I don’t know that there is a more divisive topic out there than the topic of Heaven and Eternal Life vs. Hell and Eternal Damnation. Typically it begins with the question- “What do you mean I might not go to Heaven, I’m a good person!!!!” I know that this has caused more than one conversation to go sideways around here.
Before we begin, let me make this perfectly clear – I am NOT a theologian. What I am writing here is a culmination of information gained while studying and researching some of the finest Christian minds and writers. Links to their articles will be added to the end of this post.
So… shall we dig in?
There are several questions that I want to unpack today.
- Is Heaven real?
- Is Hell real?
- Why only Christians go to Heaven?
- How can being good send me to Hell?
There are dozens more, and perhaps I’ll write more about this topic another time, but for now I think this is the basics.
Ask yourself this… If God appeared to you and asked, “Why should I let you into heaven?” How would you answer? If you’re like most people, you answer might run something along these lines:
“I’ve always tried to…”
“I do my best…”
Regardless of a person stated “religion”, most answers go back to a person’s attempt to live a good life. Why? Because most people believe that living a “good” life and being a “good” person is all that is needed to get into Heaven. That theory concludes that lots of folks believe if you behave yourself now, you don’t really need to worry much about happens next. By whose standard are you good? Do you have enough “good” in your “eternal bank” to get you in? Just how many good deeds does it take? And what sort of good works earn more eternal reward? But what if that’s not the case? What if ALL of your good deeds… ALL of you good works get you nowhere? Then what? Before we answer that question… let’s look at a few other points.
Is Heaven real? According to Scripture, Heaven is a real place. It is God’s Throne. Isaiah 66:1 – “Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?” and in Matthew 5:34-35 we read “But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.” These passages tell us that Heaven is in fact a real place – it is God’s Throne.
We also read in Mark 16:19 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God” and in Acts 7:55-56 “But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
We are told by Jesus Himself that there are many rooms in God’s house and that He has gone before us to prepare a place for us. We can take assurances of His word that He is in fact coming back to earth to take His children into Heaven. (John 14:4)
To deny the existence of Heaven is to deny the written Word of God. We are encouraged in the Scriptures to cling to the hope of eternity in Heaven, which is the reason for our joy!
So… if Heaven is real, then Hell is real? Yes. “According to the Bible, hell is just as real as Heaven. The Bible clearly and explicitly teaches that hell is a real place to which the wicked/unbelieving are sent after death. We have all sinned against God (Romans 3:23). The just punishment for that sin is death (Romans 6:23). Since all of our sin is ultimately against God (Psalm 51:4), and since God is an infinite and eternal Being, the punishment for sin, death, must also be infinite and eternal. Hell is this infinite and eternal death which we have earned because of our sin.”
According to the Scriptures, the punishment of the dead in Hell is described in Matthew 25:41 as “eternal fire” – “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 3:12 describes it as “unquenchable fire” – “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire”. Luke 16:23-24 it is a ”place of torment and fire” – “and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’” And in Revelation 20:10 Hell is a “lake of burning sulfur” where the wicked are “tormented day and night forever and ever” – “And the devil, who deceived then, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
So… only Christians go to Heaven? The short answer to that is yes. Since Heaven is the “home” of our perfect and Holy God, sin cannot reside there. It has no place there, nor will it be accepted. The answer is as simple as this… Unless we alive and caught up in the Rapture of the Church (a topic for another writing), everyone is going to die. Everyone is going to spend eternity somewhere. You are either going to spend it in Heaven in communion with Christ or separated from Him in Hell – for ALL eternity. Not just a few years… Not just a few decades… not just a few centuries… FOREVER! There is no “get out of Hell free card”, there are no indulgences to be said for your eternal soul. There is no exit door on Hell.
Some people say well that’s not fair… why am I excluded from Heaven. There is one answer. You are the one that excluded yourself from Heaven Eternal. You are excluded from Heaven because you have made conscious decision NOT to seek the King. You have made a conscious decision NOT to invite the Him into your heart. You have chosen to continue to live in your sin and NOT seek forgiveness for your sins.
In the Kingdom of Heaven is the Throne of God and our Father God is the King that sits on the Throne. Ask yourself this question; what King would want people in His Kingdom that don’t care about Him or the sacrifice He gave for them. Why would He give a thought for those who don’t give Him a second of thought in their every day life or even those who completely deny His existence? You say “But I’m a good person”… hang onto that thought; we’ll get to that in a bit.
However, as a believer, we have been given the key to open the doors of Heaven.
John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
1 John 5:13 “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Hebrews 10:19-22 “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” The name of the key that will open the doors of Heaven… THAT NAME IS JESUS CHRIST!
We asked this question near the beginning of this post… What if ALL of your good deeds… ALL of you good works get you nowhere? Then what? Perhaps being “good” just isn’t good enough. Perhaps living a “good” life (while absolutely and totally necessary for the believer or the unbeliever) just isn’t good enough.
There is one sure way to know without a doubt that you will spend eternity in Heaven. The one and only way… through Jesus Christ, the Son of God; through the sacrificial death of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary. Jesus willingly took the sins of this world, the sins of you and me upon Himself and allowed Himself to be crucified on that Cross so that through His death and resurrection, we can have eternal life in Heaven. He came to forgive sin. There is no cost to for this forgiveness. You cannot work for it, you cannot earn it. It is a free and unmerited gift from God.
So… “is Christianity unfair? You’ll have to decide that for yourself. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is beyond fair. What could be fairer that this?
- Everybody is welcome.
- Everybody get in the same way.
- Everybody can meet the requirements.
All three of these statements are supported by one of the most often quoted verses in the New Testament: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believe in Him shall have eternal life John 3:16””
‘Whoever’ is you. Believing in Him is the only requirement. Are you willing to believe?
Perhaps after all this you not convinced. I would ask that you continue to research and investigate God, Jesus, Heaven, Hell and Eternal Life before you make your final decision. Remember everyone is going to spend eternity somewhere. Do your due diligence, and then decide. Your decision comes with an expiration date.
But if perhaps you agree with what you’ve read here, and perhaps you did more research on your own and have come to the conclusion that yes there is a God. Yes He gave His Son to die for your sins. Yes I acknowledge that I am not good enough. And YES I want to be forgiven. If you want to begin your own personal relationship with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior of your soul, then I would ask you to click on this link for the next steps in your journey.
 “Since Nobody’s Perfect, How Good is Good Enough” Andy Stanley; pg 91