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Where Will I Go When I Die?
A gospel tract by Pastor John Swindlehurst
At one time or another, every human being has asked the question, "Where Will I go When I Die?" We know this is true because the Bible tells us that God has set eternity in the hearts of men (Ecclesiastes 3:11) In other words, every man, regardless of his belief in God, has a gnawing sense that there is something beyond this life, and that death doesn't end it all. For some, it is believed that we will all come back in another form or another body. For others, it is believed that we will come back as spirits, hovering around the earth. And yet, for others, it is believed that all good people will go to heaven, and all bad people will go to hell. Whatever the differing opinions may be, the one common thread in all these beliefs is that man is an eternal being, and as such, he will continue on in some way and in some place after death. And so, the question is asked, "Where Will I Go When I Die?"

The Holy Bible records for us the story of a rich young ruler who came running to Jesus, asking Him a very similar question ˆ-- "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" The Living Bible translates it this way, "What must I do to go to heaven?" At the very outset of the story, we know several things: (1) we know that the man was young (Matthew 19:20) emphasizing that it is not just a question for the aged; (2) we know that he was rich (Luke 18:23) emphasizing that it is not just a question for the poor and needy; (3) we know that he was a ruler (Luke 18:18) emphasizing that even the most powerful are troubled by this question; (4) and we know that he came running to Jesus (Mark 10:17) emphasizing that there is a sense of urgency to the question, "Where Will I Go When I Die?" Let us now consider how Jesus responded to the young man's question.


In Matthew 19:16, the young ruler asked Jesus, "Good teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" Like most people, the young man focused upon himself, and his felt need. His starting point was HIMSELF! He thought there was something HE could do to earn his way to heaven. But Jesus directed his attention to God. He informed him that there is nothing anyone could EVER do that would be GOOD ENOUGH to earn the prize of heaven, because only God is good. "No one is good but One, that is, God." (Matthew 19:17) Since God alone, is good, then man has no possibility of being "good enough" to gain entrance to heaven. Romans 3:10-12 says: "As it is written, `There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable there is none who does good, no, not one.‚" The young man attempted to answer the question, "Where Will I Go When I Die?" by focusing on himself. Jesus directed him to focus on God.


After directing the young man's attention toward God, Jesus then directed him to God's standard of righteousness: THE LAW! Jesus said, "If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." (Matthew 19:17) Jesus was saying to the young man, "If you think it is possible to enter heaven by your good deeds, then let Me tell you the rules you must keep the commandments." When Jesus said "keep" the commandments, He used a word which means "to observe carefully". He didn't just intend for the young man to do his best; the best that man can offer always falls short of God's standard of righteousness, for the best of men are at best, only men! What God requires is perfect obedience, but because of man's sin, he is not capable of such obedience. Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." No matter how "good" a man may be, he is still not "good" by God's standards, for God requires perfect obedience. James 2:10 says, "For whoever shall keep the whole law and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." It is not enough to be better than others. If you desire to enter heaven by your good deeds, you must be perfect!

Jesus then began to list several of the Ten Commandments: "You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and your mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 19:18-19) Believing himself to be obedient, the young man replied, "All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?" Perhaps you are as foolishly arrogant as this young man, and believe yourself to be good.....good enough, in fact, to earn entrance into heaven. In response to his questions and his boastful statements, Jesus put the young man's claims of lifelong obedience to the test. He said, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." (Matthew 19:21)

If the young man had truly kept the Law, as he said, the test would have been a simple matter of obeying God. For when Jesus was asked by one of the Pharisees, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:36-40) In other words, the entire Law can be summed - up into two categories: (1) Love God supremely; (2) Love your neighbor as yourself. By asking the young man to sell all he had and give the proceeds to the poor, Jesus was NOT suggesting that salvation can be purchased. He was simply asking the young man to obey the essence of the Law ˆ- the very Law which he claimed to have kept from the time of his youth. It was a simple test of his claims of obedience to the Law; if he loved God supremely, then he would have no problem selling all his possessions; and if he loved his neighbor as himself, he would have no problem giving the proceeds to the poor. The young man "claimed" to have kept the Law from his youth, and yet, he could not fulfill the essence of that very Law.

Whether you know it or not, NONE OF US are able to fulfill the essence of the Law. The ONLY One who ever perfectly met the demands of the Law was Jesus Christ. He lived the life we could not live; He died the death we should have died!


