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PASTOR’S CORNER: What is your eternal destination?

“What’s on your mind?”

Any Facebook enthusiast is familiar with this question; it’s the first thing you see at the top of the first page of the news feed. Scrolling down from that first page is where everybody shares what’s on their minds.

I’m always amazed at some of the stuff people admit they’re thinking about. Nothing seems to be off limits.

I won’t bore you with some of the idiotic posts I’ve seen, but I am grateful that once in a while I run across a post about the goodness of God. That says that some people are at least thinking in the right direction.

I am, however, somewhat concerned in that I have yet to see any posts that show me that people are thinking about the most important thing in life — one’s eternal destiny.

Have you thought about it lately? If not, let me give you some food for thought. The scriptures are crystal clear that there is life after physical death, when we transition from earth to eternity. In eternity, there are only two choices, heaven or hell. And each of us makes that choice before we get there, right here on this Earth.

The question is this; what is the basis for that choice? The answer is whether or not we are saved at transition time. The saved go to heaven in eternity and the unsaved wind up in hell. So then, the problem becomes what we believe about the means of salvation. Let’s explore the beliefs of what I believe to be the nine major global religious movements prevalent today.

All of these movements, with one exception, believe and teach that we all earn salvation by some form of self-effort; such as, living morally excellent lives, being an all-around good person, and doing good things in life. The problem with this belief is that we can never know before we get there whether we are saved and have done enough good to get us into heaven.

In case you’re wondering, the movements referred to are Hinduism, Buddhism, Unitarianism, Judaism, Islam, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roman Catholicism, and mainstream Christianity. Mainstream Christianity believes in salvation only by God’s grace and through one’s belief in Christ, and not by works of any kind (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

This is the exception we refer to above, the only way anyone can be assured of salvation and entry into heaven in this earth-realm, before reaching eternity. There’s something to be said about peace of mind. Knowing that my eternal existence is settled now is a stress-reliever.

My prayer is that you have been motivated to at least think about where you will spend life in eternity. We live a lot longer there than we do here, so it’s the most important life decision we have to make. Do your own research, as I have, and I’m positive you’ll make the choice I did. Mainstream Christianity is the only way to go.

Pretty basic, elementary stuff, you say? I agree, it surely is, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who have no clue! As a preacher, I’ve never forgotten a bit of advice I received many years ago: never assume that people know; most of the time, they don’t.

Rev. O.L. Johnson, a retired LAPD lieutenant, is an associate pastor in his home church. Greater New Zion Baptist, 501 W. 80th St. in Los Angeles. Pastor’s Corner is a religious column that looks at the relevancy of scripture in life today. The column will appear monthly in The Wave and on its website,