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The Biblical Worldview on the Afterlife: Spiritual Warning Signs

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
April 30, 2021 3:00 am

The Biblical Worldview on the Afterlife: Spiritual Warning Signs

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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April 30, 2021 3:00 am

Our culture has some very sophisticated warning systems. We have warning systems in our cars, on our computers, on TV. We get weather alerts, Amber alerts, medical alerts. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie issues a spiritual alert. We’ll see that those who live their lives apart from a relationship with Jesus Christ are facing the most serious kind of danger there is. They’re not only risking life in the here and now, they’re risking their life in the hereafter.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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The following message from Pastor Greg Laurie is made possible by some special friends of this ministry. Pastor Greg? I wanted to say a special word of thanks to the Harvest Partners who make this ministry possible. Next time you're online, check out Pastor Greg's personal blog.

Go to harvest.org. There are so many opinions about what lies beyond the grave. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie says God's Word is clear on the matter. Here is the biblical worldview on the afterlife in a nutshell. When you die, if you're a Christian, you will go straight to heaven.

If you're not a Christian, you will go to hell. If that is the case, why are we not doing more to warn people about the reality of hell? Our culture has some very sophisticated warning systems. We have warning systems in our cars, on our computers, on TV.

We get weather alerts, amber alerts, medical alerts. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie issues a spiritual alert. We'll see that those who live their lives apart from a relationship with Jesus Christ are facing the most serious kind of danger there is. They are not only risking life in the here and now.

They are risking their life in the hereafter. You know I had a vision yesterday where I was taken to heaven and greeted at the pearly gates by Simon Peter of course. And so he took me to a large room. And in this large room, the biggest room I have ever been in, there were thousands and thousands and thousands of what looked like clocks on the wall.

I said, what are these clocks? He said, Peter what are all these clocks? And he said, come here. Let me show you something. So we stepped a little closer and I realized he only had one hand.

One hand. And I said, what are these? He said, Greg, those are sin-o-meters.

This is a true story by the way. Those are sin-o-meters. They said, what is a sin-o-meter Peter? He said, every time that person sins on earth, the hand on that clock goes around one time on that meter.

Just like that. So I am going, whoa. I am going to find out how spiritual people really are now. So I started looking some of you up.

I am going to be honest. And for some I was pretty impressed and some well I was a little disappointed. I looked up Pastor Brad who is sitting here in the front. And you know there was movement Brad. There was movement on your sin-o-meter. More than I expected to be honest.

Kind of like. Ok. Wow. And then it stopped for a second and again. Then I looked at Pastor John Collins and his was a little less than Brad but still movement.

I went and looked up my wife Kathy you know and there were cobwebs on it. It just hadn't moved. So I am just watching all these sin-o-meters. Some are going faster. Some are going slower.

But everyone is moving. Every time that person sins. One time around the dial. So I said, well I have looked up everyone. I haven't looked up myself. And so I said, Peter, where is my sin-o-meter? He said, oh yours.

We use that one for a fan in the kitchen. That was depressing. Ok. So silly story. To kind of make a point. There is a lot of strange and aberrant and incorrect views of the afterlife.

So many. And sometimes even believers will adopt some of these views. So what we need is a biblical view. A biblical worldview of the afterlife. There are people today that say they have had these near death experiences and they always see a great light.

Right? And feel this great peace. And they write books about it. They make movies about them. And you know and we have these views.

And some people will say, well that must be what it is like. I read an interesting article the other day. It said that many Americans are skeptical about God but more believe in heaven. So belief in the existence of God is down a bit but believe in heaven is up a bit.

How does that work? God is the one that gave us heaven. And the first time we read of heaven is actually in the Bible.

So this is a strange thing to me. You know heaven is not going to exist because more people believe it exists. That would be like saying more people today believe that the state of Arizona exists than the state of California. It doesn't matter what you think.

