(By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
So you are not sure whether or not you believe that heaven and hell are real places. OK. Try this. Do you believe that America and North Korea are real places? Start with what you can see. God will help you to believe in what you cannot see.
Americans are blessed with extreme freedom. North Koreans live under extreme control. The two nations could hardly be more different from one another.
If you want to get a small glimpse of the immeasurable difference between heaven and hell, just compare America to North Korea. One nation was founded largely upon the Bible and Christian principles. America is a free land, and we owe our freedom to Jesus Christ. The other nation is held captive to satanic control, and it has produced hell on earth for those who dwell there. North Korea is a prime example of what can happen when Satan saturates the souls of leaders in a nation.
Camp 14 in North Korea is believed to hold 150,000 people doing hard labor while barely existing on the brink of starvation. It is a modern-day concentration camp. If you dare to question the North Korean government, you can be sent to that camp for the rest of your life. It is like hell on earth for those who dwell there.
Shin Dong-hyuk was born in that camp, and he escaped in 2005 at the age of 23. Shin was brainwashed to believe that life was only about obeying the prison rules. He actually witnessed his mother and his brother being killed right in front of him. Shin was so empty of any love that he admits he felt no sadness watching his mother and brother die. He felt they were getting what they deserved. After all, they had broken the prison rules.
Shin stated in recent years that he was actually the one to turn in his mother and brother to the authorities. At the time, he felt it might get him some preferential treatment. That is a picture of what Satan gives a person. No empathy. No love. No compassion. Shin, like the rest of his family, was a victim of cruel leaders and a spiritual adversary who has worked hard to turn North Korea into a living hell, and people into zombie-like robots.
There is another hell, which is also "living." It is a place of eternal existence. And there is a real heaven, and its residents will never leave that place. America is not paradise to be sure, but it is a far cry from North Korea. The Gospel of Jesus Christ produces freedom in hearts and in nations. Satan produces hatred, control, and the killing of innocent people.
If you are someone who doubts the existence of heaven and hell, just compare America to North Korea. Who would have guessed that a world which God created could end up with such opposite experiences? One is free, and one is under cruel control. One allows people to live in happiness, and the other forces people to live in constant fear. One is an earthly portrait of heaven in a way, while the other is an earthly portrait of hell. The actual heaven and hell are just as real, and far more extreme in terms of the joy and the pain which people experience in those eternal destinations.
How do we know that America and North Korea exist? We see them and can touch them. How do we know that heaven and hell exist? Because God's Word says so. He is the One who created this world, and He is the One who welcomes some into heaven and sends others to hell. It's all laid out in the Bible.
When America was founded, it was like heaven opened up and a bunch of goodness, righteousness and justice came down from above and landed on this new nation. While far from perfect over these many years, America has nevertheless remained free. North Korea, on the other hand, seems to have been swallowed up by a crater in the earth and the lava of hell's fury has been unleashed on the people there. America and North Korea illustrate eternal differences between what God brings and what Satan brings to people and to nations.
Imagine what could happen in America or in North Korea if the people were to cry out to the God of heaven. Imagine leaders in these nations calling on the people to repent of their sin and call on Jesus Christ for help. Just imagine it. Heaven would open up again, and the goodness of heaven would be poured out upon the people. It's such a simple formula, and yet the hardness of man's heart fills him with a hundred other things he would rather do than pray to the God of heaven.
You and I are in essence living between time and eternity. There are opportunities right now for Christians to pray. As we do, God makes it known that He is still in the miracle-working business. He still responds to His people who cry out to Him in truth. "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14) Seriously, what other hope do we have in America? And what other hope do they have in North Korea?
Only God can redeem us from this fallen world, and only God can carry us into His eternal kingdom.
Shin escaped from Camp 14 and from North Korea. No one will escape from hell. At the same time, no one will ever want to leave heaven. Just because you have never been to North Korea does not mean it doesn't exist. The same thing is true about heaven and hell. If you can trust a YouTube video showing North Korea, how much more can you trust God's Word as it tells you about heaven and hell?
"We live by faith, not by sight." (2 Cor. 5:7) Jesus gives the free gift of eternal life to anyone who comes to Him in repentance and in faith. Will you bring your sin to Christ today? You definitely don't want to end up in "the North Korea" of the next life, if you know what I mean.
Those in heaven will be free. Those in hell will be bound in a miserable existence. Shin Dong-hyuk has experienced hell on earth. And now he has also experienced freedom. There is no comparison. Are you starting to get the picture of why God sent His only Son to rescue us from sin, death and hell? Jesus came to a planet which contains North Korea and America so that we could one day go to a land that will be 1000 times better than America or any other nation on earth.
It's a fact you would be wise to consider sooner rather than later. Some who are free now will be in chains then, while others who are in chains now will be free then. Which group will you be in when your time on earth is over? Come to Jesus today, and you can be sure that heaven is your eternal home!
By the way, there is a nation right next to North Korea which has experienced the power of prayer in miraculous ways. Millions of South Korean Christians cry out to God everyday for His protection and power. And just look at the amazing freedom they enjoy right across the border from North Korea.
It reminds me of Luke 16. It describes Abraham in heaven and a rich man in hell, and "a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us." (Luke 16:26) Sounds a lot like North Korea and South Korea. But it is describing heaven and hell.
Human beings touch the ground in America and in Korea. We have not yet been to the other side to touch it and experience it. We are still in these bodies. But that day is quickly approaching. The clock is ticking. Are you ready? Or is your soul unprepared for that inevitable journey?
Start with what you can see. God will help you to believe what you cannot see.