What happens when we die?

Many times in conversations and reading articles and watching programs I confronted by this question. It seems to be a very prominent question to people no matter what walk of life they come from. And many people have many differing opinions and many ideas. Almost as many as there are people. And yet there needs to be some answer. Everyone cannot be right. There has to be truth buried in all of the opinion. Just about everyone you talk to has some idea or opinion as to the answer to this question. And many people will stand up and declare themselves to be the bearers of the true answer. And yet that leaves us with many true answers and they stand in opposition to one another. So what is the truth. For there to be a wrong answer there has to be a right one. Every false statement requires there to be a true one. Isaac Newton stated this in his laws. One of them is “For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.” So every false statement requires there to be a true statement. But which statement is the true one.

Much of our lives is spent trying to do away with absolutes. What is right for you may not be right for me. What you believe isn’t what I have to believe. That may be truth for you but not for me. Days spent where everyone spends there time doing what is right in there own eyes.

And yet when we hire a builder to design and build a house we require them to work in absolutes. Just think of what would happen if a large group of carpenters each came to build your house carrying tools that they had made themselves using only there own standard. Every ruler and measurement would be different, every level would be slightly off and there would be no way to determine which one was correct. Just think of the mess that would occur and the state of the house you tried to build. There is need for absolutes and need for real truth. As the tv show “X-Files” opener states “The truth is out there.” and if it is truth, then it means it is truth for everyone, not just for one or two people.

What would happen if every judge in our court systems determined what was truth for them to apply for themselves. Imagine the chaos that would ensue. One judge could determine that what was murder for you wasn’t murder for him.

Or think of the traffic system. We all function by absolutes and truth. A light that is green means go and a light that is red means stop. We all accept this as truth and live our lives accordingly. And if we choose to disregard for we accept the penalty, be it an accident or traffic fine. But I cannot say that the green light may mean go for you but for me it means caution. It would be ludicrous and many would look at me as being insane.

So we function parts of our lives by absolutes and require them to keep a sense of direction and boundaries to our lives. We know what is right to do and we function within those limitations. And when it comes to the question that can affect our eternity we declare that there are no absolutes and what is right for you isn’t right for me. It seems to me to be a double standard that we can apply absolutes when they work in our favour and disregard them when they will require more of us than we are willing to give.

One belief about what happens when we die is “I believe that when we die, we go to either hell or heaven. However, I don’t believe heaven has pearly white gates, or that hell is a boiling pot of lava. I take as more of an emotional state. I believe that depending on our deeds and intentions, we either die with peace of mind, or a certain sensation of recklessness (which would be hell).”

Others don’t believe in a literal hell or heaven, others believe they are real. Others don’t believe anything happens, you just cease to exist. So how do you determine what is true and false. By what do you determine what to base your life on? What standard do you use to decide if something is true or false. If you determine it yourself then I would not like to see the house you build. It won’t stand up much or be very straight. There has to be something outside ourselves and bigger than ourselves that determines truth, and truth by nature has to apply to more that just yourself, or it cannot be true. Just as every level is manufacture to match a standard and every ruler and measuring tape is set to a standard that is exactly the same no matter what manufacturer builds it so the standard we live by has to be something outside ourselves and needs to apply to everyone, not just ourselves. Just like every judge applies one law to every case and doesn’t just determine truth as he sees it.

So what is the outside truth that we can apply so we know what happens to us when we die? How will you determine the truth. There is a need to answer this question before we die. After that it will be to late.

We can play with the question and pretend that what we believe to be true is true and maybe will be right but what would the cost be. We look at faith, and have to decide which one is right. There seems to be a new one everyday. I cannot answer for you the question of what happens. I have not died. I can tell you what I believe and what I build my life on, but then I am just another voice in the crowd screaming to be heard, everyone declaring themselves to be true.