They both exist. And heaven exists and of course so does hell. And this is something we need to think about because as we get older the afterlife is getting closer. We start losing friends and even family.

And we know one day our day will come. In fact as you get quite a bit older you might realize one day you have more friends in heaven than you have on earth. By the way if that is the case you need to get some new friends.

Ok. And next time get some younger ones. But you know this is a reality we are facing. And life is just passing by so quickly.

It seemed when I was a kid like you know the third grade lasted ten years. And now decades go by. I have Sirius XM radio.

And they have these channels you can go to. Sixties on six. Fifties on five. Seventies on seven. Eighties on eight. And so sometimes I will be on sixties on six.

I don't like it. I flip over to the seventies. I go to the eighties.

And then it dawned on me I have lived through all of these decades. From the fifties. The sixties. The seventies. The eighties. They even have nineties on nine.

And I thought man you know you are getting old when nineties songs are called oldies. Right. But life marches on. Eternity gets closer. And we wonder what happens when we die. All right.

I am going to give you a very quick answer. Here is the biblical world view on the afterlife in a nutshell. When you die if you are a Christian you will go straight to heaven.

That is true. Worth clapping for. You probably won't clap for this next statement.

When you die if you are not a Christian you will go to hell. Oh wait. Hold on. I am just telling you what the Bible says. Do you want a biblical world view? Now I don't say that with any delight.

I say it with sadness. And I say it because the Bible is very clear in this topic. In fact Jesus Himself said, broad is the way that leads to destruction and many there are that go that way.

And narrow is the way that leads to life and few there are that find it. According to Jesus and the rest of the Scripture more people are going to hell than those that are going to heaven. That is not what God wants. But God has given to us a free will.

So if we really believe what the Bible teaches about the afterlife. Let me backtrack for a second. How many of you believe what I just said is true? Raise your hand if you believe what I just said is true. Ok. What you are really saying is I believe the Bible because I didn't come up with this.

I think you know that. So we believe what the Bible says about the afterlife right? If that is the case why are we not doing more to warn people about the reality of hell?

I don't know the answer. I would just hope that knowing hell is real would motivate nonbelievers to come to Christ. But I also hope it would motivate believers to share their faith with even more urgency. I don't want us to look at this topic today intellectually. I want us to look at it with our heart as well. This is not mere data.

This is life and death stuff. You know General William Booth is the founder of the Salvation Army. And at its inception the Salvation Army was a very evangelistic organization. And it was a big deal to General Booth to get out and encourage people to share their faith. So he actually said that if he had had his way he would like to as part of his training of people to share their faith taking those who were training to evangelize and dangle them over hell so they would recognize that this is the future of some people that don't know the Lord and that is the last thing we should ever want.

The apostle Paul was so concerned about this that he said that if given the choice he would go to hell if he could be assured that others, specifically in his case his fellow Jews, would go to heaven. Well the good news is we don't have to do that because the price has already been paid for everyone to go to heaven through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We just need to share that message. In a moment Pastor Greg gives us a glimpse of the great family reunion waiting for us in eternity.

Good encouragement is coming up in just a moment. Hey everybody Greg Laurie here personally inviting you to join us for what we call Harvest at Home. It's a Bible study. It's a worship service. It's church in your home. Maybe you're not able to get out to your church right now. If so, join us for Harvest at Home. People are listening in from around the world.

Listen to this. We have seen thousands of people make a commitment to follow Christ. So join us this weekend for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org. Well we're looking beyond the grave today as Pastor Greg brings us a message called The Biblical Worldview of the Afterlife.

You can get a copy of this study at Harvest.org. Alright so let's now look at what the Bible says about the afterlife. What happens to a Christian when they die?

Very simple answer. When a Christian dies they go to heaven. If you have a loved one that believed in Jesus and they've died they're in heaven right now. The Bible is very clear about this. In fact it tells us over in 2 Corinthians 5, 8 we're confident and I would say we're away from the body and at home with the Lord so we make it our goal to please Him whether we are at home in the body or away from it. So we're absent from the body. We're present with the Lord. This doesn't take months or years.

