I wrote on this very important and comforting issue a few weeks ago. I wish now, however, to take it one step further. Here’s another comforting word for the Christian believer. At the moment you breathe your last breath, your soul will leave your body and you will enter into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures, to myriads and myriads of angels, to the general assembly, that is the church triumphant, and your soul will be made perfect. On top of this, you will enter into your rest. You will rest from your labors.
Perhaps you were sexually molested as a child. Perhaps this went on for many years. I cannot even imagine the pain with which you have lived all of these years. No one can, unless they have suffered similarly. You probably live with a continual sense of shame, guilt, pain, and self-loathing. You may even have a litany of broken relationships, both in failed marriages and with children or friends. Maybe you now are a Christian, and you now know that you are not responsible for these horrible things which were done to you, but knowing this intellectually and applying it comfortingly and productively in everyday living are two different things. You may have attempted suicide to end it all, reasoning that your life is not worth living, that you can no longer endure the pain of your past. Perhaps you have tried Christian counselors and for a season you appeared to do better, but you always seem to come back to the same self-loathing and shame.
Or maybe when you were in your late teens or early twenties you became sexually promiscuous and reveled in it for a season. Maybe you were given over to homosexuality. And then, God reached down by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit and saved you and changed you, giving you the ability to hate your sin and to love and obey God. You know you are forgiven but there are certain trigger points which arise from time to time and you are tempted to fall back into your former lifestyle. You feel horribly guilty and defeated when these thoughts come. Maybe you have even fallen into the actual sexual sins of your past. You feel like the fight gets more and more difficult from time to time, and you are tired of fighting.
Or maybe, after many years of drug or alcohol addiction, God reached down and delivered you from this bondage. You had been clean for many years but then one day, something triggered a relapse and you fell off the wagon again. God was gracious to restore you but it has happened many times in your life. You have paid dearly for your sin, losing your spouse, your children, and your good paying job. Your loved ones believe you when you say you are clean again, but they have experienced the back-sliding too many times. They simply cannot live with you any longer, so you find yourself living alone, coming home each night from a job for which you are over qualified, to a small apartment.
Or maybe you have long been in the fight for propagating the gospel to your community, nation, and world. You believe God has called you to this ministry, but there have been many lean times. Your financial support has been minimal. Some have actively opposed you in your ministry. It is one thing for the world to oppose you. You kind of expected that, but it really hurts when fellow believers have dismissed you as too narrow, too rigid, too zealous. You are tired of the fight. You would like to quit, but you know God has called you and you must continue.
Or maybe you have a special needs child who was born to you later in life, after your other children were grown. You know you will care for this child the rest of his life. You long ago settled this in your heart and mind, and you have made provision for him after you leave this earth, but nonetheless the process is tiring, exhausting, and unrelenting. The same can be said for your care for your spouse or parent with Alzheimer’s.
But my dear Christian friend, I have some very good news for you. Upon the last beat of your heart, you will be absent from the body and at home with the Lord. Your soul will enter into the presence of Jesus and you will have your eternal rest. Jesus promised you long ago that if you came to Him as one weary and heavy laden, He would give you rest. You have experienced something of it on earth, but then you will have it in its fullness. No more pain, no more sorrow, no more sickness, no more death. The first things have passed away. No more fear, shame, guilt, or self-loathing. You will totally forget the sexual abuse you encountered. You will be gazing into the eyes of the One who loved you and gave His life for you. You will be done with your propensity to return to your formal life of sexual immorality or drug or alcohol addiction. You will be released from this temptation and battle immediately. Your seemingly perpetual battle for the truth of God’s word and His gospel will be over. No more maligning by friend or foe. No more rejection by the brethren who thought you were “over the top.” No more loneliness. You will be with all the great saints of all the ages, others who battled similarly, who also have entered their eternal rest. And your long, faithful service to your special needs child is completed. You have made provision for him, and God will care for him. You will then be at rest. No sorrow, no fear, no apprehension, no anxiety. Perfect peace forever.
Comfort yourself with these precious truths, dear believer. These magnificent gifts await you. If, however, you are not yet a Christian, you must soberly understand that none of these things are awaiting you. Instead you should expect a certain, terrifying judgment in hell where the fire is never quenched and the worm never dies. Your only hope, my friend, is to flee from the certain, terrifying judgment of God which hangs over your head this very moment and run in repentance and faith to Jesus, the great lover of your soul. He will save you if you humble yourself before Him and cry out to Him for mercy. Wait no longer. Come to Him now. Ask Him this very moment to save you.
1. Archived at <www.pefministry.org> July 13, 2017, “What Exactly Happens to the Christian at Death?”