What “one question” will God ask you when you die? If you are to believe Paulo Coelho, God will only ask you one question when you die. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey on the OWN network, he stated, “And God, in my opinion, is going to ask only one question… ‘Did you love enough?’ If you say yes, Welcome to heaven! If you say no, you are in the limbo, you know?” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TbIEaWL0Eg) That seems simple enough.
Is that statement accurate? It sounds so good because he is so sincere. He has also authored several books. But let’s examine this belief. The first question his statement brings up is, “How do you know when you have loved enough?” Who determines whether we have loved enough? How many times have we looked back at situations and thought to ourselves that we could have loved more, been kinder?
The second question is, “What does he base this belief on?” In the quote, he clearly states, “In my opinion…” He never claims that he received this message from Divine revelation. He openly states that it is his opinion. Because we live in an age of relativism, no one can say he is wrong. He is entitled to his belief, and he has every right to express his opinion. Such a statement is open to scrutiny.
Apart from human opinion, let’s consider what the Bible teaches. When you face God after you die (Hebrews 9:27), is the human opinion of theology what you want to face God with? As you stand in line awaiting judgment, you say to yourself, “I got this!” You wait there thinking, “I only have to answer one question, and it’s not tough.” Coelho’s opinion notwithstanding, Judgment Day will be a little bit tougher than that. When Christ faced down some possessing demons in Matthew 8:29, they begged him not to torment them before their appointed time. Apparently judgment involves torment.
We might expect that demons should be tormented. After all, they are demons. Will humans face eternal torment as well? That is not a popular concept even among theologians and preachers, but what did Jesus teach? When Christ judges the nations according to Matthew 25:41, “He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’” So humans will wind up where the demons go. They will be banished to everlasting fire. That is what Jesus taught, not human opinion.
Also according to the Apostle Paul, the judgment sounds a little more stringent than only one question as well. He wrote in Romans 14:12 “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” Giving account sounds more like an audit than only one question. Suppose the IRS calls you in for a tax audit. Are they going to ask you only one question? “Did you pay enough taxes last year?” If you answer yes, then the audit is over. Will it be that simple? Jesus said, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment” (Matthew 12:36). We will have a lot of explaining to do.
Finally, notice Coelho’s opinion of what happens if you answer wrong. “You are in the limbo, you know?” So if you do not pay enough taxes, will the IRS leave you in Limbo? They will have a carefully prescribed system of interests and penalties, which could include jail time if you answer wrong. Notice in Matthew 25 that Jesus does not send people to limbo. He set aside a special place for them, which was originally prepared for Satan and his angels.
Sins must be atoned for. You can do like many people and simply dismiss them. You can delude yourself into believing that you have not sinned. You can tell yourself there is no such thing as sin. You may believe that sin is not that bad since we live in the twenty-first century. You may deny it or redefine it, but the wages of sin is still death (Romans 6:23).
Another option is to atone for your sin yourself. You pay for your sin from your own means. You go to your own account of righteousness to pull out enough to cover the cost of your sin only to find, “there is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). Oh and you cannot pull from somebody else’s righteousness account because no one is righteous. In fact, you are destitute. You “fall short” (Romans 3:23). The payout plan is eternal.
The only other option is to allow Christ to pay the debt for you. First Peter 2:24 says that He, “Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness.” And First Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.”
If there is any one question God will ask us when we die, it will not be, “Did you love enough?” It will be, “Did you love my Son enough to turn your life over to Him?” How would you answer that question? Remember that your eternal destiny depends on how you answer that question.