William Saroyan was an internationally known literary figure. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his writing, but he refused to accept it. At the age of 15, he quit school to follow this career, and at 26 he was well established as a genius in creative writing. He died of cancer at the age of 72.
Five days before he died, Mr. Saroyan left a statement to be printed in the newspaper after his death. Here’s what it said: “Everybody has got to die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case. Now what?”
Anyone who is acquainted with the message of the Bible would have been able to give this famous man an answer to his question, “Now what?”
The Bible tells us plainly what comes after death: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Mr. Saroyan hoped an exception might be made in his case, but as he neared the time of his departure, he realized that he had entertained an unrealistic hope. Fame, talent, and wishful thinking are all very empty and comfortless in the presence of death.
Let’s listen again to the Bible, the Word of the living God: It is the only reliable source of information on the subject. There is a resurrection. This life is not the end of the story for any one of us: “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?” (Acts 26:8). Jesus Himself said, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28‑29). Jesus Christ Himself is the great proof of resurrection: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures…He was buried…He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3‑4).
Those who die without believing on the Lord Jesus Christ die without hope and go into a lost eternity: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17). Jesus said, “If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins…Whither I go, ye cannot come” (John 8:21,24). The persons who die in unbelief will be raised again to be judged at the Great White Throne as recorded in Revelation 20:11‑15.
Those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior go into His immediate presence when their body dies: “Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:42‑43).
The Bible also clearly teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ will come again. He said so: “I will come again” (John 14:3). We do not know when this will happen, but when it does, all living believers as well as those who have died in faith will be taken bodily to heaven. Listen to these wonderful words: “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16‑17). Following this event, there will be a time of God’s severe judgments upon the world before Jesus Christ returns with His saints to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords during one thousand years of peace.
This message has reached you with my desire that you may be among the number of those who believe the gospel and thus belong to Christ. With joy and hope we can face all questions about death and the coming eternity. The finished work of Christ on the cross is enough for God. His sacrifice has been accepted!
“The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).