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Lat Blaylock, Editor, RE Today
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The Afterlife: Heaven and Hell
What do Christians believe, and why?
There are a number of key things that Christians disagree about, particularly regarding moral issues. However, one thing they do agree on is the belief that when someone dies, it is not the end. Rather, the soul - the spiritual part of a person - moves on to a different place, one decided by God depending on the choices that they made when they were alive.
Those who have chosen to accept the salvation and redemption offered by God, through Jesus, who death atoned for the sins of humanity, will go to Heaven. Those who don't will go to Hell. They believe this because it is what the Church teaches and what the Bible says:
This makes it obvious, that if you don't believe you will perish and not enjoy 'eternal life.'
The Bible makes reference to a place in the afterlife called 'Heaven,' and people across the centuries have imagined what it is like. Some Christians view it as a physical place, but many believe it is a spiritual place, one where they spend time with God forever.
Christians believe in Heaven because the Bible teaches about it:
'For we know that when this tent we live in—our body here on earth—is torn down, God will have a house in heaven for us to live in, a home he himself has made, which will last forever.' 2 Corinthians 5:1
The Book of Revelation describes a vision of Heaven that John had:
'The angel also showed me the river of the water of life, sparkling like crystal, and coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb and flowing down the middle of the city's street. On each side of the river was the tree of life, which bears fruit twelve times a year, once each month; and its leaves are for the healing of the nations. Nothing that is under God's curse will be found in the city.Revelation 22:1-3
The Bible describes Heaven as a perfect place, with no illness or suffering:
'God himself will be with them, he will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death, or sorrow, or crying or pain.' Revelation 21: 3-4.
The Bible teaches that Hell is a place where people go if they've made bad choices in life, not repented of their sins or accepted the salvation and forgiveness offered by God through Jesus' death on the cross.
Hell is referenced throughout the Bible, and is seen as a place of great suffering and pain Jesus taught:
'Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.' Matthew 10:28
Jesus also references Hell in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, where those who don't help others, 'will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.' Matthew 25:41.