HEAVEN OR HELL?
The Ultimate Statistic... You are part of the ultimate statistic!!
When you die, what do you think will be on the other side? Since we are all part of the ultimate statistic that ten out of ten people die, where we go when we die is something we should think about. Now would be the best time to think about it. Why? Death is sudden. Death is uninvited. Death is certain. The Bible tells us that each of us will wind up in one of two final destinations after we die: . . . them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2). According to the Bible, hell is a very real place. Jesus spoke of it 33 times, describing its horrors in graphic detail.
This letter lays out detailed biblical facts on the topic of what happens after we die. My fear is that people don’t truly understand what the bible says about heaven and hell and thus life after death. I hate to think that someone might go to hell simply because no one ever told them the true biblical facts about eternity. Ultimately, your beliefs and choices are between you and God. The key is having the correct facts and truths from the bible to allow you to make an educated decision. Thus, the reason for this letter. I would ask two things: first that you would read this in its entirety and think on the things presented. Second, that you would not take my word for it but read God’s word, the Bible, for yourself. I would suggest reading the book of John and Romans to start with.
Many are 100% sure they are going to heaven but that assurance is not based on biblical facts. For instance, some think that by going to church they will go to heaven. Many think they are going to heaven because they were baptized. Others think all people will go to heaven. Most people think you just have to be a pretty good person to go to heaven. All these beliefs regarding the way to heaven are wrong. A lot of people are religious but not in a right relationship with God. There are many who claim to know Jesus and have a relationship with him but are not genuinely in God’s family. For example, check out these verses:
Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
My point is many think they are going to heaven but in reality they are not. I am not trying to be arrogant or prideful but instead want to simply present the facts regarding heaven from scripture. Please read on.
First it is important to understand that there is one true creator God. The existence of a creator is all around us. One cannot have a building without a builder just as a painting will never be created without a painter. In the same way, this complex world, as well as the human body also must have a creator. In Romans chapter one is states that there is no one without excuse (Romans 1:18-20; 2:15-16). In other words, God has left us clear evidence of His existence. These portions of scripture declare proof of God is evidenced in creation as well as through our conscience. We are all born with a sense of right and wrong – it lies in the conscience. Is it not true that when we do something wrong our conscience makes us aware of wrong doing? The moral law that humans live by had to come from somewhere. It didn’t happen by chance. God created us with a conscience. Again, when we look at a building, how do we know that there was a builder? We can’t see him, hear him, touch, taste, or smell him. Of course, the building is proof there was a builder. In the same way, everything on earth that was created has a creator. So, whether you believe in Him or not, the truth, the reality is that there is a creator God. The God of the Bible. Thus, because God created this world we must play by his rules. Many have attempted to prove that there is no God, no creator of all around us including mankind. Without an ultimate creator, man follows the logic I must do what seems best for me. Man makes the rules. However, as this letter details, there is an ultimate authority, the creator God. Again to emphasize, we play by his rules. This is why we must examine the scriptures to see the facts about God’s standard for heaven and hell.
I like to ask the question, “Do you consider yourself a good person?” Most people answer that they do believe they are a good person. When one thinks about whether he is good or not he compares himself against others. If you were to ask a group of people what a “good person” looks like most would differ on their definition of good. Since God has created us and we must follow his rules, we must measure ourselves against his standard. The bible says that God is good and he has given us the 10 commandments as a standard of goodness, or his measuring stick. God sets the standard for heaven. We are called to be perfect just as God is perfect (Matthew 5:48). So, let’s look at God’s law, the ten commandments as found in Exodus chapter 20, and with a honest conscience, ask yourself is you have obeyed the following:
You shall have no other gods before Me. (Have you always loved God above all else?)
You shall not make yourself an idol. (Have you made a god in your mind that you’re more comfortable with, a god to suit yourself?)
You shall not take God’s name in vain. (Have you ever used God’s holy name as a cuss word or in any other dishonoring way?)
Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.
Honor your father and mother.
You shall not murder. (God considers hatred to be murder. Have you ever hated anyone?)
You shall not commit adultery. (“Whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart” Matthew 5:27-28)
You shall not steal. (Have you ever stolen anything? Even if it was small?)
