In the 1998 film, City of Angels, starring Meg Ryan and Nicolas Cage, there are many afterlife issues presented. At one particular point when Seth the angel (Cage) finally meets Maggie (Ryan) the following dialogue takes place regarding a patient Maggie (a heart surgeon) failed to save:
Maggie: He should have lived.
Seth: He is living. Just not the way you think.
Maggie: I don’t ... believe in ... that.
Seth: Some things are true whether you believe them or not.
It treads poignantly through the landscape of afterlife issues. When we die things will happen to us that ordinarily happen to dying and dead people. We won’t have a choice to believe anymore. It will just happen to us.
“What” is a good question. But the main point is life after death is going to be a reality we’ll all have to face. And on the way we’ll have to ‘live up’ to the fact of our lives on this earth and what we did with them.
Some things are true whether we believe in them or not. There’s little good sticking our heads in the sand or clamping our hands over our ears and closing our eyes fast shut singing “la la la.”
We have to at least come to terms with the possibility of an afterlife, and at least explore it... after all, we’ll all die at some point.
Christians believe what the Bible says, and the Bible says a lot about afterlife issues. The key message regarding heaven and whether we go there or not depends on our relationship with Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit (who resides within the Christian person).
On the night he was betrayed, Jesus prayed aloud, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” –John 17:1-3 (NIV). (Italics added for emphasis.)
Even more pointedly, Jesus said earlier, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” –John 14:6 (NIV). (Italics again added for emphasis.)
To spend perhaps eighty or ninety years on earth only to miss out on the true meaning of life is a catastrophic travesty. That is to spend eternity--the life without time--without ever knowing or seeing God; that alone is hell.
Accepting Jesus Christ died for us--the only sinless one, for our sin--is the key. He is the beam that spans the divide between us and a holy God who cannot stand sin.
And practically, the grace and peace of God, which only true Christians know, is only available to those who believe. If you want the best life, faith in Jesus is the only way.
That’s the truth whether we believe it or not.
If you do investigate (and a good way of doing so is reading the story of Mark in the Bible) and finally find you do want to believe in Jesus, you can pray a simple prayer called “the believer’s prayer.”
If you seriously believe in him in your heart and in what Jesus came to earth for i.e. to die for our sin so we might have a way to our Father in heaven, and say this prayer, you’ll be saved into heaven, both now and after physical death:
Dear Lord Jesus
Today I confess my need of you.
Thank you for dying on the cross so that I might have life.
Thank you for forgiving me of my sins.
Thank you for loving me and thank you for the privilege of loving you.
Please give me the strength to follow after you with all of my heart and soul and to bring glory to Your Name.
I commit my life into your hands.
I will love you forever.
And if you do decide to pray this prayer, the journey’s only just started. A lifetime of exploration in the things of faith and of Jesus awaits you! Be tenacious. The reward will be great for you.