According to the Bible, God has placed before the entire human race the choice between Heaven or Hell. As surely as there is an earth on which we live, there is a heaven above and a hell beneath. Both are real places. And both are eternal, unlike the passing of our present universe.
"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:1-3).
In another place Jesus says,
"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28).
Sometime in the future, whether near or distant (and I believe we are living in the last days of the last days), life as we know it will end. One of two things will occur: Either the Lord will return as He promised, or we will experience the harsh reality of every living being -- death. Either way, eternity is immenient. Life is but a vapor, as James so starkly reminds us (James 4:14). No one has a promise of tomorrow.
Contrary to what many teach and believe today, death is not the total cessation of being.
At the moment of death consciousness continues. And either we enter immediately into the presence of the Lord -- for those who are saved -- or we begin an eternity of torment. Consider what our Lord teaches in the Gospel of Luke:
"There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus , which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus , that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence" (Luke 16:19-26).
And elsewhere, the Apostle Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, contends that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord:
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say , and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:1-8).
Thus, it is clearly taught that life goes on after death. For the person who knows Christ, we enter immediately into the presence of Christ (Luke 23:43), waiting for the resurrection of our bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), at which time our bodies shall be made like unto Christ's glorious body (Philippians 3:21).
For those who have rejected Christ, there is immediate punishment
and torment (Luke 16:19-26 See above). They, too, will be resurrected but shall immediately be cast into the eternal fire that the Bible calls hell:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation" (John 5:24-29).
Paul writes as to the fate of those who reject Chirst as well:
"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).
Only those who experience the
new birth will enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:3,5). Only those who love Christ and obey Christ will experience eternal life; all others will experience eternal death (not the cessation of being or consciousness, but the torment of both body and soul in hell).
This is the choice that lies before every human being: Heaven or Hell? And the pivital question is: What will you do with Jesus? Do you believe that he is the Christ, the Son of the Living God? Do you believe that He died for your sins and in your place on Calvary's cross? Do you believe that He was raised from the dead on the third day? That He now sits on the right hand of the Father to make intercession for those who believe? And do you believe that through faith alone in Christ, God imputes to every believer the very righteousness of Christ Himself?
Jesus asks, "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" (Matt. 16:13) How you choose to answer that question makes all the difference as to where you will spend eternity!