Mark 9-10, Psalm 100
One of the more frequent questions that I hear is: "When we get to heaven will we and how will we recognize our loved ones who have gone before us?" Though the importance of this question is obvious, the more important question which most don't really want to entertain is: "Where is my loved one, in heaven or hell?" The mere thought of our loved one being in Hades now in eternal torment is more than any of us can bear. The truth is, as I get older, the number of loved ones who have died are ever increasing. The honest answer personally is that for many of them, especially my parents, though I hope they are in heaven I honestly don't know if either one made an obvious commitment to Christ that I'm aware of. My brother, on the other hand, I had the privilege of leading to Christ on his last lucid day as the cancer he had was metastasizing to the brain. We will all face these issues and it's time we address the question seriously while there is still time.
We read in Mark 9:2-5, "Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"." Notice that Peter recognized both Moses and Elijah despite no introductions, no name tags, no old photos or paintings. God supernaturally let them know who they were. These two men represent the law and the prophets, and as significant as both of these are, notice in 9:8, after God speaks from heaven, the only One left is Jesus, "Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves." Those of us who have accepted Christ and are saved and heaven-bound when we arrive in heaven, as important as others are to us now, it will not be because of them, or the law, or the prophets, but by Jesus, and Him alone. Like the apostles here, that's who our eyes will be glued to.
In the true story of Lazarus and the Rich Man (not a Parable) in Luke 16:19-31, when the Rich Man finds himself in terrible agony in Hades, he begs Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers, so they do not share his fate. The Rich Man realized the reality of eternity when it was too late for himself. This goes back to the earlier questions, yes, we will indeed recognize our loved ones in heaven, but the more important question is will they be there. There is nothing we can do about those who have already passed on to eternity, as we read in Hebrews 9:27, "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment." We can't pray them out of the wrong place, they are in either one place or the other, there are only two options. There is no middle choice of a "not so bad" place. May we also take seriously the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14, those on the way to hell are much more numerous than those in the way to heaven, contrary to popular teaching. So what are we going to do about it. We can't make anyone or drag them into heaven. Just like it was our free choice and our free will, so it is theirs. For many of our loved ones we were not yet believers ourselves and were not capable of doing anything more. But if you are reading this and are a believer, are you being a hound for heaven? Are we fulfilling the commission given to each and every Christian in Matthew 28:18-20, to make disciples for Him. We can continue to procrastinate, or delegate the responsibility to someone else, but in the end we will all have to look in the mirror and ask ourselves after one's death, "Were we truly a friend or loved one who did all we can do to share the saving message of the gospel with them?" Today is a new day, let's take a moment to pray about someone who needs to hear that message so that we can address the more important question of, "where will our loved ones be going?"
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: