The other day I found myself talking to a bunch of sixteen year-old girls. The conversation started quiet; I asked them about their faith, what they believed in. That day I pushed myself to be a lot bolder than what I am comfortable with, so when a few of the girls mentioned they weren't really 'anything'
I pushed myself to ask the question, 'What will happen to you when you die?'
There was silence, and then the answer I hear all too often:
'I've never really thought about it.'
A painful reality
The topic of salvation makes a lot of people squirm in their boots. And I get it. If you are not confident about where you are going after you die, whether that be Heaven or Hell or a butterfly on earth, then there is an assumption that once you start to ask those questions, you might become quickly overwhelmed.
I get shivers when I read Scripture about eternity, and I've come to an understanding that this is okay for me: there is a holy fear in salvation, but this fear should be causing us to press in more to discover the truth about it; rather than passively ignoring its existence.
In a society where everyone's right and no one likes to accept the fact that there are 'corrects' and 'incorrects', I'm standing out on a limb and stating that Heaven and Hell are real.
I love the idea that perhaps Hell doesn't exist, or that everyone's religion could be right for them or if you're a good person in this life then you'll go to Heaven; but the more I read the Bible the more I know this just isn't true. In all of my idealistic hopes for eternity, I simply can't stray from the fact that Heaven is real, and Hell is too. And we're going to one of them.
Whilst there are pictures in our minds of what these two places may be like, we can see, clearly in the Bible, that the reality of those places is something of utter significance.
'When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world...
Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'' (Matthew 25:31-34, 41).
I was really impacted by a dear friend of mine the other day in conversation when she mentioned how God had placed love for strangers so deep down in her heart that she simply couldn't love them without talking to them about their eternity.
In her words: 'If I love this person so much, then shouldn't I be SO concerned for them about whether they live eternity in hell or with Jesus?' This is heavy stuff. And actually, not something I hear talked about all that often. We as followers should have an understanding of what the bible teaches about eternity, believe it and live our lives as though it exists. Not as though it doesn't.
I cannot say whether someone is going to heaven or hell. God is the only judge, and he is the one with the names in the book of life. But the bible promises that whoever believes in him has eternal life. 'Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.' (John6:47). This eternal life has to come from the belief in Jesus, 'No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up in the last day.' (John 6:44).
Keeping these things in mind
I would encourage Christians to believe and live out their lives on earth, firstly with the assurance of their salvation which comes from Christ (they day of Jesus returning can be the greatest day of your life! Rather than the absolute worst...but in that I'm not denying the fact that this most likely still going to be full on), and to secondly live passionately defending and fighting for our brothers and sisters' eternity also.
We cannot make the decision for them, to follow Christ, but we can love wholeheartedly and dare to be bold. This life and its troubles only last a second compared to the next.
'See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.' (Isaiah 65:17)
Courtesy of Press Service International