Lets look instead at the words of someone who declared himself to be truth. Jesus Christ himself stated, “I am The Way, The Truth and The Life.” The bible says Jesus came “full of grace and truth.” And declares himself to be God many times. Which is what got him into so much trouble with the religious establishment. When we look at Jesus, many people declare him to be a good teacher, and many a prophet, but most would state that he wasn’t God and was only a simple man that had good teachings. And yet if someone were to do the same thing today we wouldn’t declare them a good teacher, but a lunatic and stick him in a straight jacket. And if he was a prophet then his words must be truth or he wasn’t a prophet at all and none of his words need to be heated.

Jesus said that He was truth and was God and no one would come to God without Him. And we have to choose whether or not to believe him. If we look at the teaching of Jesus, He teaches that everyone was created for a relationship with God and by our actions and the actions of our ancestors we are born separated from God. Jesus teaches that God can tolerate no sin. All of those things we do wrong make us unacceptable to our creator. Lying, cheating, stealing. It doesn’t matter how many times or the value of things. It still makes them wrong before God. And to be able to see God we have to live absolutely morally perfect lives. And the only one to be able to do so was Jesus.

Jesus also taught that nothing we can ever do will ever be good enough for God. He taught us that no one can see God without Him. He taught that hell was a real place, filled with fire and sulfur, and eternal torment, and darkness, absence of peace, constant pain and suffering, absolutely no rest just to name a few, and already I don’t want to go there. He taught that heaven was also a real place, filled with peace and rest, absence of suffering and sickness. A total paradise. He taught us that we were made for heaven but our decisions and lifestyles have removed us from access, and that He came to restore our access.

I cannot tell you what to believe. We are each personally responsible before God for our lives, decisions and beliefs. However, I say that Jesus has made an incredible difference in my life and can do the same for you. But you have to decide for yourself. But at what cost do you decide? If Jesus was just a lunatic who claimed to be God and there is nothing after death than we don’t have much to lose. But ask yourself what if Jesus was who He said He was, and all He taught was true. Then what price will you pay to ignore His teaching, and at what cost do we decide to make up our own belief.

Not I that lives

Much of our lives seem to hinge on our performance. Our jobs, schooling, and even our time spent growing up, we determine much of our self worth and feeling of success by how we perform. Whether we do well or not affects our outlook of ourselves. And when we come to faith in Christ we continue this same outlook. We feel accepted by God and the church based upon how we perform our “duties” and “acts of service”. Did we measure up to God’s expectations today. It seems to be a common theme in our lives. And yet this was never how things were supposed to be. I have been struck by some new truth in my life. We were never meant to live a Christian life on our own. And yet we struggle and fight to be someone who we feel measures up to God’s expectations and then come down hard on ourselves for not measuring up. And yet the standard we set is often one of our own making.

Galatians 2:20
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I have come to realize that I can only live the life I am supposed to to the degree that I allow Christ it live in me. As He lives through me I become more and more like Him. And this then takes away all the striving and fighting to become something I cannot. Since the giving of God’s moral law, The 10 Commandments, man has striven to become and to measure up, and become someone that God can approve of. And yet the purpose of the law was not to give us a code to measure up to. The purpose of the law was to reveal just some of the character and nature of God, to reveal to us what God declared sin to be, and more importantly to reveal to us our inability to measure up on our own. Man fought for centuries to live out the law, and only one person ever did it successfully. Jesus came and fulfilled all the requirements of the law.

Ephesians 2:8-9 states that we cannot come before God boasting, because we can only come to Him because of His grace and love. Our relationship with Him is provided to us as a gift. And we receive this gift by using the faith in our hearts. Faith that Romans says He gave us. We cannot stand before Him on any of our own merit. And we receive this gift by grace through faith and then switch right back into working for God’s approval. Although there are works for us to do that have been prepared for us to do by God, they are not supposed to be how we measure our worth and acceptance. God accepts us as we are and this never changes.

So we can only become who God intends for us to be, by allowing His life to flow in and through us. Allowing us to be free from striving and allow the peace of God to flow in and through us. Our lives can then focus on what God intended for us to focus on. Our relationship with Him and sharing that relationship with others.