Why Do Some Christians Die a Terrible Death? (Basilea Schlink)

Why do some Christians die a terrible death? The late Basilea Schlink explains in her book What Comes After Death?

Who will come for us in the hour of our death? A parish worker once related bow she had served for many years in a church that had a reputation for being especially ‘religious’ – the members were born-again believers. Yet at the deathbeds of some of these church members she was deeply distressed to see old people, believing Christians, die a terrible death. Indeed, the power of darkness could be sensed in the rooms of the dying. Later this woman was transferred to another church where the members were God-fearing in the truest sense of the word. And she noticed that the sick there usually had a much easier death. What could be the explanation? Jesus says, ‘Not every one who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven’ (Matthew 7:21). Thus in the second church the members may have had less knowledge of God, but what little they knew they put into practice with God-fearing hearts. In the especially ‘religious’ church, on the other hand, the people may have known much, but done little – the great danger for us believers at all times. This is how Satan gains such power!

Those who are convinced that the angels of God will carry them into the kingdom of glory in the hour of death will have a terrible shock if instead they have to hear and experience Jesus’ verdict one day that the first are now the last and vice versa. God revealed this truth most vividly to one of the fathers of Pietism, Jung-Stilling. In his well-known book about scenes from the realm of spirits, Szenen aus dem Geisterreiche, Jung-Stilling depicts a few figures wandering about confusedly in the realm of shadows, lonely and unhappy. Significantly enough, all of them had been believers, contemporaries of Jung-Stilling.

One of them complains, ‘I am at a loss as to what to say. It was our firm conviction that we would be given precedence in going to heaven. But can you imagine, brother, I saw that many of those whom we did not think were born-again have been led by the angels in triumph into the kingdom of the blessed. But so far no angel has taken any notice of me.’

Of another soul wandering about sad and forlorn in this realm of shadows, it is said, ‘A short while ago he approached one of the heavenly messengers, but the poor soul was burled far away by the electric shock that proceeded from the angel like a bolt of lightning.’

The souls are utterly bewildered at all this, for they had held this particular man in high esteem. ‘His gift of eloquence and knowledge was so great that we acknowledged him as our leader. His exemplary life in the presence of God, his detachment from the world and his faithfulness in pointing out what was amiss in our lives convinced us all that he would receive a glorious inheritance here!’ Instead this soul and all the others drift about in the realm of shadows in darkness, looking wretched and emaciated. No angel deems them worthy of a glance, for there is no trace of Jesus’ image to be seen in them.

One of them says, ‘If deception is still possible here, then the Word of God is not the Word of God! No, I believe that the souls whom we saw being taken away were being conveyed to places of purification. Perhaps it is evil spirits who have come for them in the guise of angels of light!’

The second replies, ‘That’s not the way it seems to me!’ But their conversation does not lead them to any conclusion.

Then a third calls out, ‘What do I see there? What glorious beings are these descending the mountains in the light of the rising sun?’

‘They are angels who judge the souls [by this a preliminary judgment is meant]. Would you like a look?’

‘Do you see Brother E. standing before the angel? 0 Lord, he’s shrinking into a dwarf! Now a flame is shooting out of him! Do you see the terrible things in the red flame?’

‘It is awful! Almighty, merciful God! He’s changing into a monster . . . .’ [His appearance now reflects his true self and being, which was so evil.]

The souls in the realm of shadows continue their conversation. ‘See how he flies away into the night with a hissing sound, as though the flame were singeing him!’

The deceased now see another angel standing before a soul, who begins to glow with an aura of ever-increasing light. One of the deceased says, ‘I know him. Is that not the schoolmaster Elias? He was very ill when 1 died. But surely that cannot be him. This soul is so transfigured, he looks like a saint. But the schoolmaster was not even born-again!’

An angel draws close to them. ‘Yes, this indeed was the schoolmaster Elias. Now he is a prince in the land of the righteous and his inheritance is magnificent.’

The first soul addresses the angel, saying, ‘Excuse me, O glorious one, if I may be so bold as to ask you a question. We cannot understand how this schoolmaster can go to heaven, when he was not even born-again. Don’t the angels know what “born-again” means?’

The angel replied, ‘Whether we know it or not is not the question – rather whether you know it.’

The believer answered, ‘Praise God! I know it, for I have been born-again for over forty years. A person is born again when he recognizes his sinful wretchedness and repents wholeheartedly of his extremely corrupt state, turning to God and Christ in all sincerity.’

