Heaven, Hell, And How Do You Get There?
If you believe in the idea of Heaven or Hell in the Christian context, you probably have one of two views on how a person ends up at one or the other. If you don’t believe this, you might want to go back to checking your email or something. It’s been an interesting week for me. Following my review of Love Wins by Rob Bell titled Love Wins, Christianity Loses, and God Lies, I have been inundated by many messages. So I thought it’d be good to drill down on these issues a bit more.
With regard to Heaven, you probably either believe that everyone is in unless they opt-out…
…everyone is out unless they opt-in.
Before I explain what I mean, let’s talk about how this all plays out. The Bible ends in the book of Revelation with Jesus handing out final judgments for all of creation. Meanwhile, the devil, his fallen angels, and anyone whose name isn’t found in “the book of life” are thrown into “a lake of fire.” Some refer to this as the Judgment Day, a term that conjures up a host of emotions. (Don’t you hate talking this stuff? Awkward!)
We are also given an extraordinary picture of Heaven. It shows God living permanently among his people. There’s no evil, no temptation, no night. There are no more tears. There’s no more death, no more pain. No one will ever be thirsty. No one will ever be hungry. Everything’s bright, lighted, brilliant. Precious gems and metals are everywhere. Oceans and rivers are crystal clear to the very bottom. What’s rare on this earth is in abundance in Heaven.
Of course, we all want to get there. So how do we do it?
The secret is to have your name recorded in the “book of life.”
And how does that happen? That’s the key here. I think the answer is found in several passages in the Bible. I’ll name just one. You probably know it well: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17) If that concept’s uncomfortable, don’t get mad at me. I’m just the messenger. You’ll have to take it up with the one who’s quoted as saying this—Jesus. That is, if you believe in such things.
So with regard to Heaven, is it that everyone is in unless they opt-out or everyone is out unless they opt-in?
I believe there are different measures of Hell in the same way there will be different levels of reward in Heaven. So perhaps these one word descriptions that only communicate monolithic extremes are somewhat lacking. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
What I’m talking about is how do we end up in the “inner court”–that place where we are with God all the time?
Is it that if we accept and believe in Jesus we are in? Or is it that everyone is in unless they have outrightly rejected Jesus? In other words, if a person never follows Jesus, never believes in and accepts him (as the risen son of God), but never outrightly rejects him either, will they be allowed in that “inner court”?
This is a question I often think about. And if you would like to read my detailed analysis of Hell, please download the chapter of Hell from my book for FREE here.
Either way, with Heaven in the balance, Hell does what it’s supposed to. It causes me to take stock of my life, examine who I am, challenge what I’m doing, and question why I’m here.