CAMPBELLTON, New Brunswick, May 2, 2023 – The state of your soul at the instant of your death determines your eternity, determines where you’ll spend your eternity, and there are only two places you can go: Heaven or not Heaven.
I don’t know about you, but that is a very sobering thought to me.
I remember hearing it first from a professor years ago, when I was an atheist. I recall very little about my time at university, but I remember my professor saying that the state of your soul at the instant of your death determines your eternity. In hindsight, it was a strange thing for an atheist to tuck away in her mind for safekeeping. I never thought about death in those days, other than for romanticizing suicide. Years later, a few months before I was reborn, I had a revelation about pain and death, that pain doesn’t end at death; that death doesn’t end the pain, it just keeps on going. After that revelation, I never thought about committing suicide again.
We don’t know when our death will come, unless God chooses to reveal it to us. I think that’s a good thing, if God does that for us (you can ask him to do it), because then we can take care of any loose ends that need to be taken care of. We can clean out the dust of any lingering grudges or hurts that might have accumulated in the nooks and crannies of our heart. Lingering grudges have no place in Heaven. We can make our peace, as they say, if God lets us know that our time is near. We can prepare to meet our Maker.
If, instead, death comes when we least expect it, without prior warning, that means we’d better be prepared to go at any time. That means we need to clean out any lingering grudges or hurts as soon as they come to mind, not put them off until later. We may not have later to deal with them.
There are many Christians who don’t believe that the state of your soul at death determines your eternity. They instead believe that Jesus did the work for them and all they have to do is state their belief in Jesus and claim his blood as a cover for their sins. They plan to stand before God on Judgement Day and plead the blood of Jesus over them. Certainly, Jesus did the hard slogging of paying the sin debt that we’d carried since Adam, but we still need to pull our own spiritual weight in the Kingdom. None of us gets a free ride.
So you’ve died and you’re standing before God pleading the blood of Jesus, and God asks you about your hard heart and all the grudges you carried around with you for years. And you know, you can’t lie to God at the Judgement. You also can’t change the state of your soul at the Judgement. There are no last-minute reprieves at that point. There’s just the books being opened and read, and your name indelibly written in either one or the other. You’re either a sheep or a goat. You’re either in the Book of Life or you’re not. You either know God as your Dad or you don’t. You’re either reborn or you’re not. There’s just the one or the other at Judgement, and no-one with any hardness of heart whatsoever gets into Heaven, no matter how much they plead the blood of Jesus.
That is a spiritual fact. You may not believe it, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Scripture tells us all the things that will keep us out of Heaven, and a hard heart is at the top of the list. But most self-professing Christians I know have the hardest of hearts, holding grudges against close relatives or former friends or colleagues, or former priests or ministers, or former spouses. Did you know that even holding grudges against authority figures will harden your heart? Paul says we should strive to live at peace with everyone, and Jesus says to love our enemies. That’s the stuff that softens your heart to a nice putty-like state, which is the kind of consistency that God’s looking for in a heart and the kind that will get you into Heaven.
We all have old hurts that the devil likes to tempt us with every now and then. The only way to deal with those old hurts when they pop up is to say what Jesus said on the cross: “Forgive them, Father, they don’t know what they’re doing.” I find it works every time. As soon as I say it (and God knows exactly who I mean when I say it to him), the hurt melts away and all that’s left in my newly soft-as-putty heart is love and compassion for the person or persons who hurt me. It works every time, that phrase. Every single time.
I don’t know what you’re nursing in your heart right now or what you think is unforgiveable on the part of someone who hurt you, but please consider what you’ve read here today. No hardness of heart gets into Heaven. No grudges, no matter how justified you think they may be, will be allowed in the hearts of those who get to go Home. The blood of Jesus will not cover a hard heart in someone who’s been warned to repent (this is your warning) and chose not to.
Again, I don’t know what’s in your heart and who it might be hardened against, but I do know from personal experience that the devil will try to harden your heart at every chance he gets, because he knows that’s one of the main stumbling blocks for people on the Way, and he knows that hard hearts do not make it Home.
Please search your heart right now, and if there’s any hardness in it, remember what Jesus said on the cross and say it yourself over that person or persons. Just say: “Forgive them, Father, they don’t know what they’re doing.” Say it as many times as you have to, night or day, every time the devil tries to tempt you back into hardness of heart. God will know who you mean when you say it, and then he’ll soften your heart.
The owner of a hard heart will not get into Heaven, and the state of your soul (which is the state of your heart) at the instant of your death determines where you spend eternity.