Jesus’ Teaching on Heaven and Hell
Jesus had more to say about Heaven and Hell than anyone else in the Bible. Not only do we have the accounts in the Gospels of Jesus’ teachings but He also revealed The Revelation to the Apostle John. We must keep in mind that Jesus was teaching to a group with a Messianic mindset – a kingdom on earth ruled by the promised Messiah, the son of David. Now, let us look at Jesus’ revelation of what the afterlife is like as He tells us about living in heaven.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt 7:13-14). Today, most people, if they believe in an afterlife, believe that they will go to heaven because they have lived a good life. However, Jesus said just the opposite.
The Pharisees lived a good life and kept every letter of the Law. Jesus said: “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20). Jesus told the Pharisee, Nicodemus, that he must be born again. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3b). Our sins and self righteousness must be washed away by the blood of Jesus before we can enter heaven. “All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6b).
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). The pure in heart are new creatures as Paul called them – old things are passed away and all things become new (2 Cor. 5:17). They have been washed in the blood of Jesus and their righteousness in the sight of God is the imputed righteousness of Christ. They, and only them, will see God in heaven.
“If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire” (Matt. 18:8-9). Jesus is saying that it is our sins that will send us to hell. They must be forgiven by God through the blood of Jesus. We should also note that Jesus is confirming that there is a literal hell.
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:12). The day will come when God will separate the righteous from the unrighteous. One group will go to heaven and the other group to hell. “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32-33).
“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:20). How do we lay up treasures in heaven? By letting Jesus be Lord and Master of our lives. This includes our money, time, abilities and heart. Our lives should be focused on Him and heaven. The Apostle Paul said that our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). Jesus said, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (Matt. 5:12). Also, treasures probably refer to our various jobs in heaven. We will all, most assuredly, have jobs in heaven. How would you like to have the job of welcoming newcomers and showing them around heaven and even perhaps later the new heavens (Isa. 65:17)?
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3). This is a passage of great hope which is read at many funerals. We have all speculated about the houses in heaven. Later in this article, I will share some of the visions of these mansions that some people claim to have had. Also, have you ever thought about the landscaping?. I think when we first view heaven that there will be a great big “wow”.
“Then some of the Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, saying: ‘Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife, and he dies without children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. And the first took a wife, and died without children. And the second took her as wife, and he died childless. Then the third took her, and in like manner the seven also; and they left no children, and died. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife does she become? For all seven had her as wife” (Luke 20:27-33).
“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Luke 20:34-35). These verses have disturbed many people. Does it mean that spouses on earth have no relationship in heaven? We need to look at this in the context in which it is given – the brothers were marrying in order to produce an heir. Jesus is saying that, in heaven, there is no marital relationship between husband and wife as we know it today. He is not saying that there will be no relationship in heaven. However, it will be a different kind of relationship. Spouses may even share the same mansion in heaven. Whatever the relationships, they will be happy and fulfilling . We should also keep in mind that in heaven the church is the bride of Christ.
“Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). Notice the word presence. Who would be in the presence of angels in heaven? This would include the saints who have already gone to heaven plus this verse also implies that we will have at least some knowledge of what is happening on earth.
“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 18:10). This verse implies that little children have guardian angels. It may very well be that all believers have guardian angels. We are confident that we are being ministered to by angels periodically. The writer of Hebrews had this to say: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14). These may be the same angels who escort us to heaven. We will go into detail more about angels later in this study.
Jesus also speaks about the bodily resurrection which is to come sometime in the future. “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29). At the rapture of the Church (the bride of Christ), the saved will receive resurrected bodies which will be like Jesus’ resurrected body. We will need resurrected bodies in the Messianic Kingdom which will come to this earth. These bodies can be seen by both spiritual and human bodies because we will jointly reign with him (2 Tim. 2:12, Rev. 5:10).
Jesus speaks of the Messianic Kingdom which is to come. “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 8:11, NIV). It will be exciting to meet and fellowship with people from past generations including our ancestors. There will be a great family reunion.! Also, notice that we will eat and drink.
Jesus also said these words to the disciples. “And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:29-30). Who is the twelfth disciple considering Judas betrayed him? Could it be the Apostle Paul? Again, Jesus says that we will eat and drink.
Lastly, let us look at the words of Jesus in the book of Revelation. “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8). Sadly, those who reject Jesus will be eternally separated from Him and put in an eternal lake of fire.