Vol.XX No.X Pg.4
December 1983

If Heaven, Then Hell

Robert F. Turner

There is no doubt about it — many people today believe in heaven. With the current fad of being "born again Christians" comes much talk and many songs about this place. However, one cannot truly believe in heaven without accepting some consequences. A belief in heaven necessitates acceptance of all that goes with that concept. Just who are true believers in heaven — what are they like and what do they believe?

Believers in heaven are believers in God. His omnipotence (Rev. 19:6), omniscience (Ps. 139:7-12), and eternal nature (Ex. 3:13-14) are not questioned. This God is just and fair (Rev. 15:3), and, while good and kind (Matt. 5:45), is also severe and to be feared (2 Cor. 5:11; Heb. 12:29).

Believers in heaven have learned the proper use of faith and reason. The things about heaven they have come to accept by faith. They may be unsure of, or not know, many things about it, but, unanswered and unanswerable questions even in science demonstrate that all must "walk by faith" (2 Cor. 5:7). The very concept of heaven is reasonable to the believers. Their God has demonstrated his willingness to reward faithfulness in the past (Josh. 21:43-45) and gives them the same hope (Heb. 4:1-13).

True people of heaven are "heaven- oriented." Because of their relationship with Christ (Col. 3:1-3), they keep their eye on that distant goal (2 Cor. 4:16-18) and live as aliens in a strange land (Heb. 11:13-16) as they pursue the "high calling of God in Christ Jesus," (Phil. 3:14). With their "mind on things above" these heaven-bound people live godly lives. They know it is one thing to talk and sing of heaven and quite another to live in such a way so as to go there. They live by God's will (Matt. 7:21), and thus manifest the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) and the "Christian graces" (2 Pet. 1:5-7). Conversely, they avoid the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21) and abstain from every form that evil takes (1 Thess. 5:22).

Believers in heaven also know that someday there will be a resurrection (Jo. 11:24) at which time their God will divide the good from the evil (Matt. 25:31-33), and judge men in accordance with their works (2 Cor. 5: 10). They also know what comes next and it is fearful.

Believers in heaven are true believers in hell. Their God is not unconcerned with the plight of saints (Rev. 6:9-10). They know that through mercy some will see heaven, and that because of justice others will experience hell (Rev. 11:16-18; 16:4-7). To believe in the one (Matt. 25:34-40) is to believe in the other (Matt. 25: 41-46), to hope in the one (Col. 1:5) is to fear the other (Matt. 10:28).

...The hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgement... Behold then the goodness and severity of God," (Jo. 5:28-29; Rom. 11:22).

David Smitherman