By Martin Duffield, St John’s Annerley Presbyterian Church
For some, like a famous Australian media magnate, a few minutes of clinical 'death,' convinces them that there is no afterlife. Others who have been through unearthly 'near death' experiences disagree. But neither such experiences conclusively prove the reality of life after death.
The final authority on this subject is God Himself and in particular the Lord Jesus Christ, who made authoritative and verifiable claims about an afterlife when He was here on earth.
Jesus spoke about Heaven very plainly before He died, at the famous Last Supper in this way; "In My Father's house are many mansions. I go now to prepare a place for you. If it were not so, I would have told you." And when Jesus was dying, He promised Heaven to a remorseful criminal dying near Him, "Truly I say to you, this day you will be with Me in Paradise".
What Jesus said was confirmed by what He did. On the following Sunday (Easter Sunday), Jesus Christ rose from the dead. He spent the next six weeks preparing His followers (more than 500 of them) for their task of telling the world that heaven was now accessible through Him. From His experience, which so many others saw, He was able to confirm His promise to them that, "Because I live, you will live also."
Jesus spent much of His ministry upon earth telling men and women how to get to Heaven. And, when people asked Him questions like, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" His answer was to point to Himself. Before raising His dead friend Lazarus from the grave He said, "He who believes in Me will live, even if he dies".
But how is He the key to Heaven? By breaking God's Laws (The Ten Commandments) all humans actually render themselves unfit for heaven. Like God's nature, heaven is a realm of pure goodness and perfection and humans are not that, as guilt in our lives often reveals. However, Jesus Christ was willing to come and pay the penalty for that disobedience to God in His death upon the Cross. It is only when you truly accept what He has done for you to bring you back to God, that you can be truly forgiven and made fit for Heaven. Then you will not only know about Heaven, but you can live and die confidently expecting to enter it.
The Word of God, the Bible, says "it has now been revealed through the appearing of...a Saviour, Jesus Christ, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel" (2 Timothy chapter 1, verse 10). •