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The Biblical Worldview on the Afterlife | Who Goes to Heaven?

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
October 28, 2022 3:00 am

The Biblical Worldview on the Afterlife | Who Goes to Heaven?

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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October 28, 2022 3:00 am

People can talk all day about what it takes to get to Heaven. Inevitably, the discussion touches on the golden rule, and includes phrases like “be true to yourself” and “it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.” People can be sincere and sincerely wrong at the same time. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie goes straight to Scripture for the real answer. If we want to know how to get to Heaven, it’s best to ask the God of Heaven. And that’s what we’ll do today.

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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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You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. For more ways to deepen and challenge your spiritual walk, enroll in Pastor Greg's free online courses, sign up at You don't get to heaven by living a good life and you don't end up in hell by living a bad life because there's going to be bad people in heaven and there's going to be good people in hell. Does that make sense? Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie shatters the myth of who heaven is for.

It's practical, important insight. Heaven is not for good people. Heaven is for forgiven people.

Everyone who turns from their sin can go to heaven. People can talk all day about what it takes to get to heaven. Inevitably, the discussion touches on the golden rule and includes phrases like, be true to yourself and it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're sincere.

People can be sincere and sincerely wrong at the same time. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie goes straight to scripture for the real answer. If we want to know how to get to heaven, it's best to ask the God of heaven and that's what we'll do today. Let's grab our Bibles and turn to Revelation 20 and Luke 16. The title of my message is The Biblical Worldview on 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 may get 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. No. 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. Now there are questions that pop up in our minds about the afterlife. Like okay will we still have our bodies in heaven? 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.

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. Because all of the clouding and damaging effects of sin are removed and the Bible says, well 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. 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.

It is going to be amazing. Think of the purest joy you have ever experienced on earth. Multiply it a thousand times and you 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. Okay 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 in 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 were written in the books.

Known as plural. The books. The sea 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'll stop there. Tenominous scene. This is the most serious sobering and tragic passage perhaps in the entire Bible. John the Apostle, the author of this, sees 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 we 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. The 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 nonbeliever 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. 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 and the place of torment. So when we read death in Hades deliver 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. Now here are some hard core truths about hell. Number one people in hell suffer.

They suffer. Luke 16.23. Being in torment in Hades He lifted up His eyes far off to Abraham. The fact that He speaks of torment shows that this is real in the afterlife.

In fact the word torment is used four times in the text of the story that Jesus told in Luke 16. Number two. Once you are in hell you cannot cross over to heaven. But the impossibility of crossing from one side to another suggests that your eternal destiny is settled here and now and not in some future world.

Number three. You are conscious in hell and fully aware of where you are. Listen. Hell is just as eternal as heaven is. And even as you are fully conscious in heaven you are also fully conscious in hell. Verse 24 of Luke 16. He cried and said, Father Abraham have mercy on me.

This is the nonbeliever. And Saint Lazarus and he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue for I am tormented in this flame. So he is aware of where he is. He is aware of why he is there. Then he says, You know what?

I have five brothers. Verse 28. Send someone to testify to them so they don't end up in this place of torment. This sort of refutes the idea that hell is a party place. There is no partying in hell. There is no fun in hell. There is separation from God.

There is outer darkness. There is torment. There will be some surprises in eternity. Pastor Greg points out that some people who seem like nice folks won't make it into heaven and some that seem evil to the core will be in heaven.

More on that in just a moment. You know there is nothing like curing the Word of God and worshipping the Lord together. I want to encourage you to join us for something we call Harvest at Home. It happens every Saturday and Sunday at You can join Christians literally from around the world as we worship and we study the Word of God together.

So join us for Harvest at Home at Well, we're considering life and death truth today. Pastor Greg is bringing us a study called The Biblical World View of the Afterlife.

Let's continue. Coming back to the great white throne judgment now. This happens before people are sent to the lake of fire. Who is going to be at the great white throne judgment?

Simple answer. Everyone who is rejected God's offer of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. And there will be sinners there in general. But there are different kinds of sinners. First of all there are what we would call out and out sinners. Or I will refer to them as garden variety sinners. I used to be one of those by the way. And many of you did too. You might be a different kind of sinner or were.

And I will get to that in a moment. But these are the folks that just say, I don't want God. I don't want church.

I don't want the Bible. They will say things like, I don't need organized religion. I will live the way that I want to live.

