By Chuck Missler
We don't like to think about death. It's not a pleasant subject, and we avoid even discussing it seriously or giving it any diligent study. Yet, our appointment with death is an absolute certainty - probably our only certainty. It may come sooner than we expect: a car crash, a stray bullet, an unforeseen stroke. We all know of personal examples where death has come suddenly, without warning, without any preparations. When it finally does come, what do we expect it to be like?
Shedding Our Misconceptions
One of the penalties of our casual - or reluctant - attitude about death and dying is that most people are steeped in myths and misconceptions. Almost every commonly held belief is erroneous, misleading, and contrary to what we do know about the subject.
There are numerous books that have been published about "near-death experiences," which at best are less than reliable sources, no matter how well intended. But there are several incidences that we can trust as reliable. Stephen, as he was being stoned, gave us a glimpse:
"But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." - Acts 7:55,56This notion that being greeted by the Lord Himself - at least in Stephen's case - is not fanciful. As serious Christians, we can take significant comfort from Stephen's experience. Paul also speaks of a "near-death" type of experience in which he was caught up to paradise (2 Cor. 12:4). Since this happened 14 years before writing about it to the Corinthians, some scholars believe it may have coincided with his experience at Lystra where he was stoned and dragged out of the city and left for dead (Acts 14:19-20). (Whether this was a "near-death" experience or an actual death-and-return, we'll have to wait until we can ask him.)
Messages from the Dark Side
What makes this subject so difficult to research is that most information is not only unreliable, it is the specific focus of deceit by the ultimate Deceiver himself. One of the first mistakes is to look for answers in the wrong places. Channeling, necromancy (attempted communication with the dead), and all forms of commerce with demonic activity are expressly prohibited in the Scripture (Lev. 19:31; 20:6, 27; Deut. 18:11-22; Isaiah 8:19-20). Even such ostensibly harmless things such as a Ouija board or role-playing parlor games can prove extremely dangerous and are not to be taken lightly.
Satan's deceptions are designed to eliminate any awareness of a coming judgment and accountability, and to promote the perceptions that all roads lead to the same place. [Remember, he is the "prince of this world," and the "prince of the power of the air." (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Eph. 2:2)]
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." - 2 Cor. 11:13, 14So, what position do we take? Jesus warned us:
"Enter ye in at the strait [narrow] gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." - Matthew 7:13-15If the gate you're relying on is wide, with a large majority taking advantage of it, you've got the wrong gate! Get into the Scriptures and learn what God Himself has to say about the issue.
To be continued next week...
What Happens When You Die? - Koinonia House Store (Audio CD)
Physics And The Bible: Six Hours in Eternity - Koinonia House
A Biblical Mystery: His Unfamiliar Face - Koinonia House
How can I know for sure that I will go to Heaven when I die? - GotQuestions.org
Heaven - Randy Alcorn (Book)