I was reminded listening to the words of a friend the other day that not everyone believes that there is both a heaven and a hell. Funny how choosing to believe something doesn’t exist, does not mean that it in fact does not exist! If the source for ultimate truth is the Bible, the very representation of God Himself, then this is the place for us to turn on such matters. Since I am not a Bible scholar, I will enlist the help of Hank Haanagraf from the Christian Research Institute to shed a little light on the subject:
First, Christ, the Creator of the cosmos, clearly communicated hell’s irrevocable reality. In fact, He spent more time talking about hell than He did about heaven. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5–7), He explicitly warned His followers more than a half-dozen times about the dangers that lead to hell. In the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24–25), He repeatedly told His followers of the judgment to come. In His famous story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16), He graphically portrayed the finality of eternal torment in hell.
Furthermore, the concept of choice demands that we believe in hell. Without hell, there is no choice. Without choice, heaven would not be heaven; heaven would be hell. The righteous would inherit a counterfeit heaven, and the unrighteous would be incarcerated in heaven against their wills, which would be a torture worse than hell. Imagine spending a lifetime voluntarily distanced from God only to find yourself involuntarily dragged into His loving presence for all eternity. The alternative to hell would be worse than hell itself in that humans made in the image of God would be stripped of freedom and forced to worship God against their will.
Finally, common sense regarding justice dictates that there must be a hell. Without hell, the wrongs of Hitler’s Holocaust would never be righted. Justice would be impugned if, after slaughtering six million Jews, Hitler merely died in the arms of his mistress with no eternal consequences. The ancients knew better than to think such a thing. [“Ask Hank” column of the Christian Research Journal, volume 27, number 1 (2004)]
We read that in hell there will be darkness, eternal separation from God, unquenchable fire, weeping and gnashing of teeth. For all of eternity, a person will never be able to get comfortable or find relief. Wow. All this for turning one’s back on the God of the universe who created each one of us, loves us unconditionally, promises to never leave us or forsake us . . . if we but repent and believe in Him. A reasonable choice I would say given the rewards, given the consequences for not doing so! I opt for the eternal party in heaven with streets of gold and the mansion with many rooms He is now preparing for His own. I trust that many Gentle Readers of this blog have made the same decision for Christ as Lord and Savior.
In the meantime, believers and non-believers alike must live in a fallen world where Satan rules, not God. What? Surely God is here, dwells in the hearts of those who love Him, reveals Himself through the wonder of nature and the blessings He bestows upon us, right? Yes He does. He will not rule, however, until He comes again in glory at His second coming. Until then, we must face the consequences of sin and everything short of the Garden of Eden. At times and increasingly in the world in which we live, we see evil and darkness. Increasingly we see and experience what we might call “hell on earth.” Perhaps you have tasted this yourself. I know I have many times . . . my personal hell plays out every day as I battle a serious illness. Wretched, man.
If you want to make sure you don’t end up in hell, well then I invite you to get connected to the Lord, Jesus Christ personally. While there are no guarantees that you will not suffer in this life, you are guaranteed that you will live gloriously in heaven with your Heavenly Father and believers who have gone before you . . . FOREVER. Now that’s a guarantee that pulls me through any glimpse of hell on earth these days.
All of this is good to reflect on and get straight right before Christmas. After all, the holiday traditions will fade. Christmas presents will break down someday and the fruitcake will live on beyond most of us in a garbage dump somewhere! But even fruitcake will turn to dust eventually. And when it does I know where I will be. I will no longer have seizures, chronic illness, and chronic pain. Everything will be perfect. (Happy sigh.)
How about you?