The Thin Line that Separates Heaven and Hell

In an article by Randy Alcorn (2018) titled, “Heaven Would Be Hell Without God”, Alcorn argues that God is the center of all delights in heaven, and where God is, there will be heaven. In his article, God is the ultimate purpose of heaven. A heaven without God would be a “honeymoon without a groom”. And the best part of heaven is to enjoy God’s presence, enjoy all the secondary gifts that come with it, and ultimately spending eternity knowing and enjoying Him.

This view of heaven is based on the assumption that everyone in heaven finds delight in God and in Christ while everyone outside does not. This view of heaven seems to be proposing that there is a geographical boundary around God that makes it heaven while anything beyond it is hell.

Now, this view of heaven denounces the omnipresent nature of God by assuming that there will be a place where God will not be. Well, I am not saying that I am completely against the article and I agree with the statement that states that “wherever God is, there is heaven”. But here, I would like to present an alternate reality where Heaven can be Hell even when God is around. In other words, I am assuming that the entire space (I am writing based on the assumption that the realm of the afterlife is an actual location) humanity will go after death is “eternal life”, and “heaven” or “hell” is just but a mental state of mind that is irreversible and permanent.

Heaven

In this view of heaven, heaven will be the eternal delight in God as described by Alcorn (2018). It will be an eternal union in marriage with God. It will be as sweet as a never-ending honeymoon. The presence of God will be enjoyed by all who delights in Him; wherever they will be. And every waking moment for all of eternity will be spent enjoying, seeking, learning, and worshipping God.

Hell

However, in this view of heaven, hell will be the eternal resentment of being with Him whom you do not love. Think unpleasant marriage and multiply it by an eternity. That should roughly resemble it. The eternal dwelling with God while being at odds with God will make the soul burn with hatred and displeasure. [1] The fact that there is no light source apart from God (Revelations 21:23) displayed God’s omnipresent and omniscient nature. He is everywhere and He is all-knowing. The realization of not being able to do what you want to do would be as unbearable as being in prison with a sentence that never ends. The growing discomfort and complete rejection of the nature of God without an alternate way out will cause them to want to escape from God, and find themselves in places where God is. [2]

People in hell will not want to enter into the presence of God. They abhor it! Their nature will cause them to want to bring people down with them [3], but they will find that all of the elects are securely protected under the wings of God. The gates of heaven into the Presence of God will never be shut (Revelations 21:25), but no one in hell would want to be in the Presence of God despite their torment. Inwardly, they yearn for satisfaction, love, and fulfillment. But their outward rejection of the salvation from God manifested itself in their choice of hiding from God (Genesis 3:8). They knew God in all His goodness but preferred one’s limited sovereignty over God’s all-satisfying embrace. This caused them to dive deeper and deeper into the “lake of fire”, burning (Revelations 20:14-15).

Point of No-Return

The black hole, as illustrated in the movie Interstellar, shows an event horizon fairly accurately for a very specific class of rotating black holes. (Image Credit: Forbes)

As how nothing can escape the pull of the black-hole beyond the event-horizon, so can’t any unbelieving souls escape the pull of their self-centered desires beyond death. Of course, this statement brings up the problem about the salvation of souls who never had the chance to hear of salvation in their life. But this is not the key issue because God judges them according to another set of law that were written in their hearts (Romans 2:14-16). The deciding authority of death on an individual’s salvation is wholly dependent on their individual desire to be with God; to learn, to enjoy, and to worship Him.

In my previous article “A Glimpse of Eternity, I discuss how God was already with the “elect” from the very beginning. We are only placed on earth for the very purpose of Christ’s salvation. During this period of time, we are given free will to groom in ways we wanted to, and to learn to worship Him in preparation for the death and reunion with Him.

Based on this argument, where we will be in eternity has already been decided (or foreknown). The life on earth shaped us into where we were, and where we will be. If we purposefully center our lives on something other than God, then we will venture deeper and deeper into the black-hole, until we eventually pass the event horizon.

Of course, this argument will open the flood-gates to all other discussions about the salvation of unborn babies and the like. And all I can say is that God is sovereign in His judgment, and He will do things the way He wills. And His judgment on such matter will never be wrong.

Something More Important Than Repentance

The entire idea of repentance echoed throughout theological teachings and debate. But will it really help us enter heaven? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, repent (n.d.) is to “turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life”. However, the act of repentance is still ultimately an act that is centered upon the individual. I often ask my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to think beyond repentance. Think: for what are you repenting for?

The central idea of repentance, in my opinion, is to seek the ultimate enjoyment of God. And before seeking, you must know. One must know how awesome God is in order to sell everything one has to buy it (Matthew 13:44); put off your old self (Ephesians 4:22), and put on the new self (Ephesians 4:24). And in seeking God, we will know how unworthy we are (Isaiah 6:5). Characteristics of our unworthiness will expose our sins through our knowledge of the law (Romans 7:7). Knowledge of our sins calls for the acknowledgment of Christ’s salvation (Romans 7:25) and bringing us back into communion with God (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

It is for this that we must “repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near”. (Matthew 3:22).

At this juncture though, here’s some food for thought: If heaven is a state of mind where we delight in God regardless of whether it is in this life or the life-that-follows, and the Holy Spirit dwells within us now, does this mean we who are alive are in heaven alongside those who have fallen asleep before us?

 

Footnotes:

[1] I have explored the concept of the innate psychological burn of hell from within in “Forming the Perfect Family Part 2 – Under the Loving Wings of God“. There are both physical and psychological factors that cause one to feel a burning sensation when we want but are unable to attain something.

[2] Likewise in “Forming the Perfect Family Part 2 – Under the Loving Wings of God“, I have explored the notion that hell was created by God out of love to accommodate people who stubbornly oppose Him. Though He prays that they may one day return to their embrace (hence leaving the gates open), they never will due to their innate psychological factors affecting their decisions.

[3] This is the attribute of satan and the fallen angels that are under his charge. They “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”. (1 Peter 5:8, NIV).

 

References:

Alcorn, R. (2018). Heaven Would Be Hell Without God. Retrieved from https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/heaven-would-be-hell-without-god

Event Horizon (n.d.). Retrieved from http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/cosmos/E/Event+Horizon

Repent. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/repent

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