Lord's Day Evening Meditations February 2, 2003

Luke 23:39–43

After Death - Where?

The Lord has allowed me to have two experiences which bring a portion of Scripture before me. Two people were taken from this scene very suddenly. Where did they go? We hear of heaven and we hear of hell. One day we'll go to one or the other. It is a privilege to be able to go to heaven, but only those who are saved, who are washed in the precious blood of Christ can go there. What a comfort it is when we know that someone has gone to heaven!

The first experience was when I was a volunteer at the fire department. I saw an accident where a 30 year old woman was hit head-on by a truck. She was killed in two seconds. I don't know if she was saved or not. This happened when I was about 18, and it was pretty shocking to see a human life taken so quickly and violently.

The second experience was on January 1st, this year. I saw a truck go off the road and roll, and so I stopped and went over to help. There were 6 people in the vehicle. One was killed instantly and another died not long after. I found out later that the one who was killed instantly was the Lord's, so we know that she was taken to a far better place. This was a comfort to me. As believers, we have a blessed hope before us. I believe the Lord allowed me to see these two accidents in order to speak about the salvation that is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus died on a cross - a death that was reserved for the vilest of men. He died for me. My sins put the Lord on that cross, and by His grace He showed that to me. Now, by believing, I know that I am bought by the blood of Christ and made a child of God. God hates sin, but He loves the sinner. That is why He sent His Son.

We'll turn to the story of the thief on the cross in Luke 24. Remember that since we were born, every day is one day closer to death. "And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying, If Thou be Christ, save Thyself and us." v. 39. He wanted to escape the judgment of crucifixion that he was suffering. "But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?" Here we have the other thief's reply. "And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss." vs. 40, 41. The repentant thief owned that the Lord Jesus had not sinned. "Who did no sin." But we have sinned, and to get to heaven we must have our sins taken away. The only way that we could have our sins taken away was by the Son of God coming down from heaven to take our sins on Himself.

"Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree." 1 Pet. 2:24. The Lord Jesus took our sins in His own body on the cross, and died for them. We have to accept what He has done. It is not enough to believe that He died for our sins; you must be able to say truthfully, "He died for my sins." It is only by accepting that the Lord Jesus died for you that you can be saved. Think of how His hands and feet were pierced, how His head was crowned with thorns, and of how His side was pierced with a spear. Think of His blood that flowed - the blood that is able to make you whiter than snow. It is as someone has said:

The blood of Christ for the conscience,

The Person of Christ for the heart.

The Lord Jesus Christ is more than a Saviour. After we are saved He is our Friend and Lover, and He gives us a new outlook on life and on this world.

"And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom." v. 42. See how he confessed Him as Lord, owning Him as his Master. "And Jesus said unto Him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with Me in paradise." v. 43. Yes, the Lord said, "Today … with Me." There was nothing technical or complicated. It was all very simple. That thief believed that the Lord would have His kingdom, but the Lord gave him an immediate hope: "Today…with Me in paradise." What a comfort that was to the Lord's heart, and what a blessing it was to the thief! But what about the other thief? Where did he go that day when he died? And where will you go when you die? We hear about hell. It wasn't made for man; it was made for the devil and his angels. But people who don't accept the Lord Jesus will go to hell. That first thief will spend eternity in heaven, and so will I. Those who are saved will be called home to an eternity of joy, happiness, and peace. The other thief went into an eternity of suffering, sorrow, and pain. There are no words to describe how horrible that is.

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." John 5:24. These are the words of the Lord Jesus Himself. I can say that I will never die. If my body dies my soul and spirit will go to heaven because I have "passed from death unto life." Our sins put Christ on the cross, and it is only His precious blood that can wash away the sins of sinful man.

The blood of Christ for the conscience,

The Person of Christ for the heart.

* * * J.F.

What we have just heard should make us realize how fragile life is, and how it might be shorter than we think. Therefore it is of primary importance that we be ready for the moment of departure.

The two phrases that Jerry quoted about the blood of Christ and the Person of Christ contain a lot of truth. We'll consider them a little: firstly, "The blood of Christ for the conscience." In 1 John 1:7 we read, "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." The blood of Christ is the only thing that can take away our sins from the presence of God, and it can take them away perfectly and eternally. See Heb. 10: 1 - 2. What does it mean to have "no more conscience of sins"? The Old Testament sacrifices had to be repeated continuously. This only proved that the previous ones had not removed the sins they were offered for. Then the Lord Jesus came and offered Himself as a sacrifice - one only sacrifice, and then He sat down. Since that time there are no more sacrifices for sins because the sacrifice that the Lord Jesus offered is perfect and removes all the sins of those who have received Him. The sacrifice that the Lord Jesus offered has taken away all my sins, so that there is not one left between me and God. I have "no more conscience of sins" because they are all gone from the presence of God. If there were any sins left that the blood of Christ had not taken away, then I would be lost, because there will not be another sacrifice for sin. No, the believer has sin in him (that is the old nature that we still have) but he has no sin on him, for they are all removed from the presence of God by the precious blood of Christ. It is interesting to note that when the Lord was on the cross, He had our sins on Him as we saw in 1 Pet. 2:24, but He had no sin in Him, for He had no evil, sinful nature.

The next phrase was, "The Person of Christ for the heart." "God is love," and in His love He looked down on us here, and saw us in our need. Besides the need of our souls, there was also the need of our hearts. You and I have a need to be loved, and we need an object to love, for we are made in the image of God Who is love. The need to be loved is met fully in the love of Christ for us. "The Son of God Who loved me, and gave Himself for me." That is the love that is true, perfect, and faithful forever; not like human love that is so changing and deceitful. As to an object for our hearts to love, God has given us the Person of His own dear Son. There is nothing in this world that can fill and satisfy your heart. Solomon proved that, and has told us about it in the Book of Ecclesiastes. But the Person of the Lord Jesus can fill your heart to overflowing and satisfy it for ever. This is the Person that Jerry presented to us, the One Who is able to meet the need of both heart and soul. S.L.