Heaven and Hell
We are brought to the place where Jesus is going to teach us about Heaven and Hell. The destiny of everyone who lives... death. I am going to die. You are going to die. We are all going to die... someday. We have all been to funerals, and there will be a funeral for us as well. The question then is, “What then? What happens when I die, what is on the other side?" Perhaps this is one of the most important question we can ask. When it comes to death and what happens after death, Jesus gives us instruction. Before we get into the Scriptures, I do want to address the beliefs or views of hell that exists in the world. Why? 1) So you will know that the topic and the truth of Hell is relevant and significant, 2) and if you hold some of these views I might persuade you away from them, because they are wrong. Here are the different answers we get to the question:
1) Naturalists: They will tell you that you do not have a soul. You are just a body, and when you die you cease to exist. There is no existence beyond this world, this present life, following your death.
This is not true. 2) Universalists: They teach that everyone, or most everyone, will go to heaven. That hell will be empty or not very populated. Some will say that all religions lead to God, that all paths lead to salvation.
This is not true, Jesus died because he taught that this is not true. There is a false view that some "Christians" hold that after you die, there is an opportunity to meet Jesus and eventually everyone will be saved, because Jesus will persuade us. This is not true!
3) Reincarnationists: They will tell you that we have multiple lives, that you die and then live over and over again... because you have to pay off your "karmic debt" to the universe.
This is simply not true. 4) Annihilationists: They teach that when people who have not committed to Jesus, and they die, they simply cease to exist, or they suffer for awhile in hell, and then sometime they cease to exist.
That is not true, but some teach that. 5) Catholics: They will teach what they call purgatory, which is no where in the Bible because it is not true. That people can die, suffer for awhile, as part of their work for salvation (which is a wrong concept to start out with), so that one day they can be in Heaven.
That is not true, though some people believe it.
The next and final question is “What does the Bible say, what does it teach?” This this in mind we are going to read the words of Jesus Christ.
6) Bible: Jesus Christ is the most loving, humble, serving, helpful and compassionate servant that has ever walked in our world. So, it may surprise us, that Jesus speaks of Hell more than any other person in the Bible. For every 13 lessons he gives, he gives 2 on hell, judgment, and punishment. Some will say, "If Jesus is so loving, certainly he doesn’t believe in hell." To that, I would say, "Not only did the most loving person believe in hell, but he repeatedly teaches on it." Which means that our sin is more damnable than what we may think. This also means, it requires the most loving person to speak in the most starkest terms! The very existence of Hell and the instruction of Jesus on Hell, should reveal to us how sinful sin really is... and how rebellious we really are. We are going to read the words of God, together. We are going to read Luke 16:19-31. But before we delve into Luke, I want us to know that we are two parts...
This passage is directed to believers. You and I, as image bearers of God, are two parts. We are a physical body and a spiritual soul. When you and I die, death shallows the body because of sin and our souls go on to live eternally, either in Heaven or in Hell. So, for the Christian, when we die, to be removed from the body (death) is to be with the Lord. So death is when we die physically but live spiritually. When the time comes for Jesus to return to the earth for a second time, all in Christ will be raised into new bodies in which we will continue to live. For the Christian when we rise, it will be like rising like Jesus did on the third day. When Jesus speaks, he speaks as God. He speaks as one who has conquered sin and death. He is the only one with absolute intimate knowledge of death and what awaits us on the other side. These are Jesus' words… Luke 16:19:
Jesus tells the story of the life, death, and eternal life of two men. There is a name here... which we normally don’t get in a parable. Here is a man named Lazarus who’s wounds the dogs would come and lick. He is a believer in God.
Now, the religious leaders of the day, would think that Lazarus is cursed by God. Yeah, for real. They had this really bad idea and false understanding that if you loved God and God loved you, you would be healthy and wealthy. Lazarus was neither!
Lazarus placed himself near the gate of the rich man’s estate. This rich man ate gourmet meals, had a great house, maybe had servants, he wore the latest and most expensive clothing. He was comfortable. He was both healthy and wealthy. This man had feasts every day. Now, Lazarus places himself at his gate, dreaming that instead of the rich man feeding the table scraps to his dogs, he would send out his servants to allow Lazarus to eat the scrapes. We can just imagine how the rich man would step over the poor man daily... while knowing that the poor man knew God.
