Are You Afraid of Death?

I got a call recently from one of my dearest friends, telling me she has an aggressive and terminal cancer. It was amazing how calm and peaceful she was. In fact, she’s actually excited to die so she can finally be with her Savior Jesus. She teased me that she will get to be with Him before I do. My friend Linda and I are very similar in that we both love Jesus with all our hearts and souls. Our entire purpose in life is to praise our Savior and serve Him by bringing as many people to heaven with us as possible. Linda has worked for several years at a nursing home where her love for Jesus has shown brightly through her many acts of love. Many people, including some of her patients, have heard from her the wonderful message of free and full forgiveness through Jesus.

The only concern Linda has is for her daughter, whom she asked me to watch over for her after she dies. Speaking with her and hearing her concern for her daughter reminded me of a story found in Luke chapter sixteen. Here Jesus tells about a man who, like my friend Linda, was also concerned about the eternal destination of family members. The main difference between my friend Linda and the man in Jesus’ story is that this man did not believe in Jesus. He had died in his sins and was suffering the consequence of eternal torment in hell.

From hell he could actually see into heaven where he saw the beggar Lazarus who used to sit at his gates begging for crumbs from his table. He saw that while he was being tormented in hell; Lazarus was being comforted by the Prophet Abraham. In misery, he asked Abraham: “send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue: for I am tormented in this flame”. Abraham told him that what he asked was impossible! His reason was because: “between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which could pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

These words of God are in complete disagreement with LDS teachings! Mormon prophets claim that after death all people go to a temporary place, either spirit prison or spirit paradise. Those who were not righteous will be given more time to repent and meet God’s demands for perfection. These false prophets testify that righteous Mormons who have gone to paradise will travel to spirit prison to preach the LDS gospel to the unrighteous. They claim that once these wicked people have repented and been baptized in proxy by someone on earth, they will be allowed into paradise.

In defining hell, they claim:
First, it is another name for spirit prison, a place in the postmortal spirit world for those who have “died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets” (D&C 138:32). This is a temporary state in which spirits will be taught the gospel and have the opportunity to repent and accept ordinances of salvation that are performed for them in temples (see D & C 138:30–35)” (True to the Faith, page 81).

But from Jesus’ story we read the important truth that at the moment of death, your fate is sealed! Your “time of grace” ends. You don’t have a second chance to come to faith; or a longer period of time to meet God’s demands for righteousness. The Holy Spirit revealed in scripture that: “When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth” (Proverbs 11:7). The moment we die our spirits come into the very presence of God: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). No unclean person can dwell in the presence of God (Ephesians 5:5).

Talking about death and what happens to those who aren’t worthy to dwell in God’s presence is not easy, but it is necessary. My friend Linda is not the only one who will die soon. I warn you that you also have a terminal cancer. That cancer is sin. God is Merciful, but He is also Just. While He offers His mercy to all people, He extends His mercy ONLY to those who believe His Son’s blood covers their every sin. This Mercy is a full pardon, complete forgiveness, the bestowal of the perfect righteousness of His Son. And this Mercy is only offered to you during your time on earth. All who reject the Mercy God offers them through His Son will spend eternity in Hell with Satan.

You never know what day you will die, or when someone you love will die. I beg you to turn to these truths found in the Bible before it is too late. The man in hell was concerned for his brothers and asked Abraham to send Lazarus to warn them “that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment“. The Prophet Abraham’s reply shows how important scripture study is; if you don’t believe God’s Words found in the Bible, you will not “be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:31).

If you are reading this you are alive and your hope has not yet perished! Trust that all your sins have been washed clean by the blood of Jesus! (Revelation 1:5) If you believe Jesus is the Christ that has removed your sin, you will no longer be in your sins (John 8:24). All who have faith in Christ’s Atonement for sins “have been perfected forever” (Hebrews 10:10-14).

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After “all” he could do, it wasn’t very much

Back in high school I served on the Seminary Council and one of my assignments was to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting. I decided to talk about Christ’s Atonement, specifically what we had to do to receive the “conditional gifts” associated with it. You have to understand a little about my personality before I explain what I did to the Bishop during my talk. I grew up with three brothers and a Dad who incessantly teased me. Just to survive, I learned how to stand up for myself, but usually in a joking manner.

In giving my talk, I wanted to teach about the Atonement, but the illustration I used was also done in a way meant to tease the Bishop. For my talk I brought some props from home. On the podium I set a large scale like the one you see for the “Scales of Justice”. On one side I piled about thirty large onions. The other side was empty. I set this up as an attention getter before I started talking. Then, I proceeded to talk about Christ’s Atonement. I spoke about our unconditional gift of bodily resurrection and what a blessing that was. Then I moved on to what we had to do to receive Heavenly Father’s conditional “gifts. Next I brought up Nephi’s passage testifying that we are saved only “after” all we can do.

This is the moment I called the Bishop to the stand. Without any prior warning, I told him he had to eat ALL the onions sitting on the Scales of Justice. Obviously, he couldn’t do it. Then I moved three onions to the other side and asked the Bishop if he could eat that many? Once again, the answer was no. In the end, the Bishop was only able to eat one small bite out of an onion! I remember making the comment that “all” that the Bishop could do wasn’t very much! I loved how my illustration generated lots of laughter from the Ward members. But, despite the humor involved, I was making a very important point. If we want to balance the Scales of Justice we must first do all we can. And then, Jesus’ Atonement will cover the rest.

Thinking back to this Sacrament Meeting talk given over thirty years ago I see where I was wrong! Using the illustration of eating all the onions, taking even one bite means you believe Christ’s work was insufficient to pay your entire debt! You are either saved because all of your works are perfect, or because you have a Savior who was perfect for you. There isn’t a “third” way that combines your works with Christ’s works to balance the Scales of Justice. If you take even one bite this means you would have to eat the entire basket of onions. No one will be saved by adding their own imperfect works to their faith. All my Bishop could do was eat one bite of an onion. Similarly, all you can do, isn’t enough! You can only be saved by faith alone or by being one hundred percent perfect your entire life (as Jesus was)!

I guess in one way, I do believe in faith and works. My faith, and Christ’s works. I have faith that Christ’s works were sufficient to pay my entire debt! In thankfulness, I devote my entire life to “him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen”!