There's a new book out that is becoming quite the talk of the town. It is called "To Heaven and Back" by Dr. Mary C. Neal. Another New York Time's best selling book entitled "Heaven is for Real" covered the same topic by Colton Burpo.  I love to read these kinds of books. Like everyone else, I would like to get a glimpse of heaven from someone who has really been there.

There is, however, another book by a local gentlemen called "Twenty-three Minutes in Hell" that has been out for quite a few years. The author was a Christian whom Jesus took to hell for 23 minute so he could come back and warn people.  By contrast, this author has never been on the NY Times best seller list. Do you think he has been invited on Good Morning America, the Today Show or The View like these other authors? Nope. Gee...I wonder why...? (Sarcasm on) I read this book. It was not a pleasant read. It was extremely disturbing and frightening.  No one (including me) likes to think about hell being a real place and yet Jesus spoke about it a lot in very graphic terms. Most people (even church goers) deny the existence of hell. Why?

When was the last time you heard about hell in church? When is the last time you heard a pastor preach about repentance? If there is no hell then why did Jesus die? What did we have to be saved from if there is no place of eternal punishment? Do you really think God would send his only Son into the world to be tortured and brutally put to death for a myth? It's funny...no one thinks there is a hell until you ask them about Hitler. Hitler is definitely there but apparently he is the only one who deserves to be. Really?

A church we once went to did a great theatrical presentation on people's different concepts on what God was really like. One was that he was policeman just looking to charge you with a crime and throw you into jail. Another was that of a teddy-bear like father who would never condemn anything wrong you did and would always bail you out of trouble no matter how bad you were with no consequences. I forget what the other characterizations were but they were equally as unrealistic. God is not like us. His ways are not our ways; His thoughts are not our thoughts but He has given us both his written word and the Word of God: Jesus and they both testify to the reality of Hell and how to avoid going there.

If churches never talk about hell then they are only preaching half the Gospel. Proverbs declares that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. He is our eternal judge and He had said that we are all destined for hell unless we make a U-turn and accept His free gift of salvation merely by asking Jesus into our heart and trusting in Him yet millions find that offensive and impossible to swallow. I used to be one of them. God doesn't want anyone going to hell but if a person wants nothing to do with God, who is the author of light, peace and love than what is the alternative? The absence of light, love and peace: hell...and it is eternal. Without hope.

I think there is a reason that there are so many people dying and returning to tell us all about how real heaven is. I truly believe that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is around the corner. God has been trying to get our attention with 911 (see the book "The Harbinger" by Jonathan Cahn), the numerous monster earthquakes almost every month, the mysterious death of birds and animals, the financial melt-downs around the globe, the rise of radical Islam, the exponential decay of society.

We will listen to His warnings, humble ourselves, repent and turn from our wicked ways or we will ignore Him at our own peril? Judgment starts at the house of God first. Yes there is a real heaven to look forward to but there is also a very real hell and that is what Jesus died to save us from. It is the commission of the church to preach the whole Gospel and we are doing a really bad job.


  1. Marlayne, I enjoyed your blog post regarding heaven and hell. In my area of the country the fires of hell and eternal damnation have been preached about sometimes to the point of being totally fear provoking, without stressing salvation. In more recent years salvation has become more the "norm" in most sermons in most churches, but there is still a large faction of churches whose pastors do preach about hell and damnation. I think that is more prevalent in different geographical areas in the country.

  2. Nancee - I really appreciate your feedback! I think churches should strike a balance between hell, fire and brimstone and the love of God. Out here in the land of fruits and nuts you never hear about the consequences of rejecting Jesus. Out here it is mainly how God can make your life on earth better. Jesus talked about both. We want people to be drawn by the love of God first but if it takes scaring the "hell" out of people to keep them from going there, I'm all for entreating people in that way too. Our God is a loving God but He is a Holy God and our ultimate judge. I look forward to hearing from you again! Keep the comments coming!

  3. Wonderful interview Kathi. Thank you for sharing with your CWFI friends.