by Bill Nugent
Maurice S. Rawlings M.D., a prominent cardiologist, wrote a book titled To Hell and Back. It is subtitled: Life After Death: Startling New Evidence. In it he records the experiences of people who saw glimpses of hell during cardiac arrest. There are many books about near death experiences but most tend to emphasize positive experiences almost to the exclusion of negative ones. Dr. Rawlings, who at the time was an unbeliever, was alarmed at the reports of hell that his resuscitated patients reported. He then went on a search for truth that ultimately led him to turn to Christ to receive forgiveness of sins.
The Bible makes many references to hell such as “Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming” (Isaiah 14:9). Jesus spoke more about hell than He did about heaven. Jesus, because of His great love and compassion, warned us of the consequences of dying in our sins. He exhorted us to repent.
D. James Kennedy, in his book Why I Believe has this to say about hell: “Our own moral nature requires such a place as hell. The human conscience also demands it. All men feel that there is a difference between virtue and vice and that in character these are moral opposites. And always we treat them as such: we approve virtue and condemn vice. We reward virtue to promote it, and punish vice to suppress it.”
Hell is the implicit choice of those who reject God. If someone rejects God in this life why would he or she desire to be with God in heaven in the afterlife? Jesus said “This is the judgment, that light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light” (John 3:19 NAS). Those who love darkness (sin) are those who embrace hell. God is the source of all good and therefore to be separate from His goodness is to embrace pain.
Those who reject God implicitly reject goodness and cling to evil. Few people consciously and deliberately choose evil. The choice of evil is done subtly, quietly, deep in the heart. The mind then springs to action to rationalize the choice. The bold approach is to deny the existence of God and to live without restraint. Atheistic materialism is, however, becoming more and more untenable as science advances to show the evidence of intelligent design in the universe. The simplest one celled bacteria is more complex than the computer you’re using to read this. The complexity of life is no accident. There has to be a God!
There is a more common way that people use to rationalize a choice of evil. It is to claim to believe in God but not really turn to God in the heart. The subtle rejection of God is expressed by trusting in self to do good works in order to earn heaven. Instead of turning to God they turn to self. Isaiah 64:6 says “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” Who can buy heaven with filthy rags? Our good works fall far short of God’s holiness.
The Bible plainly and repeatedly teaches that salvation is not earned by our good deeds. Salvation is “not a result of works, that no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:9 NAS). Salvation is given as a free gift to those who repent and turn to Christ who died for our sins. Jesus took upon Himself the penalty that was due us for our sins. Jesus experienced the pains of hell for us when He suffered and died. Jesus lived the perfect life. His good works and selfless giving of His life in crucifixion earned heaven for us. We must sincerely turn to Him in repentance to receive forgiveness of sins.