Hebrews 9:27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment
Revelation 14:13 "And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”
Note: The reader can access a ten-minute podcast of this post at the podcast site: http://gcrpodcast.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/podcast-shock-and-awe-hell-and-heaven/
Nearly three quarters of Americans believe in Heaven and Hell, but just one half of one percent think they're headed for Hell, according to a new poll reported recently by The Los Angeles Times. By contrast, almost two thirds are confident they're headed for Heaven. I invite the reader to click first on the following link, which features a simulation of every person being born or dying on earth in real time: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/10/a-real-time-map-of-births-and-deaths/280609/
There is an event that for either this blogger or you the reader or someone you know that could happen when you least expect. The next big thing to which I refer is: "Death, Hell or Heaven". There is only One way in which you can be sure you're ready for when that "next big thing" may occur - that of course is by grace through faith alone trusting in Christ alone.
Main Point of Application:
What we can say about Heaven and Hell is that Heaven is accompanied by awe and Hell is quite shocking. Two men will aid us in understanding these realities so that you can be sure you are ready once it happens to you. The first man is the rich man in Luke 16 and the second man will be the thief on the cross in Luke 23. In looking at both of these men, we can note two general truths Hell and Heaven and our main point of application: Hell is shocking and Heaven is awesome.
So let us note the first man, the rich man in Luke 16, and see how he portrays....
Hell is shocking. Luke 16:19-31
All who are born into this world are described as having been born in Adam, in sin and in death. (Psalm 51:5, Romans 5:19) One preacher has illustrated this by noting that man's birth is like a dot, with an arrow proceeding infinitely ahead of him, representing the fact that he is an everlasting soul. (.--------------------------------------->)
All human beings are born once in Adam and if they remain in Adam they will die twice: physically and then be judged to live eternally separated from God in the final Great White Throne Judgment in what Revelation 20:14 calls "The Second Death".
The Rich man in Luke 16:19-31 was undoubtedly born, and lived as we see in Luke 16:25. Then like every man, the Rich Man died as seen in Luke 16:22. That Rich man had been born, lived and now died physically. Where did he go? His living state on this earth was done, and now the intermediate state of his soul began. The Bible says that this Rich man, in Hades (or Hell) lifted up his eyes in torments. We can see by his experience why Hell is a shocking place:
1. Shocking to see who goes to Hell. Lk 16:14, 19-23
The reader must understand that for Jesus' listeners, this would had been a shocking development. The Rich man would had been the last guy you would had expected to end up in Hell. Rich people were often thought to had done the right things in the sight of God and man to obtain their level of wealth. Earlier in Luke 16:14 even the Pharisees, the self-righteous religionists of their day, were noted for their opulence. Nevertheless Jesus' teaching is quite clear, the Rich man had been born, lived and died in his sins. Sadly a person don't have to do one thing to die and go to hell. This rich man had his heaven on earth and did not want God in his life. Some people are going to end up in Hell that we would never expect, but notice also...
2. Shocking to see no repentance in Hell. Luke 16:24
The rich man was in agony in the flames. He wanted comfort, like he had in his living state here on earth. (Luke 16:19) Like the people who will be under the wrath of God on this earth in the great tribulation recorded in Revelation 16:9,11,21, the Rich Man evidences no repentance, only rebellion against God.
3. Shocking what is remembered in Hell Luke 16:30
Father Abraham reminds the rich man: "remember during your life". The rich man begs Abraham to send Lazarus to "his father's house, for he has five brothers". The rich man's perpective on Lazarus as the "begger at his gate" had not changed. In hell, the person refuses to change. Ironically, the rich man is now the beggar and Lazarus is in comfort. (Luke 16:25)
4. Shocking what people's opinions are in Hell. Luke 16:30
According to Luke 16:29-30, after father Abraham tells this rich man that his brothers have the law and the prophets to guide them to the saving knowledge that will spare them from the flames, the Rich man flatly says: "No Father Abraham." A person in hell is still convinced they have a better way and plan. Sadly, whatever state an unbeliever leaves this world, they will continue in a downward and increasingly inward spiral of sinfulness and opposition to the Lord and His book.
Hebrews 9:27 tells us that it is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment. We've noted that the Rich man had been born once, lived, and died a physical death, ending up in hell to await judgment. The second death will occur according to Revelation 20:14-15 when death and hades, that is to say every unbeliever whose name had never been recorded in the Lamb's book of life, is cast into the lake of fire. But now let us turn to another man, the thief on the cross, who represents....
Heaven is Awesome
The scene is Golgotha in Luke 23:39-43. As is often the case in Biblical discussions about death, heaven and hell, we can be surprised to learn who ends up in both places. For this thief on the cross, he would had been the last guy you would expect to end up in heaven. To go to hell, there is sadly nothing you have to do. To claim neutrality on the issue of salvation and Jesus Christ is to declare your rejection of Him. (John 3:36) However in order to get to heaven, there is nothing you can do to contribute. Heaven is an awesome place as seen in the following thoughts:
1. Heaven's King is met at the cross & the Word. Luke 23:38-42
2. Heavenly kingdom is entered by the New Birth Luke 23:43; John 3:1-5; Hebrews 12:22-24
3. Heavenly power accompanies the Christian hear on earth. Hebrews 12:1-2
4. Heavenly home with Jesus is our reward. John 14:1-3
5. He was regarded justified. Luke 23:43
Clearly the Holy Spirit was doing a work of grace on this man's heart, for he experienced what Jesus had described in John 3:3 as the New birth. He was born again by the Spirit of God because of God's Sovereign Spirit working forth for him to act and embrace Jesus Christ by faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Thus like that thief, you have to be born physically and then spiritually in order to be assured that when you die physically, you will be "absent from the body but present with the Lord". (2 Corinthians 5:6) The promise to all true Christians is that when they die right now, blessings will attend them (Revelation 14:13); a rich entryway will be supplied (2 Peter 1:11-12) and Jesus Himself will be there to receive them. (Acts 7:55)
This is the shock and awe of Hell and Heaven. Would it be that you escape the shock of Hell and be ready through faith in Christ for the awesomeness of Heaven with Him.