The following are all the possible stages a person can experience from conception to eternity:
1. The womb
Reincarnation is not biblical. We come into existence at conception and not before (John 8:58; also compare the relative ages of John the Baptist and Jesus—Luke 1:36; John 1:15, 30).
Abortion is morally wrong because it fails to respect the sacredness of life in the womb (Genesis 25:21-23; Psalm 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:5; Luke 1:41-44).
Infants and small children have no sin (Deuteronomy 1:39; Matthew 19:14). If they were to die at this stage of life, they would go to be with God.
When we first sin we are separated from God and are destined for hell, unless we turn to God in faith, repentance, and obedience (Ephesians 2:1-13).
New life in Christ begins at baptism (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12-13). We are restored to fellowship with God and now have hope!
At death the spirit separates from the body. The Hadean world is where the spirits of the dead await the Judgment (Luke 16:19-31; 23:43; Philippians 1:21-24).
Hades is not the same as hell (Matthew 10:28; 25:41; Revelation 21:8). At Jesus’ death His spirit went to the portion of Hades called Paradise (Acts 2:27, 31; Luke 23:43).
When Christ returns, the righteous dead will be raised and be given glorious new bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). And then to live forever with God! What a glorious destiny awaits the faithful child of God!
We’ve all seen a diagram of a building or some other place that has printed on it, “You are here.” On our spiritual journey, where are we? Anyone reading this article is either in Stage 3 or Stage 4. If we stay in Stage 3, then our Stage 6 will not be heaven.
Many believe it’s the greatest story Jesus ever told: the dramatic parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). What can we learn from the beautiful reunion of a loving father and his wayward son?
Reconciliation depends on repentance (our part).
Though the word repentance is not found in the story, it is obvious that the Prodigal was truly penitent. Once he humbled his willful heart, he was ready to go home. His words, “I have sinned,” are not just appropriate, they are essential.
Reconciliation depends on grace (God’s part).
The Prodigal knew he was in no position to demand anything. Whatever his father might be willing to give him would be better than what he had, which was nothing.
Reconciliation calls for a celebration!
The father graciously granted him a royal welcome, complete with robe, ring, shoes, and a party! This is one of the best illustrations of grace in the Bible!
Reconciliation is horizontal as well as vertical.
The glum attitude of the elder brother casts a long shadow on the celebration. Not only was he unwilling to be reconciled to his brother, but he himself felt estranged from his own father. Self-righteousness is both ugly and self-defeating.
Why this story?
The main reason Jesus told this story was to help the Pharisees understand why He chose to spend time with those for whom they had no use (verses 1-3). Like the Prodigal, these sinners were coming home. Like the elder brother, the Pharisees could not understand God’s heart for reconciliation.
About a year and a half after I lost my wedding band, a man with a metal detector found it under several inches of dirt. I was glad!
Some losses hardly merit a shrug: a comb, a ballpoint pen, a sock. But then there are losses beyond calculation.
By their disobedience, Adam and Eve forfeited their relationship with God and their paradise home.
Like our original ancestors, when we first sin we too are alienated from our Creator.
Because He yearned for reconciliation, the Father sent His Son on a search-and-rescue mission (Luke 19:10). To accomplish this, Jesus paid with His blood. With it He purchased the church (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:1-2, 25).
What can compare with heaven’s joy when one who was lost is found? (Luke 15)