Heaven or hell: You choose

In heaven you will find holiness; in hell you will find wickedness and impurity (Revelation 22:14-15).

In heaven you will find those who obeyed the gospel; in hell you will find those who did not (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10).

In heaven you will find Jesus (John 14:3); in hell you will find the devil and his agents (2 Peter 2:4).

In heaven you will find worship (Revelation 4:8-10); in hell you will be cut off from God and the things of God entirely (Luke 16:25-26).

In heaven you will find “the fruit of the Spirit”; in hell you will find “the deeds of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-24).

In heaven those who chose to be righteous; in hell there will be those who chose to be filthy (Revelation 22:11).

Consider these Biblical truths carefully.  Then ask yourself one very serious question:

Do I really want to go to heaven?

Don’t be hasty.  We all know, or think we know, what the proper answer to that question is.  But it’s a trap.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

OK, if you want to stick with “Yes, absolutely!” as your answer, ask yourself this follow-up question.  And don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Am I choosing to live in hell now?

Do you choose the company of the unrighteous over the company of the faithful?  Do you choose carnal activities over spiritual activities?  Do you doze through worship, fantasizing about how quickly you can escape the church building and get back to “real life”?  Are you entertained more by sin than by righteousness?

Let’s be consistent, brethren.  If you really want to go to heaven, some practice with heavenly things here on earth might be in order.

Prioritize worship

It is preposterous for people who would not miss a concert featuring a favorite performer, who always program their DVR to record their favorite television shows, to “forget” to set their alarms for Sunday morning.  We “forget” because we do not try hard enough to remember.  The psalmist said long ago, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD’ ” (Psalm 122:1).  A similar sense of delight in our heart will yield similar results.

Prioritize Bible study

The old King James version uses the word “study” to describe our efforts to show ourselves pleasing to God in 2 Timothy 2:15.  More current versions use phrases such as “give diligence,” which is closer to the original meaning than what we call “study” today.  Still, how better to demonstrate our commitment to God than by studying His word?  We call it  “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” when we read Psalm 119:105; yet do we go extended periods of time — days, even weeks — without seeing the sun or turning on a light switch?  If it is a priority to be able to get from here to there safely and efficiently in the flesh, how much more so should it be a priority in the Spirit!  This certainly should involve whatever public studies of the word are provided by the church, but by no means is it limited to such actions.  We need God’s light every day; shunning it, as is the habit of too many Christians, should be unthinkable.

Prioritize holiness

Every day, we have opportunities to draw closer to God; every day, we have opportunities to draw closer to the devil.  God wishes us to be sanctified (1 Thessalonians 4:3).  He wants our focus to be on pure, honorable, and reputable things (Philippians 4:8) — and He defines the terms for us.  And to put it bluntly, we do not always share those priorities.  If sin gives us delight in this life, we should take it as a warning that Jesus is not living in our hearts to the degree that He should be and desires to be (Galatians 2:20).

Prioritize your brethren

We all complain that we do not have close, nurturing relationships with fellow Christians — as though this is something dispensed with the bread and fruit of the vine on the Lord’s day.  Relationships take time and effort.  We understand this as we pursue relationships with friends and family in the world; why not in the church?  If it means anything to “give preference to one another in honor” (Romans 12:10), it means our relationships with brethren are more to be pursued, protected and valued than our other relationships.  If Jesus saw such ones as His true family (Mark 3:35), we should as well.

Life is full of distractions — things that do not necessarily involve sin (although often they do) but collectively clutter up our hearts with the “thorns” of Jesus’ parable (Mark 4:18) that keep the “seed” of the gospel from having its desired impact on our lives.  Perhaps that will only result in poor performance in God’s service — which is a deplorable outcome in and of itself.  But at some point we begin cultivating the thorns instead of the seed.  We cease to be truly interested in the things of God.  We may still claim to be His “field” (1 Corinthians 3:9), but in truth we are devoted to our own short-term interests and objectives.

We have chosen hell over heaven.

It is a reversible course as long as breath remains within us.  So if your heavenly objectives do not resemble your earthly habits today, please consider the potential implications of your choices.  The longer you delay, the more entrenched in hellish habits you will become.