Now comes the most crucial point in the angel’s reply: ‘The concept in itself is perfectly right and the commandment it contains is a welcome duty to those who wish to go to heaven. But you sought to fulfil your religious duties solely with pious devotions, Bible reading, praying and hymn-singing. To be sure, you avoided the more obvious sins, but you harboured and fostered the more subtle ones, which are far worse – spiritual pride, feigned humility, disdain and criticism of those who were better than you. And not only have you done so, but you have considered it to be zeal for the House of God. You have always taken pains to know what to do in order to please God, but you have taken this knowledge for action.’

Do we too take our knowledge for action?

The angel went on to say, ‘All mortification and crucifixion [of self] without true and active love is an abomination to God, for it only fosters pride. Who goes to further lengths in the mortification of all desires of the flesh than the fakirs in India? But who is more proud? As long as you have not cut off this source of pride and faultfinding in yourself, you cannot go to heaven.’

Thereupon came the answer of the souls in the realm of shadows, revealing their deep-seated pride. ‘But in our soul we had the deep assurance of being children of God and the Spirit bore witness to us of this!’ .

‘The true witness of being a child of God,’ rejoined the angel, ‘is expressed in heartfelt humility. Remember how good the Pharisee felt in his heart when he could say, “God, I thank Thee that I am not like other men, that I am not a sinner like this tax collector.” But how can this confidence [this superior attitude and spirit of criticism] be a witness of being a child of God? You have all been exposed before the judgment seat of the Sovereign of the world; your innermost heart has been laid bare and you can see your whole life lying before you with the utmost clarity and yet in your pride you aim higher still, laying claim to the Kingdom of God. Beware that you do not fall under the judgment of the rebels!’

But even at this admonition these believers had only a pious answer. Then the angel began to shine most frighteningly. ‘Depart with haste, so that the wrathful fire of the Most High does not cast you into the outermost darkness! You think that your love is stronger than hell, but you have not even begun to love. Begone!’

Behind this scene depicted by Jung-Stilling are biblical truths. Jesus loves us and has paid a high price for our redemption. How much then must He yearn to take us into His kingdom as the fruit of His suffering and receive us there with the words, ‘Come, 0 blessed of my Father. Enter into the joy of your master!’ (Matthew 25:34, 21).

But what a grief it is for Jesus when, in spite of His precious sacrifice, souls that He has redeemed cannot enter His kingdom, even though they counted themselves among the believers! Much to Jesus’ grief such believers did not take to heart the words, ‘Depart!’ and ‘I do not know you’, which He spoke time and again as a warning for those who were so sure that they belonged to Him. They took their knowledge for action, as the angel said. They were so confident that the gates of the Kingdom of God would be open for them and that they would be present at the Marriage Feast of the Lamb.

Let us remember the parable of the ten virgins – ‘five of them were foolish’. The foolish virgins never imagined it possible that the door could be closed to them one day, for had they not gone out to meet the Bridegroom? Thus we could liken them to devout people who read the Bible, pray and are active in evangelistic outreach. ‘On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers”‘ (Matthew 7:22f). They incur such a severe verdict, since they had forgotten to do the simplest things that are expected of a disciple of Jesus, that is, of a believer: they had failed to do His will and obey His commandments not to criticize, quarrel, be angry or irreconciled, embittered, proud or condemning.

It was on account of these very sins that Jesus’ wrath came upon the religious people of His day, the Pharisees. They clung to their sins, they continued to transgress without any qualms and refused to recognize Him as the Saviour, who had come to save and deliver those who grieve over their sins. Although it is an irrefutable fact that, as the Victor over Death, Jesus has delivered us from Death and the kingdom of the dead, we must claim this redemption and Jet it be manifest in our lives. Otherwise the hour of death will disclose that we did not truly believe in Jesus.

A true and living faith in Jesus Christ keeps us in constant touch with Him, the living Lord. The person that truly believes is convicted by the Holy Spirit of the sins he commits day by day- an experience that brings him to contrition and repentance. This in turn will drive him ever anew to Jesus, for as a sinful being who continually heaps fresh guilt upon himself he has to claim Jesus’ redemption daily. This kind of faith bears the opposite characteristic to the faith of the proud, faultfinding believers in Jung-Stilling’s book. Humility is its salient feature, a broken and contrite heart that does not criticize and condemn others or become aloof with a feeling of superiority, but rather seeks to be reconciled in humble love.

