Any preacher who has the privilege of preaching God’s word ought to relish the opportunity and thank God he has been chosen to proclaim the Great Sovereign’s message. This is the way I feel about the doctrine of hell. It is unpleasant because of the terrible consequences of unbelief, but hell, like all Bible doctrines, glorifies God when it is taught faithfully without compromise.
Sometimes we think hell is the forgotten Bible subject, but oddly enough there is very little preaching about heaven. With the affluence of our modern society and the pervasive preaching of the prosperity gospel, most people are content to stay here and enjoy their best life on this planet. The lack of suffering experienced by Christians in former times tends to dampen the zeal for heaven because we think we have little to escape. Things are not all that bad and with a little fixing we’ll be just fine. Nothing has destroyed the hope of heaven like the prosperity gospel.
We are also turned away from the doctrine of heaven by lack of understanding of its purpose. If the focus is on us and what we can get out of it, then certainly if we are satisfied with what we have now there is little desire to leave here for it. This is where we must learn that heaven is about Christ. The New Testament authors had little to say about what we will get. They were more concerned about who we will see—a face to face meeting with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
It is amazing that in many of the popular books about NDE (near death experience) so little is said about Christ in these supposed trips to heaven. One of the most popular books (written by a Baptist preacher!) says nothing about seeing Jesus. Apparently, this fellow was able to hang around the environs of heaven with no indication Jesus was there. How strange it is that many of them describe similar things like going through a tunnel and seeing a light at the end. I hope it’s a wide tunnel because Elijah rode his chariot through it!
I don’t think of these things when I think of heaven. The Bible describes it as brilliant light that surpasses the brightness of the sun. It is the magnificence of the glory of God that envelopes heaven. No one goes to heaven through the darkness of a tunnel. The light is not a pinhole at the distant end. To die in Christ is to immediately wake up into the glory of God into a place you will feel as comfortable as if you had been there a million years. Heaven will be home because it is our Father’s house.
Christians need hope revived and to learn what heaven is truly about. Paul said to depart and be with Christ is far better. It truly is, and no prosperity preacher can outdo it.
Pastor V. Mark Smith