At some point, most people – even children – ask this question: Where do we go after we die? Is what we experience in this lifetime all there is to the human story?
Most people instinctively know that there’s something wrong with the script. Why does death exist? It feels like it shouldn’t.
The Christian worldview agrees that death wasn’t a part of the original script.
Death is a result of sin, and sin separates us from God. Heaven and hell are realities because our destinies are either of these: Eternal union with God or eternal separation from God.
God is present in heaven.
The Bible presents the reality of heaven and what we can look forward to: “God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
And hell is where God’s isn’t. Think of it as a dark room where light is absent.
The Bible is also clear about the reality of hell – being eternally separated from God:
“Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15)
“Whoever believes in the Son (Jesus) has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” (John 3:36)
John 3:16 is perhaps the most well-known verse from the Bible and it contains both the reality of heaven and of hell. Because it’s got to do with our decision to trust God … or the consequences if we don’t.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son (Jesus), that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Jesus is the way to God because He died for our sins on our behalf, so that we don’t have to pay for it with eternal death.
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:17-18)
The reality is that those who embrace the opportunity to be united with God by salvation through Jesus Christ will be with God forever. That’s heaven.
And those who reject God’s truths will be apart from His presence forever. That’s hell.
God’s heart is that none should perish but that each should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
In this moment, while we’re still drawing breath on earth, God seeks to persuade us to return to a relationship with Him. To be in God’s presence not just come the Judgement, but to have God walk with us through this life.
That decision is what we call faith.
Whoever believes in Jesus is saved from eternal separation into a life abundant and truly free – both now and forever.