Stairway to Heaven
Art Anderson, Founder
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"In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth." Gen. 1:1 God created man from the dust of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life and he became a living soul. (Gen. 2:7) God created man in his image and in his likeness; therefore, man has a body, soul and spirit. Man is God's only creation with a soul and since it has the breath of life, it will never cease to exist.
The first man, Adam was created a perfect man. But Adam disobeyed God and sinned by eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge. Man has been in a fallen state before God ever since Adam fell out of favor with God.
But God made a way for man's redemption via his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, whom has been referred to as the second man Adam. Adam fell but Christ did not. He gave his life so that man could have eternal life and an everlasting relationship with God.
God created hell for the devil and his angels, but people that reject the salvation that Christ paid for with his life shall go there for eternality.
God sent His son into this world to offer the world salvation. The most popular verse (John 3:16) "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life," makes this very clear. There are four things that a person must do to be saved:
We must realize that we are sinners, that is, that we have violated God's laws. John made this clear in 1 John 3:4: "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." So, what is the "law" that the Bible speaks of? It is the law of God and most if not all sins are a violation of one of the The Commandments.
We must realize that we can do nothing to save ourselves. Good deeds, Being a good, moral, honest, etc., will not save us because all have violated God's commandments.
We must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God sent to this world to die for the sins of the people. (John 3:16)
Belief come by hearing to Word of God. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. 10:17) "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (Rom. 10:14).
We must repent of our sins. The Bible makes it clear that without repentance, there is no forgiveness of sin. "For godly sorrow worketh repentance." 2 Cor. 7:10; "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise. . . not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:8.
God intended for salvation or being saved to be very simply. In the fact the thief on the cross that was crucified when Jesus said: "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus saidunto him, Verily I say into thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." Luke 23:42--43
Consider the Pharisee and the publican: "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus within himself, God, thank thee that I am not as others are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I process. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." Luke 18:11--14.
God does not discriminate. The wise preacher said: "I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, not the battle to the strong, nor yet bread to the wise, not yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill, but time and chance happened to them all." (Eccl. 9:11) TIME and CHANCE are the key words.
Time is of the essence. The preacher also said: "Remember thy Creator in the days of they youth." (Eccl. 12:1) God said that , "My spirit shall not always strive with man." (Gen. 6:3). "[N]ow is the accepted time; behold , now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor. 6:2)
Salvation is faith and belief in Jesus Christ as the redeemer of mankind from sin and an ark of safety from the judgment of God of a sinful world. It may be classified as a "religion," but it more of a relationship with Christ as our savior.
Back in my youth, old time preachers used to preach about a "know-soul" salvation. With salvation we have life--eternal life--and without salvation we are considered dead. When a disciple was faced with a decision of following Christ or burying his father, and Christ commanded they depart to the other side (Matt. 8:18) the disciple said: "Lord, suffer me first to go bury my father: "But said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury the dead." (Matt. 8: 21-22) Christ said: "I am come that they might have life." (John 10:10) Therefore, the unsaved are considered dead and those with salvation have life.
VISION OF DEATH
What I am going to write here is based upon accounts of death in the Bible, books written by people that have experienced what doctors say are near death experiences but individuals claim to have died and been revived.
First, the parable of the rich man. Christ said, "There was a certain rich,
which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and faired sumptuously every
every day. (Luke 16:19)And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus,
which was laid at his gate, full of sores: (Luke 16:20) And it came to pass,
that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom; the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lifted up his e
eyes being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his
And he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send
Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tonger:
for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that that thou in thy lifetime receivedest thy good things, and likewise Lazarus
evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented, Then he said,
"Then he said, 'I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to
my father's house: For I have five brothers; that he may testify unto them, lest they also they also come into this place of torment.' Abraham saith unto him, ' They have Moses ad the prophets; let them hear them;" Ref. (Luke 16:22-29).
This is a real discourse on death and the judgment that follows. The rich man was a Roman Emperor because only the Emperor dressed in purple. From the description given, Lazarus probably suffered from boils. there are
several lessons to be learned from this parable: One, a person's status in life does not qualify for the kingdom of Heaven; secondly, a person cannot bargain themselves out of hell. "And as it is appointed unto men
once to die, but after this the judgment." (Heb. 9:27)
Another lesson to be learned is that those in hell will remember things of their families and life events.
Another lesson to be learned is that they will be able to see a least a little of
heaven and truly see what they missed by rejecting Christ.
Many people have died and been revived or almost died what doctors call
near death experiences. When the late Associate Justice of the
Supreme Court was a kid and larger boy shoved him into a swimming pool
and Douglas could not swim. The last thing that Douglas remembered
before becoming conscious was lying on the bottom of the pool without pain and at perfect peace. The next thing he knew he was on the side of
the pool with people working to revive him. Ref. Go East, Young Man,
by William O. Douglas, Random House, NY, 1974.
