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HEBREWS 9:27,28

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
March 16, 1997

All of us have been to one too many funerals. We have been there as too many family members and friends have been laid to rest. It is an uncomfortable and difficult time. The subject of death makes us feel uncomfortable.

Often, while I’m leading a funeral - and talking with the family and friends of the deceased - I feel like its the first time anyone has ever really considered death. They have vague hopes about Heaven and are praying that, in whatever words I say, I will confirm these hopes.

We should talk about death. Because how we face death is as important as how we face life. The Bible tells us that the way we live now will effect our eternal destiny - where we will spend our life after death.

I would like to invite you to turn to Hebrews 9:27,28 and we will come there in a minute.

A few years ago I was driving up I-5 from Los Angeles. It was late at night - very dark - pitch black - and not too many people on the road - one of those sections where there’s a lot of empty space. Way in the distance I could see lights - a farm house - maybe a gas station.

Suddenly, in the distance there was a burst of bright white light - and then blackness. About ten minutes later traffic slowed to a crawl. From what I could see, on the side of the road there had been a fire - there were a lot of emergency vehicles - cars pulled to the side of the road - the flashing of emergency lights - lots of people standing around - and something very interesting - we were driving over downed power lines - stretched across the road.

The next day I was reading the paper and I found out what had happened. A pilot and friend were flying north in their Cessna. Low on fuel - they were in contact by radio with a trucker below. The trucker was helping to guide them to the airport a few miles ahead. Apparently they didn’t see the high voltage power lines - and they flew right into these suspended lines - the plane exploded and they were killed.

Life is short - and we never know when we will enter eternity.

One of the great questions in life is, “What happens next?” “What happens after I die?” And none of us really knows the answer to that question. Death is one of the great mysteries of life.

A few years back a movie came out called “Flatliners”. The plot involved some medical students who had worked out a procedure to literally kill someone - make them brain dead - and then bring them back to life. Each “Flatliner” or student would remain dead for no more than 4 minutes. Once revived they would share their experiences.

What comes next? Does eternity relate to our lives now? Fortunately, the Bible is not silent about what comes next - God tells us what to expect and how to prepare.

Hebrews 9:27,28: “And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.”

The Bible tells us of two basic realities after death: 1) Judgment, and 2) the result of our being judged - either eternity in Heaven with God or eternity in Hell apart from God.


It is appointed - it is a fixed certainty - men will die - once - and after that death comes judgment. There is no cycle of reincarnation - no purgatory - no question mark hanging over someone’s life as to where they will spend eternity. There is a final - complete - end to life on earth after which we will give account to God as to how we lived our lives.

In Revelation 20 there is a description of what this judgment will be like.

All of mankind will come before the Judgment Throne of Jesus Christ - before His power and holiness - there will be no escape from judgment. All of us will be there - the rulers and the peasants - the rich and the poor - from wherever we have been buried or from wherever we have been living - we will all be there.

And books are opened - these books are the record of everything that we have done - our deeds.

Deeds reveal what the heart is like. They reveal belief - we act according to the belief in our hearts. Its all preserved in God’s great library. The whole record of every life is made known before all, and judgment will be based upon that. Judgment will be according to what each one of us has done.

And, there is another book - the Book of Life - those whose names are written into the Book of Life enter into eternity with God. Those whose names are not written in the Book of Life are thrown into the lake of fire - the second death - eternal separation from God.

After death there is judgment - and the judgment of our lives will determine where we will spend eternity - Heaven - eternity with God - or Hell - eternity without God.



In the Bible there are a number of descriptions of Heaven. One of these is in Revelation 21 where the Apostle John tells us what eternity with God will be like.

Verse 2: And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; - this is the people of God - the community of those whose names are in the Book of Life - Verse 3: and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them; He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.’ - this is an assurance for those whose names are written in the Book of Life- we will not carry today’s torments with us into eternity - God will put all things right - our burdens will exist no more. - Verse 5: And He who sat upon the throne, said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ Also He said, ‘Write this for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment. He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.”

John goes on to describe a great visible city of incredible brilliance and glory - a physical dwelling place. And the relationship we will have - without fear and in purity.

Secondly, there is the destiny of Hell - those whose names are not written in the Book of Life will spend eternity in Hell.


The Bible describes Hell as the opposite of Heaven. Imagine all that heaven is - all that God is - all that dwelling eternally in the presence of God is - Hell, is the opposite of that. And, those who come to judgment without having Jesus as their Savior will go there.

Hell is described as a very real place - a bottomless pit - no physical or solid surroundings - total isolation - utter darkness - a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth - eternal desire eternally unfulfilled - eternal death.

Perhaps the most dreadful torment of the lost will be the realization that it is too late for repentance. The great horror of Hell is not physical pain. But, the consciousness that one deserves what he’s getting.

We enter Hell by our own choosing. God says to us, “You are significant - I take you seriously. Choose to reject me - choose Hell if you will. I will let you go.” Those who choose evil shall have their choice. Men who hated divine mercy shall not have it forced upon them. Those who choose to live in darkness shall live in darkness.

In 1991 a Gallup poll showed that 78% of Americans expect to go to heaven when they die. Yet, only 34% of the American people - who call themselves Christians - attend church at least once a week. The majority of those who expect to go to Heaven hardly ever pray, read the Bible, or attend church. They admit that they live to please themselves instead of God. There is no evidence from their deeds that they really do have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. 67% of American adults believe in Hell. But less that 25% believe they will go there. But, by what belief do they expect to avoid going there?

A. W. Tozer once said that, “The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions.”

We need to talk about death - and what comes next. About judgment and Heaven and Hell. Because as real as Heaven is - so is Hell. And yet the most exciting thing about all this is that we don’t have to go to Hell. We can choose eternal life with God.

One day, when Vice President Calvin Coolidge was presiding over the Senate, one Senator angrily told another to go “straight to Hell.” The offended Senator complained to Coolidge as presiding officer, Coolidge looked up from the book he had been leafing through while listening to the debate. “I’ve been looking through the rule book,” he said, “you don’t have to go.”

No one who is ever in Hell will be able to say to God, “You put me here.” God loves us. He does not force His love on us. To force love is to commit assault. He allows us to decide. He loves us, he encourages our response, He woos us. He pursues us, He urges us, but He does not force, because He respects us.

All God asks is that we trust Jesus as our Savior. When we trust Jesus as our Savior - the judgment of God which is leveled against us is placed on Jesus - He bears our penalty - He becomes our safety when we stand before Him to be judged. For those who die, knowing Jesus as their Savior, judgment is actually a time of great hope.

The story is told of pioneers who were making their way across one of the central states to a distant place that had been opened up for homesteading. They traveled in covered wagons drawn by oxen, and progress was necessarily slow. One day they were horrified to note a long line of smoke in the west, stretching for miles across the prairie, and soon it was evident that the dried grass was burning fiercely and coming toward them rapidly. They had crossed a river the day before but it would be impossible to go back to that before the flames would be upon them. One man only seemed to have an understanding as to what could be done. He gave the command to set fire to the grass behind them. Then when a space was burned over, the whole company moved back upon it.

As the flames roared on toward them from the west, a little girl cried out in terror, “Are you sure we shall not all be burned up?” The leader replied, “My child, the flames cannot reach us here, for we are standing where the fire has been!”

What a picture of the believer, who is safe in Christ!

The fires of God’s judgment burned themselves out on Jesus, and all who are in Christ are safe forever, for they are now standing where the fire has been.

This is the central question of life. Is my name written in the Book of Life? Am I standing in the safety of Jesus Christ? Your name is written there the moment you trust Jesus as your Savior.