It's instantaneous. The moment you take your last breath on earth you take your first breath in heaven. Paul even said in Philippians 1.23, I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. In other words Paul is saying I would like to be in heaven right now. Notice he didn't say I have a desire to depart and just live in sort of a soul sleep for decades. Or I have a desire to depart with Christ and hang out in purgatory for a while and atone for my sins.

No. He says I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Interesting the phrase he uses in the Greek can be translated far far better.

Or the Hawaiian version is mobera bra. You know. That is what heaven is. Now there are questions popping up in our minds about the afterlife. Like ok will we still have our bodies in heaven?

Well let me ask you. Do you want the body you are in in heaven? Maybe you would like a radically improved version. Actually the answer to that question is yes and no. You are given new bodies but they are not completely disconnected from the body you are in now.

It is just a radically upgraded version of you. We are told over in 1 Corinthians 15 our earthly bodies will die and decay. But they will be different when they are resurrected. Then they will never die. Our bodies now disappoint us. Amen to that. But when they are raised they will be full of glory.

They are weak now but when they are raised they will be full of power. So what does this mean? It means if you were disabled on earth you will not be disabled in heaven. It means if you were facing the ravages of age on earth you will not face those in heaven. If you had cancer on earth you won't have cancer in heaven. If you were bald on earth you won't be bald in heaven I don't think. The Bible doesn't address that. Wouldn't it be a mind blower if we got to heaven and realized that the glorified state is everyone's bald?

What if we found out that hair was a part of the curse? That is probably not true but I thought I would throw it out there anyway. So this is the great thing. So we talk about the differences but there are similarities.

You see heaven is the earthly life of the believer glorified and perfected. When we pass to the other side our minds, our memories are clearer than they have ever been before. That is great to know because we forget things.

We forget names all the time. I will meet someone. Greg how are you? I am like nice to meet you. And I am talking about my wife in the morning.

Who are you? No. Not really. But the point is we have lapses in memory and we don't have our memory isn't as sharp as it once was perhaps. But all of that is going to change and we are going to know things that we don't know now. And we are going to see things with a perspective we don't see now. The question is often asked, will we recognize one another in heaven? The simple answer is, do you think you will be more stupid in heaven than you are on earth? Maybe I should ask the question, do you recognize one another on earth?

Well generally. Well you will in heaven but even more so because all of the clouding and damaging effects of sin are removed. And the Bible says we will know as we are known. I don't think that means that God takes everything that He knows and puts it into our brain the moment we enter eternity.

Otherwise we would all be like little bobble heads walking around with these massive heads and tiny little bodies. But what the Scripture seems to be saying is over time in eternity the Lord will unveil to us more and more great truths and our knowledge will expand as we spend time in His presence worshiping Him. And we will be reunited with those that have gone before us who trusted in Jesus.

So how many of you have loved ones that believed in Jesus that have died? Raise your hand. You have people. That is pretty much everyone isn't it? Of course.

And if you didn't raise your hand you are probably very young still. And it will happen. Here is the good news. You will see them again. Heaven is going to be a family reunion without the weirdness. Without the weirdness. Because family reunions are not always fun are they? Because how many of you have weird families? I would think all of us do.

Who here has a completely normal family? No weirdness. Really? Wow. You may be the weirdest of all.

I don't know. We have got to talk about weird later. But we all have strange members of our family.

And in reality we ourselves are one of the strange members of our family. But all that sin will be gone. All the selfishness will be gone. It will be a great family reunion.

It is going to be amazing. Think of the purest joy you have ever experienced on earth. Multiply it a thousand times and you will have a fleeting glimpse of the euphoria of heaven.

