The Pruning

The Great Contrast of Heaven and Hell

In James Lee on May 1, 2013 at 11:46 pm
by James Lee
Comparing and Contrasting is not necessarily a bad thing, it really depends on what or whom you’re contrasting against.  The Bible is in fact full of comparisons and contrast in order to highlight someone or something.  The frequent contrast is God against humans.  God’s attributes, character, tendencies are all contrasted against us humans, and when the contrast is made, it is a powerful reflection of who God really is and who man really is.  Compared to ourselves we may not look so bad, but contrasted against God’s holiness, we are super horrible.
One specific contrast that has hit my heart lately is the one between Heaven and Hell.  These are not places that are slightly different, but completely and utterly different from each other according to their descriptions in the Bible.  Just to point out a few, Matthew 25:46 makes a sharp contrast between the general characteristic of each place. Hell is seen as the place of “eternal punishment” while Heaven the place of “eternal life.”  Both are real, eternal places but one is about punishment/destruction while the other is about life.  In Luke 16, a rich man describes Hades as a “place of torment,” while Jesus further describes Hell as that place where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  In contrast, Heaven is described as a place of “endings” in Rev 21:4: no more tears, no more death, no more mourning, no more crying, no more pain.  Furthermore, throughout the book of Revelation, heaven is a place of rejoicing and worship and peace.
But the biggest contrast between Heaven and Hell is the presence of Jesus Christ.  2 Thess 1:9 describes Hell as being “away from the presence of the Lord…” whereas in Luke 23, Jesus says to the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”  Jesus also says in John 14  “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”  When we put these two places against each other, the contrast is highlighted even more.  Hell looks even more frightening when compared to Heaven.  Heaven looks so much more wonderful when compared to Hell.
And this has been on my heart lately.  The power of contrast has highlighted so much more the severity of hell especially.  Imagining someone that I know personally being in hell makes me very uncomfortable and distraught.  That’s when my emotions flare up and try to deceive me that it can’t be a real place.  How could such a place exist? Even more, how could such a degree of torment and emptiness be experienced for eternity?  But then I must remember that Hell is not the “reward” for doing bad things. Heaven is the reward for believing in Christ.  Hell is the default place because of the sinfulness of our sins, and we must be rescued from eternal destruction by Jesus Christ.  That is why it’s called Salvation.
I once read of an illustration where a person was dying of cancer but was refusing to take the medicine that would cure him of his cancer.  The question was then posed, “What killed this man?  The cancer or not taking the medicine?”  The answer is: the cancer.  It was the fact that he was already dying and chose not to do anything about it.  Our default destination is hell not heaven.  If we die without ever knowing Christ, we face a destruction that we were already headed towards.  But if God pours his grace upon us to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, then our destination miraculously changes and we are rewarded life with Christ forever in a place called Heaven.
But if we don’t accept the one who can heal our hearts, then we remain on the road to eternal destruction where there is torment and weeping and gnashing of teeth and, most importantly, absence of the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hell is supposed to sober us and warn us.  Heaven is supposed warm us and satisfy us because that is where Jesus Christ dwells.
Consider the great contrast between Heaven and Hell and decide in your heart to choose Jesus Christ who is in Heaven.

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