For many people, life after death is a terrifying and confusing concept. Some believe they have no control over it, so they don’t spend time worrying. Others center their entire lives around trying to be good enough to make the cut for “the good place.” While others believe a loving God would never send anyone but the worst people to hell, if there is even such a place, so they spend their lives assuming they have already made the cut for heaven. Jesus says eternity is something we should take seriously, because we will all live forever somewhere.
Heaven and hell are real, immediate, and ultimate.
Jesus sprinkles scripture with information about heaven. Though not in depth or filled with specific detail, we can be confident that it is a place prepared for believers when they die. John 14:1-3 says, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
We also learn that hell is a place of eternal torment. In Luke 16:24, we read a story Jesus told of a man’s experience in hell and his cry for relief from the flames around him, but there was no relief. Once death claims a person, there is no second chance to change an eternity. The destination is final.
Though some sects of Christianity, as well as other religions, teach that there is a middle ground, or Purgatory, between heaven and hell, scripture teaches that heaven and hell are immediate locations. In Luke 16:22, we see that Lazarus is immediately carried away to heaven where his forefathers were waiting. We also see in Luke 23:43 where Jesus tells the thief on the cross that the man would be in paradise with Jesus that very day. 2 Corinthians 5:8 tells believers that to be absent from our physical body is to be present with the Lord in heaven. There isn’t a holding area for people once they are gone. Heaven and hell are real, immediate, and ultimate eternal destinations.
You can know your eternal destination.
We can study the ins and outs of heaven and hell for years and never fully understand all there is to know about these two eternal locations. But we can know this with confidence: heaven is where Jesus is and hell is eternity separated from Him. More than understanding the details of heaven and hell, it is important that you confidently know where you will spend your eternity.
Jesus says that not every one who claims to know Christ will enter heaven (Matthew 7:21). He even uses the analogy of a narrow road and a small gate to symbolize heaven and says that few people find their way to eternal life (Matthew 7:13-14). But you can know for sure. Romans 10:9-10 says: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
When sin entered the world, God provided a way for sinful man to spend eternity in heaven with His perfect Son, but the way to do that was through His Son’s death. Those who know they are going to heaven instead of hell have confessed with their mouth that Jesus is who He claimed to be and believe in their heart He did what He claimed – come back to life – and they have committed to follow Him, even when that is difficult. The way has been paved. The path is narrow and gate is small, but you can know for sure where you will spend eternity.
If you have questions about the goodness of God, how you can know for sure you are going to heaven, or even questions about heaven, we would love to invite you to join us on Sundays for worship. You can also contact one of our ministers on staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Jeffress has preached many sermons on heaven to help answer your questions!
You can also pick up copies of some of his most recent books that address heaven, including his newest, A Place Called Heaven.