One day, the poor man dies. We can assume that he didn’t have an elaborate or even proper a burial. Not a good grave site. No family to tend to such preparations. No head stone. Maybe a quick, little prayer. His broken body lies there dead, but we are told that his soul is transported to be with God. So, this parable is an example or a demonstration of 2 Corinthians 5:8. Now, Lazarus is in a place of blessing. He is sitting beside Abraham, the father of faithfulness; he is sitting with the saints. Now, Lazarus is no longer in pain and he is no longer hungry. He is blessed by God, and he loved by God. Now... the rich man dies. Most likely he had a well attended funeral, which was elaborate. The finest tomb or headstone. Overall a great tribute to this wealthy man. And to be sure everyone thought, to be sure, "This blessed man is now in the presence of God." This was not the case. He died and went to Hades... Hell. As he is in absolute pain, as if he is trapped inside a burning building forever. He is experiencing conscience torment as he is aware of the pain, the pain of the everlasting flames.
Jesus is giving us the most graphic depiction of Hell. Jesus says this! You can not say that Hell is not loving. Jesus, who is love, says this! We will all die, and we will either go to Heaven, a place of blessing, or Hell a place of suffering. We all say when a person dies, "They are in a better place." Some don’t. Heaven in not just a place, it’s a person, and his name is Jesus Christ. If you don’t love Jesus, you won’t be going to be in the same place with him forever. Jesus speaks of Hell more than anyone else in the Bible. We need to know this.
The story of Lazarus and the rich man is a stark reminder of this truth. The rich man is in torment, and then Jesus says that he looks up and sees Lazarus in the luxury of Heaven. At this time, the rich man wants a gift. "Please Lazarus, just put a drop of water on my burning tongue. I desperately long for relief." He is told, by Abraham, that there is a great chasm, a big deep space, between them and there is no exceptions. No one from Hell can visit Heaven, no one from Heaven can visit Hell. There is no visiting hours! Death seals the deal of where you will be. This life is our only opportunity we have to make a decision. In the case of the rich man, he already mad his decision.
Hell is the wrath of God in its "acting" form. Sadly, some will pick one of God’s attitudes, such as "love" and reject or make war with His other attributes. But God holds all of the contents of His character perfectly, and wholly. What you and I like to do is pick one thing about God, and then elevate it above all other things of God. Many times people will take the attribute of "love" and make it THE attribute of God. News flash: God is not loving... God is love. Which means, whatever He does is loving and holy (set apart) and therefore at the same time a God of wrath, because God is a just, fair, impartial God. The wrath of God is mentioned in the Bible over 600 times. God is a God of wrath, and if we stand in His way, we get wrath. But since God is a loving God, He sent His son, his only son, into this world, to taste death, and conquer it. Which means, if you do not know Jesus, if you do not believe and trust in Jesus, if you do not belong to Jesus…. You are in the path of the wrath of God…. Hell. Jesus tells us, that this rich man is aware of his agony, and it is eternal never ending. It is torment. It is flame. It is burning. A never ending "eating of your flesh." Many stand in the way of God’s wrath. God’s wrath is on them. They may be ignoring it, thinking because of God’s grace, that being their wealth and health, everything is OKAY. Just because God gives you such graces, doesn't mean that everything is alright. It may mean God is giving you grace so that you turn to Him. For those who do not love Jesus, this life is as close to Heaven you will be. Hell awaits you. For those who love Jesus, this life is as close to hell you will be. Heaven awaits you. Here are the opinions we have... John 3:36:
Heaven and hell are not ultimately the issues. Jesus Christ is the issue at hand. Heaven and Hell are just the aftermath of the issue. Which means, let us not overlook Jesus to start arguing about Heaven and Hell. Ask yourself, "Have I received Jesus as God and savior?" If so, life that is everlasting, like what Lazarus experienced, is what awaits for you. If not, the wrath of God remains on you. Those are the opinions... Heaven or Hell. Forever life or forever suffering. Blessing or suffering. Grace or wrath. There is no exceptions. And you are no exception.
In writing these things, I know you will have a lot questions. Below are the questions I received by a local church:
I just want to start off with that I am not advocating that anyone take their own life. That is not what I am saying. I would have a lot of sympathy and compassion for a mother, father, sister, brother, relative who has killed themselves.
