I grew up in a small family. My dad worked as a pastor, my mother a stay at home mom and my brother five years my elder. That was it till I was 16 and my family decided to adopt my sisters from Liberia.
My family is but my brother was the one who made it a Josh was an amazing gypsy jazz guitar player and when he wasn’t playing music, he was fixing other people’s instruments. That’s what he did for a living, fix stringed instruments. Josh and I never really got along that great. Once we became adults we didn’t fight, we just never really became too close. And on May 29th Josh passed away in the early morning hours. He was in a Walmart parking lot when his heart gave out. He was 11 days shy of his 43rd birthday.
My brother was the first person to die that I was closely connected to. I’ve had grandparents that passed, but I was ready for them to go and although it made an impact on me, it was nothing like my brother passing.
Josh had made some poor choices towards the end of his life that pulled us apart. I decided not to
Why do I tell you all this? The death of a family member or friend can bring a lot of thoughts into our minds. I will be honest and say that my mind went to some dark places. I began to think of the “what ifs.”
What if there is no heaven or hell? What if this life is it? What if there is an afterlife but I’ve screwed up so much in my life God won’t include me in the resurrection? What if I’m not a good enough person? What if my sin is too great and I’m not one of the chosen? What if God hates me?
Have you ever dealt with these questions? Do you still deal with these questions? One of the things I realized is that I was not simply asking questions, but I was under attack from the enemy. Doubting the promise of our Lord and Savior is one of the key battle tactics of the enemy. A small seed of doubt creeps into our minds and soon I have gone from the grief of losing a loved one to “what if God hates me?”
When we begin to play the “what if” game we need to go back to our foundation, the Bible.
Why go to the Bible?
The existence of conscious, sentient beings demands a creator. The existence of particles, or of life in general, is outside the realm of chance or accident. In a sentence, “I think, therefore, God is.”
When I look at nature and in general, I assume that there is a point to all this. Some may contend that we are put here as a large experiment to see what happens, I, however, believe there is a purpose to history and to the existence of man. What then is the point? Asking this question brings me to my base presupposition. I believe that God has communicated with mankind in order to show us the point of life. To explain and tell us why we are here and how to live to fulfill the purpose we were created for. If I am correct and the God that created mankind has communicated with us, how has He done this? My answer is through the Bible. My starting point in all things is that God has communicated with mankind and that this has been accomplished through the 66 books we know as the Word of God.
Every time I begin to doubt the Bible or wonder how I know what is true I go back down this path of thought. This may not be how others see it, but I always come to the same conclusion that there must be a God and therefore the Bible must be true.
So back to the “what if” game.
What if there is no afterlife?
I have written on this before. Humans were made to glorify God (. 12:13, Is. 43:7). Job and this is how we will find joy in this life. [note]For more on this read my post, God’s Purpose for Your Life[/note] Yet beyond this, we know there is an afterlife because the Bible has said there is:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he , yet shall he live, (John 11.25 ESV)
For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6.40 ESV)
and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14.14 ESV)
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4.16–18 ESV)
What if This Life is It?
I think we have already seen the answer to this. Our life here should not be dictated on whether there is an afterlife but rather should be governed by the fact that we are here to serve the Almighty God. John Piper did a sermon on how the Lord brought him to be a pastor. In it, he talks about the idea of happiness. The sermon titled “How God Made Me Happy in Him” is well worth the 28 minutes. Piper quotes from C.S. Lewis who said:
The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ, and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
In other words, we think that sin and the trappings of this world will bring happiness, but this is only because we are too easily pleased. We should want more happiness! This happiness can only be found in serving the Lord.
What if there is an afterlife but I’ve screwed up so much in my life God won’t include me in the resurrection? What if I’m not a good enough person? What if my sin is too great and I’m not one of the chosen?
The truth is, you and I… We have screwed our life up, we aren’t good enough, we have sinned too much, and we are worthy of eternal damnation. But if you have given your life to Christ, God is not looking at your sin. He is not looking at your failure. He is not looking at how bad you are. He is looking at how perfect Christ is. This is the good news of the Gospel, that we are sinful creatures that have spit in the face of the living God, but through the perfect death, resurrection, and ascension of the one we call “Lord” we are able to stand in the presence of the Almighty God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5.21 ESV)
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5.24 ESV)
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Romans 10.9–10 ESV)
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2.1–9 ESV)
If you continue to ask yourself “what if” or if you continue to doubt, go back to the Word of God. The living Eternal Savior that has created all things has promised that we have been made right, not through our own doing, but through the work of the Great King. We know we are children of God because the Bible says we are. We know we have right standing through Christ because the Bible says we do. Do not let the enemy take hold of your thoughts and plant doubt in your mind. Believe in the truth of the Word. You are a child of God.
Post image by Jakub Kriz