You shall not lie. (Have you lied even once? I think everyone has lied at least once! Check this verse out – Revelation 21:8 "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
You shall not covet. (Have you ever desired what belongs to others?)
The 10 Commandments are a summary of God’s law, His standard. Our eternal destinations will be determined by this standard. On judgment day, will you be found guilty or innocent of breaking God’s commandments? How do you measure up? I would guess you have broken at least one of these! No doubt I have as well as all of mankind.
We are all guilty of breaking God’s law. To break God’s law is to “sin” which means to “miss the mark”. We have fallen short of God’s standard, his law. Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. If we break a law in our country there are consequences. These range from a fine to jail time or possibly death. The fact is there is a punishment for breaking a law. So what is the result of being guilty of breaking God’s law, of sinning? Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. The punishment for breaking God’s law, even once, is death or eternal separation from him in hell. You see, you may chose to ignore your sin, but God will not. Many think God is mean due to this stiff penalty. Instead, he is only acting according to his nature. God is holy, perfect. He cannot look at sin and so he cannot have sin in heaven. Thus, his standard for heaven is perfection. People believe they can be good enough to go to heaven. This is true if one can be perfect. Yet, above we proved that all of us have broken at least one of God’s commandments. After one sin at any point in our lives, we can no longer be perfect. It only takes one sin to cause us to fall short of God’s standard. James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.
So, this places us in God’s courtroom guilty of breaking his law and not able to do anything ourselves to correct the situation. This is because once we have broken God’s law one time, no matter how good we are the rest of our lives; we can never keep God’s law perfectly. Standing guilty we simply await our final sentence – eternal separation from God in hell.
Many think that God is good, and he is, and will therefore overlook sin and all will be in heaven. Yet the bible also says that he is just. Exodus 34:7 states, “and by no means will the guilty go unpunished.” I say to someone, “What if someone murdered one of your loved ones. Wouldn’t you want justice?” I mean if the judge is just and fair he will issue the correct punishment for the crime in question. A “good” judge would be one that correctly punished criminal activity. God is good and just. We have broken his law and thus he will follow through on the punishment. God demands justice, and the penalty for sinning against him is death and hell.
But in God’s courtroom he does not leave mankind without a means of escape from hell due to his love for us. God hates sin but loves us. God desires to have a relationship with us. God himself made a way where his justice and his mercy could meet. Again, we broke the law and cannot pay the fine. There is no way to be good enough to get to heaven. Instead he sent his son Jesus to pay the fine. So, we broke God’s law and Jesus came into the courtroom to pay our fine. Jesus suffered and died on the cross to satisfy the law. Throughout history there have been many who have died on a cross. But Jesus was different. He never sinned, not once. Jesus, being perfect, met the standard. Thus, he is an able sacrifice. This able sacrifice took the punishment due mankind. 1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;
It is a simple move of substitution. My friend, either you will pay the penalty for your sin or Jesus will pay the penalty in your place. Since I have accepted Christ, God treats me as if I have lived a perfect life and he treats Jesus as if he has committed my sin even though in truth I have sinned and Jesus lived a sinless life on earth.
So how does one get eternal life or the guarantee of heaven? Again, it is not by earning or deserving heaven by our goodness. It is not by going to church. No matter how good we are we will never hit the standard of perfection. Further, you don’t have to radically change your life before you enter into a relationship with Jesus. When one trusts in Christ as their savior, the bible says at that point the Holy Spirit comes into your life. Then and only then are you able to display consistent growing changes in your life that reflect Jesus and are obedient to God’s commands.
So, what does it take to go to heaven?
Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."
Jesus in Mark 1:15, "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"
First, one must hear and understand the facts of the gospel as presented in this letter.
One must understand their position before God. Without excuse and awaiting sentencing to hell.
Second, one must believe these facts to be true. One must agree with these facts.
Third, one must make these facts personal in their life. In other words, believe that you are a sinner; admit that there is no way to heaven outside of Jesus to be your substitute. Asking him to step in and pay the fine that you are unable to pay. In summary, one must trust in Jesus and His sacrifice alone to get to heaven.
