Why heaven or hell?


The idea of life after death is not particularly objectionable to people. Neither is the idea that God will want to reward and punish people for how they lived. However what can be objectionable is the extreme way God rewards and punishes. We may expect a sliding scale of rewards and punishments, something which reflects the good and bad we have done. Yet there are only two possible destinations for us when we die - heaven which is extremely good and hell which is extremely bad.[1] Why is God so extreme?

Why is God so extreme?

God by nature is extreme. He is infinitely merciful, forever loving, completely righteous and perfectly holy.[2] He deals with sin in an extreme way. No-one carrying any sin however small, can come near God because His holy nature would demand immediate judgment.[3] God has to express His complete and perfect hatred of sin and hell is the way He does this.

God is also extreme in the way He loves. If we are cleansed from our sins, we will be able to enter and remain in God's presense.[4] There will be nothing to prevent us receiving the full measure of His love and goodness. ...'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him' (1 Corinthians 2:9).

How can God separate those going to heaven from those going to hell?

God can see something in us which can clearly show whether we have had our sins forgiven or not. All of us have sinned[5] and are in need of cleansing if we are to enter heaven. Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?... (1 Corinthians 6:9). God has provided a way for our sins to be forgiven through His Son, Jesus Christ. ...the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

We receive forgiveness through faith - by believing on Jesus. It is this faith God looks for. He sees us as either believers or unbelievers. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him (John 3:36). Our sin is either present with us or it has been forgiven. God sees us as sheep or goats,[6] wheat or weeds,[7] righteous or wicked[8] and saved or lost.[9]

Why heaven or hell?

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Believing in Jesus Christ

It is not always clear to us or the angels who is saved and who is lost.[7] God allows us to go through trials so our faith can be perfected.[10] A person may live their whole life in sin and at the last moment believe on Jesus and so enter heaven.[11] Others will do many mighty works in Jesus' Name and not enter into Heaven.[12] They were trusting in their own works to save them rather than in Jesus alone.[13]

Faith is something very real to God. He can see who is believing on Jesus Christ to be saved and who is not.[14] Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:16).