The Bad News . . . and the Good News

What would happen if you died today, and what does Jesus have to do with it?

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And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)

Death is inescapable. Ten out of ten people will die. No one knows how many days are appointed for them by God. If you died today, what would happen?

Eve handing fruit to Adam

Why Do We Die?

The Bible is the true history book of the universe. It begins with the simple phrase, “in the beginning God” (Genesis 1:1). The God of the Bible claims to be the self-existent, eternal Creator who made the heavens, the earth, and everything in them in just six days by the power of his word. He called his original creation “very good” (Genesis 1:31).

Unlike the animals, humans were created uniquely in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) with eternal souls. Originally, in God’s “very good” creation, bodies were designed to live forever too. There was no death, disease, or suffering: there was only perfect harmony between God and mankind, and between mankind and the creation, though God gave mankind dominion over it (Genesis 1:28).

But then everything changed. God had given the first two people, Adam and Eve, to eat of any tree in the garden he had designed for them, except one, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Genesis 3 records the tragic day when Adam and Eve rejected God’s generosity and authority, instead rebelling against God’s single restraint. Thinking their Creator wasn’t being fully honest with them, they ate from the one tree they had been commanded not to eat from. Their choice to reject the Creator of life brought death into creation—just like God had said. No longer was the creation “very good”; now it was cursed and broken because of sin.

As a descendant of Adam and Eve, every person on earth has a nature that is bent toward sin. We all face death because of this sin nature we inherited in Adam and our continued sin against God. Death exists because sin reigns in the hearts of every man and woman. Sin is a big deal!

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. (Romans 5:12)

What Happens When We Die?

Hebrews 9:27 says that after we die, “comes judgment.” We are not just physical bodies. We are created in the image of God and therefore have souls that will live forever. Scripture reveals that there are two destinations for these eternal souls: with Christ forever in heaven, or apart from Christ forever in hell (Romans 2:6–8).

What happens when we die isn’t a guessing game of “I hope I did enough good things to get into heaven” or “I’m a good person—God will let me into heaven.” Scripture is clear: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We are all sinners, deserving death and hell because of our sin against a holy God, our Creator.

But I’m a Good Person!

Are you a good person? Most people believe that they are, but the Bible answers that question differently. Since the Bible is the only authoritative revelation from our Creator, Lawgiver, and Judge, we should look to God’s Word, not society’s changing opinions of “goodness,” for answers.

The Old Testament records the Law (summarized in the 10 Commandments) God gave the nation of Israel. The letter to the Galatians, in the New Testament, says this Law is a “tutor” to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24), and Romans 7 speaks of it like a mirror that shows us our own sinfulness.

The 10 Commandments are recorded in Exodus 20. Hold them up as a mirror and see how you measure up:

You shall have no other gods before me.

Have you ever put anyone or anything before God? That is idolatry and is a sin against the God who gives you “life and breath and everything else” (Acts 17:25).

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Have you ever cursed or used God’s name in a flippant manner? That is called blasphemy, and God does not hold anyone guiltless who uses his holy name in such a way.

You shall not murder.

Think you might be safe on this one? Consider the words of Jesus:

You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment… (Matthew 5:21–22a)
You shall not commit adultery.

Even if you have not committed this act in your flesh, have you committed it in your heart? Jesus said that to even look at another person with lust is to commit adultery in the heart (Matthew 5:28).

That’s only four out of ten! If you stood before God, who is the just Judge of all the earth, would he find you innocent or guilty of breaking his commandments? By God’s perfect standard, every single person is a sinner who deserves the penalty for sin—death.

A cross on a hill

Is There Any Good News?

But just as the Law shows us our sin, it also points to Someone who solved our sin problem. Since none of us are without sin and all stand guilty before the holy God of the universe, we can’t save ourselves by trying to outweigh our bad deeds with good—our good deeds are like filthy rags in the sight of a perfect God (Isaiah 64:6). So is there any hope for sinners?

Yes, and his name is Jesus. Two thousand years ago in the small town of Bethlehem, a virgin delivered a baby named Jesus. Jesus came as the Son of God in the flesh—fully God and fully man. The Creator God of the universe, who is holy, just, and perfect, stepped into history in the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:14). He lived as a human, was tempted like we are (Hebrews 4:15), and knows our pain and our weakness. Yet, he obeyed God the Father in keeping all of his righteous commands, living the perfect life none of us could ever live.

Jesus, the only innocent man in all of history, then died a criminal’s death on the cross. He chose to go to the cross, dying in the place of guilty sinners—in our place. He took our sins upon himself, and God’s just wrath against sin was poured out on his Son.

Jesus then rose from the grave, showing that he’d conquered sin and death. Our risen Savior now offers the free gift of eternal life to all who will put their faith and trust in him. All who truly believe in him, repent of their sin, and trust in his righteousness for their forgiveness (rather than their own deeds) are forgiven (justified), adopted into the family of God, given the gift of the Holy Spirit, and granted eternal life with their Creator.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Romans 10:9–10)
Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out. (Acts 3:19)
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy… (Titus 3:5a)
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13–14)
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4–10)

Instead of the hell we deserve for our sin against a holy God, by repenting and believing, we receive new and eternal life with Christ. What a glorious message of mercy, grace, hope, and love!

How Can Someone Start a New Life in Christ?

Kids, learn more about God and the Bible throught the 7 Cs View Booklet

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