Many of us were shocked this week to learn of the passing of Robin Williams. Millions and millions of people mourned his death. And yet, on the other hand, I preached the funeral of a dear Saint of God this week, and probably less than 100 people knew about her passing.
Two people, from two walks of life, with two separate eternities. Robin Williams, as far as we know, was not a Christian. When he drew his last breath, if he was not born again, he went out into an eternity in hell.
The Saint of God whose funeral I preached, when she drew her last breath, went out into an eternity in Heaven. How do I know that? The Bible is very clear about what happens to someone’s soul once a person dies. Some believe there is a place called Purgatory and one spends some time there before going to their eternal abode. I say, please show me a biblical example of where that took place. Even during Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus told the thief, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” Paul is perfectly clear when he says, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” (2. Corinthians 5:6-8) Jesus never taught there was such a place called Purgatory. In fact, in John 14, He says, “In My Father’s house are many mansions, I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, you may be also.”
If a person has made the decision to accept God’s free gift of salvation and receive Jesus as their Savior, they go straight to Heaven. They do not pay $200, they do not go to Purgatory, they go straight to Heaven. On the other hand, if a person refuses to accept God’s free gift of salvation and they refuse to accept Jesus as their Savior, they go straight to hell. I bet some of you are saying, “Pastor Thad, you are really being blunt this week. You are treating Robin Williams death lightly and suggesting that he is in hell right now.”
While I do not treat anyone’s death lightly, I am suggesting to you that if you are not ready when you die, you will not see the Kingdom of Heaven, much less enter into it. (see: John 3;1-7) I am one who doesn’t pull punches with anyone. I could care less about someone’s titles. I don’t care if you are the “Right Reverend Doctor” or a priest or a pope or a pastor of 10,000 people. If you do not believe the Word of God, and if you do not preach the Word of God, and if you do not rightly divide the Word of God, then you are leading people straight to an eternity in a devil’s hell.
Take any Bible you want to take and read: John 3:16, Romans 3:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 6:23, Romans 10:9-10, Romans 10:13, I. John 5:13 and if you can tell me a person doesn’t have to be born again in order to spend their eternity in Heaven, I will publicly apologize for this week’s article.
Way too many people are trusting spiritual leaders of their church, pastors, deacons, parents and others who do not understand what the Bible has to say about eternal life. You can believe what you want, but if it isn’t right when you die, you will not enter into Heaven. Why do you think Jesus said to some, “Depart from me, you workers of iniquity, I never knew you.” To which they replied how good they had been and how much work they had done through the church, etc. (see: Matthew 7:33) And today, those people are spending their eternity in hell. Why? Because good people don’t go to Heaven, born again people go to Heaven. Period.
Believe what you want. And I will believe what the Bible says. And like that dear Saint of God, when I die, I will hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Which words will you hear?
And that is Something To Think About for this week.
Pastor Thad Gifford is the founding and lead pastor of the Crossroads Community Church, 62 E. Second St., London. He can be reached at (740) 852-7800, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.