Tag Archives: afterlife

The Death of Death | Bible Gleanings – June 4-5, 2022

Death. It fills graves and empties hearts. It is the ship that carries the soul across the infinite sea of eternity. It is the wind that blows out the burning candle of living. It is the door through which we exit life and enter everlasting delight or damnation. It is the period at the end of the final chapter of your story on earth.

Death is also a sentence—the penal verdict for transgressing the righteous law of the Judge of all the earth. The decree from His golden bench reads, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20a). The first criminals to be anathematized by this awful adjudication were our first parents, Adam and Eve. After they sinned in the Garden, the Lawgiver declared to them, “For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19b). And death is still the consequence for crooked culprits convicted of the crime of sinning against God: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a).

Yet, somehow one of Scripture’s most malignant malefactors can confidently say, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Paul violently persecuted Christians in the early church, but he was happy to die. How is death a petrifying retribution in Genesis, but a pleasant reward in Philippians? Apparently, the meaning of death changed somewhere between the Garden of Eden and the Roman prison from which Paul wrote this letter. As a matter of fact, the nature of death changed somewhere between two thieves on a hill called Calvary.

As Jesus desperately clung to life on a bloody crucifix, He assured the robber beside Him, “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Death would not be the thief’s painful conclusion—it would be his passageway to paradise because of the grace of Christ. The Lord of life put death to death by His death, securing eternal life for all who believe—including the swindler by His side (2 Timothy 1:10). Because of Christ’s work for believers, death is the gateway to glory, the staircase to salvation, and the elevator to everlasting life. It is merely the bridge between heaven and earth for those who have crossed over from death to life (John 5:24).

This is why the Christian may sing and shout the words of 1 Corinthians 15:54-57,

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Front Page News | Bible Gleanings – April 30-May 1, 2022

The chilling news froze me in my tracks. The blackness of gloom enveloped my heart when I read the big black headline on the front page of The New York Times: “The Toll: America Approaches Half a Million COVID Deaths.” The death toll has soared to nearly a million since then, but I remember burning with zeal to do everything I could to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. I am not sure whether mask-wearing and social distancing made a difference—only the Lord knows. But I wanted to do everything in my power to slow the death count when the reality of death was in my face. 

The last time a gust of grief struck me like that was when I read Jesus’ words in Matthew 7, where He warned, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (vv. 13-14). According to Jesus, hordes and heaps of lost souls are driving down the wide open highway to hell, while only a fragment of humanity trudges on the hard road to heaven. Millions are afflicted by the crippling disease of sin, and they will discover too late that they were sick (Matt. 7:21-23). The “second death” toll is infinitely high, and it rises every day (Rev. 21:8). And the sharp twinge of heartbreak ought to pierce the heart of every believer when confronted with this sobering reality (cf. Romans 9:1-3).

Only 31% of the world’s population profess to be Christian, which means that the remaining 69% are hellbound (and that is if all 31% are true believers). According to the World Population Review, 166,279 people die daily. That means that at least 144,733 souls enter the gates of hell every day, and one million do every week. Jesus was right when He said that “many” would hear these terrifying words: “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matt. 7:23).

The good news is that there is plenty of room in heaven, and its door is open to all who would enter by faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord promised, “In my Father’s house are many rooms” (John 14:2a). Therefore, those heavenbound ought to take the life-saving gospel with unquenchable zeal to those who have never heard. The miserable reality of hell for the lost and the marvelous reassurance of heaven for the saved ought to be on the front page of every Christian’s mind. As John Wesley stated, “I desire to have both heaven and hell ever in my eye, while I stand on this isthmus of life, between two boundless oceans.”

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Heaven Is Not About You | Bible Gleanings – Feb 26-27, 2022

The mounting pile of books on heaven sold online and in bookstores is nearly as high as heaven itself. Books written by people who claim to have visited heaven during a near-death or out-of-body experience are adding to the soaring heap. In these popular works, authors describe their blissful voyage to heaven, brought about by either serious medical issues or psychedelic mushrooms. There are more than a hundred such best-selling books, many of which are offered by evangelical retailers like LifeWay or Christianbook. Among the most popular are 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper, Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo, and The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven by Kevin and Alex Malarkey (yes, that name is real). 

All of these books have one common theme: heaven is all about you and the fulfillment of your greatest desires. They talk about having the ability to fly like an angel, conversing with God in an eternal question-and-answer session, seeing all of your friends and loved ones (even those who didn’t believe), and enjoying an eternal dream home filled with every conceivable luxury. There’s only one problem: heaven is not all about you. According to the apostle John—the man who actually visited heaven by a spiritual vision—heaven is all about God and extolling His glory in Christ.

John saw a glimpse of heaven’s glory through “a door standing open in heaven” (Rev. 4:1), and he did not see people floating on clouds or sliding down rainbows. Instead, he saw a place where God is exalted and creation is humbled. His magnificent throne is at the center (Rev. 4:2-3). He is surrounded by unceasing angelic praise (Rev. 4:6-11). And the Lord Jesus is encircled by an everlasting chorus that says, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Rev. 5:13).

Heaven is God’s house, the place where His glory dwells (Psalm 26:8). Fortunately, the door to His immortal abode stands open to anyone who would enter by faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-9). You may walk through heaven’s door if you are dressed in the white garments of Christ’s righteousness (Rev. 3:5). But you must do so now while the door remains open, for one day it will shut. As Jesus said,

“And while they [the foolish virgins] were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:10-13).

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

The Place to Be | Bible Gleanings – November 6-7, 2021

1,000 Places to See Before You Die, a New York Times bestseller written by Patricia Schultz, catalogues a thousand unforgettable places on God’s green earth that showcase the “best the world has to offer.”1 Her contention is that you should visit these breathtaking locations before you breathe your last. You should travel to these areas before your soul travels to eternity. Behold the giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park, she says. Admire the intricate architecture of India’s Taj Mahal. Tan your hide on the baking beaches of Fiji.

Schultz affirms an indisputable truth: our planet is magnificently beautiful and indescribably stunning. As Louis Armstrong would say, “And I think to myself, What a wonderful world.” She also confirms a popular misconception held by thousands of people: this world is all there is, so you better see it all before you die. Van Halen used to sing about it: “Whoa, you don’t have to die an’ go to heaven, or hang around to be born again; Just tune in to what this place has got to offer, ‘cause we may never be here again.” 

Frankly, I am more concerned about going to a better world when I die instead of seeing this whole world before I die. The Imperial Palace in Beijing is gorgeous, but it pales in comparison to the glorious mansions built in heaven for followers of Christ (John 14:2). Paris and Prague may be among the most elegant cities on earth, but they don’t compare to the eternal city, “whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). New Zealand’s splendid landscapes are unimpressive compared to the New City that will one day come “down out of heaven from God” (Rev. 21:2). I don’t want to rendezvous among the most lovely countries on earth; I want to rest my soul in “a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Heb. 11:16).

This world is not all there is. In fact, this old world is “passing away,” and it will one day be “burned up and dissolved” (1 John 2:17; 2 Peter 3:10). Heaven is the place you want to be when you die, my friend. But you will only get there if your name is on God’s “guest list,” the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev. 21:27).

How can you see and enter this heavenly place? Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). You must be made new to enter the city where all things are made new. This happens when you repent of your sins and trust fully in Christ for your salvation. When you do that, you’ll have your ticket to glory on Zion’s heavenbound ship.

  1. Patricia Schultz. 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (New York: Workman Publishing Company, Inc., 2003).
Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).