Jay was a man I’d been ministering to in New York City for about a year. His condition was terminal – lying in a hospital bed dying of congestive heart failure. Jay had not yet trusted in Jesus. Having done many bible studies and shared the gospel many times previously, I pondered what I would share with Jay as I took the subway to lower Manhattan.
On this day I felt compelled to share Jesus’ story of Lazarus and the Rich Man from Luke 16, imploring Jay to trust in Jesus for salvation. He was lucid as I entered the hospital room. We spoke and I opened the Bible to Luke 16, where Jesus tells a sobering story of the rich man and Lazarus. He contrasts the experience of the rich man in Hades and the Lazarus in “Abraham’s Bosom,” an expression for heaven. Luke 16:19–31 is a vivid reminder of the eternal consequence of rejecting God’s free gift of salvation. Paul made it clear: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Jesus taught more about hell than any other person in the Bible. Hell is a reality perhaps not spoken of much in evangelism today, but it is a sobering aspect of the gospel message.
When we are saved, we are saved from eternal separation from God. When we believe in Jesus we are saved from condemnation and judgment:
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. John 5:24
Jay died a couple of days later. I don’t know what he did with the good news he received. But I can tell you that as I attended his memorial, the reality of sin’s curse and God’s provision of salvation in Jesus filled my heart…and I thought to myself – “Where did he go?”
Hell is for real. Heaven is for real. Jesus is the Savior. And every person has a choice.