What If You Died Tonight?

This seems like a rather abrupt question, doesn’t it? The words of Christ as recorded in the Gospels are often “abrupt” and to the point. He has come from Heaven to Earth to offer His much loved human beings the free gift of salvation. In so doing, we humans must be confronted with the true seriousness of Eternity, and Jesus is so good at doing this!

Therefore, if you died tonight, would you be ready to enter Heaven and the presence of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ? You may have prepared well for your life on this Earth and for your retirement days, but are you prepared for Eternity? Jesus told this “Parable of the Rich Fool” to the crowd that was following Him one day:

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15-21)

Jesus also asks the same challenging question another way: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

There is another related story that Jesus tells to a different crowd.  Bible scholars believe this to be a true story because a name is used, that of Lazarus.  Parables are not known to use names.  Jesus unfolds the story:

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Notice how the rich man slowly learned how hopeless his situation was.  After he found himself in torment in Hades, he realized his old acquaintance Lazarus could be seen far off sitting next to Father Abraham.  When the rich man called out for help, he was told help would be impossible because of a great chasm fixed between them that no one could pass.  Then he thought of his five brothers at home, and not wanting them to come to this same place of torment, asked that Lazarus be sent back to warn them, insisting that if someone went back from the dead, his brothers would repent.  But Abraham replied, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”  How ironic!  The very thing the rich man had asked of Father Abraham, Jesus stood before them doing that very thing!  

Let us all prepare ourselves for that inevitable but glorious day when those who are saved shall see Christ! “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:27-28)

Copyright © 2012, 2021, by C. A. Harris, MA Theological Studies


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