Contend Earnestly: The Best Thing About Heaven is the Worst Thing About Hell

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Best Thing About Heaven is the Worst Thing About Hell

There are many views on hell and many strange things that have been said throughout history. I am hoping that what I have to offer in this small post won’t go down in Christendom as some quack sharing his dumb thoughts on a much debated topic. What I am not going to write about is whether hell is hot, eternal or real. Although I believe all those things to be true, I believe that the historic debates on hell usually miss the point of hell. Although to tell the truth that hell is real and a long time, eternal to be specific, to focus on those two things is missing the central reason it should be feared most of all.

What we do know of hell is that it is said to be a place of torment, gnashing of teeth and also utter darkness.

What I believe this could be saying is the fact that the greatest thing about heaven is the worst thing about hell. What is the greatest thing about heaven? The greatest thing about heaven is found in 1 Peter 3:18.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
1 Peter 3:18

Notice why God sent his Son. He sent his Son to suffer and die to bring us to the greatest aspect of heaven, which his being in the presence of God himself.

The critical question for our generation—and for every generation—is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there?
John Piper, God is the Gospel

Some of the things that we know about the end is the fact that all will know that God is indeed the sovereign ruler and all will indeed bow to him.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11

If we in fact know this, in the end people will end up knowing the greatness of the Christ and God. Because of this emotions will start to boil up in side of them. To see what those emotions are, we don’t need to look very hard as it is shown to us in Isaiah 6. Once shown the throne room with Christ highly exalted Isaiah felt undone and completely under the iron fist of wrath because of his sin. But you will notice that once forgiveness came, his worries and torment of sin was released. Afterwards an emotion came from Isaiah in the form of worship. He desired to worship through service. Isaiah proclaimed “Here am I, send me!” He loved God and desired to please him.

Here is the thing with hell. Every person will know the greatness of God. Every person will understand the vastness of their sin, yet they will be alone and not allowed to worship God face to face. They get the opposite of what we do in heaven. We get God, they get no fellowship and in that they are in complete darkness alone, without God. They don’t get to do what Isaiah was able to experience. They don’t get the relief of forgiveness and the ability to show their love for their Creator and Sustainer.

This shouldn’t be hard for us to realize that this fact is true. Jesus while beaten, scourged and hung on a tree did not find his agony at the deepest in those times. Although they were no lesser harsh and painful, we find Christ’s utter darkness and deepest pain come at the time when God forsook him. This is why we find Christ sweating drops of blood in the garden and this is when we find our silent Sheep headed for slaughter finally cry out in agony. We find this when God somehow forsakes Christ. So, as Christ gives us a picture of heaven through his bodily resurrection, he also gives us a picture of hell in the garden and on the cross when he is separated from the Father.

This is why there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, this is why there is groaning and emptiness, this is why they are in utter darkness. Because the Light of the World is not among them, but is on his throne being worshiped by those whom he purchased with his own blood and rose up on the last day.

The greatest thing about heaven, namely God, is the worst thing about being in hell, being apart from God.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Revelation 21:1-8


Threedot said...

Wow - very well written piece. In an eternity wher every knee has bowed, and every tongue confessed - I can think of no greater pain than to be separated from the God who created you and you rejected. To be fully aware of who God is, and to be eternally separated from Him...horrible...

Tony Byrne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony Byrne said...

Actually, sinners in hell won't be tormented by God's absence, but by his presence. His everlasting frown will be perceived by them as He fully illuminates their consciences to remember their previously forgotten sins. God himself will be the consuming fire and their own consciences will be a chief source of torment.

Cursed are the impure in heart, for they too shall see God.

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