Things Are True
by Pastor Dan Coburn
We put a great deal of stock in what somebody says with their “last Breath”. Law enforcement personnel have been known to hover over a dying criminal hoping to get the “death-bed confession”. At a sentencing or even an execution, one will probably be given the opportunity to say some final words.
Jesus spoke seven times from the cross. What would you expect to hear from the King of the Universe? From the Savior of the World? From the man? He wasn’t one for idle chat you know, everything He said was for our benefit, and it will take an eternity to fully comprehend the depths of His teachings.
We, at Emmanuel Baptist Church are in a series leading up to Easter Sunday, entitled “Any Last Words?” And we will be exploring the meaning behind the last words of Emmanuel — (God with us).
In Luke 23:39-45, Jesus tells a repentant thief: “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise”. What? How can this be? Jesus wasn’t going to be with the Father for some forty more days? He wasn’t going to be resurrected for three – (thirty + hours), and I thought no one could precede Jesus into heaven cause He had to be the first fruits of everything, including the resurrection; - 1st Cor. 15: 20-23.
Where is paradise? Does it still exist? Is it the same as Heaven? What about Hell? Does it exist? Over half of the professing Christians in this country say it doesn’t, yet the Bible mentions Hell seven times for every time it mentions Heaven.
The clearest picture we have from scripture which addresses most of these questions is found in Luke chapter 16, vs 19 and following. It is a familiar story to most, but I submit to you, that it isn’t a story at all. Jesus would often use parables to demonstrate things to His disciples, and therefor us. And He would identify them as such. But notice here, he says this: “There was a certain rich man, ----- and a certain beggar named Lazarus”.
Where was this rich man anyway? Well in the Hebrew it is Sheol, in the Greek Hades, but the point is you don’t want to go. A worse and different place is Gehenna, and with one exception, Jesus only used this word. It is associated with fire, punishment, torment, the undying worm, gnashing of teeth, and worst of all, a Hopeless Eternity Without God. It can’t be defined, cause it is Psychologically Impossible to Comprehend.
Take a deep breath, and do this. Instead of focusing on how terrible Hell is, focus on the extraordinary lengths our Savior went to , to offer you a way out.
I’d like to leave you with a quote from Augustine. “The perpetual death of the damned will go on without end and will be their common lot, regardless of what people prompted by human sentiments may conjure up”.