We know from Scripture that there is an afterlife. In fact, Jesus mentions there is an afterlife numerous times throughout the Bible. One passage is John 14:1-3. Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” Jesus promises that He left the earth to go and prepare a place for those who would eventually follow Him to heaven.
Jesus’ death made it possible for us to go to Heaven. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. The Bible tells us, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteousness, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Because of God’s everlasting love for us, He provided the way for us to be forgiven and cleansed our sins so that we can spend eternity with Him. For those who repent their sins and receive Jesus Christ as their Savior, the afterlife will be spent with God in heaven.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus reminds us that not everyone will enter heaven in the afterlife. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many might works in Your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7: 21-23). We are taught in the Bible that in eternity many people will seek to enter heaven, but will be stopped and turned to hell instead.
Hell is mentioned in the Bible numerous times including in Matthew 8:12, which says, “The children of the kingdom will be driven out into the darkness where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth". Hell is also mentioned related to internal destruction in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 which says, “These will pay the penalty of eternal ruin, separated from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power”. Hell is also described in great detail in Revelation 14:11 which says, “The smoke of the fire that torments them will rise forever and ever, and there will be no relief day or night for those who worship the beast or its image or accept the mark of its name”. From these verses, we see that the Bible gives a number of descriptions of hell, or that place of final judgment. As believers, we know that hell is very real but it is still a confusing notion. Descriptions of hell are dark and scary.
There are some who believe that there is no hell in the afterlife but Scripture tells us that there is. For those who doubt it, God has given us substantial evidence that Hell does exist in His infallible message to us. If you don’t believe hell exists, consider these words from Jesus: “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him” (Luke 12:4-5). If you don’t believe hell exists, you don’t trust God’s Word or truth.
While it’s not easy to wrap our minds around it, as Christians we have to fully understand heaven and hell to understand God’s love for us. Most religious people die with an expectation of God letting them into heaven, but it doesn’t work that way. You have to enter into heaven God’s way, which is through Jesus Christ.
One incredible thing we have to look forward to is heaven. God is preparing a place for us there now. Jesus did, indeed, promise that He left the earth to go and prepare a place for those who would eventually follow Him to heaven. The Bible tells us, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3). When King David says, “And I will live in the house of the Lord forever,” he’s saying that God has prepared a place for him in heaven. On that point, the Bible is unmistakably clear. As Christians, we are right to find comfort in that promise.
While death is a very scary thing, we have something positive to look forward to in the afterlife. We know from Scripture that we should long for heaven during our time on earth. The Bible tells us, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4). As God’s people, we should long for heaven. When we do, this pleases our Lord who has prepared a place there for us.
We should be motivated by the anticipation of heaven. Heaven and all that it represents should be a central object of our attention in this life. Instead of focusing on earthly things, our hearts and minds are to be continuously set on these things above where Christ is in heaven.