The rich young ruler, while searching for the answer to the question, "Where Will I Go When I Die?", used himself as the starting point. He mistakenly thought there was something he could do to get to heaven. This is a common, but fatal error. When we begin with error, our search only leads us to more error. The longer we journey in error, the more difficult it becomes to discern truth. The Bible tells us that the young man was "saddened" by the words of Jesus, "and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions." (Mark 10:22) He departed from Jesus, still not knowing the answer to the gnawing question: "Where Will I Go When I Die?" But, you needn't be so ignorant. Though the rich young ruler did not understand the "Truth" about the "Way" to eternal "Life", Jesus describes HIMSELF as THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE (John 14:6) He, alone, possesses access to the Father, therefore, He, alone, possesses access to eternal life. The answer to the question: "Where Will I Go When I Die?" must begin with Jesus Christ.

The story of the rich young ruler is a perfect account of how we, as sinful humanity, left to our own understanding, will always start at the wrong place (with ourselves), arrive at the wrong conclusions (that somehow we can DO SOMETHING to earn our way to heaven), and then impose those conclusions on God (as a result of our good deeds, God somehow "owes" us salvation). But thanks be to God, He has not left us in our error, but has graciously extended the free offer of salvation, through Jesus Christ, to all who will call upon Him. "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, `Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame‚...For `whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.‚" (Romans 10: 9-11,13). It is not what we have done or will do that merits salvation, but what Christ has done in our place. "Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ....For He (God) made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2Corinthians 5:18,21). It's not our good deeds or works of righteousness that gain our entrance into heaven but simply God's abundant mercy. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us." (Titus 3:5)

Where will you go when you die? If you trust in your own good deeds and works of righteousness, you will suffer the wrath of Almighty God, for "all our unrighteousnesses are like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). But, if you trust in Jesus Christ and HIS righteousness, then your sins will be forgiven, and you will be accepted by the Father as a sinner saved by His grace.

Don't be as foolish and arrogant as the rich young ruler, who thought himself good enough to merit heaven. But rather, learn from his sad account, and thank God that you have been given an opportunity to turn from your sins, and turn to Christ. Oh, dear reader, flee to Christ! Flee to Christ's mercy, that He might abundantly pardon. "Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD. And He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah 55: 6 -7)


Perhaps after reading this pamphlet, you realize that like the rich young ruler, you have been trusting in your own good deeds to get you to heaven. And now you recognize that according to the Scriptures, there is NO possibility of salvation apart from Jesus Christ. What are you to do?

1.) REALIZE that there is nothing YOU can do to inherit eternal life.

Romans 3:20-"Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin."
Titus 3:5-"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us."

2.) RECOGNIZE that God is perfectly Holy, and that all sin is rebellion against Him and therefore must be punished. The God-appointed punishment for sin is death! Since all men are sinners, then all men must be punished!

Habakkuk 1:13 "You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness."
Romans 3:23 - "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Romans 6:23 - "The wages of sin is death..."

3.) REMEMBER that God the Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world, to be punished for the sins of His people; that Christ took their sins upon Himself, was punished in their place, and gave them His righteousness in exchange for their sins, making them acceptable to the Father.

Romans 5:8 - "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
1John 4:14 - "...the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world."
Ephesians 1:4,6 - "Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love....To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the beloved."

4.) RECEIVE the free offer of the gospel, believing that what Christ did on the cross is sufficient to pay for all your sins, and that by receiving His free gift, you are forgiven all your sins, the judgement against you has been lifted, and you are made a child of God.

John 1:12 - "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name."
Galatians 3:26 - "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus."

5.) RECKON yourself dead to sin and alive to Jesus Christ. Confess your sinfulness to God, asking Him to forgive you, and then purpose, by His grace, to live a life of obedience to Him through Jesus Christ."

Romans 6:11 - "Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Galatians 2:20 - "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

6.) RELY upon the Spirit of Christ to help you and guide you as you serve Him in this life, and in the life to come.

Philippians 4:13 - "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
John 14:16 - "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever."
John 14:26 - "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you."

7.) REJOICE in God's goodness to you.

Psalm 136:1 - "Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever."
Philippians 4:4 - "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, Rejoice!"

The rich young ruler came to Jesus with all of his good deeds, and left saddened and broken- hearted. If you come to Jesus by faith, mournful and broken - hearted over your sin, you will leave with the forgiveness of sins and the assurance of eternal life.

Don't make the mistake of the rich young ruler. Flee to Christ ˆ flee to Christ now, and you will find rest for your soul.

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11: 28 - 29)

For further information, please contact:

Pastor John F. Swindlehurst

Providence Reformed Baptist Church
P.O. Box 3254
Erie, Pennsylvania 16508

Ph. (814) 836-1018