September 9th – As Hot as Heaven ?



It was in a young peoples Christian get together – and no one was bored – it was “Grill the Minister” time.
“But” they said “if you believe in a God of Love and in heaven, how can you believe in a hell?” “Surely it’s better to believe in obliteration than in eternal punishment?”. And they all seem to agree that hell is not on any truly Christian agenda, nor should it be.
I replied that Jesus preached about hell, and didn’t pull any punches. But the group weren’t immediately persuaded. Then one of the group said “We say things are as hot as hell- is hell a place of undying fire?”
Instead of quoting and explaining those Bible passages which do speak like that, I tried an experiment. “Suppose” I said “Just suppose for a moment that there were not two places with one gate marked ‘Heaven’ and the other ‘Hell’. Suppose that there is just one place, one realm you enter when you die. And suppose that, that place is not dark and cold, but lit and powered by the glory of God, ablaze with light, greater than a billion suns. To exist in that atmosphere you’d require a fire proof suit, wouldn’t you?” “Like a space suit?” suggested one of the group.
“Something like that, only then more like your own skin” I replied. “And to live and move in that light and heat without being shrivelled up you must wear at all times your ‘glory garments’. Well, to exist without them you would have to take shelter in your self-made fireproof box in which it would be pitch black, cold, silent, and utterly lonely. After all, you’d made it just for you, so there’d be no room for anyone or anything else. Then you wouldn’t know that all around you were light and warmth and billions of people to love you: and music so heavenly that even a Mozart could not compose: colour so ravishing that no artist could ever paint: movement so fluid and fast that light itself couldn’t keep up. Suppose,that joy was ecstatic all round and you were all shut up in your box of ‘having-your-own-way’ for ever and ever. What would it be?” One of them said “Hell, I guess ……”
“Ah, but you can’t find that in the Bible” said one of the group; so we had a look at the last two verses in Hebrews Chapter 12 and the discussion continued. Here are the verses:
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29
Prayer focus:
O how shall I whose native sphere is dark whose mind is dim, before the ineffable appear, and on my naked spirit bear the uncreated beam. There is a way for man to rise to that sublime abode (and so the hymn ‘Eternal Light’ continues).
Now read Hebrews 12:4-29

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