While walking on our country roads, we often encounter a woman who is a faithful walker and enjoys talking on her phone while she does so.
That’s how I one day overheard her saying to the person on the other end of the line something about how a relationship with God early on might be a good thing, as opposed to waiting until the last minute.
As I strolled past her, I glanced in her direction and said, “Amen!”
That encounter was several years ago, and I hadn’t thought about it again until this week, when I was reading Randy Alcorn’s incredible book, Heaven.
I hadn’t planned to spend the week absorbing all he says about Heaven within the 492-page volume, but I’m putting the final touches (for now) on my novel, Final Moment. Since a major theme is about the last 60 seconds before death and also touches on Heaven, I felt compelled to read what Alcorn has to say.
And boy does he have a lot to say!
I can’t begin to describe it all here and wholeheartedly urge you to make the time to find out for yourself. But I can assure you that I’m blown away by how he connects all of Scripture to provide evidence of the wonderful and exciting eternal home Jesus has prepared for his followers.
I was excited about Heaven before, but now all I can say is…Wow!
Talking about Hell
While everything Alcorn describes is amazing and includes many concepts I’d never considered before, in chapter three, he shifts to a more solemn note—underscoring the fact that although we’re happy to talk about Heaven, we don’t talk nearly enough about Hell.
In the context of a Holy God unable to be exposed to the sin of mankind, Alcorn emphasizes the need to accept what God did through his Son to make admission to Heaven possible:
“…Heaven is not our default destination. No one goes there automatically. Unless our sin problem is resolved, the only place we will go is our true default destination…Hell” (p. 23).
“The reality of Hell should break our hearts and take us to our knees and to the doors of those without Christ” (p. 24).
Comparing the eternal-life-saving message of what Jesus has done for us to giving directions to someone we care about, Alcorn writes:
“If you were giving some friends directions to Denver and you knew that one road led there but a second road ended at a sharp cliff around a blind corner, would you only talk about the safe road? No. You would tell them about both, especially if the road to destruction was wider and more traveled. In fact, it would be terribly unloving not to warn them about that other road” (p. 26).
In this context, he goes on to make the case that telling others about both Hell and Heaven is the most loving thing we can do—and it made me wonder if I do enough of that, myself.
Although Jesus emphasized love when he was here—and I focus a lot on that in my various offerings—Alcorn also points out that “In the Bible, Jesus says more than anyone else about Hell” (p. 25).
So, here I am, talking about Hell because I don’t want anyone to spend eternity there. Instead, I long to spend eternity with those I love in the magnificence of Heaven, which is what our loving God wants for all of us—and why he did what he did through Jesus.
Decisions about Hell
A common argument from those who reject Jesus is that if God is so loving, he wouldn’t send people to the eternal misery of Hell. But such an argument fails to include the fact that—because God is so loving—he has already provided a way to avoid it:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17, NIV).
There are many passages like this that clearly outline God’s plan for redemption and salvation for those who make the choice to accept Jesus as Savior.
Since that’s the case, it seems pretty clear that it’s not God who makes the decision about where people end up after they die. Rather, it’s an individual’s choice to either accept or reject his offer that determines this eternal outcome.
Savoring a relationship with God
So what’s all that have to do with the woman on the road and the title of this post?
When I started thinking about warning others about the default of Hell, it made me sad to think that some may see salvation as merely a means of avoiding what they don’t want—instead of savoring a relationship with God while they’re here.
In my novel, Final Moment, one premise is that there may be a last-second chance for those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus to accept him as Lord. Although my work is fiction, I make every effort to use biblical principles as a foundation for my imagination, and this concept is also supported by some of the real-life accounts described in Imagine Heaven, by John Burke (another incredible book I highly recommend).
Although a last-second chance for redemption is certainly good news for those seeking to avoid the default of Hell, what a waste of all that could’ve been enjoyed during a lifetime with Jesus!
After all, while Jesus said he came to “seek and save what was lost” (Luke 19: 10, NIV), he also said he came so “they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, NRSV).
I can’t imagine trying to live without Jesus. Through his Holy Spirit, he has comforted and guided me through so many seasons of my life, and continually reminds me that no matter what I face—he’ll always be with me.
In that light, my own motivation for salvation isn’t just about avoiding the default of Hell—but to savor a relationship with Jesus during my time on this earth, which fuels my eager anticipation of Heaven and all that’s waiting for me there.
I’m not sure why we avoid talking about Hell. For myself, I guess I fear I’ll come off as judgmental and somehow offend—which is certainly not my intent.
Instead, when I share my faith, my goal is to offer the good news of my wonderful Savior—who is my Lord, my hope in both this life and the next, my best friend, and my continual support.
But since I’ve felt compelled to spend the last 10-plus years (off and on) writing a novel about the last 60 seconds before death, I guess I’m pretty passionate about talking about Hell after all.
I believe the Lord laid this story on my heart to help others be more aware that for each of us, the final moment of our lives on this earth will eventually arrive—and the choices we make in all the time prior will determine how prepared we are when it finally does.
After all of that, I must certainly end with this: If you aren’t sure where you’ll spend eternity after you die, I would love to talk with you, so please contact me if you’d like.
If you don’t want to contact me directly and want to learn more about accepting Jesus so you can enjoy a rich relationship with him here and spend eternity with him in Heaven, you can visit my page: Want Jesus?
And if you do know Jesus, but need a resource to help someone you care about embrace a relationship with him, too, please feel free to ask them to contact me or visit my Want Jesus? page.
While avoiding Hell is certainly a valid motivation for salvation, the more delicious choice is to step into a relationship with Jesus as early as possible in this life, so we can enjoy the abundant faith, hope, and love he wants to provide. Then we can look forward to spending eternity in Heaven with him and our family of believers as we do.