6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-7
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” John 11:25
Last month, the person choosing the book club selection for a book club I attend chose a book about hell. The book was coarse and dark and ugly–all the things I presume hell will be–and because of this I found it very hard to read. The author made certain the readers recognized that hell is permanent and full of despair. There was endless suffering, people moaning and weeping, and most grippingly, the complete absence of any goodness or hope. As I read the book I began to think about hell more than I ever have before, and I found it distressing. I thought of people I know who don’t know Jesus and I realized, in a graphic manner, what their future could be. I thought of an eternity without hope, and without the presence of any goodness or love or kindness–a future totally apart from God–and I found my stomach upset, and my sleep disturbed. Some book club members found the book silly or irrelevant. Not me. I found it horrifying.
Although the Bible tells us very little about heaven, there are a few things we do know. We know there will be no more crying, death, mourning or pain (Rev. 21:4). We also know that we will forever be in the presence of our God, who manifests fully everything we know of beauty, goodness and love. Because the sinless One bore our sins and rose again from the dead, the power of death has been defeated forever, and we can look forward to life in heaven with him forever.
This Lenten season, because of my musings on hell, I am more profoundly grateful for the gift of salvation than ever. I recognize that without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that ugly picture I read about would be my eternity. I deserve hell. It’s hard for me to even write those words, but they’re true. You know what? It’s what’s you deserve, too. All of us, no matter how good we think we are, fall terribly short of the holiness of God (Rom 3:23) and deserve to be punished. But incredibly, because of his furious love for us, God provided a way out (John 3:16) and we have an eternity of love and beauty ahead of us.
I know it’s wretched to think about hell. But if you can stand it, try for just a moment to think of a future without the presence and influence of our Holy God. It’s unbearable, isn’t it? Now, think of eternity in the presence of the God who is love. This is what we celebrate this Easter! Sin’s power has been defeated. Christ has risen from the dead. No matter what our past or present has been, we have a glorious future!! Hallelujah! He is risen. He is risen indeed, and he loves us.
Kind Father, thank you so much for your amazing love for us. I know none of us deserves an eternity with you, but you loved us so much you provided a way. Thank you Jesus for suffering for me. I am so thankful for your sacrifice and your gift to me. Amen.
Contributed by Karen Vine