The Bible says in His presence there is fullness of joy and on His right hand pleasures forevermore. Ok. That is what happens to a believer. Now what happens to a non-believer? Let's look at Revelation 20.

Pretty bleak. Verse 11. I saw a great white throne and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away, and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God. And books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works by the things that were written in the books.

Notice plural. The books. Thus He gave up the dead that were in it, death and Hades or hell, delivered up the dead that were in them, and they were judged, each one according to his works. And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. Anyone not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

We will stop there. It is an ominous scene. This is the most serious, sobering, and tragic passage perhaps in the entire Bible. Abandon hope, all you who enter here are the famous words above the gates of hell in Dante's poem Inferno. John the apostle, the author of this, he is a great white throne. The throne is white because of its awesome power. It is a place of judgment.

It is a place of purity. The verdicts that will proceed from it now are righteous verdicts. There will be no debate at the great white throne over guilt or innocence. There will be a prosecutor but no defender, an accuser but no advocate, an indictment but no defense mounted by the accused. Well, convicting evidence will be presented.

There will be no rebuttal or cross-examination. There will be no jury but a judge, and his holy judgment is binding for all eternity. So what happens to the nonbelievers when they die now? They go to Hades. I use this word intentionally. It is an interchangeable word with hell, but let me explain.

Because sometimes there is confusion. There is a difference between the lake of fire and Hades. The lake of fire that we just read about is the final destination of nonbelievers and the devil and his angels. The lake of fire is the destination nonbelievers are sent to after the great white throne judgment. The great white throne judgment has not happened yet.

It is still in the future. So what happens when a nonbeliever dies? They go to Hades.

Well what is that? Hades is spoken of among other places over in Luke 16. And that is an amazing story that Jesus told about two men that died on the same day. One was rich. One was poor. One was powerful.

One was weak. One was a believer. The other was a nonbeliever. The believer was named Lazarus. Not the same Lazarus that Jesus raised from the dead in John 11.

A different one. But he died and he was carried by the angels into the presence of God. But then we read that the nonbeliever, the wealthy man, and by the way his sin was not in his wealth. His sin was in his rejection of God. But he dies and he goes to a place of torment. So at this time historically Hades effectively had, for lack of a better way to put it, two sections. Sort of a comfort section and a torment section.

Or smoking and nonsmoking if you will. So when the believer died before the death and resurrection of Christ, the Old Testament believer, they went into the comfort of Abraham. Abraham the patriarch. And so the believer in our story Lazarus is there in what is described in King James as Abraham's bosom.

He is in a place of comfort. Meanwhile the nonbeliever dies and he is separated from this place of comfort in the place of torment. And so when we read death in Hades delivereth the dead that were in them to the great white throne judgment. It is sort of like you are arrested and you are in a jail.

Now you are being transferred from a jail to the judge who is going to give you your final sentence which will send you to prison. So the nonbeliever now is waiting. Now what happens to the believer coming back? That comfort section is no longer there for us to go to because when Christ died and rose He went down to Hades. He preached to those who were waiting in faith. Those who had died waiting for the coming Messiah. And they are in heaven and that is where we go now. So this is no longer a destination for a believer but the judgment or I should say the torment section of Hades is the destination for the nonbeliever. We don't want people to go to hell. So you say alright I agree.

What do I do? What do you do? You warn people. Pastor Greg will have more insight as this eye-opening message continues here on A New Beginning. But if you have questions about where you stand with the Lord we invite you to go to knowgod.org. Pastor Greg has some important information for you there online.

Again go to knowgod.org. And that it is such a joy to make available Pastor Greg's brand new book called Billy Graham, The Man I Knew. It's a rich biography meticulously researched and it's full of great inspiration for our lives. There are indeed practical takeaways for all of us in learning about Billy's life. But Pastor Greg as you look at Billy's life through the eyes of an evangelist what are a couple of the takeaways for you?

