This is the ninth in a series of blog posts with my sister Betty Haynie about what we believe. Our thoughts are intentionally brief on subjects that could fill volumes. We decided to combine these two beliefs so you will get the bad news along with the GOOD NEWS.
WHY I BELIEVE IN HEAVEN
By Betty Haynie
I believe that when we give our lives to God through Jesus we will spend eternity in a special place where there is no pain, no tears, no sorrows, only peace and love and God will be there with us. WOW!! In fact, once you accept Christ you are ALREADY in your eternity! Your “heaven” has already begun!! Of course it is still bound by your human experiences so there are trials and sorrows and illness, but your SPIRIT is in close relationship with God and THAT is heaven.
As far as Hell is concerned, I’ve heard some people complaining that God condemns millions of people to hell when He claims that you can only get to heaven by accepting Jesus as His son. Well, from what I’ve learned, and I believe, God does not want anyone to perish and spend eternity in hell. It grieves Him when one of His creations turns from Him and rejects His gift of Grace.
“The Lord is not slow concerning His promise, as some count slowness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any of us should perish, but that all of us should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
If God offered me a free gift and I refused it, the consequences of that action are not God’s but mine. That seems logical to me. That offer is
to EVERYONE. There are no exclusionary clauses in His offer, so those people
that you say He condemns to hell, are those who have refused His offer of eternal life. The absence of God is Hell!!
HAS to be exclusive. If anyone could get in no matter how they lived
or what they believed it would be meaningless. In fact it would be just like it
is here on earth!! The whole point is - everyone has a choice. Each person can
choose to accept God’s gift or they can refuse it. The thief on the cross next
to Jesus believed in Him and went to heaven because of his faith at the last
moment!! But none of us can count on having a “moments-before-death”
opportunity for acceptance.
So God is good! We are not! We try to be, but how good is good enough? I hear people all the time saying “of course I’m going to heaven. I’ve been a good person.” Well, folks, I hate to say this, but logic tells me you can’t get there just by being good. You can’t get there just by being bad either (wise guys).
The good news is, also, that God knows our hearts and IF we are truly sorry for our sins and accept Him as Lord there is simply no punishment - no condemnation!!
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1
What could be better than knowing that?
WHY I BELIEVE IN HEAVEN
By Dottie Parish
Hell is a difficult, even disgusting doctrine for Christians and non Christians to understand, much less accept. C. S. Lewis said he would remove this doctrine if he could. Many wonder why does a loving God condemn unbelievers to Hell no matter how good or bad they are? It is difficult to grasp the fact that being good does not get anyone to heaven – not even Mother Teresa. Every person is a sinner. We all fall short of the glory of God. He is holy and beyond us.
We wonder how a loving God can judge people, condemn people eternally and subject them to eternal torture. Many think of Jesus as loving in all he says and does and many believe the Old Testament to be full of God’s wrath and judgment. This is false. Much of the clear teaching on Hell is given by Jesus in the New Testament. For example Jesus is talking to his disciples about end times and tells what the King (God) will say:
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels….And these will have eternal punishment but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:41,46
Mark Clark in his book, The Problem of God, says that in other parts of the world people have the opposite view. They see evil being committed daily and wonder how God could be a God of Justice if there is no hell. The truth is, God is good and loving because he is also just.
“Hell is real. And scary. But in that there is a seriousness that can give way to security if we trust in the one who took hell on himself for us. God worked through his Son, driven by love and a desire for none to perish, to save us from hell to something glorious and wonderful.”
Clark is referring to the fact that the sacrificial death of
Christ on the cross is what enables those who accept him to go to heaven. His
blood covers our sins and wipes them out.
C. S. Lewis says: “What are you asking God to do? To wipe out the past sins of the damned and at all cost to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help. He has done so in Jesus. Are you asking God to forgive them? They do not want to be forgiven. Are you asking God to leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what he does.”
Hell is real and so is Heaven. Do you believe this life is all there is? Even Old Testament Scripture says: God has “set eternity in the hearts of men”. Ecclesiastes () Heaven is described throughout Scripture. Jesus repeatedly talks of heaven:
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” John 11:25-26
“Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:1-3
“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
For a more complete understanding of heaven read Randy Alcorn’s and Joni Eareckson Tada’s books on Heaven. I read Randy Alcorn’s book about ten years ago and studied it with a Sunday school class. At that point I couldn’t believe what he said. Now I’m convinced! I had pictured heaven as a place where our spirits floated around on clouds and we sang praises to God. We were in His holy presence and it was wonderful with no more tears or sorrow. This last sentence is true but the floating around part is not according to Alcorn.
He maintains that Scripture promises a New Heaven and a New Earth and they will be like our physical earth and our universe. Our earth is physical and humans are physical creatures with physical bodies. The New Earth will be a physical one and will be united with the New Heaven, a new universe of stars and planets. Jesus will occupy the New Earth and we will help him rule it as he originally planned for Adam and Eve to rule our current earth.
R. A. Torry says “We will not be disembodied spirits in the world to come, but redeemed spirits, in redeemed bodies, in a redeemed universe.” We will keep our unique identities and will recognize friends and family members we have known. Billy Graham also spells our in detail the fact that heaven will be glorious, perfect, joyous, active, and certain.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
So, dear reader, what will you choose? No one is too bad to seek the Lord, ask for forgiveness and accept his offer of heaven. Study the book of John in the Bible and the books on Heaven noted here. Read The Problem of God by Mark Clark. Reread our Reasons to Believe blogs. Talk with a Christian who believes all this. Ask for forgiveness from God and tell him you want to know Him. Don’t miss the glory of heaven and being in the presence of God forever.
“If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit living in you.” Romans 8:11
Look for the next Reasons to Believe post on WHY I BELIEVE IN ONLY
ONE WAY TO GOD in late February by Betty and Dottie