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Heaven is for real, but so is hell

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Heaven is for Real,” opened at number one last week. The movie is based on the book bearing the same name of a real life near death experience of a four year old boy who recounts his experience of visiting heaven. The book and movie fit in the popular genre of real life stories of the hereafter, such as, “A True Story of Death and Life, “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife,” and “90 Minutes in Heaven.”
The afterlife is in the minds of many. “Heaven in for Real,” was top trending earlier this week. Even Michael Bloomberg’s been musing about the afterlife. In an interview last week he voiced, “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven, I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place.” Of course, getting into heaven won’t be like getting into a nightclub where you can just blow past the bouncer because you are a Big deal in this world.
But his idea of earning one’s way into heaven isn’t a unique one. In a 2013 survey, 62% of respondents held that they are going to heaven, while only 1.5% believed they are hell bound. In a different survey, 74% of Americans said heaven is real, while only 59% believed the same of hell.
But the Bible is quite clear on the subject. Evangelical pastor, Tim Keller stated, “Jesus taught more about hell more than all other biblical authors put together.” The idea of heaven and then to ignore hell is interestingly a curious one.
The idea that seems to permeate today’s society is, “You’re okay, I’m okay, God is love,” and we’ll meet again in heaven one day,” with no real concern about the reality of hell.
And books about hell don’t do so well. In “There’s a Day in Hell,” the author writes, “Darkness enveloped me as if thick, black ink had been poured over my eyes… Reaching to my left and my right, up and down proved the black endlessness of my confines.” He stated, “Cold permeated… my bones—an icy, water type cold, in that it surrounded all of me, inside and out.”
In yet another book, 23 Minutes in Hell, the author reports of being imprisoned in a tiny cell where demons viciously tore at him. He recounts experiencing insatiable thirst and drying while hearing “screams of an untold multitude crying out in torment.” There were no happy reunions with deceased family members or fluffy clouds.
The latter reminds me of the parable in which Jesus spoke of Lazarus and the beggar. “ 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 19:31 (KJV)
Eternity is a long time. I cannot even begin to comprehend how long forever is. It’s a long time to be wrong, don’t you think?
The misery of hell was explained by Jesus on numerous occasions. He offered an escape from Hell. He urged his followers and all who would listen to do whatever they could to enter the right way, as He explained that He was the only way; “Jesus saith unto him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.’” John 14:6 (KJV)
While I in favor of the movie, “Heaven is for real,” we can’t forget that hell is also real. It’s a dark place of punishment to those who refuse to go there on God’s terms. John 3:16-18 sum it all up: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (KJV)
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