Am I Going To Heaven? Part 2: What Are My Afterlife Options?
When I take my wife out to dinner, it usually begins with us trying to work out which restaurant to go to. I’ll start by asking her where she wants to go. She’ll say she doesn’t know. And then I’ll say I don’t know. Then she’ll ask me to give her some options to choose from. And then we’ll narrow it down to one choice. And then, knowing my luck, the place will be shut and we have to go through the whole process again.
It’s good to know your options before you settle on a decision. Especially when the decision is where you are going to spend eternity. I want to go to heaven, but before I get my heart set on it, I really should investigate the alternatives.
So the way I see it, just looking from the Christian point of view, there are three possible destinations when we die: heaven, hell, and purgatory aka limbo. We can automatically cross out ideas like reincarnation or the Norse place called Valhalla because they’re not part of the Christian mindset.
This purgatory place is worth investigating. From what I understand, it’s some kind of waiting place. The idea is that if you’re not good enough for heaven when you die, and not bad enough for hell, then purgatory is where you end up. Some people say it’s a boring place where nothing much happens. Others say it is a place where you get punished, but only for a short time. So you hang out in purgatory until you burn off all those little nagging sins until you’re good enough to get into heaven. That doesn’t sound too bad. I understand the appeal. It’s good to have a backup just in case I’m not good enough to get into heaven. Here’s that second chance that everyone loves.
The problem with that, is that it sounds all well and good, but purgatory is not a real option. It’s not even a real place. You won’t find it mentioned anywhere in the Bible, unless you go hunting for books that most people agree aren’t really Scripture. And that’s not just because the writers of the Bible just forgot to mention it. The Bible is pretty clear: there are only two place you can go after you die. In John 3:36, Jesus says “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” So there’s two options here. Either it’s eternal life (heaven) or God’s wrath, his anger, remains (hell). There’s no middle option. No fence sitting. No loop holes.
So when I die, I’m either going to be spending eternity with God or I’m going to hell. And I’m pretty sure I don’t want to go to hell. Heaven, I’m told, is where it’s at. But how can I be certain God will let me in?