Heaven and hell are some of the least popular parts of the gospel among nonbelievers. Nobody likes the idea of consequences for our actions and judgement for our sins. If I would ask a young child if she would rather live in a world free of any consequences or in a world with consequences what do you think she would pick? What would you pick? We like being able to do whatever we want without any negative consequences. On the other hand, if I would ask a young child if she would rather have consequences for others or live in a world where others can do whatever they want without any consequences I’m sure she would pick a world with consequences. We don’t like when others do evil acts and get away with it. We long for justice and when someone does something evil in our society we want to see the person pay the consequences for the evil act, we don’t want the person to get away with it.
Many people who do not believe in God still believe in heaven, but most people who don’t believe in God don’t believe in hell. Nobody wants hell to exist, not even Christians, but at the same time a universe without hell would mean a universe without justice. God is merciful, but he is also a God of justice. If God let everyone do whatever they want and enter heaven he wouldn’t be a loving God. Not every criminal in this world will be captured and held accountable in a court, but no criminal will escape God’s judgement at the end of life. I once heard a pastor preach on the topic of hell and he said that anyone who has come face to face with pure evil in this world can fully understand why there is a need for hell. If there was no hell, what would hold us back from taking revenge on each other? When you have seen and experienced pure evil hell becomes a comforting thing, because you know that nobody will ever escape justice in the end.
We have all sinned and nobody will enter heaven without having first surrendered their life to Christ. We are not all murderers or rapists, but we have all sinned. I consider myself to be a good person, but I have sinned and deserve judgement just like anyone else. I don’t deserve heaven, heaven is God’s free gift to me when I surrender my life to Christ. I have never cheated on my spouse, I have no criminal record, I have never killed anyone, but I’m still a sinner.
Once I kissed a guy who was interested in me although I knew he was engaged to someone else, not a nice thing to do. I was also a part of groups who bullied other kids both in elementary school and in high school, not a loving thing to do. I used to steal a lot of stuff from different stores when I was in high school, that’s not good. I’m not going to list all the sins I’ve committed in my life so far but my point is that we are all sinners although we like to view ourselves as “good people”. I’m not a good person, I’m an imperfect human-being and I’m a sinner. My final destination after this life is hell, unless I surrender to Christ and accept Jesus into my heart. When I surrender to Christ I’m forgiven for all my sins. I have access to this forgiveness because Jesus chose to take the punishment that I deserved, he was willing to go to hell for me, so that I would never have to experience that. Imagine that you were sentenced to life in prison and someone shows up to take that prison sentence for you, so that you are free to go. Jesus did that for each one of us, we are all “sentenced to hell” for what we have done during this life, but Jesus took our sentence upon himself and was sentenced to death in our place.
I have no fear of death at all, if I die tomorrow I’m ready. Don’t get me wrong, I hope that I will get to live for many more years but I’m not afraid of death. What I’m afraid of is that not everyone that I love will be in heaven with me one day. I’m fully aware of the fact that only those who have surrendered their lives to Christ will enter heaven. When my Grand Mother died five years ago I was sad, but at the same time I had peace, because I knew that I would get to see her again one day. I knew that my Grand Mother had faith in God and was a believer. I don’t know where all my friends and family members stand with God, if they have surrendered their lives to Christ or not. We all have to make that choice for ourselves, nobody else’s faith can save our souls. Each one of us have one life to decide if we will surrender our lives to Christ or if we will choose to rather reject God. You can have all the knowledge in the world about God but it isn’t before we surrender to God that our soul is saved. The reason it takes any effort at all to surrender to God is that our spiritual enemy is pulling hard in the other direction, keeping us away from God and away from our purpose. One of our spiritual enemy’s most common tactics is fear, he can use fear to keep us away from a lot of good things that God has for us in life. Fear of what others will think of us, fear of the future, fear of pain etc.
One interesting thing that I learned about heaven and hell as a new believer a few years ago is that hell means complete separation from God and heaven means to be with God forever. We often imagine heaven to look like something we have seen in the movies. Our idea of hell can also be based on what we have seen in a movie. The Biblical description of heaven is simply a place free of evil, a place where we are with God forever. Hell is a place where we will be completely separated from God, which means we will also be separated from anything that is good, anything that is love. Whether we are Christians or not, none of us knows what it’s like to be completely separated from God. In this present world, not all of us are interested in God but he still loves every single one of us. God is constantly present in our lives whether we notice him or not. None of us are completely separated from God in this world.
This present world is a mix of good and evil. There is no place on Earth where there is only evil, there is always a little bit of good in the midst of all the darkness. There is also no place on Earth where there is only good, evil is always present. We can have a wonderful day at the beach with our family, until we end up in an argument with each other. We can also be going through something very difficult in life but in the midst of all the darkness we have a hope that things will get better. Our present world is always a mix of evil and good. God is with us, but our spiritual enemy is also present. The hope of heaven is that it’s coming around the corner. When our souls are saved and secure in Christ we have a peace and hope that nothing can take away from us. Once we are saved we can not loose our salvation. The storms will keep coming in this life but we can face every difficulty with confidence, hope and peace because God is with us. If God is with us, then who can be against us?