God will judge both the righteous
man and the wicked man.
—Ecclesiastes 3:17

The Bible affirms what is readily observable to all of us: no one gets out
of this world alive. As one wag said, “The statistics on death are very
impressive: one out of every one dies.” Admittedly, it seems unjust that
everyone would experience the same fate regardless of his or her conduct
here on earth. Solomon wrestled with this inequity:

     It is the same for all. There is one fate for the righteous and for the
     wicked; for the good, for the clean and for the unclean; for the man
     who offers a sacrifice and for the one who does not sacrifice. As the
     good man is, so is the sinner; as the swearer is, so is the one who is
     afraid to swear. (Ecclesiastes 9:2)

Two men who lived two very different kinds of lives died on June 25,
2009. One man was Michael Jackson. People around the globe watched the
memorial service of this entertainer who earned millions of dollars during
his relatively brief career. Also on that day Edwin Clayton died. Clayton
served for 34 years as pastor of Tomahawk Baptist Church in Midlothian,
Virginia. There were no throngs of people in the street at his funeral or
media retrospectives about his life and career. One man lived for himself
and the other lived to serve God. One experienced fame and riches, while
the other lived in obscurity. One man’s life was marked by scandal, while
the other man’s life was a model of faithfulness. Yet both men died. Where
is the fairness in that? Solomon protested.

Solomon knew the answer. Although there is one fate for all human beings,
there are two very different destinies beyond death for the righteous and
unrighteous. Solomon believed God’s judgment awaits every person beyond
death: “‘God will judge both the righteous man and the wicked man,’ for a
time for every matter and for every deed is there.” (Ecclesiastes 3:17)

Jesus Christ also affirmed that there are two very different roads in this life that lead to two distinct destinies in the next life:

     Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad
     that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For
     the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are
     few who find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Today’s devotion is an excerpt from “How Can I Know I’m Going to Heaven When I Die?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.