“Heaven is what you make of life right here on earth, and I’ve got heaven on earth,” a friend told me. Totally happy with her life, Ann didn’t believe in a literal heaven and hell. She knew she would die one day and thought nothing else happened. Life ended and the body was buried. End of story.
I believe the Bible is the Word of God and therefore true. I believe in a real heaven where our spirit, that part that can communicate with God, lives forever with Him and all other believers in Jesus Christ. Also I believe in a real hell where the devil and all his demons exist forever in torment for all the evil they have done and caused for mankind. But people also live forever after bodily death in hell’s torment if they do not accept Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord. While I can’t imagine what hell is like, just the thought of being in a place with nothing good or redeeming about it makes me want to stay far from it. That thought makes me want to try to keep other people from it too.
I explained my beliefs to Ann and said, “What if you are wrong about heaven? What if heaven and hell are literal places that your spirit goes when you die? Doesn’t that scare you? Just the thought of being in such a place with every evil person that’s ever lived terrorizes me.” Ann changed the subject.
I know others exactly like Ann. No major problems cripple their lives, so they feel content, never considering what might happen after death of the body. People have three separate parts – the body; the soul which is the mind, will and emotions; and the spirit which can communicate with God or with Satan. Perhaps we think we don’t have anything to do with either, but if we’re not paying attention to God, then we are to Satan, even if we don’t realize it because he tells us to put ourselves above anyone else and to forget about God. “Who’s going to take care of you?” he cunningly says. Yes, even very nice people fall into this trap. They may be friendly and helpful but if they don’t know God, they are still under the devil’s rule.
We all begin life belonging to Satan because we want our own way. [I don’t mean by this that babies or small children go to hell when they die; because God is merciful and knows they don’t have the understanding to realize what they are doing, they go to heaven with him.] The well-known song, “I Did It My Way,” instead of God’s way breaks off a person’s communication with Him. While this simplifies the subject, it gives the essence of sin.
When we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we accept that we go against God and this separates us from Him. We also accept that Jesus died on the cross for our sin and so took our punishment in our place. Therefore, we want to live putting God first in our lives, then consider what’s good for others. That doesn’t demand we demean ourselves – God loves us too much for that – it simply means we aren’t selfish and greedy.
Please realize life can suddenly be taken from us; we really have no control if we’ll live to an old age. Not to be morbid, but sometimes we need a reminder how quickly life can flee. In all large cities, we hear of murders every day. Young athletes and older people both can have heart attacks that kill instantly. I live about 12 miles from Galveston on the Gulf of Mexico. A few years ago on the news was the story of a young daughter and her mother who were waiting out a thunderstorm in a cabana on the beach. Lightning struck and killed the girl and seriously injured the mother. They had no warning of impending disaster. Another story that happened in Houston several years ago concerns a family of 5 or 6 people who drove under an overpass at the same moment a truck driver lost control of his eighteen-wheeler and it overturned, falling below onto the car, killing all but a five-year-old daughter. Life is often good and we count our blessings, but sometimes it careens out of control and someone dies unexpectedly and suddenly. Are you ready?
The Bible talks about hell more than heaven, trying to warn people before life is over. Below I’ve included a number of Scriptures dealing with hell. Called by different names, hell always involves separation from God and eternal torment. Please think about this subject carefully if you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Savior. How do you know you aren’t wrong about heaven and hell? If you do know Him, please feel free to share with those who don’t.
** All the verses are from the New International Version.
Psalm 9:16 The Lord is known by his justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.
Matthew 5:29-30 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
Matthew 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Matthew 13:38-43 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
Matt 18:8-9 If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
Luke 16:22-24 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power.
2 Peter 2:4-6, 9-10 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly….If this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority.
** These verses are for a coming time when there will be one world government which tries to make everyone worship one false god. I include them because they further demonstrate the torment of hell.
Revelation 14:9-11 “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.”
Revelation 20:10, 14-15 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever….Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Revelation 21:8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars — their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”