Heaven and hell are difficult subjects to cover. And in 30-40min, impossible to even begin to scratch the surface! With that in mind, I thought it would be best to cover the topic of "hell" in person, and then write this blog post to put down some thoughts about heaven.
As much as hell is difficult to describe in human language, "heaven" is as well! One of the biggest misrepresentations of heaven is that it is the place we will go to live for eternity in the afterlife. Revelation 21:1-4 gives us a look into this:
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.”
Imagine! Life without the corruption of sin! God's plan is not to bring us to heaven, but to create a new heaven and a new earth, bringing creation back to the original plan God had for the world. The afterlife with God is not about sitting around doing nothing. Rather, it would be living out THAT original plan!
So what would WE be like? The Bible again gives us many clues. These clues are grouped together in a doctrine scholars call "glorification". An example would be in Romans 8:16-17
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
What does that mean? Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:4
by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
Partakers in the divine nature! God is really not withholding from us! We have so much to look forward to. Our faith is not simply about escaping hell, but it is about how God, in His infinite love and grace, calls us to participate in a life that is beyond our wildest dreams.
What we do now is that we get to live in the light of eternity. We see things from a different perspective, a glorious perspective. The trials and suffering that we endure now is nothing compared to the riches in glory God has prepared for those who persevere!