A few months back, I gave my testimony of being diagnosed with terminal cancer almost 40 years ago, then being healed miraculously after years of unsuccessful chemotherapy. Afterward, people came up to me praising God for his healing me and saying things like, “Isn’t God good?”
Yes, God is good. And he was and still is, good to me specifically. But how about those Christians who were not healed and died? Dead men don’t give testimonies!
Non-Christians often ask me about why we say God is good, when obviously he does not rescue or heal everyone – not even all Christians. It’s a variation of the old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” And if they could come back from the dead, would they characterize God as good, or uncaring and even evil?
Bad things do happen to the non-Christian dead. There’s no good way to spin it. When non-Christians die, they are separated from God and his goodness forever. Whether you believe in literal burning hell for everybody, or a hell that has regions of horrible suffering for truly horrible people, and regions for those how have never heard, or were kind, or moral, all non-Christians end up having bad things happen to them. (For more on what I believe the Bible teaches on hell, you may want to read this blog. http://bit.ly/2V5t8v6)
Believers who die It’s important to make the distinction between dying and death itself. There are Christians who suffer terribly before dying, whether it’s from a horrible disease, or accident, or torture. Truly, some unbelievably bad things happen prior to death, even to good people. Why God allows that is still a mystery to me, but he does.
But upon the death, does something bad actually happen to a true Christian? It is true that for the family of a dead Christian, they may be crushed, sad, lonely and in that sense something very “bad” has happened to them. But not to their loved one, now with Jesus. If you don’t believe that, you don’t believe the Bible.
Live men do give testimonies We have at least three testimonies in the Bible of actual people who experienced life after death and lived to tell about it.
The rich man and Lazarus In this story, Jesus himself is giving testimony about three actual people who died and what they experienced about sheol and heaven. (Luke 16:19-31) Most people think that story is a parable, which isn’t a true story, but teaches us a truth. However, if it is, this is the only “parable” that uses actual names of people in it. Therefore, most theologians believe Jesus is telling us about a real conversation.
Paul’s vision In 2 Corinthians 12:14, Paul tells us he was either taken to heaven, or given a vision of heaven. (Read his account.)
The book of Revelation While on the island of Patmos, John was given a revelation about heaven present and heaven and earth in the future.
There are just too many other descriptions the Holy Spirit has given us in scriptures to reference here. Christians should have no ambiguity about what awaits believers and non-believers after death.
I don’t want to die! Scripture is so clear what Jesus has promised for those who believe and yet some Christians are scared to death to die! I can almost imagine God the Father turning to Jesus and asking him, “What’s wrong with these people? Did you not make it clear to them what we have prepared for them after death?”
I’ve told my children and grandchildren, that someday they are going to get “the call.” Papa is dead. “It’s okay to be sad,” I tell them. (I’d be disappointed if they weren’t!) “But please do not be angry with God. Nothing bad has happened to me. I am happier than I’ve ever been and if you too trust Jesus for your salvation, in a few years we’ll be together again.”
I started out this blog by saying “dead men don’t give testimonies.” So it’s up to the living to give testimony by faith to what awaits the dead. That means to tell those who are still spiritually lost what awaits them and remind born-again people, and in particular our own families, that they have nothing to fear for themselves or for you. Death ought to hold no terror for them. If it does, either they don’t trust the words of Jesus, or perhaps they’re not truly born-again.
“However, as it is written: What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived—the things God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
How following Jesus works in real life.
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