Heaven and Hell
Topic: Sunday Message Verse: Revelation 20:12–20:15, John 17:3, Revelation 21:1–21:4, Genesis 22:1–22:5
Americans and the Afterlife
The latest Religious Landscape Study from the Pew Research Center found that 89% of Americans believe in God. 72% believe in Heaven (“a place where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded”). 58% believe in Hell (“a place for those who have lived bad lives die without being sorry are eternally punished”). 67% of “the religious” believe many religions can lead to eternal life.
Three Phases of Existence
According to the Bible, we all will go through three distinct phases of existence: (1) The first is this life where our eternal soul is interwoven with a finite body that is cursed by death; (2) The second phase of our existence comes after we die—our body gives way, but our soul goes on during “life after death”; (3) And then the third and final phase of our existence begins when Jesus returns to this earth again in the forever era of “life after life after death," when our eternal soul will be united with our resurrection body.
Feelings About Hell
“Admittedly, hell is an unpleasant topic. Unbelievers disbelieve it; most Christians ignore it. Even the staunchly biblical diehards are often silent out of embarrassment. Hell, more than any doctrine of the Bible, seems to be out of step with our times.” (Erwin Lutzer)... “If I had a choice, that is if Scripture were not so clear and conclusive, I would certainly not believe in Hell. Trust me when I say I do not want to believe in it.” (Randy Alcorn)... “There is no doctrine (Hell) which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power.... But it has full support of Scripture, and specifically, of our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of reason.” (C.S. Lewis)
Revelation 20:12-15 NIV
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
Thinking About Hell
“I always thought Hell told me about how angry God was with us, but I didn't know it also told me about how much He was willing to suffer and weep for us. I never knew how much Hell told me about the love of Jesus.” (Tim Keller)
John 17:3 NIV
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
Knowing Jesus = Eternal Life
Heaven isn’t for perfect people; it’s for forgiven people. Through Jesus we are worthy of Heaven. At the cross, Jesus took on our sin; by faith, we are made righteous.
Revelation 21:1-4 NIV
Then I saw "a new heaven and a new earth," for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
Revelation 22:1-5 NIV
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
So what about now? How do our beliefs about the afterlife affect how we live today? Join us next week in “The Afterlife” series as Pastor Dan looks into Scripture and gets us thinking about our present in light of our eternity. Also in two weeks, on Nov. 22., Pastors Dan and Ken will conclude the series with a Q&A session about the Afterlife. You can submit questions through boxes in the lobby or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org