Capturing the Reality of Heaven & Hell
The next time you attend a funeral, take a look at the faces of the people there - especially the unbelievers. Look closely into the eyes of those standing around the open casket and you'll see questions. Questions like: Where are they now? What actually happens after death? Is there really a literal heaven? ... a literal hell?
I don't care how much education you have or how many degrees hang on your wall, a face-to-face confrontation with the awesome reality of death will make even the most earthly-minded person stop and think.
The problem is that people who don't know or respect the authority of the Word of God have no basis for finding answers to those weighty questions about eternity. They're left grasping at baseless theories and empty myths.
The truth about heaven and hell is a powerful thing. It will liberate you. "And you will know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31). However, merely acknowledging the existence of heaven and hell is not enough. To be truly set free you must "capture" the reality of heaven and hell in your heart. Once you do, it will change the way you live. It will change what you say and how you say it. It will literally change the way you think.
I'm convinced that very few believers have ever really grasped the reality of heaven. If they had, they wouldn't act the way they do. You can't be heaven-minded and be full of lust or unforgiveness. You can't be heaven-minded and be a gossiper, a liar, or a cheater. There's no doubt about it, you need a revelation of heaven. And you can't get a true revelation of heaven without also seeing the awful reality of hell.
Source of Truth
Where can we turn to learn the truth about what happens after death? Can we turn to the scientists? They'll be the first to admit they don't have a clue. The news media? They don't know. The government? They're no help either.No, there's only one source of spiritual truth in the universe.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:1-3).
Before anything else existed, there was the Word. The Word was with God from the very beginning. I've had people ask me, "How do I contact God?" I tell them, "Make contact with His Word and you've contacted God!" The verse above tells us nothing was made apart from the Word. That means all matter is derived from the living, active Word of God. It's truer and purer than anything you can see, touch, or hear. That's why God's Word is the source of all truth - including truth about heaven and hell. That's difficult for many educated people to accept. Our modern system of education conditions us to accept only that which can be observed with the senses. You may be thinking, "My professors never talked about eternity. Surely if there was a real heaven and a real hell I would have learned about it in college." Don't make the mistake of assuming that every important thing there is to know is being transmitted through our schools. If you base your life on what you learned through a humanistic system of education, you're going to reject the most important knowledge any man or woman can ever learn. Tragically, our educational institutions have neglected the most crucial knowledge of all - the knowledge that can only be derived from an all-knowing God and His Word. That's why intelligent people who are not born again get very uncomfortable at funerals. In spite of all their degrees, nothing in their education has prepared them to think about what happens after a man dies.
Religion isn't much help either. Religious people go to a funeral, shrug their shoulders and say, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." That sounds very pious, but it's not biblical. It's empty religious talk designed to bring a sense of peace. But it's not true peace. It's the kind of peace the world gives (John 14:27). Our society as a whole is willing to accept "religion's" view of life and death. But it has rejected the true knowledge of heaven and hell revealed in God's Word, just as it has rejected the truth of man's need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
The Mind Blinder
In the Bible God clearly states, "My people perish for a lack of knowledge"
(Hos. 4:6). Now, He's not talking about the kind of knowledge you get in college. It's a lack of Bible knowledge that will kill you. Even worse, neglecting the truth that can be found in God's Word may result in your spending eternity in hell. That's just what Satan has in mind. "In whom the god of this world (Satan) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2
Cor. 4:4). The Devil is out to blind you to the truth of the gospel. He knows that if he can accomplish that, you're finished. You have no hope.How does Satan blind a person's mind? He has many tools at his disposal, but two in particular are especially effective.
Blinded by Human Reason
Satan loves to use human knowledge and education to blind the minds of people to the truth about heaven and hell. It's one of his most common and effective methods of operation. Earthly reason and intellect are absolutely useless when it comes to comprehending the things of God. In fact, they're often a hindrance. "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty ..." (1
Cor. 1:27). "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom
teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1
Cor. 2:13-14). This is why statistics indicate the vast majority of people who get born gain today are children. Many adults have had their minds blinded by education and human reason. This is especially prevalent in those who are highly educated. Why do you think there has been such a move to remove all traces of God and the Bible from our public school system? Satan wants to blind you with what you learned in elementary school, high school and college.
