Sunday, March 30, 2014

The H-E-Double-L Word

My dad bought all of his children Randy Alcorn's book Heaven as a Christmas gift. My "read list" is a mile long and it took me a few months to get to it. Lately I've been waking up at 3 AM unable to fall back asleep, so I pull it up on my phone and begin reading. It's wonderful to fall asleep (teary-eyed) to paragraphs like this one: "Think of friends or family members who loved Jesus and are with him now. Picture them with you, walking together in this place. All of you have powerful bodies, stronger than those of an Olympic decathlete. You are laughing, playing, talking, and reminiscing. You reach up to a tree to pick an apple or orange. You take a bite. It's so sweet that it's startling. You've never tasted anything so good. Now you see someone coming toward you. It's Jesus, with a big smile on his face. You fall on your knees in worship. He pull you up and embraces you. At last you're with the person you were made for, in the place you were made to be. Everywhere you go there will be new people and places to enjoy, new things to discover. What's that you smell? A feast. A party's ahead. And you're invited. There's exploration and work to be done - and you can't wait to get started." Randy goes on to explain that he has a biblical basis for that entire statement and apparently there's more to come! I'm so excited to read his biblical basis as to what heaven is like.

I agree with Randy in that Christians seem hesitant to study or talk about heaven. In reality it should be at the forefront of our brain, all the time, because it is what we strive for - eternity with Christ! It is not what movies paint it to be: clouds and harps and boringness. Randy shows us what God's Word states about this place prepared for those who've accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. However, it's equally as important to talk about the other place, which is also portrayed incorrectly. We are also hesitant to talk about it or even say it. Like Randy, we'd prefer it didn't exist, but we didn't create the world, nor did we make the rules. He did. Accept that fact.

Next, understand that every sin is a strike against God's perfection. Therefore, we cannot enter into His perfect presence dirty and rotten. Every single one of us deserves hell because we are all sinners! Not one of us deserves to enter heaven! And because He is a just God, His wrath will be poured out on those who do not choose to accept the one person who came to save us from the very thing God hates and is at war against: sin!

Randy spent an entire chapter discussing hell and I made the mistake of reading it early this morning. Oops. Couldn't fall asleep after that - my mind was reeling and has been ever since. Everything Alcorn stated I already knew but he has a way of holding a Christian's feet to the fire with this one quote: "The most loving thing we can do for our friends and our family is to warn them about the road that leads to destruction and tell them about the road that leads to life." Here's the thing, I've read the Bible cover to cover and many books countless times, and each time I read about hell... I cringe. Now, thanks to Randy Alcorn (and my dad), my brain won't shut up and I can't help but write about this place. Simply thinking about a place where people will spend an eternity enduring the wrath of God makes my stomach churn. As a result I can't shut up about Christ - who became sin on our behalf, taking God's wrath on our behalf, and dying the death we deserve! He is the only ticket to heaven. "... confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord and you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)

If you do not accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, this is what the Bible says you will endure for all eternity...

  • Loneliness. You will not be hanging out with your friends reminiscing about your days on earth. You will be alone, because God has abandoned you! (Luke 16:19-31)
  • Thirst. You will in fact, never know the taste of a drink again, ever, ever, ever. (Luke 16:24)
  • Weeping & Gnashing of Teeth (Matthew 8:12 & 13:40-42)
  • Utter Misery. (Matthew 13:42, 13:50, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30; Luke 13:28)
  • Punishment. You will understand that you are being punished for all your sins, for all eternity. Randy Alcorn's way of describing the story of Lazarus, that Jesus taught, is perfect: "... the wicked suffer terribly, are fully conscious, retain their desires and memories and reasoning, long for relief, cannot be comforted, cannot leave their torment, and are bereft of hope." (Luke 16:19-31)
  • Burned with Fire. (Matthew 13:40-42) And yes, it will be painful.
  • Worms that do not die. (Mark 9:43-48)
  • Darkness. (Matthew 8:12)
  • No hope of relief. (Luke 16:19-31)
Quote from Dante's Inferno
Basically imagine the worst possible place you could be... 

... it's worse than that. 100 times worse. Much, much worse.

If you wonder why I spend so much time talking about Jesus and His saving grace, Hell is a major reason why. Christ gives us HOPE! True hope. And I can't shut up about Him or I will quite literally burst. 

Now, imagine the best possible place you could be...

... heaven is BETTER than that. 100 times better. Much, much better. 

And there's only ONE way to get there: faith alone, in Christ alone.

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