Is there a second chance?
|Created by Gerard de Vos|
Category: Bible related
People sometimes think that they definitely want a good destination after death, but they want to enjoy their freedom to do as they please a little longer; they will turn to God when they are older. It is true that there are many opportunities (or second chances) to accept God's offer of forgiveness of sins and happiness in His eternal kingdom. That is part of God's plan for man. God knew the calculated risk He took when He allowed the devil to invade His beautiful creation. He knew humanity would turn against Him, follow the devil and mess up. It was part of the plan to provide His Son, Jesus as a sin offering. In that way each person could choose to change his mind: he could turn away from his own selfish desires and decide to accept God's offer. God desires only people who really love and obey Jesus to be with Him eternally. All those who hate God and rebel against His Word would be sifted out on this side of the grave. Every person has numerous opportunities throughout his life time to reject God, but on this side of the grave God's grace remains available to anyone who wants to turn or return to Him.
These opportunities stop when we die. After death, there is no such a thing as a second chance. Anybody who neglected or rejected Jesus' salvation message, will not be able to change his mind after he has died. Jesus illustrated this by his story of the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 (the man called out to Abraham to send Lazarus to cool his tongue in that terrible fire where he was suffering, but he had to bare the consequences of his earthly decision). If there was a second chance after death, logically everyone would repent then: who would not choose paradise above hell when he discovers there really are two destinations? Such a decision would be meaningless to Jesus. The whole issue is whether we are willing to commit our lives to Him, even if we cannot see Him personally; to love Him based only on information in the Bible. Thus salvation is the opportunity to be reconciled to God, and to fall in love with His Son, Jesus, who will be the Bridegroom of the Bride (the church, or people saved from eternal hell).
What about believers who thought they bought a package deal: accept Jesus, live as you like and go to heaven (because your sins have been forgiven)? They are very pleased with the bargain: live, die and paradise here I come! What about the unbeliever who might live a better life, is he destined for hell? Both are in a very precarious situation. The reason is that God the Father is checking for love for His Son in a person's life, namely that kind of love that is shown in obedience to the Word. For example: most of us might like to marry some Hollywood beauty queen or hunk, but he or she would refuse us, because they have no experience of our love and devotion and don't even know us. Isn't that the same as loving Jesus from a distance, or even feigning love for Him? The problem is that some people only read selected verses, like 'repent and be baptized.' They think all that is necessary to clinch the deal of blissful eternal life is to invite Jesus into your heart and that is all. They never question why God gave us instructions and examples on how to live in a relationship of love with Him. They never find out what a relationship is all about. Human marriages are about love and relationship, and it is a picture of the eternal marriage of Jesus and His Bride. He loves us, and showed it by giving His life for us. Do we reciprocate that love by giving our lives to Him? Do we talk to Him (pray) and listen to Him (read the Bible) with the help of the Holy Spirit in us? If we don't, we are in danger. Here (while living) we have a second chance, there (after death), none. God cannot accept people in His kingdom who said they were saved, but lived as infidels. The reason is very simple: millions of people, with the devil as their chief, will immediately ask God for pardon from their sentence. They will argue that God said that He has no favorites, He said He is just, so why does He save people who did not obey what is written in the Word of God? Love for Jesus is doing His will, obeying Him, and getting to know Him. How many people work very hard to accumulate earthly riches, but never want to lift a finger for God? We all know the rule: no work, no results. That is why Jesus warned us to invest in the Kingdom of God, so that we will reap the rewards.
God is gracious, merciful and compassionate. At the judgment, however, He only judges according to the Bible: did the person do and obey, or just claim to be a believer? Then God has no option but to keep to the rules: only what is written in the books will decide the fate of each person (Revelation 20:11 following).