No Duct Tape – Just a Choice

Five things each man considers. First, is Heaven and Hell real? Second, if so, how can we avoid hell and get to Heaven. Third, once we get to heaven, what will it be like? Will everyone’s experience be the same? Simply put, do we get the same rewards or blessings? Fourth, how can we be assured that we will get to heaven and live out eternity with abundant blessings. Fifth, if God is benevolent, why would He create hell and send anyone there?

If we’re honest, we’ve all had moments wondering deeply and asking questions about eternity. I found myself wide awake last night consumed with some of these questions and burdened for men to find the answers that God has prescribed.

Let’s start this with a simple, logical statement upon which we can all agree – if an afterlife doesn’t exist, what difference does it make how I live on this earth? 1 Corinthians 15:19 say “If our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.” Paul is basically saying – if you’re living a pious life but there’s no heaven, that’s pitiful and pathetic. Live it up! But if there’s weight on the other side of eternity, the tragedy is found in those who fail to live for heaven in the present.

God’s Word makes it clear. Heaven and hell do exist. Both are literal and eternal in nature.(Matthew 5:12, 1 Corinthians 2:9, 1 Thes. 1:7-8, Rev. 20:14-15).
So then why would a good God create Hell and send anyone there? First, it was never God’s intention for man to sin. Mankind’s disobedience created the separation between a holy God and fallen mankind.

Second, Hell was originally created as punishment for Satan and the fallen angels. Satan and 1/3 of the angels rebelled against God, resulting in their banishment from Heaven and God’s presence! (Isaiah 14:12-14, Ezekiel 28:12-18, Luke 10:18, Revelation 12:7-10). Lucifer, the top angel, challenged God and sought to usurp his authority recruiting a legion of anarchist angels to do the same. As any leader or business owner knows, if someone tries to overthrow you; you remove them from the organization! So, God removed the rebellious angels from heaven and created Hell to serve as their eternal prison. The door to heaven was shut for Satan and his demons.

Knowing this – how do we reconcile 2 Peter 3:9 which says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” God desires for Heaven to be full and Hell to be empty. Luke 15:7 reminds us that heaven rejoices when one sinner repents and accepts the free gift of salvation found in Jesus. Parties are thrown when Heaven gains an eternal soul. God is good and wants good from His creation, but part of the goodness extended to us affords us the opportunity to make our own decisions. Free will is a good gift given by a good God.

The Bible teaches that God reveals His heavenly qualities daily to us (Romans 1:20) and we have a choice to believe or not. This choice – obey God and receive His blessings (including Jesus & Heaven) or live for ourselves and receive the penalty for sin that we’re due. Satan wants nothing more than to ruin our lives and have us deny God and spend eternity in Hell. If he’s going to spend eternity separated from God, then he wants company!

God’s love for us was so great that He sent His Son to die a gruesome death on the cross so we could spend eternity with him in Heaven. If God wants us all to go to heaven and if His love is perfect, then why would he give us a choice? Because if he didn’t give us a choice it wouldn’t be love! To all my married men, my guess is that you secure your spouse by duct-taping her to a chair and demanding she marries you! No! Or I hope not. You asked your wife to marry you because you loved her, and you wanted her to spend her life WILLINGLY and JOYFULLY with you. But simply asking doesn’t guarantee she would say yes.

Well, that’s how God works; he’s asking, calling, and drawing you to submit to follow Him so you can spend eternity with Him. No duct tape with Jesus. His love is so compelling and complete that Jesus died on the cross of Calvary to absorb the full wrath of God and to pay for the sins of the whole world. After completing His work and leaving this world, John 14:3 reminds us that Jesus is currently “preparing a place in Heaven for us” and that He’s coming back one day to get us. It is the will of God that men and women submit to Christ and trust in Jesus. This choice is the separating factor between an eternity in Heaven or Hell.

God wants all of us to choose him over rejecting him. Two options: full acceptance or complete rejection. Indecision is rejection. There are no gray areas. As I pondered those five opening questions – my wife, Marilyn shared a pair of sermons from a pastor in Texas. Both were great and extremely insightful. As you work out or drive to a meeting this week, carve out some time to listen to these sermons and ask yourself whether you have trusted Christ and will spend eternity with Him. Remember, real love always comes with a choice!