We live in a culture where almost anything goes. From the "down home" and conservative to the "way out" and the bizarre, a seemingly endless variety of lifestyles are represented in the crosscurrents of Western society. But what lies beyond this life? What lifestyle will we experience when the short years of this life are spent? The question of final destiny is one that travelers from all walks of life would like the answer to. Everyone at some time ponders the prospects of the future; rich and poor, educated and uneducated, religious and non-religious.

What will it be like? What will the choices be, or will there be any? Many are taught to believe in some kind of hell, a place of eternal torment. Some think that this life IS our hell, and death the relief of non-existence. Some think everyone will experience eternal ecstasy, regardless of how they lived on earth. Still others believe we can continue in our present earthly lifestyle, or choose a more favorable one. Some say we will disintegrate and cease to exist, others that we are immortal by nature. What is our future destiny? Will we become eternal spirits, suffer endless pain, or maybe return as another form of life; a dog, or maybe a turtle?

The subject of eternal destiny is a very sensitive one for many people. In some bases it is even emotionally supercharged. Many people are defensive regarding their beliefs about death and possible afterlife. Others do not want their present attitudes and behavior linked to future rewards or consequences. In the end, most people will believe what they want to believe, regardless of the source or quality of their information. But for those who are willing to risk the time and effort of inquiry, the Bible claims to have the answer.

The Bible describes mankind's history, current condition, and eternal destiny. It relates our present opportunities and responsibilities to our ultimate future. It maps out the roads we can choose from in this life and tells us where those roads lead. But wait! Many people have read the Bible and still do not agree about its teaching concerning eternal destiny. Could it be that people will ignore contrary evidence in order to believe what they want to believe? Is the Bible really ambiguous, or are people merely ingenious in evading conclusions they don't like? There is only one way to know for sure, and that is to find out for yourself. This lesson will investigate what the Bible offers as our choices of eternal destiny.

Historical Background

It is 1,400 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. God is leading His people (the nation of Israel) into the "Promised Land" of Canaan (today's Palestine). It has been forty years since God split the Red Sea and led them out of slavery in Egypt, but because of unbelief and disobedience, they have had to wander in the wilderness between Egypt and Palestine. Now they are about to enter the land, and God gives messages of instruction to the nation through His prophet Moses. Within those messages is contained the following warning in the verses Deuteronomy 30:15-20.

The message is clear; LIFE or DEATH. Was this message intended only for those living in the days of Moses? Did Jesus teach a similar message when He lived on earth? Is this message still valid for the people of God today? Read the following texts and answer the questions. Then decide for yourself what the Bible teaches about our choices of eternal destiny.


Read Matthew 7:13,14. How many ways does Jesus identify? What are the choices?

Helps and hints: Notice that you do not need to "find" the road to destruction. The fact that some "find" the gateway to life is indication that they searched for it. That the majority will be lost is not God's preference. It will be the result of their free choice. How many do you know who are seriously considering eternity?


How many categories of men does Jesus identify in Matthew 12:30? How does He describe them?

Helps and hints: It matters not what the object of your loyalty may be, you are either with Christ or against Him. This is ultimately the factor that will determine your eternal destiny.


How many destinies are identified in the parable in Matthew 13:47-50?

How are these destinies described?

Helps and hints: Notice that while the net caught some of every kind that was in the sea, they were sorted into only TWO groups, the good and the bad.


How many destinies are taught in the parable in Matthew 25:31-46?

How are these destinies described?

How and by whom are they determined?


What two alternatives are compared in Romans 6:23?

Helps and hints: Notice that the results of sin are not something that we receive by choice. They are described as wages because we have already earned them, as Paul says in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." But we CAN receive as a free gift the righteousness and forgiveness of Jesus Christ and escape the wages that we have earned. We could say that we either accept the gift or we get what we deserve.


According to John 3:16, what is the gift of God?

How many possible destinies are identified in John 3:16?

How are they described?

Helps and hints: Again the contrast is between life and death. The word perish bears the meaning "to pass from existence." (consult your dictionary). It seems strange that this Bible text, probably the most well known of any, is so often used to contrast two different conditions of life; an eternal life of happiness, or an eternal life of suffering.


What two choices does Jesus offer in John 3:36?

Helps and hints: We will look at the meaning of God's wrath in a later lesson. The point to be observed is that some have everlasting life, and some "shall not see life."


How many destinies are spoken of in Psalm 37:9-11?

How are they described?


Read carefully Ezekiel 18:20-24. What choices are offered?

Does this passage indicate that a person's destiny is decided at birth?

What decision does God hope people will make?


Does God continue to feel this way in New Testament times? 2 Peter 3:9

Helps and hints: The choices of eternal destiny offered to mankind have not changed from one Testament to the other. Neither has the character of God changed from the Old Testament to the New. His attitude toward us has always been the same. He wants us to experience eternal life.


The contrast between life and death appears so many times in the Bible, it almost seems to become repetitive. God wants us to know for sure that there are really only two eternal destinies for us to choose from. The teaching concerning the "broad" and the "narrow" way is very descriptive. It indicates that the road to destruction is broad and the gate is wide, in order to accommodate many different lifestyles and philosophies. There are many ways to run away from God, but the end is always the same:

"There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." Proverbs 14:12.

But there is only one way to God. That way is through Jesus Christ. We are either with Him or against Him. There are no "neutrals" in the War of the Universe, though some may think themselves to be neutral. Jesus Christ is the only valid sacrifice for the sins of mankind and the only name under heaven through which we can receive eternal life. It is important that we should enter into a right relationship with Him. He desires that we should know Him as a personal friend and Savior. He has given all for us that we might not suffer eternal death. he invites us to be included in His program for the restoration of the universe. No man or woman need to thirst for a knowledge of their eternal destiny. Jesus said,

"If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water' " John 7:37,38.

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