Actor Javier Bardem was recently quoted, “I don’t know if I’ll get to heaven. I’m a bad boy. Heaven must be nice, but is it too boring? Maybe you can get an apartment there and then go to hell for the weekends.” If you are like me, this is not the first time you’ve seen such a comment. Such comments coming out of Hollywood are not surprising, but troubling nonetheless. I worry about such comments because of their influence. Could such statements serve to reinforce the notion that hell is not real and that if it is, it will not be that bad?
When we examine Scripture, we find that it has much to say about life after death. Jesus said the righteous will inherit eternal bliss in heaven: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” Matthew 25.34. He also said that the unrighteous will spend eternity in hell: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels,” Matthew 25.41. After our life ends on earth, we will await the coming day of judgment. There, we will receive either the reward of eternal life or the consequence of eternal death. Jesus said the unrighteous “will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life,” Matthew 25.46.
Upon further examination of Scripture, we find that hell will be anything but a place of partying, fun, and relaxation. Passage after passage warns us about how terrible it will be. In Matthew 25.30 Jesus described it as a place of weeping, gnashing of teeth, and outer darkness. In Mark’s gospel, Jesus drove home the point that hell is so terrible that we need to be willing to do whatever is necessary to keep our self from going to this place, Mark 9.44-48. There is nothing in this life that is worth our going there.
We are also told that it will be unending, eternal punishment. In Revelation, John said that the “smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night…,” Revelation 14.11. See also Revelation 20.10, 14-15. The fires of hell are unquenchable. Hell is a place of misery, confusion, and horror forever and ever. There will be no comfort there – even if family, friends, and acquaintances are there.
To me, the most terrifying thing about hell is that those who are there will be eternally separated from God. Presently, none of us know what it means to be separated from God. He is the sustainer of all things. All good things come from Him. He sends rain on the just and the unjust, Matthew 5.45. But, after judgment the unrighteous will be cut off from God throughout eternity. There will be no hope of God ever changing His mind and coming to the conclusion that those in hell have suffered enough and can now get a pass into heaven. Hell will be unending punishment.
Don’t let pop culture influence you about matters of eternal significance. These are not laughing matters. We only get one life to live and the way we live now determines where we will spend eternity. It is my sincere desire that Javier Bardem comes to realize the certainty of judgment and the reality of heaven and hell before it is too late.
No one has to experience eternal punishment. By the grace that was demonstrated in the gift of Jesus, our God has made it possible for us to escape eternal punishment in hell and enjoy eternal rest in heaven. Will you take advantage of God’s most wonderful gift? Jesus died for your sin. Do you believe that He has the power to forgive you? Will you act on your faith and die with Christ through the waters of baptism? We’d love to help you begin your relationship with God today. Let us know how we can serve you at Kettering Church of Christ.
* quote from 01/23/2011 Dayton Daily News
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