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Are They In Heaven?

What do we do, what can we do, when a loved one dies and the words, "Well at least they..." ring hollow? They may ring hollow because the person who died was young and "Well at least he lived a full and happy life" can't be said. Or, they may ring hollow because we believe, rightly, in the reality of Hell and the person who died was not one who followed Christ. In 1 Thesselonians 4 we are encouraged about the death of other believers. In effect, we are able to say "Well at least he is a Heaven now. The suffering is over."

But if they were not following Christ, we as believers know that upon death the real suffering begins. Not only have we lost a loved one, but we suspect he or she has entered into the eternal torments which we each deserve and which Jesus warned so frequently about.

The key word in that last sentence is "suspect." Can we ever know for sure that someone is in Hell? Certainly many people end up there, but what about this particular person?

Recall the thief who hung on a cross next to Jesus (Luke 23: 39- 43). How close to death was he before God opened his heart? I don't believe we have reason to think that such late rescues are extremely rare, nor do I think we have reason to believe they are extremely common.

We do serve an eleventh hour God, a "nick-of-time" God Who has demonstrated His ability and willingness to save people from there sins just before they die. It could be true of this particular person too.

God knows. We may hope.

And, we may hereby find further motivation for evangelism.