by Rick Warren — September 17, 2022
From Eternal Realities
“He has planted eternity in the human heart.”
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)
Heaven and hell are real. God wants you to understand this eternal reality and all the realities of life that are found in his Word, the Bible.
The first reality of life is that God made you to love you, and he wants you to learn to love him back. The Great Commandment says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 NIV).
The second reality of life is this: You were made to last forever. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has planted eternity in the human heart” (NLT). No matter how good things are on this planet, at some point in your life you’ll think, “There’s got to be more than this.”
And there is! You’re going to spend far more time on the other side of death than on this side. This life is preparation for your life in eternity.
Because of that, you have the third reality of life: God has prepared two eternal places, heaven and hell.
God has been preparing heaven since the foundation of the world. Jesus says in Matthew 25:34, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world” (NLT). You don’t have to stay forever on a planet broken by sin. You can choose to go to a place of perfection and be in God’s presence forever.
But hell is also a real place. Jesus goes on to say, “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons’” (Matthew 25:41 NLT). Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels, who rebelled against God. But now it is a reality for anyone who chooses to rebel against God.
We’re going to spend the next few days talking about the reality of hell—not because I want you to be scared and depressed.
I want you to understand the truth about hell so that you can fully embrace the fourth reality of life: You get to choose where you’ll spend eternity.
Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “I am now giving you the choice between life and death, between God’s blessing and God’s curse, and I call heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Choose life” (GNT).
God wants you to choose life, and to spend eternity with him. He’s opened the door to heaven through his son, Jesus Christ. Jesus promised, “Anyone who believes me and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe me will be condemned” (Mark 16:16 CEV).
When you choose to believe in Jesus, you’re guaranteed everlasting life with God in heaven. What a promise!