The Reality of the Afterlife: Heaven and Hell

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By the age of 17, I felt like I was 70. It was because of my upbringing. My mother was a raging alcoholic who had been married and divorced seven times. As a result of that, I had to grow up fast. I felt as though I was more the parent in the relationship than she was.

As I tried to take care of her, I made my own bad choices in life. So by the time I was 17, I felt so old, so empty, and so sad. But then on my high school campus, I heard about Jesus Christ. I heard there was a God in Heaven who loved me.

I had always believed in Jesus. In fact, I loved the story of Jesus. I had seen all His movies, and I was a big fan. But I never thought of Jesus as someone who could be known in this life. I just thought of Him as an amazing historical figure, and I thought it was really too bad how He died.

But after I became a believer, I realized that the crucifixion was the point of the entire story. Jesus was born to die so that we might live. Jesus left heaven and came to the Earth on a rescue operation to be born in a manger in Bethlehem, live a perfect life, and ultimately die a perfect death on the cross for our sins, because we’re all separated from God.

I remember when I heard that as a high school student. I thought, “Well, I wish I could do this, but I don’t think it will work for me. I’m not the religious type.” But when I heard the promise that God loved me and that Christ would come and live inside of me, when I heard that He would forgive all of my sin, I took a step of faith that day. I prayed right there on my high school campus and asked Jesus Christ to come into my life.

The Difference that Jesus Makes

Honestly, I felt absolutely nothing after I prayed. But that is the day Jesus came into my life, and He satisfied the thirst in my soul that I had tried to satisfy with other things.

Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life” (Revelation 21:5 NLT).

Are you spiritually thirsty right now? Jesus encountered someone who was. She had been married and divorced five times and was living with a man at the time. She probably thought that men would fill the void in her life.

But one day as she sat by a well in Samaria, Jesus told her, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life” (John 4:13–14 NLT).

I think Jesus was using that well as a metaphor for her life. She had tried to satisfy her inner thirst with relationships, and a lot of people still do the same today. Others try to do this with possessions or fame. Still others try to do it with drugs or alcohol. And some even try to satisfy their thirst with religion by trying to be pious.

However, none of those things will work. We need Jesus. He is the answer. And the only way to live the best life in this life is to always be aware of the nearness of the afterlife. In other words, think about Heaven.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Colossae, “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth” (Colossians 3:1–2 NLT).

What Captivates Your Thoughts?

What do you spend most of your time thinking about? You are the air traffic controller, so to speak, of your mind. You decide what plane lands where and when. You decide what thoughts come in and what thoughts stay out. So guard your mind and think about heavenly things. Think about spiritual things. Think Heaven.

Yes, our feet must be on Earth, but our minds must be in Heaven. But do we really believe this?

Do you really believe the Bible is true? Do you really believe there is an afterlife? And do you really believe there is a heaven waiting for those who believe in Jesus and a Hell waiting for those who reject Him?

Yes, there is a Heaven. And there’s also a Hell, but it wasn’t created for people. According to Jesus, it was created for the devil and his angels (see Matthew 25:41). If you reject God’s offer of forgiveness and end up in the place called Hell, you’ll have no one to blame on that final day but yourself. The gates of Hell are locked from the inside. You will have sent yourself there by your rejection of God’s offer.

On the other hand, if you have Jesus Christ living inside of you, you don’t have to be afraid, because you have the promise of Heaven.

So, what will happen to you in the afterlife? Would you like to know that you will go to Heaven when you die? Would you like to satisfy your inner spiritual thirst? Would you like to be forgiven of your sin? Would you like to have your guilt taken away? If the answer to those questions is yes, then here’s what you need to know.

Jesus died on the cross for you and then rose from the dead. He now stands at the door of your life and knocks, and He says that if you will hear His voice and open the door, He will come in.

Are you feeling worn out, beat up, and even old? Jesus said, “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5 NKJV).

You can ask Him to come into your life, and today can be the greatest day of your life. He’s only a prayer away.

Used with permission from Greg Laurie.

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