When you travel, part of the signs that you are approaching a town are messages of welcome displayed on billboards by organizations such as hotels, banks, employers of labour, industries, institutions, churches, etc, trying to advertise or inform you of their presence in town and solicit for your patronage. These messages of welcome are also common sights in airports, train stations bus/taxi stations, seaports, business centres, recreation centres, etc. When one gets admission to an institution of learning, part of his/her letter of admission is a welcome message and when he eventually resumes he (with others) may be greeted with a welcome programme probably tagged “orientation”. The same thing happens when one secures a new job.
Orientation programmes whether at school or work is a welcome programme. Even on resumption from leave or vacation, there is a welcome. And at the family level, Ba-ba (Da-ddy) or Ma-ma (Mu-mmy) o-yo-yo is a welcome message in our settings.
Welcome, as a noun, is defined as a kind or glad reception and that is what is intended in all the examples given above. Implicit in welcome messages are best wishes for a good time, success, progress, achievement, etc.
Can you think for a moment of a situation or situations where there can be an arrival without a welcome? One of such situations is when a loved one who is particularly young and promising dies. In many places, the arrival of all close associates and relations of the deceased is greeted with bouts of weeping and crying. And this scene is repeated as many times as close associates or relations of the deceased arrive. This was true of the death of Lazarus in John 11 of the Holy Bible. Even then, in such a case, after some time the latest arrival is still greeted with a message of welcome. We are yet to see a scene of crying without an end. You may be able to mention other situations where there can be an arrival without a welcome. Whatever the case, such situations are not eternal in duration.
Imagine coming to a scene where there is ‘crying’ unending. Imagine further that you are participating in that weeping. Imagine further still that every hour every one of you weeping in that scene is touched by fire. This is too much to be real you may say.
There is however a similar situation in history of an arrival of a man into a new environment without receiving a welcome. Let’s recount the story to you:
“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores. And desiring to be fed with the crumbs, which fell from the rich man’s table, moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass the beggar died and was carried by angels into Abraham’s bossom. The rich man also died and was buried. And in hell, he lifted up his eyes being in torment and seeth Abraham afar and Lazarus in his bossom. And he cried and said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue for I am in torment in this flame…” Luke 16:19-31.
If you read on you will find out that his requests were not granted, as it was not possible to have granted them because it was already late. Do you question the reality of life after death, but we are sure you don’t question the reality of death. Heb. 9:27 tell us that death is an appointment, an invitation and admission to the other side of eternity which is equally real and a more lasting part of eternity. It is an invitation or an autobiography for you to give an account of yourself to God who made you. Rom. 14:12.
The Bible states very clearly why one person dies and receives the welcome of angels to heaven (Abraham’s bosom) while another dies and there is no welcome but torment in hell. In Rom 3:23, the Bible says that all have sinned and goes further to say in Rom 6:23 that the wages or reward of sin is death (in hell) but that the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ. Listen to what He said Himself “I am the way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the father (to heaven) expect by Me” John 14:6. Jesus is the only way because He is the only saviour from sin (Matt 1:21). He paid the price of sin by dying of the cross of Calvary to reconcile us back to God including you. Have you consciously accepted this offer of the free gift of eternal life? If not, why not NOW? The Bible says, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom 10:13).
When death strikes you either violently (suddenly) or mildly at ripe old age and whether you get buried like the rich man or there is no record of your burial like Lazarus; when you lift up your eyes on the other side of death, will yours be an arrival with angelic welcome into heaven or will it be an arrival without a welcome into hell to be tormented forever and ever and ever…?
The choice is yours.