I will do what I want to do. They may even go out of their way to mock Christians to defy what the Bible says. So those sinners will be there for sure.

Number two. Listen to this. Self righteous people. Self righteous people. That is another kind of sinner by the way. It is different from the garden variety sinner that knows they are a sinner. Maybe they even celebrate the fact that they are a sinner. Maybe they have a big tattoo in their chest that says, I am a sinner. But then there is a self righteous person.

Oh no. They are more cultured. And they are not like that other person. And they try to do good deeds. And they try to be considerate of others. And that is a good thing. But they need Jesus as much as the garden variety sinner.

Listen to this. You don't get to heaven by living a good life. And you don't end up in hell by living a bad life. Because there is going to be bad people in heaven. And there is going to be good people in hell.

Does that make sense? Let me explain. There is going to be bad people in heaven. By bad I mean a garden variety sinner that owns it admits their sin and asks God to forgive them. They will be in heaven.

Then they will be good. I put that in quotes. Good people in hell. People that were moral to some degree. People that said they don't need Jesus Christ.

That lived by their own rules. And they think that those good deeds they did will save them. And they deceive themselves. Heaven is not for good people. Heaven is for forgiven people. Everyone who turns from their sin can go to heaven. This is why God sent His Son Jesus to die for us on the cross.

Thirdly there will be procrastinators. These are the people that maybe weren't antagonistic like the garden variety sinners. But they just said, I'll talk to you later. Another day.

But they never got around to making that decision. And lastly there will be unsaved church members. Let me put it another way. Non-believing church attenders. Hey I am glad you are in church today. But you know attending this church will not make you a Christian. In fact what will happen is attending this church will make you accountable for what you have heard. And if you hear it and say, I heard my sermon today and I did my duty for God today.

And you blow it off and disregard it and ignore it. That is almost worse than the garden variety center. Because at least the garden variety center knows they are a center. Admits they are a center. But you might say, well I was in church today.

I was at harvest today. And that is good. But you need to do what the Bible tells you to do. And church attendance won't get you to heaven. Having your name on a membership role won't get you to heaven. So everyone who doesn't believe stands there.

And this is the key thing. They did not believe. Jesus said in John 3.18, He that believes in me is not condemned but he who does not believe in me is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son. It is not just that I am a sinner. It is that I have rejected God's solution.

God is saying, I love you. I don't want you to go to hell. I put my own wrath on my Son who I love for you. So you could be forgiven.

You say, yeah really? Whatever. I don't care. I don't want Jesus. I don't need Jesus. I don't care about Jesus.

Forget it. That rejection of Him is what brings that judgment. It is not going to be a sin question in the final day.

It is going to be a son question. S-O-N. What did you do with Jesus? 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. I was listening to my friend James Merritt this morning. I listen to him every morning.

Every Sunday morning when I am getting ready for church and I am making my breakfast. And today he was talking about a true story of a doctor who was arrested and sent to prison for 30 years. His crime he took the medicine that was used to treat cancer patients and diluted it to make more money. And they said that at least 15 of his patients died who would have lived longer if they had the proper dosage.

So because he diluted the medicine people died and he did it for money. That is a horrible thing to do. Horrible crime. But you know what is worse? Deluding the message of the gospel. Because this has eternal ramifications.

How do you delude it? Well you only talk about heaven and you never mention hell. And we need to tell people the whole truth. And here is what the Bible says. We need to go and snatch people from the flames.

Jude 1. Snatch them from the flames of judgment. So you say this.

Ok. I am going to do everything I can to warn everyone I know so they don't have to end up in this horrible place. I am not saying you should go call up everyone and say you are going to hell. Because the Bible says it is the goodness of God that brings us to repentance. So tell them about what Christ has done for you. Tell them about the hope of heaven. Tell them about the forgiveness of sin.

Tell them lastly that if they don't believe what the repercussions are. Don't leave that part out. See we want to edit it because it is awkward. Awkward. You know they say I don't really want Jesus and I don't want to go to the crusade with you and I don't really care. So what is going to happen to me when I die?

Do you like warm climates? Hey. Don't delude it. Don't be like that doctor and delude the message. Say here is the truth.

I hate to say this but it is true. And this is the last thing I want to see happen to you. And you pray for them. And I am thinking God is going to use us if we just get a better understanding of the afterlife.

