First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com

That's a good question!

November 9, 2015

You've got mail!

 

    We all like to receive mail...at least mail that isn't a bill.  When I arrive at my office, the first task is to look in my mailbox. There is usually something of importance awaiting me. Last week I found a two page document in the mailbox. There was no identification on it to suggest where it came from or from whom it came.  The list of questions on the pages stopped me in my tracks. These questions clearly had been generated in the mind of one who has been doing some deep thinking.  God places great emphasis on our mind and the ability to reason.

        Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your

        mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matthew 22:37-38, NIV)

 

I believe the anonymous person who posed these questions is fully exercising their mind.  Fantastic!

 

     I will address one of the questions here.

 

#2. "Do you think that (sic) everyone who dies goes to Heaven? Who does the judgement (sic)?"

 

Hmmm, From my rudimentary understanding of life, I know everyone will one day die.  The Bible explicitly talks about heaven (John 14:2-4, 2 Peter 2:13, Revelation 21:1)  The Bible also describes a place that sounds like 'hell'. The word 'hell' appears at least 14 times in my NIV search parameters. Below are a few places the Bible describes as hellish places.

 

        "But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping

        and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:12, NIV)

 

        "They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of

        teeth." (Matthew 13:42, NIV)

 

        “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness,

         where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’  “For many are invited, but few are

         chosen.” (Matthew 22:13-14, NIV)

 

         "And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one

          eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where “ ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not

         quenched.’" (Mark 9:47-48, NIV)

 

**Shudder** 

 

Based upon God's Word, I conclude not everyone goes to heaven. I believe everyone has an opportunity to go to heaven but not all people will bend their knee and worship the Lord Jesus Christ. God offers all of humanity a means to receive salvation (saving).  The blessing and curse of God's creative grace is found in our ability to choose what we want to do with the life God has given us. We can obey the Lord God and live in faith believing or in the words of 'Fleetwood Mac'  "we can go our own way".

    Within this tension, we live and are offered the Holy Bible which reveals the nature of God. Being a student of the Bible, studying it's content, and absorbing the images of God we find therein bring us to a decision point. Will we say yes to Jesus Christ or will we say yes to our own desires?

Don't you wonder why God would give us the choice? Why didn't God just dominate our mind and tell us, "You will love and serve me." The answer is wrapped up in one word, 'love'.

 

God's love offers us freedom. God will not dominate our mind. God awaits our decision. No other religion that I am aware of can make these claims. Most ancient deities were vindictive and overbearing.

Jesus says, "Come to me all who are weary and heavy ladened and I will give you rest." It is an invitation. The verses from Matthew listed above describe that invitation and what happens to those who shun the invite or worse yet, thumb their nose at it.

 

Final answers: There is heaven and hell. All who live will die. Not all will go to heaven.

 

Please send me your understanding and thoughts on question #2 at -- rhughes@susumc.org

 

PS: Believers in Jesus Christ will see God as our heavenly Father and not Judge. Unbelievers will see God as Judge and that from a punitive position.

 

        "In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead... (2 Timothy

        4:1a, NIV)

 

 

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