We are one person, two parts. We have this immaterial, invisible soul that belongs to the Lord. Paul says to be away from the body is to be present with the Lord. He actually says that to die is to gain. So we have this physical body, we are vulnerable, and life challenges us with more than what we can take. For example, many who kill themselves their bodies are in rapid deterioration, increased pain, and complexity. Because we are one body, with two parts, the body and the soul affect one another. Sometimes what happens when we are suffering and under terrible pain, is that we are medicated or self-medicated and that messes with our thinking, our state of mind. It can effect our sleep, our eating and overall health. Chronic pain, and even depression can be a chronic pain, can do things physically, psychologically, and spiritually. Because we are one person, all of our being... the physical, mental, and spiritual… they work together. Work together for us or, often times, work against us. That being said, many may not be themselves. They may be medicated, sleep depraved, and are in constant chronic pain. They are not doing well. They are sick. With all that being covered, if you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, your eternal relationship with God is forever sealed. The very fact that Jesus died on the cross for all of our sins... sins past, present, and future... means any sin we commit, if we belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, our sin is covered by the Lord Jesus Christ. Because when stand before God, He doesn’t see you for you, He sees His son. Because our identity is in him, not our sin. Amen!
There are things that the Bible calls the unforgivable sin, the unpardonable sin, the sin that leads to death, In their context, all these refers to someone who is not in Christ, one who is not a Christian in what they are doing or saying. They are doing or saying: "Jesus is evil, Jesus is demonic, Jesus is Satantic." They reject Jesus. The only thing God can not forgive is if a person doesn’t receive His son. If you do not receive Jesus, you are still in sin, your sins are not forgiven. But if you receive Jesus, your sins are forgiven. Which means all of your sins are forgiven: past, present, and yes... even future. If someone knows the Lord, belongs to the Lord, walks with the Lord, has received the Lord genuinely, and has lived their life as a believer, and at the end their body gets ravaged, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and they feel like a burden and they make "THAT" decision... Now, I am not advocating that decision. I am saying we need to give them a lot of grace, a lot of sympathy, and lot of compassion because under those circumstances, they were simply not themselves, and what they were going through was hard. I just want to encourage us, that if they loved Jesus, if they belonged to Jesus, even though they did something they should have not done, when they opened up their eyes they saw Jesus! God is willing to help and love any of his children... because Jesus on the cross is greater than anything we can do to undo what he did for us on the cross.
So I want to encourage you, even though a person doesn’t make a wise choice, their decision they made earlier to follow Christ, and Christ’s decision to forgive them on the cross overrides any other decisions that are made. We can look forward to sharing resurrected bodies and a right mind with them in heaven. So when you think of the deceased, think of Jesus!
Answer: We don’t know what we will be in Heaven.
We know not what we shall be. We know that if He should be manifested we shall see Him as He is and we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as HE IS and not as He will be. This passage reminds us that when Jesus came the first time He looked like us, but when He returns we are going to look like Him. We don’t know what that will be. We know what we look like now, but we don’t know that we will look like then. The reason we don’t know what we shall be is because it has not been revealed. Paul reminds us that we shall be changed and what a change that will be. We just don’t know what the change will be.
Consider the below scriptures:
Our decaying bodies are described with the word “dishonor” because they bear the mark of the results of sin. We can all know of the lungs of one who has ruined their health though smoking, or a brain that is no longer able to form complete thoughts because of drugs. Had there been no sin, there would be no decay and death (1 Cor. 15:56). But God though Christ’s transforming power, is able to raise up his Children in Christ with new glorious bodies, being completely free from the ravages of sin, and they will possess the glory of Christ instead. To summarize, we are not told exactly what we will look like in the next life, what age we all appear to be, or if we will look thin or fat. Although many believe we will bear some resemblance to what we look like now... what we do know is that in whatever ways our appearance or health has been altered because of the result of sin (overeating, not eating, malformations, injuries, aging, cancer), these traits will not be carried over into our appearance in the next life. More importantly, we are going to be with God! The sin nature we receive from Adam (Romans 5:12) will no longer be with us, for we will be made after the holiness of Christ (1 John 3:2)!