Soon the hour will come when Death will stand at our deathbed, when he will unmask and accuse us. Like all other princes of darkness he is probably granted the right to accuse souls; for as it is written in Revelation 12:10, Satan can even come before God to accuse men. Whenever he has an opportunity to accuse a soul, he laughs scornfully and exults with his demons, while Jesus and His angels mourn. But there is joy in heaven when a soul repents- even if it be at the very last moment as with the thief on the cross. Then the soul will experience that Jesus is the Victor over Death and has deprived the accuser of his power.

Godly Christians Know When They Are Going to Die

Death is not a fearful thing for Christians, especially those who are godly.

Indeed, it is my observation that for Christians who have passed on and who had lived a godly life prior to their passing, they generally did have at least a perception of their impending deaths, if not a clear word from the Lord about it.

A case in point is the late great Nigerian evangelist and revivalist Joseph Ayo Babalola, whose passing happened this very day (26 July 1959, Sunday) 56 years ago. Of his passing, this is what has been reported by Evangelist Peter Olatidoye (and the narrative can be found in the book “Nigeria’s Leading Lights of the Gospel: Revolutionaries in Worldwide Christianity“):

Until his sudden departure to glory on Sunday, 26th July, 1959, Apostle Joseph Ayo Babalola showed no sign of illness. On Friday 24th July, he returned to Ibadan to attend the general council’s meeting slated for that day. On Saturday morning, 25th July, Apostle Babalola conducted the morning prayer for ministers and members living in the vicarage of C.A.C. Olugbode, Ibadan and prayed for everybody. The same day, he sent two of his followers, Michael and another fellow to me at Ede that I should prepare a place for him to sleep. I never knew he was talking of his final sleep. Apostle Ayo Babalola arrived Ede around 6:30 in the evening that Saturday and he was gladly received. Before his arrival, I had prepared my bedroom ready for him.

We ensured that nobody was allowed to rush into the bedroom with him; for it was Apostle Babalola’s habit that he never turned away anybody who came to him for prayer and counselling, no matter how weary he might be. After prayer, I informed him that his meal was ready. He declined to take any meal but requested to be allowed to have some sleep, because he had been holding series of meetings since the past nine days with little or no rest. He woke up three hours later and took some tea and slept off again. At 4a.m. on Sunday 26th, he woke up, took his bath, took some tea and had his morning meditation without any disturbance. At 6 o’clock, I went to him in the bedroom and he began to talk about a great convention which will soon be held at his hometown, Odo-Owa. He was speaking in parables, so I did not suspect that he was talking about his approaching death. He directed me to call in Prophet Babajide who was in the adjacent room. Both of us knelt down beside his bed and he began to narrate to us how he began his ministry. It was such a sublime experience. Both of us just listened; we did not utter a single word during the course of his narration. After this, we knelt down for prayer. The three of us prayed. I took the lead. Prophet Babajide followed. When it was Apostle Babalola’s turn to pray, he prayed for a very long time, praying for the church, the leaders and for us too. After the special service, people came to Apostle Babalola in my bedroom and bid him farewell before leaving for their various destinations with joy and humour. He bid everyone farewell and prayed for them. Nobody suspected through his speech or action that death was lurking in the corners. We left him alone to attend to those who were waiting to see him. Meanwhile, Michael Osabi and Samuel Oluwatusin, the two young men who used to wait on him, remained with him as he took a nap. When he woke up, he called me and returned my covering-cloth to me. His action surprised me and I asked, “Baba, why are you doing this?” He replied, “A man should sleep with his own clothes.” It did not occur to me that he was speaking of his imminent death. He advised me to go and have some sleep myself. By then, everybody else had gone to church for the evening service. Around 5p.m. as he lay on the bed, Apostle Joseph Ayo Babalola breathed heavily three times, saying after, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” His breathing was like the rumbling of a rain-storm and there was a great vibration in the bedroom. As this was happening, his personal attendants (Michael and Samuel) ran to call me to his bedside before he gave up the ghost. We began to pray and quickly sent for the church leaders who had gone to church for the evening service. We all prayed for his restoration. But while this prayer was on, the Lord opened my spiritual eyes to see what was happening in the heavenlies. The heavenly hosts had come to meet this great prophet and joyfully admitted him into the glory above. He had laid down his sword at Jesus’ feet. So he could not return to earth again. The church leaders and the elders who were present arranged for Apostle Babalola’s corpse to be taken to Efon-Alaaye that same night.