We have the hope of heaven but we don't want anybody to go to hell. So you say this is not going to happen to my child. This is not going to happen to my husband or my wife or my mom or my dad or my grandparents or my neighbor or my coworker.

This is not going to happen if I have anything to say about it. I know it is ultimately up to God to save people but I am going to make sure I do my due diligence and engage them with the gospel and pray that they will believe in Jesus. And I believe as you do that you will be glad that you did. But let me just close by saying this. If you have joined us here today and most of you have. At least physically some have fallen asleep and those are the pastors on the front row. No.

I am joking. There might be somebody here. I am talking about heaven.

How awesome it is. But you are sitting there thinking, I don't know that I am going to heaven. Have you believed in Jesus? Have you asked them to forgive you of your sin?

No. Then do that. You can go to heaven. You can change your eternal address but you must say, Lord forgive me of my sin. And if you haven't done that yet let me give you an opportunity to do it as we pray together. Let's all bow our heads. Father I pray for everyone here.

Everyone watching. Wherever they are. If they don't know Jesus help them to see their need for you Lord. Help them to come to you now and be forgiven of all of their sin. In Jesus' name I pray.

Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important closing prayer. And if you'd like to do as Pastor Greg suggested and make things right in your relationship with the Lord, Pastor Greg will help you do that in just a moment before today's edition of A New Beginning wraps up. You know Pastor Greg you've spoken a lot about getting the basics right in our Christian faith.

We've got to have a strong foundation to build on. Yes. And you have a helpful resource we're making available that addresses the fundamentals of Christian living, don't you? That's right Dave.

And you could read this in one sitting. It's called The New Believer's Guide to Effective Christian Living. Now I know that I'm speaking to people that have known the Lord for many years but if they're honest they might say well they're sort of stuck. They don't know what's going on.

They don't know how to get back into gear again. This is a book that's going to take you back to the basics. Basics you never outgrow.

Things you need to remind yourself of over and over again. As an example in this little book we talk about how to know God through Bible study. What is prayer?

How can I pray effectively? Why fellowship with other believers matters? And we also talk about overcoming temptation, dealing with problems, discovering the will of God, keys to sharing your faith effectively, and much much more. So get your own copy of The New Believer's Guide to Effective Christian Living. This has been one of our best received resources we've ever offered. I know it's going to be helpful to you.

Yeah that's right and we're eager to get a copy of this in your hands. Let it bolster your own faith or keep copies on hand to give to others who need a hand in growing in the Lord. Use it as a follow-up resource as you share your faith. Again it's called The New Believer's Guide to Effective Christian Living. And we'll send it your way to say thank you for partnering with us so we can continue to teach believers and reach unbelievers through a new beginning.

And we'll only be able to mention this resource a short time longer. Contact us today. You can call 1-800-821-3300. Call anytime 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California 92514.

Or go online to Well Pastor Greg, you mentioned that someone can become a Christian with just a simple prayer. That's right. Maybe somebody would like to do that right now. Could you help them with that? Sure.

I'd love to. A simple prayer is right. In fact, I would like to just pray a prayer and I would ask you to pray it after me right now. Pray these words, Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, but I also know that you are the Savior because you died on the cross for my sin and you rose again from the dead. Jesus, come into my life and forgive me of every sin I've ever committed.

I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer. Thank you for answering this prayer, Lord. And I pray all of this in Jesus' name.

Amen. If you just prayed that prayer and meant it, I want you to know on the authority of Scripture, God Almighty has heard your prayer and He will answer this prayer. You are now a newly-minted child of God. So congratulations.

You've made the right decision and welcome to the family of God. I want to send you a special gift because of that prayer you've just prayed. It's called the New Believer's Growth Packet. And in it is a copy of the New Testament in a very understandable translation called the New Living Translation. It also is filled with hundreds of notes that I wrote that will encourage you in this commitment you've made to follow Christ.

And there's some other outstanding materials in this little packet I'll send you as well. So order your copy today and let me be the first to say to you congratulations and welcome to the family of God. And to get that New Believer's Growth Packet, just get in touch and we'll be glad to send it right out. You can call us anytime at 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300. And you can reach us at that number anytime 24-7. Or write A New Beginning Box 4000 Riverside, California 92514. Or go online to and click the words No God. Well, next time Pastor Greg takes us to the book of Daniel and a heart-stopping lesson learned by King Belshazzar. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-09 18:44:43 / 2022-11-09 18:50:21 / 6

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