Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Two men, Two Deaths, Two Destinies

And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43 NKJV)

But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ (Luke 12:20 NKJV)
The Question?
Would any of us like to hear those words, “Today that shalt be with me in paradise?”  We would probably be glad to hear those words if we were hanging on a cross, but otherwise we might not be quite ready to join the Lord in paradise.  Or what if the Lord called us a fool and said, “You don’t know it, but tonight you are going to leave all you worked for all your life behind—and you are not rich toward God.”  Which means that he had not prepared for eternity.  Likely many who have spent their lives living for self and who have not preparing for eternity will get to meet this man in the eternal torments of perpetual sorrow.
None of us like the idea of dying.  Death is called the last enemy in 1 Corinthians 15:26. Sometimes it seems like we have been called to participate in a game that we don’t understand and for which we didn’t volunteer.  But we came into this world without asking for the opportunity, and we will leave this world when our referee decides that the game is over. How nice it is to believe that when we depart, we will be with the Lord.  How nice it will be to enjoy the blessings of paradise.
Unfortunately . . .
It is a great calamity to gain all that this world has to offer and to go out into eternity without having prepared.  We all know that apart from the Lord’s return, we are all going to die.  But of course, we all assume that will not be today.  But for the two men we are considering, that time was “today.”  The thief likely saw his end coming but the rich man did not.  The rich man had his savings account securely in place in an offshore account, he had his 401K invested in the right stocks, he had his house paid for and his insurance up to date, but unfortunately, God says he was a fool.  He died without preparing for eternity
The thief had really messed up his life.  He had stolen from others and he was dying.  He certainly couldn’t make things right with those he had harmed now that he was on a cross.  But he could call out for mercy.  He wouldn’t get it from Pilate for this life, but He could get if trom the Lord for the next.  And while the rich man ended up losing his soul, the thief ended up going to paradise with the Lord.  He didn’t deserve to go there, but he did go there because He had concluded that the Lord was the Messiah, and that He was the coming King, and that the Lord had done nothing wrong.  Therefore, the Lord could and would justly die for Him and could and would provide him forgiveness and reconciliation.
What do we Experience when we “Cross Over” to the Other Side?
Luke 16 makes it clear that a rich man dying without the salvation provided by the Lord Jesus Christ experiences eternal torment and despair. The rich man could think and feel and talk.  But he could not be saved.  He could only plead for others that they might be saved. 
Think of the transformation that occurs when we who are saved die.  We no longer have to listen to the lies of politicians, we no longer have to worry about the violence in our land, we no longer have to worry about our medical plans, we no longer have to go to funerals. Our children will no longer have to fight wars.  Instead we get to enjoy “paradise.” 
Paradise, the garden of God, is a destination that is waiting for the believer.  It is going to be a place of good food (there are trees bearing fruit), it is going to be a place of good company, and it is going to be a place of unusual beauty.  Getting there may not be pleasant, but once we are there, we will be glad that our ticket was free and unmerited and one-way.  We will not want to go back.
Bruce Collins
Meditation for the week of March 24, 2019

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