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IT IS ONE OF TWO PLACES
Victor M. Eskew
Death is certain. Every man, woman, and child that has ever lived has died. All that are living now will eventually die. Some want us to believe that death is the end. They believe that one just ceases to exist at death. This, however, is not the case. The wise Solomon said: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Man is different than the animals. Man possesses a soul that will not cease to exist at death. “…the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”
Our ultimate destination will be one of two places. Both places are abodes prepared by God. One He prepared for the righteous dead. Jesus told His disciples: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). The other He prepared initially for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41), but it is also for all those who die in a lost condition.
The contrast between these two destinations is found several times in God’s Word. In Matthew 25 we read an account known as “The Parable of the Talents.” A master distributes his goods between three servants before taking his journey. When he returns, all of them must give an account of their stewardship. The five talent man and the two talent man doubled their talents while the lord was away. The lord speaks almost identical words to them. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matt. 25:21, 23). The one talent man hid his talent while the master was away. When he stood before his lord, he gave the talent back to him. The end of this man is found in Matthew 25:30. “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Two enter into “the joy of the lord.” One is cast into “outer darkness.”
In the same chapter, Jesus tells another parable about judgment. It involves the separation of the sheep from the goats when the Son of man comes in His glory to judge all the nations (Matt. 25:31-33). Those on the right hand are approved because of their good service. “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34). Those on the left hand, hear much different words because of their lack of service. “Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). The sheep “inherit the kingdom.” The goats depart “into everlasting fire.” In the very last verse of Matthew 25, Jesus summarized the two ends. “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (v. 46). Very simply, the two destinations are either “everlasting punishment” or “life eternal.”
In John 5:28-29, Jesus proclaimed the universal resurrection of the dead. Yes, all will come forth from the grave, but the end of those raised will be one of two places. Listen to Jesus’ words: “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” Again, we find there are only two ends. The resurrected dead will either experience life or condemnation.
Paul sets forth the idea of man’s entering into one of two places in Romans 2:5-11. In verse 5, he assures us that there will come the day of the righteous judgment of God. Verses 7 and 10 tell of one end of the judgment and describe those who will experience it. “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life…But glory, honour, and peace to every man that worketh good; to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.” Verses 8 and 9 reveal a second outcome and describe those who will experience it. “But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil; of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile.” One group will be honored in the Last Day. Another group will face indignation, wrath, tribulation, and anguish on the Last Day.
These are a few texts that plainly teach us that man will depart to one of two places following the Day of Judgment. No one will go to another place. All will go to one of these two places. All should be asking themselves: “If I were to stand in judgment today, which one of these places would be my eternal destination?” Would you be accepted into the Lord’s joy? Or, would you be cast out? Would you inherit the kingdom? Or, would you enter into everlasting fire? Would you experience the resurrection of life? Or, would you experience the resurrection of condemnation? Would you be honored? Or, would you suffer tribulation and wrath? These are questions that you need to honestly answer. Once you are there, you will not be able to change your place of residence.
Some might be wondering: “How do I escape the horrors of hell and make my residence in the eternal kingdom of God? The answer to this question lies in the pages of the New Testament of Jesus Christ. Romans 8:1-2 tells us: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Being “in Christ” and walking “after the Spirit” are the keys. One gets into Christ by being baptized into him after believing in Jesus as the Son of God, repenting of sins, and confessing the name of Christ (Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3;26-27; John 8:32, Luke 13:3, 5; Matt. 10:32-33). Walking “after the Spirit” means that one walks in harmony with the dictates of the Spirit set forth in the Word of God. Very simply, a person lives faithfully as God’s servant unto death (Rev. 2:10).
We ask once again: “If you were to stand in judgment today, which one of these places would be your eternal destination?” Don’t wait until it is too late. Make your move to be saved today. “(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)” (II Cor. 6:2).