This past Wednesday we had the “opportunity” to help transport children for the annual AWANA “Destination Unknown.” Each vehicle load of children and two adults was given a list of Bible verses which provided clues to find a business or location in the community where someone gave you another set of verses that gave clues for the next location. If you were successful in finding each of the unknown destinations, you had a surprise waiting for you at the final one—in this case root beer floats. Some of the vehicles had to go back to the church for help on some of their clues, as they were unfamiliar with the business to which the Bible verse clues pointed.
Before leaving the church to begin searching for the unknown destinations, the AWANA Commander gave a devotional about the two eternal destinations that we all face—heaven or hell. It is crucial for each one of us that we have assurance about where we are going—and hopefully for each of you, that is heaven, not hell. If you are not sure which, I pray that as you read this, God the Holy Spirit will speak to your heart and help you choose Christ and eternal life in heaven.
I remember the time when as you went into a restaurant, they asked if you wanted the “smoking,” or “non-smoking” section. (And it really didn’t make a whole lot of difference which you chose, because the smoke permeated the whole facility!). Well, I guess those are the choices we all face in life spiritually—“smoking” (in hell) or “non-smoking” in heaven. The Bible speaks more about hell than it does about heaven, yet there are those who deny its existence. Jesus mentioned it a number of times. When He spoke about His return in glory at the end of the Tribulation (The “Time of Jacob’s distress”…Jer 30:7), and His judgment of the Gentiles based on how they treated His chosen people, the Jews, He said: “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels (demons)…. These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life’” (Mt. 25:41,46). The same Greek word, by the way, is used for both “eternal punishment” and “eternal life.” The Bible does not teach the annihilation of the wicked (unsaved).
The Book of Revelation speaks of the time when Satan is cast into hell, saying, “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10). (NOTE: The beast or antichrist and false prophet were “thrown into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone” 1,000 years before, prior to Christ’s Millennial reign on earth…Rev. 19:20).Then John goes on to describe the judgment of unbelievers at the “great white throne” saying, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judge, everyone of them according to their deeds. And death (bodies) and Hades (souls and spirits) were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20: 11-15). It is important to observe that the term “death,” as used in Scripture, does not mean the end of existence, but “separation.” In the case of physical death, it is separation of soul and spirit from the body, and in the case of spiritual death, it is separation from God—eternally. Hell is a real place, a place of eternal torment. Though hell was prepared for the devil and his angels (demons), those who reject God’s offer of salvation through Christ will also end up there as their final destination.
We have recorded in John’s gospel, these words of Jesus: “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (Jn. 5:28,29). Again, we see that there are two eternal destinations for all of mankind—one of eternal life with God and one of judgment, separated from Him. This verse, by the way, does not mean we are saved by deeds, for only a saved person has “good deeds.” Paul makes it clear that “There is none righteous…there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Ro. 3:10,11). “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works (deeds), that no one should boast” (Eph. 2:8,9). “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:5). “…a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified” (Gal. 2:16).
When you put your trust in Jesus Christ alone (not your deeds or church membership or performance of some ritual) for your salvation, the Holy Spirit regenerates you, Christ comes to live in you, and “He who has the Son has life” (I Jn. 5:12). At that moment you have eternal life and will not come into judgment, but have passed out of death into life (Jn. 5:24).
So, are you sure of heaven as your destination? You can be. John continues in his first epistle: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life” (I Jn. 5:13). Eternal life is a present possession for each one who has asked Christ to be their Savior. You don’t have to wait until you die to find out where you are going. If you aren’t sure, why not make sure today. Jesus promised: “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (Jn. 6:40). Amen! PTL!