Opposites are part of our every day living. Love or hate; hot or cold; high or low; beginning or end; sweet or sour; tall or short. There are others such as light or dark; right or wrong; good or bad; happy or sad; true or false, and many, many more!
There is, however, one pair of opposites that humanity conveniently, and more often than not, deliberately overlooks ... Heaven or Hell! Yet, each of us will confront this set of opposites as death forcibly wraps its unyielding and inevitable arms of finality around our physical bodies.
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).
When the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released a study in June 2008, interesting statistics were revealed. Of the 35,000 people sampled, 74 percent of Americans said there was a Heaven, while just 59 percent thought there was a Hell, "where people who have led "bad" lives, and die without being sorry, are eternally punished." Along the same line of thinking, "Heaven was where people who have led 'good' lives are eternally rewarded."
Be not fooled by the 59 percent acceptance ... most do not believe they themselves will be residing in the eternal Lake of Fire.
Because we do not see ourselves as sinners, it is quite easy for us to readily accept a heavenly paradise, while closing our eyes to the inescapable existence of Hell, scoffing at the inconceivable and unimaginable contrasts (opposites) between the two. The Prince of Darkness (Satan) has manipulated our thinking through a liberalizing trend in religion. This trend promotes the compassionate personality of God, thereby minimizing or totally negating the judgmental side of God.
"But the Lord shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment. And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness" (Psalms 9:7-8).
Even though Jesus spoke more about Hell than Heaven, Hell is disappearing from America's pulpits, being replaced with various fabricated doctrines that sooth troubled hearts and swell congregation numbers.
Fabricated teachings - such as annihilation, Hell is merely life's difficulties, reincarnation, temporary suffering and soul sleep - each placate the skeptical masses! (Luke 16:22-31, Daniel 12:2, Matthew 25:46, Mark 3:29, Psalms 49:6-9 are among the many verses that refute these teachings.) These false doctrines underrate sin, and do nothing but lead good and well-intentioned people down the broad way to the very place they deny! (Matthew 7:13-14).
Hell is becoming nothing more than a myth. After all, God is love! How could a righteous God condemn a "good person" (Romans 3:10-12) to everlasting torment in smothering darkness, or to a fiery furnace, or to eternal separation from God, or to never-ending sorrow? (Matthew 25:41; 13:42).
Choosing from another pair of opposites - accept or reject - we are solely responsible for our own eternal afterlife. Heaven's magnificent beauty and an everlasting relationship with our Lord and mighty creator are easily ours by simply believing and accepting the unfathomable love gift God sent in the form of his only begotten son (John 3:16). The rejection of Jesus Christ brings with it the horrors of Hell, everlasting fire (Matthew 18:8, 25:41) and non-ending torments (Revelations 14:11). Accept or reject - it is our choice, not God's!
Because Hell is a horrifying reality, Jesus Christ, the one who suffered and died for our sins, the one whose miraculous resurrection conquered death (an established and proven historical fact [I Corinthians 15]), warns of eternal damnation by uttering this ominous statement.
"And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off; it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into Hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: ... And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off; it be better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into Hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched" (Mark 9:43-48).
Hell is not psychosomatic turmoil or life's struggles, but a literal abode where sin with all of its power will forever torment with ever-burning flames of judgment. Heed Jesus' warning; turn to him and cast out any false sense of security invented by man!
"And these (unbelievers) shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous (believers) into life eternal" (Matthew 25:46).
Which will we select ... Heaven/redemption or Hell/damnation?
Nancy Hamilton is a member of Faith Bible Church in Williamstown and is an author of Christian books.