Death (Both Physical and Spiritual) is Separation and Not the Cessation of Existence

Death, both physical and spiritual, share this in common:  that they involve separation and DO NOT represent the cessation of existence.

In physical death, the soul separates from the body, the body decays and the dead person’s “dust returns to the ground it came from” (Ecclesiastes 12:7, NIV).

The soul, however, continues to exist either in hell (Luke 16:19-31) or in heaven (John 14:2-3).

Likewise, spiritual death involves separation, and in particular, separation between a person and God.

Isaiah 59:2 (NIV) reads: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” (emphasis mine), and note how in Ephesians 2:1, this separation is translated as death: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins”. (emphasis mine)

This concept is again reflected in Colossians 2:13 (NLT; with emphasis mine):

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.

Bearing this in mind, have you ever wondered what the Lord Jesus Christ meant when he said to “let the dead bury their own dead”? (Luke 9:60). It is obvious that a physically-dead person cannot bury another physically-dead person, however, spiritually-dead people are capable of burying a physically-dead person. Thus, the New Living Translation (NLT) is accurate in its translation of Luke 9:60 as follows (with emphasis mine):

But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”

Finally, it is important for believers to note that there are things that can lead to spiritual death and that we are to avoid them (Romans 6:20-21; NIV; with emphasis mine), lest they cause us to die spiritually again:

20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!

The Triune Nature of the Soul (Mind, Heart and Will) and What Happens to a Person’s Soul When He/She Dies

In a previous post, we discuss humankind’s triune nature of spirit, soul, and body.

Now, just as a “whole” person comprises three parts, a person’s soul also comprises three parts:  mind (thoughts), heart (emotion) and the will.

With the mind, a person decides whether to live according to the flesh (the sinful nature) or according to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:5-6; NIV):

5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

With regards to the heart, the bible tell us that it “is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17:9). In addition, it is out of the heart that comes “evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19, NIV).

The will is the superior part of a person’s soul, capable of overruling the intentions of his/her mind or heart. The Lord Jesus Christ, for instance, was anguished by the thought of His crucifixion (Luke 22:44), but overruled His anguish by setting His will according to His Father’s will (“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”; Luke 22:42).

However, just as a person’s mind (1 Timothy 6:5) and heart can be corrupted, so can a person’s will:

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:26; KJV; emphasis mine)

For this they willfully forget, that there were heavens from of old, and an earth compacted out of water and amidst water, by the word of God (2 Peter 3:5; ASV; emphasis mine)

It is therefore imperative for our souls (mind, heart and will) to be saved — indeed, this is the goal of our faith (1 Peter 1:9; ISV; emphasis mine):

because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Indeed, upon death, while a person’s body decays, and his/her spirit is returned to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7, NIV), the person’s soul remains conscious, and ends up in either one of two places depending on the choices that the person has made during his/her lifetime.

Specifically, upon death, a person’s soul either ends up in hell (Luke 16:19-31) or in heaven (John 14:2-3).

On the issue of how can a person secure eternal life, well, the bible instructs us to “abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 1:9; NIV), and abstaining from sinful desires is the choice that we need to make during our lifetime on a day-by-day basis if we wish to reap eterna life:

Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8; NIV)

The Triune Nature of Humanity (Spirit, Soul and Body) and What Happens to a Person When He/She Dies

The bible teaches us that the “whole” person has three components:  spirit, soul and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23b; ISV)

And may your whole being—spirit, soul, and body—remain blameless when our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, appears.

It’s obvious that when a person dies, the body decays. The bible also talks about how the dead person’s “dust returns to the ground it came from” (Ecclesiastes 12:7, NIV).

Interestingly, that same verse also teaches us that the person’s “spirit returns to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7, NIV).

Why does God give each person a spirit? This is so that he/she may “understand”, in particular, to the reality of God (Job 32:8, ESV):

But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.

Indeed, it is precisely because a person is equipped with this ability to understand (because of the spirit given to him/her), that he/she has no excuse for not believing in God (Romans 1:20; NIV; emphasis mine):

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

To reiterate, upon death a person’s body decays, and his/her spirit is returned to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7, NIV). However, the person’s soul remains conscious, and ends up in either one of two places depending on the choices that the person has made during his/her lifetime.

Specifically, upon death, a person’s soul either ends up in hell (Luke 16:19-31) or in heaven (John 14:2-3).