Blinded by Emotion
Another frequent "mind-blinder" that sends many a person to hell is emotional religion. Remember, the Word says, God's people perish because of "a lack of knowledge," not a lack of emotion. Yet, many people attend a church where there's plenty of shouting and jumping up and down but precious little Biblical truth going forth.
There's nothing wrong with getting your emotions involved in your worship. But when it begins to take the place of sound teaching from the Word, you're in danger of having your mind blinded by the enemy. You can begin to think that if you don't "feel it" it's not real. Don't let yourself be blinded to the truth of God's Word, especially where it concerns matters as important as your eternal destiny. Don't perish because of a lack of knowledge of these matters. In the next few paragraphs, you'll discover some truths that will literally revolutionize your life. But be warned - once you've read them you're responsible for them. Get ready to capture the reality of heaven and hell.
Hell: A Real Place
One of the most vivid descriptions of hell you'll find in scripture came from the mouth of Jesus Himself. We find it beginning with Luke 16:19: Now there was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died ... . Now the story that Jesus is relating here is not some
fable.�This isn't a story He just made up to illustrate a point. Jesus said
there was "a certain rich man." He's referring to a real event that
happened to real people. Jesus knew these things by revelation knowledge. At the
moment the beggar died, many people would contend his existence was over. After
death - nothingness, annihilation. But notice what Jesus says: And it came to
pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom:
and the rich man also died, and was buried ... . Child of God, the first
thing you're going to see when you die is angels coming to escort you to heaven.
It makes sense when you think about it. When you're entering a realm you've
never seen before, you need some guidance - someone who knows their way around.
When I die, my angels will come up and say, "Come on, brother. We're going
to take you to that place you've been preaching about all your life." Glory
to God! I get excited just thinking about it. There is another side to this
story, however. It is a tragic side. Jesus shows us the fate of the rich man: And
in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off,
and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on
me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool
my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember
that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil
things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this,
between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass
from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from
thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him
to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them,
lest they also come into this place of torment. From this passage of
scripture we learn several things about the awful place called hell. First, we
find that it's a place of torment. Hell is not going to be a place where you sit
around and socialize. It's a place of agony and utter despair. The rich man's
torment was so intense; he believed a single drop of water might bring him some
relief. Please believe me, hell is a place you do not want to go. Nor is it a
place you want your loved ones to go either. If you end up in hell, one of the
first things you'll start thinking about is your friends and family. You'd
think, "If only I could go back and warn them. If I could just tell them to
get saved ... ." Notice how the rich man pleaded to be able to go back and
warn his brothers about the horrendous place. Yet Abraham knew it would do no
good. Read on: Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let
them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from
the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the
prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. The
same is true today. If you won't believe God's Word you won't believe someone
who comes back from the dead. I can't scare you into getting saved. It takes a
quality decision. I can't and won't try to manipulate you into taking the step
that will cause you to miss hell. But I promise, if you really believed there
was a hell, you'd do anything necessary to avoid it.
Who Goes to Hell?
At this point you may be wondering precisely what type of person goes to hell
when they die. An answer to that question can�be found in Psalm 9:17:
"The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget
God." Child of God, there is only one characteristic that dooms a person to
hell - wickedness. That's it in a nutshell. Wickedness takes many forms, but the
most prevalent is "unbelief." An unbelieving heart is a wicked heart
(Heb. 3:12). Walking in unbelief is wicked. Rebellion against God is wickedness.
So is gossip, envy and strife. Please don't walk away thinking, "I don't
want to hear this. I can't deal with this heavy stuff." It's too late.
You've heard the truth. You are now responsible before God for what you've read.
