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RE:QUEST

A space for resources to help RE teachers and their students explore the Christian faith

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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 died for our sins, will go to Heaven. Those who don't will go to Hell. They believe this because it is what the Church teaches and also what the Bible says:

'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.' John 3:16

This makes it obvious, that if you don't believe you will perish and not enjoy 'eternal life.'

HEAVEN

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. The Book of Revelation describes a vision of Heaven that John had:

'Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.' Revelation 22:1-5

One thing that all Christians agree on is that Heaven will be a perfect place, with no illness or suffering. The Bible states: '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.

HELL

Hell is a place where people go if they've made bad choices in life, and 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.