I am leading a small group Sunday School class through Randy Alcorn's book on Heaven. We are reading about two chapters each week and then coming together to share about what we are learning about the eternal destiny of those that know Jesus. I thought I would take the opportunity each week to blog about what I am learning in this study.
This week, we read chapters 3-4. He is still setting the foundation for this book on heaven by looking at the default position of humanity and whether or not we can know for sure we are heading to Heaven. You see, the default position for all people is not Heaven. It is Hell. Because of sin, humanity has been separated from God. Because of that, our natural destination is not eternity with God in Heaven, but eternity without Him in Hell.
But this is not a comfortable thought. I can't think of anyone that would readily rejoice in someone enduring eternal destruction. In fact, as I read this chapter, I allowed my mind wander to some people I know who have died and I had little confidence of their salvation. I let my mind drift to what is going on with them right now. And it was not a pleasant thought. It hurt. It was devastating. And that's probably the point. And that is probably why so many people struggle with the concept of Hell. In particular, Satan doesn't want people to think of it. Alcorn says,
"Satan has obvious motives for fueling our denial of eternal punishment: He wants unbelievers to reject Christ without fear; he wants Christians to be unmotivated to share Christ; and he wants God to receive less glory for the radical nature of Christ's redemptive work" (25).
Quite possibly, the most insightful comments in this chapter have to do with earth being the in-between world touched by Heaven and Hell. He says,
"The best of life on Earth is a glimpse of Heaven; the worst of life is a glimpse of Hell. For Christians, this present life is the closest they will come to Hell. For unbelievers, it is the closest they will come to Heaven" (28).
That's helpful when things go wrong in my life. It helps bring a perspective that this is not Heaven yet for me. But when things go wrong, and they will, it is the closest to Hell as I will ever get. My life and eternity is secured in Christ as my Savior.
He goes on to explain that in the fourth chapter. I wish chapter four were put into a short booklet to pass out to unbelievers. He does a wonderful job of explaining how the gospel of Jesus is needed and how we need to respond to it. He explains how our sin is removed and we are covered with the righteousness of Christ. He ends this section with these important words: "Wouldn't it be tragic if you read this book on Heaven but didn't get to go there" (37)? Tragic indeed!
If you are reading this book along with me, what did you think? What impacted you? Do you feel these chapters were necessary for the overall thought of the book?