But, for some reason, my mind kept coming back to the question, "What do people believe about Heaven and Hell? How do they define Good and Evil?" I finally decided that perhaps God wants us to consider where we stand on these issues, and why. So I'm just going to let my thoughts take me where He wants to go...
I would venture to say that most people have an easier time imagining that there is a heaven, than they do that hell exists. That only seems natural, doesn't it? After all, the idea of a positive, happy place is much more appealing than one of pain and torment. But first one has to decide if they believe that there is something beyond this earthly existence; that our life, or existence, so to speak, doesn't stop when we take our last breath and are no longer present in this world.
I found it interesting that there are people who have actually decided that life does exist after death, but are unable to attribute that notion to God; seeing that as too "religious" and "convenient". Instead, they look upon our lives here on earth from a "cosmic" perspective; we are all energy that simply recycles itself in both spiritual and physical form. For me, that seems like a "convenient" way to sidestep any real search for evidence of a Creator or Higher Being.
Obviously, in order to accept the themes of heaven and hell, one must at least consider the Bible. True, there were religions and cultures before the Bible was written that alluded to the same concepts, but to modern-day man, the terms are most often associated with faith in Jesus Christ -- which as it turns out, can be a huge stumbling block for many people (just as the Bible said He would be)!
Satan has done such a good job of projecting doubt on the veracity of Scripture that it is not difficult for people to simply cast Jesus as a man, a great teacher and prophet; or to deny the existence of evil as being just "negative energy". When those limitations are put in place, then it is easy to dismiss that heaven and hell really exist. You can see this confused logic in some of the following answers from a question posed on Ask Yahoo: Does Heaven or Hell really exist?
• "Science has never attempted to define, classify, measure, qualify or quantify either Heaven or Hell. Each exist solely if you believe they do."
• "Religion is nothing more than superstition with a collection basket. Why would an almighty God have to ask for money when Gods before him like Zeus and Apollo never asked for a dime?"
• "I don't really think that there is a heaven or a hell. But I think that your consciousness never dies when you die. Your...spirit per se, is left behind while your body rots. And that energy is used to create new life. It is kind of like reincarnation, but it is more like recycling a mind and consciousness."
• "There is no science to confirm or deny the existence of either. Nor is there any evidence for santa, easter bunny, zeus, odin, etc. If you want to believe in these things fine, but realize that they are, indeed, fabrications of your mind."
• "Physically? No. You don't pass through heaven when you go into space, and you don't fall into hell when you drill into the earth. On a mental plane or extra dimension somewhere, maybe."
• "Most likely not, which is good, because it doesn't matter anyways."
It is obvious from these answers that these people have been deluded into thinking that their existence in this world is all about them. They've never looked beyond themselves to see if there is a greater purpose for the existence of mankind. Notice that each answer is centered around the narrow confines of their own opinions.... they are in effect saying, "It's up to you if they exist or not; you have the power to decide." However, there were one or two who answered from a deeper line of reasoning:
• "There are non-fiction books by people who claim to have experienced one or the other (or both) that says they do exist, but I'm not too sure. Nothing yet really convinces me."
• "It's a question that can only be answered by those who have died and gone to either place -- therefore we don't know. It's like that old myth I've heard that states if you die in your dream you die for real. Does that seem plausible?? If there was truly a God or Satan, wouldn't God have destroyed this world with so much evil in it? And if there was an all powerful Satan, the whole world would be inherently evil. And if there is a kind, loving God, why do so many people say they're "God Fearing" -- if God loves us, why should we fear him??"
Now, these people represent the all-too-common trait of those who need proof of some sort. They are searching for answers, but can't grasp the concept of faith. And it is quite obvious that they are willing to read non-fiction books, but won't even consider cracking open the Bible. Because, if they did, they would discover the eternal battle between God and Satan for the souls of men. They would realize that God has given us an innate sense of right and wrong, and the free will to choose good over evil. We are made in His image and He desires us to choose Him! What purpose is there in our lives if God is a god that just allows evil to exist and then destroys it?
Again, there is truly a "cosmic" sense to this battle, to use a popular term. Because, surely these doubters do not deny that there are evil people in the world. The murder and rape statistics, the sexual abuse of children, and the over 161,000,000 people killed in wars in the 20th and 21st centuries (so far) prove that bad things happen to good people. Yet, there are literally millions of compassionate acts between individuals every minute of every day around the world -- therefore, proving that the world is not inherently evil.
Surely they can see the supernatural battle that exists between the Spirit of a merciful God and the spiritual tactics of one who is God's "cosmic" adversary. The evidence of both good and evil is undeniably and physically manifested before our eyes. As for "fearing God", once again this shows a lack of Biblical understanding. (And I find it ironic that those without faith in God and the truthfulness of the Bible would dare to try to define Biblical terms from a secular standard. Doesn't that go against "scientific" guidelines)? But I digress... as anyone who understands Faith with a capital "F" knows, the meaning of the word fear, in this case, points to a reverence or awe of our God. This reverence comes from knowing that He is our Creator, He has determined the number of our days on this earth, and that He has the power to determine where we will spend the rest of the eternity He has made.
Without personal knowledge of God and His Son, I doubt that you could ever convince anyone of the existence of heaven or hell. They are the consequences of either belief or unbelief, just as our abilities to be either good or evil derive from belief or doubt in a Sovereign, Omniscient God. It is not a matter of physical proof, but of complete trust, confidence, and spiritual intuition in One whose very breath indwells us.
We are all familiar with the comparison that inevitably surfaces at some point in this argument ... if those who refute the existence of heaven and hell are correct -- and the screen just fades to black, so to speak, when we die -- then it won't really matter to either one of us. But if I am correct, and we are all assigned to heaven or hell, then there is an eternal consequence for their refusal to acknowledge the existence of either. It is hard for me to leave the argument there; how do we impress upon people the eternal, everlasting, permanent consequences of them seeking an answer to this significant question?
I may not be able to prove that heaven or hell exists; or what defines good and evil, but I know this... I am more than blood and tissue; more than biological matter. This earthen vessel houses a spirit that longs to return to its original home. And these few years that I occupy this space on earth are not all there is.... and that is great, glorious, and merciful Good News!
Romans 2:6-8 "He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury."