By Elizabeth Prata
The title of this essay is the name of a book by Erwin Lutzer, but I want to explore the concept today. I’d seen a blog recently (I’m sorry, I forget where) but I’ve read the book and combined with the recent blog I’d read, made me think even more about heaven. We should have an eternal perspective and think about our heavenly home as home, and this earth as a temporary sojourn. Because it is. Here is the blurb for Lutzer’s book,
“One minute after you die, you will either be elated or terrified-and it will be too late to reroute your travel plans.
When you slip behind the parted curtain, your life will not be over. Rather, it will be just beginning-in a place of unimaginable bliss or indescribable gloom. One Minute After You Die opens a window on eternity with a simple and moving explanation of what the Bible teaches about death.”
I think a lot about heaven. I named this blog The End Time because we are in the end time, and the next event on the prophetic plan of Jesus is the rapture. After that, the Tribulation, the Millennium Kingdom, then the Great Throne Judgment where everyone is judged in front of Jesus, then sent to their final destination in a body that can withstand either the due punishment in hell )lake of Fire) or the glory of the Lord in heaven.
But even before that, the right now times, means that people are dying every day and they are sent to their temporary destination. Let’s be real. There is a hell and there is a heaven.
If a person dies as an unforgiven sinner, if they had not repented of their sins to Jesus and submitted to His Lordship of their life, then they go to hell to be punished for their sins. This happens immediately when a person dies, as in, the body becomes dead. No blood pumping. Yet there is a soul in each one of us, and the soul lives on forever. When the body dies, the soul and body are separated and the soul goes to heaven or hell, with a temporary body (probably) until the time of final judgment at the end of ALL things when you are fitted for a body that will withstand the place you’re destined to dwell. As Lutzer said, you are either elated with boundless joy, or you are distressed beyond understanding, to the point of gnashing your teeth (Luke 13:28) for all of time.
If your destination is hell, you will live in utter darkness. (Matthew 8:12, Jude 1:13).
The newly restored and fortified body will undergo fire for all time. The fire is variously called a blazing furnace (Matthew 13:42), the fire of hell (Matthew 5:22), an eternal fire (Matthew 18:8), unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43; Isaiah 66:24). or tormented with fire and brimstone (Revelation 14:10).
Of course, the people populating the lake of fire are separated from God (but not His wrath). Even while on earth unbelievers are not separated from God totally in their fleshly lives. They receive blessings from Him just by virtue of living in the creation, receiving rain for their crops, being gifted with children, and being sustained in this life for however many days are allotted to them. However, in the Lake of Fire there is no laughter, no joy, ho hope, and no blessing of any kind.
There is eternal weeping. (Matthew 13:42).
On a more joyful note, those who die in Christ arrive in heaven to much brighter future.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4).
Imagine, a place where there are no tears, no crying, no grief, no pain, and no death. Wow!
The place is unimaginable! “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
It is a better country and a better city! (Hebrews 11:16)
It is a city where nothing unclean will EVER enter it, nor anything detestable nor anything false! (Revelation 21:27)
The place He is preparing for us is bright, crystal, light glinting off crystal walls and no darkness at all! (Revelation 22:1-5).
The Lamb is present, and we worship Him! (Revelation 22:1-5)
Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32).
What must we do to enter this glorious kingdom, whose designer and builder is God, (Hebrews 11:10) where everything is perfect, where we dwell WITH our savior? First recognize you and I are sinners. We rebel from the moment we are born, even in the womb our very flesh is already saturated with sin. Sin means thinking, saying, or doing anything that breaks God’s Law. He is holy and pure and perfect. We are not. Therefore we cannot dwell with Him. Moreover, He is a just Judge, and cannot let the guilty go unpunished. (Exodus 34:7).
But He is also merciful and loving, and He sent His Son Jesus to live the perfectly righteous life He demands. Jesus was obedient, lived that life, and was sacrificed on the cross. His shed infinite blood atoned for our infinite sins, but even more, He transferred His righteousness to those who will repent of their sins. If we repent of our sins, and claim Jesus as our Savior from that place of torment and darkness, we will live with Him forever. God declared us righteous, He justified us as ‘not guilty by way of Jesus.
Jesus is the ONLY way to heaven.
John 14:6 says, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:1–4).
Heaven and hell are real places, not metaphors. All flesh will dwell forever in one or the other. Please consider these things.