It is also vitally important for your life to believe in heaven and hell. If you don’t believe in hell, what you are saying is that there is no judgment and no moral rights or wrongs. Everybody will go to heaven no matter what. Therefore it doesn’t matter what you do or how you live. You can sin all you want and still go to heaven. You can do what Hitler did and still go to heaven, if there is no hell. Choices don’t matter, as we all end up in heaven. If you don’t believe in heaven, you are saying there is no lasting hope. Life would be hell here on earth because we have no hope of anything better. Our existence will soon be forgotten as our body rots in the ground. What a lovely thought. Try that line to make an impression on a first date!
How can a good God send people to hell: Hell is described in the Bible as a place apart from God and a place absent from all that is good. It is a place of darkness, loneliness, lovelessness, hopelessness, and misery. How could a good God send anyone there? This is an important question and here is the biblical answer: God doesn’t send anyone to hell. God actively works to keep us out of hell. He sent his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to forgive us. Jesus rose to open heaven for us. He sends his Holy Spirit and people and pastors to bring the news of forgiveness and salvation, which he offers to every person freely. But the sad truth is that some people refuse all of what God has done for them.
There’s an old story of a man who heard warnings of an impending flood. A fireman knocked on his door telling him to evacuate. The man said, “Don’t worry, God will save me.” As the water rose and the man moved to the roof of the house, a boat came. The man refused to board the boat saying, “Don’t worry, God will save me.” Finally the water rose up to the man’s neck and a helicopter dropped a rope down. The man refused the help saying, “Don’t worry, God will save me.” After the man died, he inquired of God, “How come you didn’t save me?” God sent word back to the man, “I sent a fireman and a boat and a helicopter. What else did you want?” God has sent many people to warn us away from hell and to bring us the good news of heaven, but some refuse God’s help over and over and over again. God will not force anyone into a relationship with him or into heaven. Finally God relents to the one who refuses to have anything to do with him. And that is hell --- a life and eternal life apart from God. God doesn’t send a person to hell, the person resists and refuses God and, therefore, sends himself to hell.
What Is Heaven Like?
A common picture of heaven is of an isolated person floating on a cloud strumming on a harp. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible speaks of a new heaven and a new
earth together - something solid, enduring, lasting; not floating out in space someplace.
There are many descriptions of heaven given in the Bible. One of my favorite comes form Revelation 7:9, 13-17:
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Below is what this passage says about heaven:
People: From all nations and backgrounds, plenty of people. No one could even number.
God’s Presence: In heaven we will be in the personal presence of God, with his tent of protection spread over us.
Activity: In heaven we’ll be serving God in all kinds of ways. How will we serve God? In the same way we serve Him here on earth --- by serving others, in wonderful and exciting ways. There will never be a time of boredom in heaven.
Palm Branches: Palm branches are symbolic of the worship we will render in heaven. In all we do in heaven there will be this component of worship and praise of God.
No Suffering: There’ll be no more hunger, no more thirst, no more scorching heat. All the misery and hurt and suffering of this world will be a distant memory, including death.
The Lamb: Jesus, the Lamb of God who died to make heaven possible, will be our Shepherd. And he will lead us to the springs of the waters of eternal life.
Tears Wiped Away: One of my all-time favorite thoughts of heaven is that God himself will wipe away all the things that brought us tears on earth. How many tears have you cried? How much hurt and disappointment have you endured? God himself will wipe those tears away in Heaven.
Another wonderful picture of heaven is that it is described as our home. Jesus reminds us that heaven is his Father’s house, and in it are many rooms (John 14:1-6). Jesus says that he is preparing a room for us there and he will come back to take us to that place. Jesus, the master carpenter, knows how to make a beautiful home.
Paul, a follower of Jesus, compares our earthly body to a tent (2 Corinthians 5:1); a tent being temporary, uncomfortable and fragile. Paul says that when this tent is torn down we have a house, not made with human hands, that is eternal in the heavens. It will be nice to move out of this tent into our permanent home. It will certainly be nice.
David in the beloved Psalm 23 reminds us that we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Dwell reminds us that we will live there and have life there and no one will send us a letter of eviction. We will dwell there forever.
Heaven is a perfect place with God’s presence, that God himself has prepared. When we get there we will each exclaim, “Finally, home! How wonderful it is, at last, to be home!”
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for preparing my eternal home. Thank you for sending a Savior so I may receive that gift of eternal life. Help me, Lord, in the midst of my doubts about heaven and hell, to be strengthened by Jesus, the one who conquered hell, the one who opened heaven. In His name I pray. Amen.