Testimony of Malaysian Vincent Liow (Ex-Temple Medium Who Visited Hell) (VIDEOS)

Vincent Liow was born in Malaysia, and has an amazing testimony to share. In this webpage, I compile all the videos that I could find of meetings or interviews where he had shared his story.

Liow had worked as a temple medium for many years, and one day, was hospitalised due to a sudden health event that resembled a stroke.

In hospital, Liow had a near-death experience, during which his soul was transported to hell. While being tormented by the fires of hell, Liow called out to the deities he had served during his lifetime, but they either seemed unwilling or unable to rescue him. Relief only came after he, out of desparation, called out the name of Jesus Christ (a name he had remembered due to his school days in a Christian mission school), which led to the fires that surrounded him subsiding and his soul being released from hell and transported to the gates of heaven. However, Liow was unable to enter heaven, and was told that his time had not come and that he had a mission to accomplish.

That mission was to share with others what he had personally wtinessed and experienced, and his testimony can be viewed in the videos below, which were taken at various meetings or interviews.

Besides publicly speaking about his experience, Liow has also published a book, and for more information, visit his Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/His-Amazing-Grace/389446834515052

Can A Person Be Baptised Even Though He/She Doesn’t Quite Believe?

Let me begin my saying who this essay is NOT being aimed at. It is not aimed at those of you who are about to get baptised, who on the whole possess a sincere faith in Jesus Christ, but due to immaturity, may still struggle in certain aspects of your faith.

Rather, this essay is aimed at those of you who do not possess a genuine faith in Jesus Christ, but are planning to get baptised due to ulterior motives.

The ulterior motives include the wish to get baptised to impress your believing boyfriend or girlfriend.  Or perhaps you think it is “cool” to be labelled as a Christian (even though you don’t believe in Jesus Christ). Or perhaps your friends or relatives have been nagging you to become a Christian and you wish to get them off your back.

Whatever the reasons, if you do not possess an ounce of faith in Jesus Christ, you must refrain from getting baptised.

Some people may view baptism as nothing more than like an act in a movie, but what they don’t realise is that the act has indeed serious spiritual implications.

In particular, baptism is an emblem of death and burial, as Romans 6:3-4 below (with emphasis mine) explains:

3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Please read that again (and slowly), paying particular attention to the following two words:  death and burial.

Not that I wish to alarm you unnecessarily, but one’s involvement with spiritual emblems do indeed open the doors to consequences in one’s life, be they positive or negative.

For instance, in 1 Corinthians 11,  we find that believers who partook of the Holy Communion (the emblem of the body and blood of Jesus Christ) in an unworthy manner came under God’s judgment (verse 29), and led to their sickness or even death (verse 30).

A real-life example of someone who had perhaps take baptism too lightly was the late Dr Richard Teo.

In a speech in 2011, Dr Teo admitted: “I was baptised 20 years ago, but it was because it was fashionable to be a Christian then. All my friends were becoming Christians then [and] I wanted to be baptised, so that when I filled in a form, I could put there “Christian” – [it] feels good!”

“In truth, I never had a bible; I don’t know what the bible is all about.”

“I went to church for a while; after some time, I got tired.”

Indeed, although Dr Teo had been baptised, and therefore, was in principle supposed to be dead to the world and living a new life in Christ (Romans 6:3-4), perhaps due to the lack of proper guidance in church, Dr Teo found himself, over time, increasingly drawn to the things of the world.

By the time he was in his 30s, Dr Teo achieved almost everything that most Singaporeans can only aspire to — wealth measured in millions of dollars, a thriving business and membership in high society. (Read about his story in my previous blog)

However, his life came crashing down when he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

The good thing, though, was that his sickness led him back to God.

Dr Teo would also later come to the understanding that his sickness was God’s way of disciplining him.

Eventually, Dr Teo did not recover from lung cancer and died at the age of 40 years. His inspiring testimony of God’s dealing with him can be watched in the Youtube link below.

That said, baptism is a sacred and serious event in one’s life. It represents the death to one’s former life and the intention to live a new life in Christ (Romans 6:3-4)

Personally, I wish that every person on this planet would find faith in Jesus Christ, repent and be baptised (Acts 2:38). But it would be naive to think that everyone alive would be willing to say ‘no’ to the world and its pleasures, and to give up one’s former life.

The Lord Jesus Christ told those who wanted to follow Him to count the cost to being His disciple (Luke 14:25-34), and this is exactly what those who are planning to get baptised need to be aware that they are getting themsleves into.