This is a big question, and I am going to try to tackle it with answering two questions. The first one is…
1. Where is Heaven right now? Heaven is wherever God is. See, Heaven is not only a place, but it is a person. But it is not even a place as we know a place to be. All that we see, is created. The created is material, it is visible. God is spirit, invisible not physical. God is un-created. He is not part of creation. The created breaks, it wears down, it is affected, it is subjected to our sin. Before creation there was no physical universe. Now, one of the most basic things we know, and kids know, about God is that He created everything that is not God. When we pray, “our Father who art in heaven, holy be your name...” we are implying that heaven, at least in one of its most common uses, is where God the Father is. I think children can understand this. I mean, there are aspects of it that adults can’t understand, but I think children can get this. You don’t have to use the relativity theory in order to explain it. They understand that once there was nothing but God. Nothing. Nothing. No spatial dimension at all. There was no up. There was no down. There was no sideways. There was no diagonal. The only reality was God. That’s the only reality there was. He was just God. This is the most boggling fact in the universe: God is outside the universe. The fact that anything else exists is because God made it means the created is not God. It is different from God, and He is outside it. He is distinct from everything He made. That’s where Heaven is — that is, outside the created material universe as we know it. My conclusion is that Heaven is the place where God dwells. So Christ brings humanity — His own, new humanity — into the presence of God in a real, tangible way that exceeds all our ability to comprehend.
But the most important thing we can say about Heaven, so far as our experience goes, is what Paul says in Philippians 1:23: “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” In other words, this life and everything that we know and enjoy, is nothing to be excited about in comparison to being with God, in Heaven. 2. Can we do whatever we want in Heaven? Yes. But a simple yes is misleading. The question is about freedom. Is there full freedom in heaven. Full freedom is three things: A freedom of opportunity (I get to do this). A freedom of ability (I can do this). A freedom of desire (I want to do this).
It's like... I get to go to Busch Gardens. I can go to Busch Gardens, for I have the money, time, and transportation. I want to Busch Gardens too. This is freedom... this is a good family vacation!
As Christians, we are told we have freedom... Galatians 5:13:
For the Christian, nothing impure shall be acted upon in our life. The same goes in the life we will live in Heaven...
For this reason, the curse that was brought on by sin will not be in Heaven as there is no sin in Heaven!...
The Bible doesn’t answer all our questions about Heaven, but it certainly assures us that Heaven will be a place of perfect peace and rest. The Bible says, “They will rest from their labor” (Revelation 14:13). At the same time, the Bible also says that God will have work for us in Heaven — and we ought to be glad for this! After all, if all we did in Heaven was sit around with nothing to do, we would get bored. But heaven won’t be boring — and one reason is because God will have work for us to do. The Bible says, “His servants will serve him” (Revelation 22:3). But here is the amazing thing: In Heaven, we will never grow weary or tired, like we do here on Earth. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, from that moment on our work became a burden (see Genesis 3:17-19). But in Heaven, that curse will be lifted, and work will no longer be a burden. Instead, it will be a joy! The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly what it will be, but we’ll be serving God — which is the highest honor imaginable. How very, very true the famous hymn writer was when he penned the words "Trust and obey for there is no other way to be HAPPY in Jesus but to trust and obey" (John H. Sammis).
So, is are our loved ones in Christ that has departed now fishing with Jesus? No.
Is it wrong to say that the departed is now fishing and drinking coffee with Jesus? No.
When we say such a thing, I trust we are trying to express a spiritual truth: Our departed loves ones in Christ are now resting from their labor with Jesus and are experiencing utter joy.
We ask this question as Christians most likely because we know what Paul said in the book of Romans…
After reading such a passage, we might ask… "But, what about those who have never heard?" This is probably one of the most common questions about Christianity, both inside and outside the Church. Why? It is really a question about God. Is it fair, it is just, for God to condemn people who never had an opportunity to know Christ? Yes. Yes,
There are two passages elsewhere in Romans which makes this clear…
Taken together these passages claim that everyone has an inherent knowledge of God, that this can be clearly known from creation and how everyone has a God-given moral compass, of right and wrong. When we say "Those who have never had the opportunity to know God" … we are mistaken. They have actually know something and they do have access to key information about God. They know that God exists, that there is a moral standard, yet they have broken it.
