Do Dead People Go to a Better Place?
Scripture: Various, especially John 14:6
Jesus said … “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Introduction: How many times have you found yourself at a funeral where family is assured their loved one is “in a better place?” It seems more often than not this phrase is used of the deceased despite the kind of lives they lived or what they believed. I call these “funeral assurances,” a false hope given when the salvation of the deceased is actually unknown. Today we want to look at Scripture and see what actually qualifies a person for heaven.
1. What Our Culture Believes: Dead People Go to a Better Place Because…
A. God Grades on a Curve.
B. As Long as We Are Sincere, Any Spiritual Path Works.
C. A God of Love Would Not Send Anyone to Hell.
D. Only an Ignorant Bigot Thinks Jesus Is the Only Way.
2.What the Bible Actually Says:
A. There Is a Real Place Called Hell.
If hell was a myth, Jesus certainly would never have given such a strong warning and frightening description of it: “… It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—where ‘Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched’” (Mark 9:42-45).
B. It Was Made for Satan and His Angels.
Scripture is clear that hell was not originally intended for us. In fact, Jesus prophesied about the Day of Judgment: “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’ ” (Matt. 25:41; see Rev. 20:10).
C. God Doesn’t Grade on a Curve.
We often compare ourselves to others who are “less righteous” than we presume ourselves to be. Scripture, however, teaches us that God is the standard against which we are judged: “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
D. Jesus Is the Only Ticket to Heaven.
It doesn’t get much clearer than this: “Jesus said … ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’ ” (John 14:6). We need to keep in mind that not every slight acknowledgment of God makes us true disciples of Christ who will share eternity with Him. Jesus never says “accept Me” in the Bible; He says “follow Me!”
3. How Should We Then Live?
A. Trust God with Your Questions.
If you’re a thinking person, you will have questions about God’s ways. Faith does not mean complete absence of doubt. In fact, faith is at its best when we struggle with doubt and obey anyway (Heb. 11:6). We can trust God not just because “He says so,” but because He has proven Himself faithful.
B. Tell People the Good News About Jesus.
Before He ascended into heaven, Jesus gave the command, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen” (Matt. 28:19-20). Far from being a simple recruiting speech, this was Jesus’ command to carry out the whole reason He came, that sinners might be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:18)!
C. Be Winsome, Not Combative (2 Tim. 2:24-26).
Even those who do the will of the enemy deserve respect. Our goal is not to win an argument! If there’s a real place called hell, I want to do everything I can to keep others from going there. Our job is to be part of the “rescue squad.”
D. Remove Every Obstacle You Can (1 Cor. 9:19-23).
When it comes to those who don’t know Jesus, you should be on the front line helping others come to Christ no matter what it takes: whether leaving visitors the best parking spaces at church, or any other “inconveniences” to us. We must realize that our preferences do not matter.
Conclusion: Do dead people go to a better place? Only when they follow Jesus