Hopefully, if you haven't already, you'll make a quality decision to make Jesus
Christ the Lord of your life. If you do, you'll spend eternity saying,
"Thank you, Jesus. I made heaven and missed hell."
Where is Hell?
As we just read, the Bible declares the wicked shall be turned into hell. But
where is this place called hell? "Hell from beneath is moved for thee to
meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief
ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the
nations" (Isa. 14:9). Notice the phrase, "hell from beneath." The
Bible states repeatedly that hell is located under the earth or at the center of
the earth. It's a literal place with an actual physical location. Yes, hell is a
real place, but it may surprise you to discover that it wasn't originally
intended for man. Scripture tells us hell was created as a place of fiery
punishment for the Devil and his angels. God did not intend for you or me to go
to hell. However, you can choose to go there if you want. God will not override
your free will. You can follow Satan and his demonic hoard all the way to hell
if you so choose.
A Covenant with Hell
A covenant is a solemn binding agreement or contract. As unlikely as it may
sound, the Bible says some people have made such a pact with hell itself.
"Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell
are we at agreement ..." (Isa. 28:15). You make a covenant with hell by the
way you live and by what you do with your life. It is possible to live in such a
way as to say to hell, "Save me a spot. I'm headed your way." If
you've been living your life that way, I've got good news for you. That covenant
can be broken. You can break it today. You don't have to end up in hell. There
is no need to spend eternity separated from God.
A Closer Look
I know it's not pleasant to take a hard look at such a grim place as hell. But
it's absolutely necessary if you're going to truly comprehend the glory of
heaven and the depth of God's mercy and love.Here are some additional aspects of
hell of which you ought to be aware: First, hell is a place of sorrow. "The
sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares ofdeath prevented me ..." (2
Sam. 22:6). Make no mistake about it; hell is a place of unending, gut-wrenching
sorrow. Sorrow for missed opportunities to surrender to Jesus Christ. Sorrow
that comes when a human soul is separated from God. Second, hell is a place of
captivity. "Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have
no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried
up with thirst. Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth
without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he
that rejoiceth, shall descend into it. And the mean man shall be brought down,
and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled ..." (Isa. 5:13-15). Notice that
first verse. A man who has no knowledge (of the Word of God) goes into
captivity. He is in bondage in this life and, unless he changes his heart, he
goes into the ultimate bondage in the life to come. This passage also tells us
that "hell hath enlarged herself." I once heard a foolish man
speculate that maybe hell would run out of room before he got there. Not a
chance. Hell has been enlarged. In fact, Proverbs 17:20 says: "Hell and
destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied." Please
don't pin your eternal destiny on the flimsy, foolish hope that hell will run
out of room. It has been enlarged without measure and will never be full.
Finally, you need to be aware that hell is a certainty for all those who reject
God's offer of love and grace in Jesus Christ. For if God spared not the
angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains
of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but
saved Noah the eight person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood
upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into
ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that
after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy
conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in
seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful
deeds); The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to
reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished ... (2 Peter
2:4-9). Hell is a certainty. If God didn't permit you to reject his offer of
salvation and go to hell He would owe Sodom and Gomorrah an apology. God is
love, but He is also just. If all the wicked of the earth were destroyed in the
time of Noah, what makes you think you can live any way you want and escape
Something Worse Than Hell
The misery, sorrow, and torment to be experienced in hell is difficult for the
mind to comprehend. Yet, if you go to hell, it will not be your final home for
eternity. Believe it or not, an even worse place is your ultimate destination.
"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:14).
Ultimately, at the end of this present age, all of hell and every being in it
are going to be cast into something the Bible calls "the lake of
fire." There, all of the suffering of hell will be magnified a hundred
times. This is your destiny if you reject Jesus Christ. Please don't do that.