There are many accounts of death or near death widely available in books and on the internet. Taking what is disclosed in the bible and other accounts, I believe that people often know what their future holds before they die.
I know a lady that cared for her husband during his illness and after he died, she became obsessed with death. If she knew about that was near death, she would do her best to be there when they passed away. She told me that some people developed what she called a "death mask" before they died and others died very peaceful.
Another preacher said that he visited a dying man in a hospital that had lived a very sinful life. He said that as long as he lived, he hoped he never saw another person die in his condition.
I met a young lady that had a serious drug problem. However, she had been going to church and was seriously trying to clean her act up. I had been witnessing to her and her told her repeatedly that if she didn't change her ways, she was going to die.
In the early morning hours I heard the most beautiful music and singing. Being a gospel music fan, I am familiar with most of the professional groups but I could not figure who they were. My thoughts were that a radio was on. However, when I fully awaken and got up, nobody was there but me and no radio was playing. I couple of days later the young lady was found dead. I took what I had heard as a sign that she was saved and in heaven.
A great preacher was holding a revival and I invited a very dear friend to go and hear him. He didn't go. A couple of years or so later, my friend became very ill and I visited him in the hospital and he was near death and in a state of pure fear. It frighten him for anybody to come into his room and his wife tried to comfort him by telling him nobody was going to hurt him. He passed away a few days later.
This a story that hits close to home, my half-sister married a man that had killed a man when he was young. When he became deathly ill and was on the way to a hospital, he said to her that she had blood on her face. She believed that he was seeing the man that he had killed.
This same preacher was preaching another revival and I invited a man to come and he didn't that night but did a couple of nights later. The preacher preached on Paul witness to Felix regarding "righteousness, temperance and judgment to come, Felix trembled and said, Go thy way for this time, when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee." Acts 24:24-25. There is no record in the bible that Felix ever found a more convenient time.
When the invitation was given, I looked back and saw the man trembling and holding tight to the back of the bench in front of him but refused to come forward. He passed away a few years later. So far as I know without hope of salvation.
On one the best preachers I ever heard is Garland Morrison. He pastored a church in Indiana for years and returned to Springdale, Arkansas. He told a story about a revival his dad was holding in Oklahoma. A man was at the revival holding a baby. His dad went back and invited the man to come forward and be saved. He told the preacher he wanted to be saved but not now. The preacher said to him, "God may have to take that baby." Garland said his dad said he didn't know why he said that.
A couple or so years later the man was preparing his land and the baby wanted to ride on the tractor with him and he was using a tractor with iron wheels probably with cleats on the wheels and somehow the baby's clothes got caught and before he could stop the tractor, the baby was ground into the dirt.
He carried the baby to the house and went into the yard and screamed "why God, why God didn't I go?"
Death has several different meanings. Generally, death is thought of as dying as we know of people departing this life. However, there are other meanings of death. Sinners are considered dead. When the prodigal son returned home, Christ said, quoting the father: "For this my son was dead, and he is alive, he was lost, and is found, And they began to be merry." Luke 15:24.
We all know that we will die--except being saved and alive when Jusus comes for his church--which shall be caught up to meet him in the air. ! Thes. 4:17.
Adam was denied LIFE because he ate of the tree of knowledge rather thaan the tree of LIFE. Christ gave His LIFE on the cross so that we could eat of the tree of LIFE.
Not only is there a home in heaven to gain, but death and hell to shune. Christ said, "And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.: John 11:26. "O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?" 1 Cor. 15:55. Paul, the writer of Corinthians, knew about death. He was present at the stoning of Stephen and probably saw that Stephen suffered little if any pain. Acts 7:57-60.
The teachings of the Bible make clear that there are, at least three different kinds of deaths: 1) natural death; 2 spiritual death; and 3 eternal death also known as the "second death." Rev. 20:14 All forms of death are the result of Adam's sin, and Christ came and gave his life to restore what Adam lost, except natural death which for the believers is known as "sleep: in both the Old and New Testaments. Paul remarked that all would not sleep. 1st Thes. 4:15.
Therefore, believers can be a happy lot knowing if they live of if they pass, they are winners either way. King David said, "Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord." Ps. 144:15.
True happiness comes with a relationship with Jesus Christ, money and riches cannot but it as so many wealthy and famous people have discovered. Spend their lives seeking wealth and fame only to end their lives at their own hand.
Death is not to be feared by the righteous. It is a promotion to their heavenly reward for their service to God. Bro. H. Richard Hall used to say near year's end, "another year has passed and only what is done for God will last." More true words were never spoken.
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