Scripture is very clear that our prayers for those who have died would be in vain, for when a person dies, they enter into ETERNITY and their “eternal state” (their DESTINY and PORTION) is settled and cannot be changed by us or anyone else. There is one portion of Scripture that teaches this clearly and emphatically. I’m speaking of Luke 16:19-26. Let’s look at these verses from the New King James Version.

Verses 19-23: “Now there was a certain rich man…. but there was a certain beggar named Lazarus…. the BEGGAR DIED, and was carried by the angels to ABRAHAM’S BOSOM…the RICH MAN ALSO DIED and was buried…And being in TORMENTS IN HADES, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” The Lord Jesus is speaking of two actual men who died. The BEGGAR entered into ETERNAL BLISS and the RICH MAN into ETERNAL TORMENT.

Verses 24-26: “Then 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 tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil thing; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.’ And besides all this, between us and you there is a GREAT GULF FIXED, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.” These verses make it crystal-clear that one’s eternal destiny and their portion (condition) in eternity is FIXED the moment they die. No one can change this even if they wanted to, whether through prayer or by trying to pass over to the “other side” to help ease their pain.

This passage doesn’t tell us WHY the beggar ended up in eternal bliss in heaven and WHY the rich man ended up in eternal torment in Hades, but other scriptures teach us that the BELIEVER IN JESUS CHRIST goes to heaven when they die and the UNBELIEVER goes to a place of eternal punishment. John 3:36 declares, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe in the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” We can conclude from this verse that the beggar was a believer and the rich man an unbeliever. The fact that one was poor and the other rich had nothing to do with their eternal destiny.

If you are reading this and you have never trusted in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, I would plead with you to do so. Even more so, God would plead with you to believe on Him so He can give you everlasting life. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him SHOULD NOT PERISH BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already” (John 3:16-18). God loves you dear friend and wants to save you! He sent His Son to the cross to die for your sins (see 1st Corinthians 15:3; 1st Peter 3:18 and 1st John 1:7) so you, like the beggar we read of, can go to heaven when you die and be experience eternal bliss forever and ever. The Apostle Paul wrote of the assurance of being with Christ after death in Philippians 1:21 & 23, “For to me, to live is Christ, and TO DIE IS GAIN…For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to DEPART AND BE WITH CHRIST, WHICH IS FAR BETTER.” The thief (who died on the cross next to Christ and believed on Him) was promised by Jesus Himself, “And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Won’t you turn to Him now in repentance and faith? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).  (459.1)  (DO)