Amos is continuing his speech to the Israelites who could not imagine that God was not going to accept them and their worship. The Israelites did not believe the prophet Amos because they were led astray by their religious leaders who were the ones leading them in false worship and condoning their sinful ways. If there is one thing that many people are led astray about it is the false teachings about the afterlife and what happens to us when we die.
Reincarnation is the philosophical or religious concept that the soul or spirit, after biological death, can begin a new life in a new body.
Purgatory is an intermediate state after physical death in which some of those ultimately destined for heaven must first “undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven,” holding that “certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.”
Universalism is a centuries-old belief that all people will be saved because of God’s unconditional love.
Every religion and even atheism has an answer for what happens to us when we die. Whatever you accept you accept by faith. With all of these beliefs how do we know which one is correct and who do we believe? Some people will claim that we cannot know and so it does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere about it. The people in Amos day were sincere in their worship but that is why God sent His prophet to them to correct them in their thinking and to show them that there is a true way to worship Him.
Amos 8:14 Those who swear by the Guilt of Samaria, and say, ‘As your god lives, O Dan,’ and, ‘As the Way of Beersheba lives,’ they shall fall, and never rise again.”
1) All Roads do not lead to God
We have been talking about religious pluralism which believes that all the religions teach similar things therefore you just need to pick one because God will accept all of them. The people in Amos day were doing exactly that and Amos was trying to warn them about it and that was worshiping God on their terms instead of accepting His terms of how worship should be done.
To swear was to take an oath in front of the god that one worshiped and it would be the god that you sacrificed for and placed your trust in. Israel’s problem was theological because they thought that they could add other gods to the worship of the true God. They were to swear an oath to God alone (Deuteronomy 6:13) and when they made an oath with these other gods they were looking to them to fulfill something only God can fulfill.
If all roads lead to Heaven then why did Jesus Christ have to die and why did He say He was the only way to God?
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
I start with the words of Jesus because if we are going to be Christ followers (Christians) then we have to accept the words and teachings of Christ. To say that all religions lead to God is to say that Jesus was not telling us the truth.
Acts 4:11-12 This Jesus[a] is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.[b] 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men[c] by which we must be saved.”
The Apostle Peter is saying the same thing in front of the religious leaders that Jesus is the only name given that salvation can be obtained.
1Timothy 2:5-6 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man[a] Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
Jesus is the one we turn to for our salvation. Either He is the way, the truth and the life or He is a liar and all of His teachings should be disregarded.
2) The Road you choose will be eternal
They shall fall to never rise again.
Amos let them know that if they sought other gods that those gods could not save them. The concept of being separated from God for all eternity is a struggle that many people do not understand nor are the willing to accept. Jesus tells a story to illustrate the point of what happens in eternity and the fate of two different men.
Luke 16:22-26 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.[f] The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’
When Jesus told this story some say it was not a parable because he names the poor man (Lazarus) and the rich man is only known by his deeds. Most parables do not mention any names and if the man was in torment it demonstrates how being nameless means he was forgotten. The man in torment is not looking to get out of his punishment only to have it made a little more bearable.
“D.A. Carson says, “Hell is not a place where people are consigned because they were pretty good blokes, but they just didn’t believe the right stuff. They’re consigned there, first and foremost, because they defy their maker and want to be at the center of the universe. Hell is not filled with people who have already repented, only God isn’t gentle enough or good enough to let them out. It’s filled with people who, for all eternity, still want to be the center of the universe and who persist in their God-defying behavior.” (Case for Faith, Lee Strobel, Pg. 193)
There is no indication that those in hell will want out because God gave them what they wanted which is separation from Him. Notice how the rich man thinks he can ask Abraham for something and that he can get the poor man to serve him. He lived a selfish life on earth and in eternity he continues in his selfish ways. He does later say for someone to warn his brothers but he was told that they had Moses and the prophets and that if they did not listen to them then they would not believe if someone rose from the dead.
“A great Chasm has been fixed”
Jesus made it clear that after death a person who did not accept Him would be eternally separated from God and once there you could not leave.
Matthew 25:41 and 46 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
We are eternal beings but where we spend that eternity depends on if we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ as payment for our sin. Many people find Hell offensive but as I have said before forgiveness is more offensive. For someone who did horrible things to suffer no consequences of those actions are very offensive but it is what is promised to anyone who puts their faith in Christ. To deny the reality of Hell is to lessen the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on our behalf.
“The idea is hard for us humans to take because we do not have the kind of revulsion from sin, evil and wickedness that God has-or that we indeed should have. Even the best of us flirt with sin. We smile and wink at it. We too often forget that one single sin equates to death. “ (The 10 most common objections to Christianity, Alex McFarland, Pg. 168)
Jesus died to fix the problem that existed between us and God and that is we were separated from God because of our sin. Most people do not see themselves separated from God but that is the universal problem that Jesus came to fix. If you put your faith and hope in other religions the Bible tells us that they will not be good enough to earn your salvation. (Acts 11:12 salvation in no one else) If you put your faith and hope in your own works the Bible says that you will never be good enough (Ephesians 2:8-9) But if you put your faith and hope in what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross not only defeating sin but also defeating death then we can have eternity with God. (1 John 5:11-13)
Do you believe that what Jesus Christ did on the cross allows you to have eternal life? Do you think you have been good enough to earn salvation on your own? Eternity is on the line and we will all face it one day so what you know and believe about it now matters. You can deny the reality of eternity, hell and even heaven but whatever you choose you choose by faith. Jesus, who was God in the flesh, came to earth and spoke these things about Hell, Heaven and eternity so that we can know the truth about them. Jesus died for a reason and that was to remove the wrath of God off of us and making us righteous through His actions.
John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.