The bible says that to go to heaven we must repent and believe in the Lord Jesus. In other words, coming to an understanding that you are currently sentenced to hell and sense a need for God’s forgiveness. In Matthew 4:17 we find Jesus’ words, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” To repent means to turn around 180 degrees. It means to change our mind about Jesus. We have to come to a point where we recognize we need Jesus to be our substitute because we are in debt to God. Jesus is able and willing to be our Savior from our just punishment from God. He meets God’s standard to be our substitute. He is God and as such he never sinned thus He meets the standard of perfection. He also took our place of punishment on the cross satisfying God’s wrath for our sin.
Now, God states that those who know Christ in a relationship as their savior will have changes. You will desire to change and with God’s promised help, you will. When you accept Christ you are born again. In other words, you are made alive spiritually. You will have new desires, new habits, and new wants. This is proof that you are going to heaven. When I accepted Christ as my Savior, I had new desires to go to church, to read the bible, and to spend time around other Christians. Living a changed and refocused life is a growing process and you will never be perfect. Again, you will never be perfect but you will sense you have a new direction and new focus. But, if you see no changes in your life than God has not changed your heart and you are not truly saved. Many think the Christian life is “boring”. As you have come to know me I hope you can tell that my life is far from boring. I would be glad to talk more about this with you.
To summarize: To go to heaven one must simply admit they have broken God’s law at least once. One must understand that the penalty for law breaking is eternity in hell separate from God. The way of escape is to ask God to forgive you; trusting in Jesus alone and his sacrifice on the cross. He suffered and died to pay your penalty. One must believe that to be true. Jesus overcame death, rising from the dead to display the power to overcome sin and hell. He is alive. This separates him from any other man and separates Christianity from all other “religions”. All others remain in the grave.
When Jesus said to “believe” on him, he was saying we should have faith in him, in the same way you would trust a parachute to save you when you jump from a plane. You don’t merely believe in the parachute – you put it on. Faith is not a feeling but a firm decision of the will to place all hope of heaven in what Jesus has done. Please don’t “jump” without Jesus. If you die in your sins there is no second chance. God will give you justice, and you will end up in hell forever. Any troubles one has at present are dwarfed by the trouble you are in with your Creator. His wrath currently abides on those who do not trust in Christ. John 3:36 "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
God offers heaven as a free gift. You can either accept it or reject it. We don’t earn a gift. Yet, many are trying to earn heaven by being baptized or following a set of religious rules and practices. Please know we can’t DO anything to earn or deserve heaven. We must simply repent and trust in Jesus Christ.
God doesn’t want you or anyone to go to hell and neither do I. He desires a relationship with you, His creation. I have studied the topic of hell and am fully convinced of its reality and severity for eternity. Becoming a Christian by accepting Christ as your savior does not mean you are doomed to a boring life on earth nor are you promised a life of happiness. Becoming a Christian is about having a relationship with God for eternity. I greatly enjoy life. But the source of my joy is in my God and knowing for sure I will someday be in heaven. To be able to have a relationship with our creator God and live at peace with Him should be our motivation for seeking a relationship with Christ. When you place your trust in Jesus the Bible says you are a new creation able to have this relationship with God. God will then help you live to obey Him. With your willingness and genuine effort to follow Him, God will change you. But there must be a starting point where you enter into a relationship with Christ. If you put your trust for heaven in Jesus alone you will pass from death to life. The pleasures of this world are just a blip compared with eternity. Think long about these things.
I appreciate your willingness to read this and think about these important facts. Again, ultimately the decision is up to every individual. Either you will pay the penalty for your sins in hell or accept Christ’s sacrifice, which paid the penalty for you allowing you to spend eternity in heaven. I have no desire to pressure you or beat you up with these truths. Yet, I will say that nothing is more important right now than becoming sure where you will spend eternity. One thing is for sure, ten out of ten people die.
Please think on these things. Eternity is a long time. Eternity is forever. After you die you will immediately be in eternity with Christ or separated from Christ forever in hell. There are no second chances or crossing from one side to the other.
For more info – markcahill.org