Don't make a reservation to experience hell and the lake of fire. God has placed
before you a choice: "I call heaven and earth to record this day against
you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore
choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live ..." (Deut. 30:19). Now
you know the truth. If you spend eternity in hell, it is because you chose to
reject God's gracious offer of heaven. Heaven. That's the other side of this
coin. Now that you've looked squarely at the horror of hell, let's catch a
glimpse of the glory of heaven.
Capturing the Reality of Heaven
The Bible has much to say about heaven. No one passage of scripture will give
you a complete picture, yet when you look at the whole scope of God's Word a
clear image of the heavenly kingdom begins to emerge. It's a picture that, once
you grasp it, will change your life forever.
A Place Called Heaven
"Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any
thing before God: For God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy
words be few" (Eccl. 5:2). It may seem elementary, but the first thing you
need to know about heaven is that God dwells there. The King and Creator of the
universe makes His home in heaven. It is also the seat of His government. It is
where you'll find His throne. "Thus says the Lord, The heaven is my throne
and the earth is my footstool ..." (Isa. 66:1). Heaven is the primary realm
of God's angels as well. "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no
not the angels which are in heaven" (Mark 13:32). Don't ever doubt it.
Heaven is a real place. A place more solid and substantial than the room you're
sitting in. Don't let Hollywood's images of some ethereal, wispy place color
your concept of heaven. It's a real place, just as surely as earth is a real
Get Ready for a Transformation
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle [meaning our
bodies] were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands,
eternal in the heavens" (2 Cor. 5:1). "Yea, I think it meet, as long
as I am in this tabernacle (body), to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;
knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus
Christ hath shewed me" (2 Peter 1:13-14). "For our conversation is in
heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who
shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious
body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto
himself" (Phil. 3:20-21). All of the above passages of scripture illustrate
an important point. One day all of us who know Jesus Christ are going to shed
this old body like a worn out coat and put on a new glorified body. Exactly what
will that body be like? The Apostle John said he didn't know for sure:
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we
shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we
shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2). The one thing that's for certain is
that when that moment comes we're going to be like Jesus and it's going to be
glorious. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will
all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be
changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the
mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the
imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written
will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory' (1 Cor. 15:51-54
NIV). Some day, either at death or when Jesus returns for His church, our weak,
perishable bodies are going to be exchanged for imperishable ones. That's a good
thing. If you're going to be a citizen of heaven, you'll need a glorious body
because, brothers and sisters, heaven is one amazing place.
A Look at Heaven
The Bible, beginning in Revelation 21:20, gives us a breathtakingly detailed
description of the heavenly city. So detailed, in fact, that we're even given a
blueprint of the place! And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and
high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out
of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone
most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great
and high, and had 12 gates, and at the gates 12 angels, and names written
thereon, which are the names of the 12 tribes of the children of Israel: On the
east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the
west three gates. And the wall of the city �had 12 foundations, and
in them the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had
a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he
measured the city with the reed, 12,000 furlongs. The length and the breadth and
the height of it are equal. And he measure the wall thereof, an hundred and
forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
And the building of the wall of it was of jasper and the city was pure gold,
like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were
garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper;
the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; the
fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl;
the ninth, a topaz; the 10th, a chrysoprasus; the 11th, a jacinth; the 12th, an
amethyst. And the 12 gates were 12 pearls; every several gate was of one pearl:
and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I
saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the lamb are the temple of
it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it:
for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the
nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of
the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not
be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring
the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter
into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or
maketh a lie: but they which are written in the lamb's book of life (Rev.
21:10-27). I don't know about you, child of God, but just reading that
description thrills my soul to its very core. I've determined that I must do
whatever it takes to make it to heaven. It's far too wonderful and hell is far
too terrible for me to risk falling short. I must make it to heaven.
Here are some scriptures for you to study on and start speaking over your
life for various situations.�� Deut.
Corinthians 4:13� Psalm
Corinthians 8:9� 2
Cor 6:2� John
Cor 10:3-6� Matt
34:9-10� There are many more scriptures, but this should get you and
your spirit fired up.
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