As a pastor I have dealt with death many times. I’ve been present when Christians and non-Christians have passed. I know what it is like to be with a loved one when they die (My dad). Death bothers me.
Some deaths bother me more than others. For example, the deaths of Steve Jobs, Muammar Qaddafi, Osama Bin Laden, and Saddam Hussain all bothered me. I know many celebrated when the last three died and many mourned when Steve Jobs died from cancer. But the fate of all four was the same… they all entered eternity without Christ. Qaddafi, Osama, and Saddam were Muslims… which means they rejected Jesus as the only way of salvation. Steve Jobs’ biography states he left Christianity when he was 13. Because those four men all entered eternity the same way… without Jesus… their death bothered me. Especially given what Steve Jobs said about death in his biography…
Jobs, in his final meeting with Isaacson in mid-August, still held out hope that there might be one new drug that could save him. He also wanted to believe in God and an afterlife. “Ever since I’ve had cancer, I’ve been thinking about (God) more. And I find myself believing a bit more. Maybe it’s because I want to believe in an afterlife. That when you die, it doesn’t just all disappear,” Isaacson quoted Jobs as saying.
Have you ever heard of Guled Jama Muktar? Militants from an Islamic extremist organization in Somalia linked to al-Qaida beheaded the 17-year-old Christian near Mogadishu back in September. He has joined a very special group of believers in eternity as described in Revelation 6:9-11. Still, his death bothers me for those who killed him.
Christianity holds that the only way of salvation is through Jesus Christ. Christianity holds that all those who die without Jesus are eternally separated from God in a place the Bible calls hell (See below). Christianity holds that once a person dies, then there is judgment. Thus it bothers me when anyone enters eternity apart from Jesus.
IF we believe what Jesus taught about what happens after death, then we will seek to win those who don’t know Christ to him. Consider the Scripture as found in Luke 16:22-31
The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 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.’ 25 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. 26 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.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers —so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 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.'”
Who do we know that if they died today they would be like the rich man in Luke 16? If we believe Jesus about what happens after death, what are we willing to do so that they don’t enter eternity without Him?