The scriptures emphasize both positive and negative alternatives in eternity- Heaven and Hell! While we make our choices here in this life as to what we will do and how we will live, I believe we should stop and reflect more frequently and more thoughtfully on the alternatives in eternity.
Eternity holds only two alternatives- Heaven and Hell. This reality is laid out in succinct fashion; “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23). The stark contrast between the two is made apparent in the The Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30). The “good and faithful servant” will “enter into the joy of your Lord” (vs. 21, 23). That’s Heaven. The “wicked and lazy servant” will be “cast...into outer darkness” where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (vs. 26, 30). That’s Hell.
There is no third alternative. It is either Heaven or Hell. The way of Heaven is “the way which leads to life” (Matt. 7:14). The way of Hell is “the way that leads to destruction” (Matt. 7:13). Each one of us will spend eternity in one of those two places- Heaven or Hell- for “we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Rom. 14:10). The fact that God raised Jesus from the grave gives assurance that the Creator will call mankind to account on a final day of judgment (Acts 17:31).
Here’s where we need to get real. We’re not talking about some theorized possibility, nor some unlikely folktale. There really is a Heaven, and there really is a Hell. One or the other will be the eternal dwelling place of each one of us. Which one it will be is up to each one of us individually. God wants all of us to be with Him in Heaven (1 Tim. 2:3-4; 2 Pet. 3:9). Yet Jesus states that most of us will end up in Hell (Matt. 7:13-14).
If God wants all of us to be with Him in Heaven, then why will most of us end up in Hell? Because God has laid a standard of righteousness as a condition for our being with Him in Heaven, and He leaves up to us the choice as to whether to live by that standard. Most of us will choose to live the way we want rather than submit to what God wants. But virtually nobody would want to end up in Hell, right? Right! However, if we truly want to be with God, then we must evidence that desire by living our lives according to His will, by His teachings. If we do, then we will be with Him in eternity. If we insist on doing what we want, regardless of how that may conflict with God’s will for us, or if we lackadaisically fail to give proper attention to learning God’s will for our lives, then we will likely spend eternity separated from Him- in Hell! (2 Thess. 1:7-9).
The choice is ours, entirely ours. We will each be judged according to the things we do in this physical, human body while living in this physical world. Each one of us will be judged “according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10). Eternity is real, and we really will be in either Heaven or Hell, eternally. Which one it will be will be a direct reflection on how we live our lives here in this world. God wants us to be with Him, but we will make the final choice ourselves. Do we want to be forever with God? Do we want that enough to live for Him while in this world? Each of us would do well to carefully ponder our answer, for as we live each day we are paving the way to either Heaven or Hell…
Gary L. Hutchens