Greg Laurie is the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., one of the largest churches in America. He is also the featured speaker for Harvest Crusades, large-scale evangelistic outreaches that have been attended by more than 4 million people around the world since 1990. Greg is heard internationally on the daily radio broadcast, "A New Beginning." To learn more about Greg Laurie go to www.greglaurie.com.More ↓Less ↑
Have you ever had one of those seemingly perfect moments in life when everything just came together? You thought to yourself, I always want it to be this way. But of course it isn’t.
Or maybe you have certain goals in your life and think that once you reach them, you will certainly be completely fulfilled. Maybe you have even reached some of those goals. Maybe you have reached many of them – or perhaps all of them – but still there is something missing.
Then again, maybe you have thought, When I meet the right person, that is going to solve everything. But now that you have met the person – and maybe have gotten married – something is still missing. Why is that? Because from the moment you were born, you have been on a quest. You have been searching for something more.
You were uniquely created in the image of God, and there is a sense inside that life should have some kind of meaning and purpose beyond mere existence. Maybe you have wondered if you are the only person who feels that way. You aren’t. Because deep down inside, we all are searching.
No matter how successful or beautiful or wealthy, everyone is searching. Madonna made this statement a while back: “I think a few years ago I wasn’t sure what I was on this earth for. I think I was mostly concerned with getting things for myself. More clothes, more money, more popularity and more boyfriends. I wasn’t really thinking; I was just doing. Then I woke up and said, ‘What am I on this earth for?’”
Sooner or later we begin to ask the big questions: What is the meaning of life? Why am I here on this earth? Why do I exist? What should my purpose in life be? We all have in us a desire to achieve something, to make something of our lives. We all want our lives to count for something bigger and better than ourselves.
That desire for significance is not a bad thing. Here is what the Bible says on the subject: “God ‘will give to each person according to what he has done.’ To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger” (Romans 2:6–8 NIV).
It is interesting that in these verses the apostle Paul is speaking approvingly of those who seek glory, honor and immortality. God wired us that way. There is deep within our souls a yearning to rise above the commonplace, the ordinary. We want immortality.
Some people find that immortality, so to speak, through fame. Then there are some who are famous just for being famous. Others find a type of immortality through being infamous. Others try to find immortality through prolonging their lives.
Immortality is not something we achieve, however. This may come as a surprise, but it is something we already have. Every one of us will live forever. The issue is where we will live forever. The Bible has a lot to say about this topic. According to the Scripture, we will never die – in a spiritual sense. Our bodies will die, but our souls – the real you, the real me – will live on forever. And this is what we want to think about. What happens beyond the grave?
If you are a Christian, a person who has put his or her faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, the Bible promises that when you die, you will go to heaven. The moment you take your last breath on earth, you will take your first breath in heaven. That is God’s promise. When Christians lose a loved one who is also a Christian, they feel sorrow like anyone else would. But they have the assurance they will see that loved one again. The apostle Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21 NIV).
But what about the unbeliever? What about the one who says no to Jesus Christ? What happens when they die? They, too, are immortal. They, too, live forever. But where? We find the answer in Revelation 20:13–15: “The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Everyone will have to face death. And it won’t matter whether you are a millionaire or a billionaire or a rock star or a well-known politician or a president or a king or a queen or a movie star. Those things won’t matter on the other side. Death is the great equalizer, and we all will stand before God. Anyone who has been exposed to the truth of God’s laws will be held responsible. And knowledge brings responsibility.
God owes us no explanations. And the main issue will come down to this: What did you do with Jesus Christ? Because the Bible says of Jesus, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 NIV). Only Jesus was fully God and fully man. C.S. Lewis said, “The Son of God became a man that men might become sons of God.”
And that is why His death was necessary. Every one of us has sinned, but Jesus died in our place. He paid a debt he did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay. God did not create hell for people; it was created for the devil and his angels. In fact, God took radical measures to keep us out of hell. But because he is just and holy, the sin issue had to be settled. God wants you in heaven. But if you end up separated from him for eternity, you will have no one to blame on that final day but yourself – because you will not have been sent there by God as much as you will have sent yourself there by ignoring his offer of salvation.