The everlasting bliss of the saved, and the everlasting suffering of the lost.
All those, but only those, who trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior from sin and not in their own life or works, will go to heaven when they die. Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the Life. Anyone who believes in Me will live even if he dies. Yes, anyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.”73 “Because I live you too will live.”74
The doctrine of the resurrection from the dead is taught in both the Old and New Testaments. It is not some teaching which was developed by men during the inter-testamental period so that they might have some comfort in the hour of death.75
Jesus said that He was the only way to heaven and that all those who do not believe in Him are lost.76 The Athanasian Creed teaches that all those who do not believe in the Holy Trinity, the only true God, “without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.”
The unbelievers will rise to eternal death, that is, to everlasting shame, contempt, and torment in hell.77 Man goes to either Heaven or Hell at death. There is no purgatory or limbo, according to the Bible.78
The Bible teaches that at the time of death the soul of the believer is at once received into the presence of Christ.79 At the Last Day the believer will live with Christ, according to body and soul, in eternal joy and glory.80
Since Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven and those who die without him are lost in eternal Hell, it is the Christian’s responsibility to support Christian missions and to the best of one’s ability to tell others about Jesus Christ.81
A clear understanding of the Biblical doctrine of the Word is absolutely essential to an effective approach to evangelism and missions. We agree with Luther, that the Word does not merely trip man’s trigger of potential . . .for man has no scriptural potential (Eph. 2:1). Instead, the Word effects even that which it commands-it not only calls for conversion and sanctification, THE WORD ITSELF CONVERTS AND SANCTIFIES.82
73 John 11:25,26.
74 John 14:19.
75 Job 19:25-27. Otten, op. cit. 34-36. 3a-m.
76 John 14:6. Acts 4:12.
77 Luke 16:23,24; Matt 10:28; Is. 66:24; Matt 7:13-
78 Luke 16:19-31. Hebrew 9:27. "Heaven and Hell," Siegbert Becker. CNE, pp. 2293-2295. "There IS A HELL," CNE. 2296; Eternal Damnation," J.T. Mueller, CNE . 2297.
79 Phil. 1:23; Luke23:43; Rev. 14:13.
80 1 John3:2; Ps. 16:1. John 17:24; Rom. 8:18. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod confessed in its 1973 "Statement of Scriptural and Confessional Principles," CNE. pp. 1230-1231:
1. CHRIST AS SAVIOR AND LORD
We believe, teach, and confess that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord, and that through faith in Him we receive forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and salvation. We confess that our works cannot reconcile God or merit forgiveness of sins and grace but that we obtain forgiveness and grace only by faith when we believe that we are received into favor for Christ's sake, who alone has been ordained the mediator and propitiation through whom the Father is reconciled" (AC, XX, 9). We believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven and that all who die without faith in Him are eternally damned. We believe that those who believe in Christ will enjoy a blissful relationship with Him during the interim between their death and His second coming and that on the last day their bodies will be raised.
We therefore reject the following:
1. That we may operate on the assumption that there may be other ways of salvation than through faith in Jesus Christ;
2. That some persons who lack faith in Christ may be considered "anonymous Christians";
3. That there is no eternal hell for unbelieves and ungodly men.
81 Some Remarks on the Question of the Salvation of the Heathen," by Theodore Engelder, CNE, pp. 1330. "Mission Versus Missions," William R. LeRoy, CNE, pp. 1331 1333. "Christ The Only Way." "CNE. p. 1336; Otten, op. cit. pp. 74-76.
82 Rev. Wallace Schulz, Associate Speaker. International Lutheran Hour, "The Electronic Media," CNE, 2636-2637. Schulz writes:
THE KEY TO IT ALL: The Living Word
God has given us unlimited evangelistic power through His Living Word. Speaking through Isaiah the prophet of God says that His "Word," when it is proclaimed, shall not return until it has "accomplished" that which He desires. The efficacy at God's Word is explained by the revered Biblical scholar Delitzsch: "(The Word) is not a mere sound or letter. As it goes forth out of the mouth of God it acquires shave, and in this shape is hidden a divine life, because of its divine origin; and so it runs, with life from God, endowed with divine power, supplied with divine commissions, like a swift messenger through nature and the world of man, there to melt ice as it were, and to heal and to save.”
A clear understanding of the Biblical doctrine of the Word is absolutely essential to an effective approach to evangelism and missions. Embracing the now popular Protestant understanding of the Word of God automatically leads one to constantly see new methodologies in order to evangelize or carry out a mission program. Interestingly, when Paul in his loving admonition to Timothy gave the simple and yet all-embracing command and approach to missions, “Preach the Word.” This apostle was imparting an inspired message which the bulk of today’s media-religionists apparently do not comprehend.
Thus, we agree with Luther that the Word does not merely trip man’s trigger of potential... for natural man has no spiritual potential (Eph. 2:1). Instead, the word effects even that which it commands --- it not only calls for conversion and sanctification. THE WORD ITSELF CONVERTS AND SANCTIFIES.
The Word is efficacious. A serious study of Luther's introductory sermons on the Gospel of John would be a surprise to many involved in today's "electronic church. "His approach to the Word, totally different from what is held by the majority of evangelicals today, yet, solidly Biblical, is indeed exciting: in fact, it is so inspiring, it is so emerging, that if this understanding of the Word were recaptured today by Protestants, there would be a new Reformation and a phenomenal mission and evangelism threat , even among Lutherans!
103. Keil/Delitzseh, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 7, p. 359. Luther also speaks of the Word as an active agent in his sermon on John 1:1-7; St Paul also speaks about the Word being ‘‘at work" within believers (2 Thess. 2:13).
104. Luther's exhaustive (and not easy to read) work THE BONDAGE OF THE WILL is a thorough treatment of man’s helpless spiritual condition as stated in the Scriptures. For those interested in a shorter and quite provocative treatment, they might turn to the April, 1966, issue of the Concordia Theological Monthly, p. 287. This article, “Luther Against Erasmus” was originally delivered by James I. Packer the well-known Anglican author and clergyman to the pastoral conference of the English Lutheran Church, October 30, 1964.
105. Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 1:21; Colossians 2:13; Romans 9:16; John 1:13.
106. John 6:63.
107 Luther's Works, American Edition, vol. 22, p. 12.
108. Jeremiah 1:9.10; Romans 10:17.
109. John 15:3.
110. John 6:27.