Heaven or Hell ?

Verily I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation but is passed from death unto life. ……And they shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
These words of Jesus recorded by the Evangelist John [chapter 5, verses 24 and 29] go to the very heart of our eternal destination, and how we get there.
Those who do good, go to heaven; those who do evil are damned.
It is for each individual to decide for themselves whether to accept Jesus Christ as God and whether to accept his teaching and become a Christian.
Now, we all have our own understanding of what constitutes good and evil. There is  a great deal of common understanding and agreement that certain things are very evil and others very good. To rape a woman is evil; to help a person in their need is good.
But Jesus has said something critical in the first part of our citation.
There in verse 24 – the  very first words recorded above – Jesus defines what is good, and what is evil.
And in doing so, Jesus flags up to us the inadequacy of our sense of good and evil.
Our sense of right and wrong is inevitably corrupted because – in the Christian perspective and perception –  we are all born with the taint of sin, that is the propensity inherited from Adam to disobey God.
In defining good and evil in this way, Jesus points to the fundamental problem and the fundamental solution to that problem.
Disobedience to God is the problem; and obedience to God is the answer.
“Good” is therefore defined as doing what God says;  and to do what God says requires that we trust God [that is the fundamental meaning of the word believe in the New Testament – to trust, ie rely upon totally].
Too often, doing Good brings problems – problems we neither need nor want. Problems like disapprobation from friends or colleagues at work because our stand upsets their expectations or their interests.
That is why we have to trust that God will not only give us the moral courage to see the matter through, but that God will finally vindicate our moral stand.
That moral stand is derived from the teaching of Jesus.
Basically, love God and love others.
Note the order: God first, then others.
ie what God wants first, not what others want contrary to God.
To love others who  persecute you is not easy, and it necessarily requires God’s grace and presence to act and see it through.
That is why the teaching and the trust go together here.
Teaching and Trust.
God’s teaching – not man’s – and God’s grace, not our own human effort or senses.
And yes the presence of God is there, it is real –  to those who get real with God.
And that is vital, because to be real with God and to take his teaching seriously is to find not just heaven above, but the grace of God in the here below now, in this present material world we inhabit.
But to refuse God’s teaching, or to ignore it is dangerous both for our future welfare hereafter, and in our present life.
As John has recorded earlier in his Gospel account, to refuse to believe in God and in his teaching is to live out our lives here under God’s disapproval and anger, with only the prospect of punishment in eternity thereafter.

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