not a requirement.
4. My own personal experience convinces me of a life after death. I was seriously ill and an experience empowered me to look through a long tunnel where I saw Jesus and other people I know.
All these thoughts are the products of the human mind or emotion. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you, and I will come back one day and take you to be with me, that you also may be where I am.” This eternal word from our Lord is the solid foundation of our faith that a heavenly home awaits all believers who have received Jesus as their Savior.
Many other passages also point us to the heavenly home Ð
The writer of the book of Hebrews says, “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14).
Jesus says, “. . . many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11).
Jesus tells his disciples, “. . . rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
Paul said, “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (II Corinthians 5:1).
Peter writes, “(We have) an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade Ð kept in heaven for you” (I Peter 1:4).
Let these truths sink into your mind and the words of Jesus become authoritative.
God’s Word tells us a heavenly home is prepared for us by our Savior if we receive him. However, there is also a hell.
Who says so? Jesus.