Yeah well I observed Billy very carefully you know when he was on the platform I would be sitting up there and I could watch him. And I watched him as he gave the invitation and thousands of people would come forward to accept Christ. And I asked him after Billy what are you personally experiencing physically when you give an invitation? And his response was I feel like power is going out of me.

And I understand that because I've stood on stages in stadiums and arenas and seen many people come forward. And you're in a definite time of spiritual warfare. The devil really attacks those who are called to present the gospel. And I think one of Billy's secrets was he didn't take himself too seriously. He took his message very seriously. But he was really a genuinely humble guy.

I think of one occasion I was with him in Portland Oregon and he had preached that night at the crusade. And it was a powerful night Johnny Cash had actually played that night as well. And so we're leaving the stadium and there are people lined up on each side being held back by these ropes and some security. And people just Billy Billy and you know it's like Moses was walking through. And I was walking next to him and then we got in the car and we're driving out. And so his longtime friend and associate T.W.

Wilson is at the wheel. I'm riding shotgun and the backseat is Billy and his son Franklin. So I thought I want to compliment Billy. So I turned around and said Billy that was a great message tonight. And he looked at me with those steely blue eyes and he said well it's just gospel. I turned back around I thought well I know it's just gospel. That's clear. And then I thought it's something else something he had said in particular and I turned back around and said Billy.

I love that point when you said Christ can resensitize your conscience. And he looked at me and said well he can. I thought okay whatever. So I turned back around I'm not seeing anything else. But I was I was learning something and what I was learning was you know some people have you know just oh wasn't that great tonight and how did I do and none of that.

He didn't even want to talk about it. It was done. All the accolades all the adulation. He was moving on and it was behind him. And I was learning. See I was learning that you know when you have these moments where you're used by God and people come to faith that's great. But you know now you've got to get back to normal life. And that's something I actually put into practice in our own crusades. It's like afterwards I don't want some big party and go out with a bunch of people.

I just go back to normalcy like I'm going to go back and maybe hang out with my grandkids or do something normal-ish. Because it's it's kind of an altered state of reality to be on a stage in front of a lot of people and and have the Lord work through you in that way. And you want to remember to continue to give God the glory. It's not you.

It's him. And and I think that's something Billy understood from the beginning to the end of his ministry. He would often say I'm just a country preacher. But you know God called him. And and so he he maintained his humility and he came through all of this with his integrity intact. And isn't that something we need to hear in this time when we're hearing of stories of people who are in Christian leadership failing morally in other areas. It's good to know that we have a guy that he lived the life.

He was the same guy in private that he was in public. So this is a book that will give you insights into Billy. It'll show you the funny side of Billy.

It'll show you things that maybe you've not seen in other books. And it was my honor to write it. And it's called Billy Graham, the man that I knew. Yeah it's a fascinating biography. An inspiring biography.

And it's hot off the presses. And you can be one of the first to receive Billy Graham, the man I knew. We'll send it to say thank you for your investment in the mission of this ministry. It's an investment in touching lives like this one. Dear Pastor Greg, 42 years ago when I was a teenager you changed my life by introducing Jesus to a kid who had nothing but darkness.

Thank you for sharing messages about our Father when we didn't have fathers that cared or who weren't in our lives to get us through those dark times. Well again, when you help us reach people like this with your investment right now, let us thank you with Pastor Greg's new book, Billy Graham, the Man I Knew. And today is our last opportunity to mention this resource, so get in touch right away. Just write us at A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or call 1-800-821-3300. That's a 24-7 phone number, 1-800-821-3300.

Or go online to harvest.org. Well next time, more insight about eternity from Pastor Greg's message called The Biblical Worldview of the Afterlife. Hope you'll tune in next time here on A New Beginning with Pastor Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins The preceding message from Greg Laurie was made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Sign up for Pastor Greg's free daily email devotions at harvest.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-23 21:42:05 / 2023-11-23 21:53:02 / 11

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