Questions about LIFE and Belief - why are we here?    THINK!
Was it all an accident of nature?                        THINK!
Or is there someone behind it all?    THINK!

Death

Nothing happens when I die,
I just cease to exist!

Whoa there! Let's think about this a moment...

"Whether you believe it or not, God either exists, or he doesn't."

Just take that on board for a moment... What you believe, does not define whether God exists or not. If he is there, he is there; if he does not exist, then he doesn't; whatever you believe, this is a true statement.

Perhaps I can illustrate it another way. I once got on a train that I believed was going to Oxford. As it turned out, it was going to Bristol. I could believe as much as I liked that I was going to Oxford, but it made no difference. Whatever I believed, I was either going to Oxford, or I wasn't. And it turned out that I was wrong...

Long ago, people used to think the earth was flat. They were absolutely sincere people; they truly believed it was flat. As it happens they were wrong, but the point I want you to realise is this: the fact that you believe something doesn't make it true.

Do you see? So many people believe that there is no after life, that you just die, and that's that. However, the same principle applies; whatever they believe, either they're right or they're wrong.

But, what if there is NO after life?

OK: suppose there is no "after life". In that case, there's nothing there; but Christians have nothing to lose in the long run by believing it. They've just spent their lives wasting their time trying to make the world a better place, to help improve the lives of others, and to spend their own lives trying to be better people, and to do good.

But, what if there IS an afterlife?

Suppose there IS an after life, after all? That we do continue after death. If we do, then everybody faces the same fate: we go either to heaven, or to hell. Ouch!

So who makes the final decision which way we go?

Jesus Christ does. You must have heard the phrase, "Judgment Day". This originated in the Bible. That's the crunch time. If you haven't made a decision before then, it's too late. Once your life has ended, in that split second, the choice is taken away from you. I'm afraid there is no going back; you cannot say afterwards, sorry, I did mean to believe in Jesus after all, honest; can I come in? The Bible tells us that there is a chasm between heaven and hell that no-one can cross in either direction. Luke 16:25

Are we judged on what we have done?

If we have faith in Jesus Christ, and believe in our hearts that he has paid the price for our sins, then No! That might come as a surprise to you; but that's the way it goes. He forgives us.

If you know the Bible story about the crucifixion, consider the case of the thief condemned to death by crucifixion. He was hanging on a cross beside Jesus. If God were to judge him on what he had done, then we might expect him to go to hell.

However, look at what happens. You can read this yourself in the New Testament; see Luke chapter 23, verses 39-43. We write it like this: Luke 23:39-43

One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, "So you're the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself--and us, too, while you're at it!" But the other criminal protested, "Don't you fear God even when you are dying? We deserve to die for our evil deeds, but this man hasn't done anything wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom." And Jesus replied, "I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise."

The man put his life into the hands of Jesus. His change of heart was sufficient to allow God to forgive his sin, and welcome him into the kingdom of heaven.

Are we judged on what we believe?

Yes. Let's give a few bible verses to back that up.

John 3:16-18: ""For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him. But those who do not trust him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God."

Everyone who believes? Let's read a bit more about that...

Galatians 2:16 "...we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be accepted by God because of our faith in Christ--and not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be saved by obeying the law."

This means that we are not justified (put right with God) by not breaking the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:22-25: "For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times."

Sinned

All have sinned - everybody who has ever lived - except for Jesus.

Justified

But we are put right with God, justified - "just as if I'd" never sinned. We are put right with God by faith in Jesus Christ.

Redemption

Redemption - our lives are redeemed by the death of Jesus. What does this actually mean? Imagine you take something to a Pawn Brokers - not something you see much of these days, but it was a shop where you would take something you own - say, a television set - and pawn it for money. If you take the money back before a certain date, you could redeem television and take it back home. If not, they would sell it, and you would lose it.

In the same way, because everyone sins in the sight of God, our eternal lives are forfeit, and we would go to hell when we die. But Jesus died for us, died instead of us, and by doing so he paid the penalty, he paid the price on our behalf. Provided we have faith in Him, he redeems our eternal lives, so in effect he buys our lives back, and we go to heaven instead.

Sacrifice of Atonement

In the old testament times, people had to atone for their sins by sacrificing a perfect dove or a lamb to God. The price of atonement was the death - or the blood - of a perfect living creature. We read of Jesus being called the lamb of God - and he was perfect in His Father's sight - he had never sinned. Therefore, being perfect, His sacrifice was the total atonement of the sins of mankind across the tens of thousands of years that we have been here - provided we pick up the ticket that says "Forgiven" - by having faith in Jesus Christ as our saviour and by accepting that He died for us; and that means for you and for me.

Unpunished

If we accept the death of Jesus, he leaves our sins unpunished; they are redeemed.

If you want to read more, have a look at the following verses.

John 6:38-40

Jesus said, "For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do what I want. And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them to eternal life at the last day. For it is my Father's will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life--that I should raise them at the last day."

1 Timothy 1:16

"But that is why God had mercy on me, so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life."

1 John 5:13

"I write this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life."

Romans 6:23

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 10:9-10

"For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved."

John 3:35

"The Father loves his Son, and he has given him authority over everything. And all who believe in God's Son have eternal life. Those who don't obey the Son will never experience eternal life, but the wrath of God remains upon them."

John 5:24

Jesus said, "I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life."

1 John 5:13

"I write this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life."

Matthew 25:46

"Jesus said, 'I assure you, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.' And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life."

John 3:14

Jesus said, "I, the Son of Man, must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in me will have eternal life."
(Jesus often referred to himself as the "Son of Man". "Lifted up" referred to being lifted up on the cross).

Acts 13:48

"When the Gentiles heard this, they were very glad and thanked the Lord for his message; and all who were appointed to eternal life became believers."
("Gentiles" means those who were not Jews).

Need I say more?!

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"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."
- from the Bible, book of John, chapter 3, verse 16.