My neighbor says he believes in God's judgment, but that it occurs while we are on earth, not after we die. In other words, if we do something wrong God makes us pay for it now, not later. He also believes that everyone will go to heaven, since they already will have paid for their sins while they were alive. This isn't what the Bible says, is it? — T.N.
No, this is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible is clear: "Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). Jesus warned, "Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to (eternal) life, and only a few find it" (Matthew 7:14).
These are sobering words, and we ignore them at our peril. Someday, we each will stand before God to give an account of our lives and our relationship to God. Tragically far too many people go through life refusing to think about what will happen after they die. But the Bible warns us to be ready, "because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him" (Luke 12:40).
How can we be ready? First, we must be honest about our need of God, and our need for His forgiveness. In our pride we may think we are good enough to get into Heaven on our own -- but the Bible says otherwise. Then we need to turn to Christ and trust Him alone for our salvation. Only Christ can save us, for only He took all our sins upon Himself and died in our place.
It is true, however, that sin has consequences in this life, as well as the next. If we ignore God's laws, we pay a price right now in unhappiness and emptiness. But why live this way? Follow Christ instead, who came to give us peace.