Will those I love arrive in Heaven or end up in Hell?
I pray daily that all my kids and grandkids will spend eternity in heaven. Even more so, I pray that they live a full kingdom life well before they ever get there! But for all of us, it comes down to a choice … it always has. Do I choose to live with Him? Or do I choose to live without Him?
The doctrine of hell has always been with us. There have always been hard-line angry religious people who abusively use hell as a battering ram to convince people they need Jesus. Sadly, there are people who have said the salvation prayer based solely on fear of going to hell – they were probably denied the chance to really fall in love with Jesus and subsequently carried on the same legacy of the religious people who ‘frightened them into heaven’!
What about this religious statement: "You'll go to hell for that!” That statement has been used to condemn all sorts of things that I’m not sure God always condemns. Such sayings are used as fear tactics to control and manipulate behaviour - which in my observation has mostly been unsuccessful. I wonder if any of you remember this one? -"Don't smoke, don't chew, don't go with girls who do!" This was another religious line I remember being hammered into me as a young man in my early Christian days, although you substituted another word for ‘chew’ that rhymes with it!
Whilst watching an old western movie recently I heard the words "You'll go to hell for that!"– It reminded me of those who have swung the idea of hell around like a club, giving you the impression that they would be rather pleased to see you sent there!
Many awful things have been said using the doctrine of hell.
But our God is not like that. He "is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). The Lover of our souls, the One who has pursued us relentlessly, who gave his own life to rescue us from the Kingdom of Darkness, has made it clear: He does not want to lose any of us. He longs for us to be with him forever… and He has gone to a lot of trouble to offer us a rescue plan!
Nonetheless, simply because the concept of hell has been abused by certain people doesn't mean hell doesn't exist. It does!
Jesus talks way too much about hell for it to be a place that does not exist! I personally was ordained under Creeds that certainly acknowledge there is a hell. And when you read passages that talk about a separation between ‘sheep and goats’ and ‘wheat from chaff’, you start to get a clear picture that hell is one of only two options available!
The age-old question of would a loving God send someone to hell usually comes up in this discussion. Interestingly, God doesn’t do much to send anyone to hell, it’s us who make that happen. When we choose to live without Him, we will tragically discover that our final destination will be hell, rather than an eternity with Him in heaven.
Revelation 20:14-15 (NIV) seems blatantly clear when it states: “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire”.
However, let me make this plain… in no way does Father God want any of His children ending up in hell – which Revelation describes above as the ‘lake of fire!’
It is important we understand that hell was never created for us – but rather for the devil and his angels (go read Matthew 25:41) … but sadly, hell will also become the final destination for those who refuse Christ’s rescue plan.
But hell doesn’t need to be anyone’s final destination… because every good story has a hero with a rescue plan!
I'm sure you'll remember with relish your favourite movies where in the end such a hero defeats the bad guy to overcome evil. I see it unfold in the scenes from some of my favourite movies. In the Star Wars series, we witness the evil Darth Maul falling to the light sabre of Obi-Wan Kenobi. In the final instalment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy we see a great chasm opening in the earth to swallow the dark wizard Sauron and his army of Orcs so that Middle Earth might be free at last. In The Matrix, Neo overcomes the relentless Agents to discover his true identity and sets the world free from enslavement! In Gladiator, Maximus slays the evil Emperor Commodus, then gives his final instruction to ‘set the prisoners free’ before he dies. The Gladiator movie trailer reads: “The General who became a slave; The slave who became a Gladiator; The Gladiator who defied an Empire”. Who do you think that also describes?!?
Do all these stories not sound familiar? Are they not all archetypal? Are not all these smaller stories sovereignly pointing to the One who stars in (as John Eldredge would remind us) - the ‘Greater Story?’
As I mentioned earlier, Hell was never God’s intended final destination for any of us. But it does exist – and the Devil and his angels will all be thrown into hell – along with all who reject Christ’s free gift of grace that can only be accepted gratefully by faith.
This Holy God gave us free will.
He gave us a choice.
What he desires are sons and daughters who want to be with Him.
We seem to forget—perhaps more truthfully, we refuse to remember—that we are the ones who betrayed him, not vice versa.
We are the ones who listened to the lies of the Evil One in the Garden. We are the ones who chose to mistrust the heart of God. In breaking the one command he gave us, we set in motion a life of breaking his commands and consequently passing on the curse of original sin to all future generations.
The simple illustration we teach here at Ellel Ministries is that every generation is born onto the ‘Hell Bus’ courtesy of original sin. Every one of us must choose whether to remain onboard that bus which is doomed to end up in a lake of fire - or disembark and choose to board the ‘Heaven Bus’ with Jesus at the wheel bound for His Father’s home in heaven.
For those who refuse to get off the ‘Hell Bus’, their final act of rebellion and self-centeredness is best described in the parable of those who refuse Jesus’s invitation to the wedding banquet of God – a picture of the feast that awaits Jesus and all of us who make up ‘His Bride’: -
Matthew 22:2-10 (NIV) Parable about a Wedding Banquet: -
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
Those who refuse the invite to come to the wedding banquet of God do not want anything to do with God – plain and simple!
They reject his offer of forgiveness and reconciliation through Christ. What is Jesus to do? The universe has only two options. If they insist on remaining aboard the ‘Hell Bus’, Jesus, who is the judge of the living and the dead will grant to them what they have chosen— hell, an eternity without Him.
My prayers remain hopeful for all my children and their spouses; my grandchildren and my descendants to follow me – that they will choose an eternity WITH Him!
But as it has always been, and always will be until the end of time… it comes down to a choice…
With Him? Or without Him?
Until next time,