Are you really convinced of the reality of heaven and hell? Does the fact that these places actually exist affect what you do and how you live?
There are various “heaven books” and “hell books” out there on the market. The authors claim to have visited heaven and hell or had divine revelations about them. Perhaps you have thought something like this: “If that were me who had visited heaven, I’d surely want to go around telling people what a wonderful place God has prepared for those who receive His Son Jesus. If that had been me visiting hell, I would surely have a lot of zeal to warn sinners about the place so that they would receive Jesus and not go there.”
But wait a minute. Isn’t God’s word on it good enough? Isn’t what Jesus said enough evidence to convince you? Do you need some wild spiritual experience to convince you? Do you have to die and come back to be convinced? Do you need some book other than the Bible to convince you? After all, the Bible is God speaking to you. It is surer than any dream, vision or revelation anyone claims to have had and any book anyone has written. I’m not saying some of these people didn’t have something real happen to them, but I’m saying that you shouldn’t need their testimony to spur you to action when you already have Jesus Christ’s testimony written out for you on the subjects!
Heaven is a real place where it is really paradise, forever. Hell is a real place where there is nothing but suffering and torment, forever. People talk about wanting to party with their friends in hell, but the hell Jesus talked about isn’t where the parties are – the only partying is in heaven. In heaven, they’ll have great food – and yes, you will literally be able to eat there with your glorified body. In hell, you would be the food…for worms that never die, though your soul would never cease to exist.
You don’t need to be a prophet to know that everyone will die (excluding those who are on the earth when Jesus returns). Everyone will go to either heaven or hell. Actually if you want to get technical, everyone will live forever on the new earth in which righteousness dwells or in the lake of fire, but we can use heaven and hell as generic terms for now, since they will be the temporary stopovers before people get to their final destinations. The new earth will look a lot like this earth – you will be able to do things you enjoy today – but without sin or the devil around to mess it up. On the other hand, the lake of fire will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen on earth, aside from maybe the inside of an erupting volcano. I can assure you that no one thrown in there will be in a partying mood. When was the last party you went to where the people got together and wailed and gnashed their teeth? But Jesus said that is what hell is like.
Here’s an interesting thought. Do we just assume that everyone in Midcoast Maine has heard the gospel somewhere else? Let me be the first to tell you that it isn’t so. If they didn’t hear it growing up, their high school certainly isn’t going to enlighten them about Jesus. So where are they going to hear about Him? Someone who knows Jesus already has to tell them! I was 18 years old before anyone ever told me that I could be born again. How many others are out there who are like I was – living in a supposedly Christian, supposedly gospel-saturated nation, yet never having heard the real gospel? What if we were the only church in Rockland that could tell people the gospel and their salvation depended on us reaching them? That’s not the case, but we can’t just assume that “someone else” will reach everyone, while “someone else” is assuming that others, including us, are reaching them, and meanwhile no one is getting reached.
I am utterly convinced that plenty of people right in our area would gladly become Christians if they knew the truth – that it’s based on a relationship with Jesus instead of dead religious works. Let’s make sure they find out! This isn’t Fort Knox, so let’s not keep the treasure to ourselves!