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  • Writer's pictureW. Austin Gardner

Heaven or Hell

There will be a difference in the eternal state of man’s existence. Heaven with all its glory, joy and fullness of life in the presence of God will be the inheritance of some, while hell with all its horror and separation from God will be the plight of others.

This difference is well illustrated in the story of our Lord in Luke 16:19–31. Whether this portion is interpreted as an actual story or as a parable does not change the facts. The fact of a difference plus many other truths are clearly illustrated. Lazarus and the rich man are in different places, in different conditions. Both are conscious of their state with no prospects of change. One is experiencing blessings, the other pain.

The same principle of difference is again illustrated in Matthew 25:31–46. The judged are assigned to different places to exist under different conditions. Both groups are conscious of it, and neither group has any prospects of change.

Again the difference is dogmatically taught in Revelation 20:11–15 and 21:1–22:6. The unredeemed are committed to a place designated as a lake of fire, described as the second death. Death cannot mean extinction, or else there could be no “second death.” There are no prospects of change and no hope of probation. The redeemed find their dwelling place in New Jerusalem upon the new earth (Rev 21:1–27) and in paradise (22:1–6). Here they are in the presence of the Lamb and the throne of God. Such is the plain teaching of the Word of God on the difference of man’s eternal state.

The Bible describes the final state of the lost under the figures of “eternal fire” (Mt 25:41); “outer darkness” (Mt 8:12); “torment” (Rev 14:10–11); “eternal punishment” (Mt 25:46); “wrath of God” (Ro 2:5; Jn 3:36); “second death” (Rev 21:8); and “eternal destruction … from the presence of the Lord” (2 Th 1:9). Such statements cannot be lightly dismissed, they speak of awful realities, whatever the exact nature of these realities may be. Man does well to heed the warnings of the Lord.

George W. Peters, A Biblical Theology of Missions (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1972), 333–334.

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