Evidence Of Our Instant Presence With The Lord
by Oswald Fetter, Ph.D.
Presented by Saint Luke Evangelical School Of Biblical Studies

Many people are afraid of death. When their final hour comes, they cling to life, fighting and struggling against death. Even some born again Christians fight to remain on this earth because they are unsure of what awaits them beyond this life. Sometimes it is fear of death itself, which keeps them in torment and struggle. Yet those who truly know the word of God and are at peace with their Creator, slip over into eternity with a gentle sigh and sweet release of that last breath back to God.

Let us look at God's word and what it tells us about entering into eternity.

The Thief on the Cross

Luke 23:43
Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (NIV)

This man was a convicted thief. Yet the promise of our Savior was that the thief would be with Jesus, in Paradise, that day, not some time in the future.

Luke 23:40-42
But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." (NKJ)

This thief who died next to Jesus, recognized his own guilt and that he deserved his punishment on the cross. He also recognized Jesus as innocent of the charges. He acknowledged Jesus as Lord and King.

This account of the repentant thief shows us that there is only one way to heaven. That way is through Jesus Christ and His finished work on Calvary. This Scripture shows that Jesus himself receives us because of faith in Him and a repentant heart. This man had no opportunity to be Baptized or Confirmed. Jesus commanded us to be Baptized, and we should. However, the real issue is whether we recognize Jesus as our Lord and Savior and soon coming King.

What does Paul say about the end of life?

2 Cor. 5:8
We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. (NKJ)


Phil. 1:21-24
For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. (NIV)

Paul desired to depart to be with Christ, but he knew his work here was not finished. We have the Scripture to tell us that the place we are going is "far better" than our present world.

There is also evidence showing us a glimpse of eternity in the Gospel of Matthew:

Matt. 17:3
Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. (NIV)

If you go to Matthew 17, you will find the account of the three favored disciples Peter, James and John, on the Mountain with Jesus. While they were with him, he was transfigured (changed) into his heavenly appearance. The disciples also saw and recognized Moses and Elijah were with Jesus. The amazing thing is that they recognized the two, Moses and Elijah. Moses had died generations before the disciples and here is the description of Elijah being taken up:

II Ki. 2:11
As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. (NIV)

This scripture gives the account of Elijah's exit from this earth. Although he never died, he was with Moses and Jesus on the Mountain. Elijah was taken up into heaven in a whirlwind. When we are taken out of this world, whether in death or in the Rapture, we, who belong to Jesus, will immediately be in the presence of the Lord.

Everyone who dies will find themselves in their eternal home. However, not everyone who dies will be in the presence of the Lord, but only those who have recognized Him as Lord and Savior. For example:

Luke 16:22-23
The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. (NIV)

This is the account, which Jesus gave, of two different men. Each man died. One found himself in hell and in torment. The other was in Paradise.

There is no waiting time once our life ends. We will immediately be in the place we have chosen for ourselves. If we have made Jesus Christ, Lord of our lives, we will be in His presence. If we have chosen our own way, we will find ourselves, as the rich man, in eternal torment. The result of our choice will be evident immediately, when our life on this earth ends.

John 14:2-3
"In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I got to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." (NKJ)

Next we have the story of a man, totally committed to God, who, while he still lived, was able to look into heaven and tell us what he saw. He saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God the Father. Stephen was the first Christian martyr.

Acts 7:55-56
But Stephan, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."

Acts 7:59-60
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep. (NIV)

Stephen looked up to the Lord and asked forgiveness for those who were stoning him. He was so caught up in this heavenly vision that the stones did not distract him from the presence of God. He also asked the Lord to receive his spirit. Stephen's was a direct exit from this life into the presence of God.

1 Cor. 2:9-10
But as it is written: "Eye has not see, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God as prepared for those who love Him." But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. (NKJ)

There are others who the Bible records as evil. They were swallowed up with everything they owned and entered alive into the grave. The Bible says that they treated the Lord with contempt.

Num 16:30
But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt. (NIV)

Num 16:33
They went down alive into the grave, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. (NIV)

When Moses spoke these words, the wicked were swallowed alive into an opening in the earth. Death is real. Once you have crossed over that line into eternity, your choices have placed you in heaven or hell. It is then too late to repent or change your mind.

Judgment took place on Calvary's cross. The work that Jesus did there is a finished work.

Gal 3:13-14
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (NIV)

We are free from the curse of death and open to the blessings promised by Abraham when, by faith, we receive that promise.

1 Pet. 2:24
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds have you been healed. (NIV)

2 Cor. 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (NIV)

1 Cor. 15:55-58
"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (NIV)

Heaven is real. Hell is real. Eternity is immediate. There is no waiting time or second chance. Our choices are here and now. Choose life, that you may live with Him for all eternity.


copyright 2003 by Oswald Fetter, Ph.D.
Used by permission.