So, Yes… God as a righteous judge can and will hold everyone accountable for their sins. Allow me to answer the question directly: Will everyone who doesn’t know Jesus go to Hell? YES. Yes. yes. It greatly disturbs me when preachers and teachers are invited onto programs and the interviewer inquires of them, and they squirm, they change the subject, they tell a story that appeals to the emotions. They do anything but say, yes. If you do not know Jesus, you will go to Hell. —— Well, what about the 4 year old child? Do they go to Hell?
What I do know is that God is a good father, and I trust that He is just and right. So, let’s talk about you. You are alive. I am more concerned about you. You have a decision to make. Don’t change the subject, my friend, I won’t let you, because I love you. Let’s talk about you. Have you received Jesus? Have you trusted in Jesus? Have you turned to Jesus?
If you do not know Jesus, you are in the pathway of hell. Let me say it loudly. Let me say it clearly. Let me say it plainly. Let me say it lovingly. Let me say it pleadingly. You are in danger! — Yes. Yes. Without Jesus you go to hell. My responsibility is to tell you the truth. Because I love God and I love you. I can not have your blood on my hands… I must not stand before God and have Him say, “Not well, unfaithful servant.”
This is what Jesus says... He could not be more clearer. If He had not said things like this, no one would have killed Him... John 14:6:
Singular and exclusive. No one comes to the Father but by me. No one.
Buddhism, NO. Hinduism, NO. New Ageism, NO. Moronism, NO. Jehovah-witnessism, NO. Nice people, NO. Good people, NO. Generous people, NO. Religious people, NO. NO ONE. No one, no exception, no one. No one. No one comes to the father expect through Jesus Christ, the son of God. That is what exactly what Jesus said.
My responsibility is to tell the truth. Your job is the make a decision. And no decision, is the wrong decision. — Well, I made my decision for Christ years ago. Great. But is it a daily decision? It has to be. Revelation 12:8 tells us that deliverance from hell does not stand apart from obedience… we have to be committed to trusting Jesus daily… that is obedience. I buried two saints this weekend… in celebration. I can not imagine, burying a sinner. What sadness!
Peter, the apostle and evangelist, who taught people he loved, as I do you... says:
There is salvation, isn’t that great? There is salvation. Where? It’s Jesus. That’s it. Salvation is in Christ alone.
The question is, what happens if you haven’t heard about Jesus at all? Well, salvation is only through Jesus, but the message about Jesus can be sent out, missionaries, technology, materials, church planting, angels can show up, God can show up. HERE IS WHAT I AM WORRIED ABOUT… are you telling them? If people haven’t heard. Let’s tell them. Let’s tell them that Jesus is God. Let’s tell them that Jesus lived without sin. Let’s tell them that Jesus died in their place for their sins. Let’s tell them that Jesus rose to conquer Satan, sin, death… Let’s tell them that there is no salvation apart from HIM!
We may say that this is not loving... that God is not loving, or that He does not care. Let me remind us of this passage... 1 Timothy 2:4:
Let me tell you a story of Bills Boma, native of South Sudan. Boma is not his last name… it’s the place where he lives… he lives in the Boma… the place “in-between”… literally… “Ends of the Earth" (sound familiar?). Bills was an Animist, a person that worshiped his ancestors and the river Nile, the trees, snakes. So, he worshiped the created. During one season, many children in his village died. He began sacrificing goats to the snake, the tree, to the river, but the children still where dying. One night lighting hit his hut burning it down to the ground. He woke up, looking at the stars with nothing but the clothes on his back. At that moment Bills relayed, it was as if God said “Are you going to get up and kill another Goat, or are you going to worship me?” Knowing that there was a Man of God named Peter close by, he sent a message to him asking him how to make a plead to God, the Creator. Peter told him how God had a son, and to pray to his son. Bills asked, "And what is his name?" Peter replied, "Jesus Christ." Bills prayed to God, the Creator, through Jesus Christ, and the children in his village stopped dying!
Since then, my dad visited him and proclaimed the gospel to him. In fact, I journeyed to meet him, but was unable to cross a river to get to him and became dehydrated.
I say this to say, God will make opportunities for others to come to the saving knowledge of His Son, regardless of the situation or expense. Do we have this same mindset? Do we have the same heart for the lost as God does? My job is to tell you the truth. Your job is to make a decision. Will you turn to Jesus? Will you proclaim Jesus, taking the truth about salvation to everyone? Pray for God to touch your heart that you will trust and obey His Word.