Its five minutes till midnight are you ready for Doomsday?
By midnight I mean the time on a fascinating timepiece called The Doomsday Clock. Basically, a bunch of extraordinarily intelligent people got together in 1947 and set up this clock to symbolically show how close the human race is to blowing ourselves into nuclear oblivion. 60 years ago it was set at 11:53 p.m., and since then has moved back and forth 17 times but just this past week they set it to 11:55 p.m. Im not sure if thats central or eastern time, but when youre talking about the apocalypse, we could probably be an hour or so off and it would be OK.
Why so close to the edge of destruction? Well, in their estimation, when certifiably insane people have control over really big bombs and (according to some) there are climate changes approaching that make Hurricane Katrina look minor, its time to nudge that second hand closer to the end of all things.
Dont worry though; its just a symbolic clock. Like if a janitor dusting it off accidentally pushed it to 12:00 a.m., the world wouldnt suddenly come to an end *whew*
What is not symbolic, though, is a time when this existence as we know it will radically change. Heres the way Gods word describes it:
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. (2 Peter 3:10)
If that doesnt sound like Doomsday, Im not sure what does. So in my mind, knowing that there is a real midnight coming, have you made up your mind on the whole heaven and hell thing? Probably a good time to start thinking through this issue, because just like Doomsday, ignoring it wont make it go away. So let me throw a couple truths your way, so you can be sure you and your friends are ready when the clock strikes midnight!
Truth #1: We die, were judged
Each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27)
According to this verse, people die one time, and then its time for judgment. No reincarnation, no second chances, do not pass go, do not collect $200. So if youre thinking about putting off what you decide about heaven and hell until after you leave this earth, I wouldnt recommend it.
Truth #2: Were judged, we go.
Go where? Well according to the Bible, we go one of two places:
And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before Gods throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15 emphasis mine)
Thats it. Lake of fire, or stay in the presence of God (i.e. heaven). This scene is not a dream, its actually a vision John had of an event that will take place in the future. So how do you get your name in the Book of Life? Jesus plainly tells us in John 3:16-18.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
Those that believe (trust) in Christ go to heaven, those who dont go to hell. No lines, no wait.
No Wait a minute Lane. This whole heaven-hell-fire-brimstone-judgment thing is just a scare tactic made up by crazy as a squirrel power hungry Christians.
And I wish that were so. Do you think I somehow enjoy the thought of a place called hell? Wouldnt it be great if the afterlife operated like a Disney movie meets Starbucks, where everyone goes to heaven including all dogs and we get to order just the kind of heaven we want?
But my wishing doesnt change the facts anymore than people who disagree with heaven and hell just because they dont like the idea. This is called argument by outrage I disagree with ____________, therefore it must not be true.
The Person who knew heaven and hell to be true was Jesus. Sure, He preached love and forgiveness, but He also mentioned (quite often) heaven and hell as very real places that are the final destination for all humanity. What gives Jesus credibility? The fact that His views on heaven and hell come from seeing them firsthand. If you personally witnessed the horrors of hell and the joys of heaven, wouldnt you make it your mission to let people know? Exactly, which is why He did.
And thats exactly why you and I better check the time on the Doomsday clock to make sure were ready because midnight will be here before you know it!
Lane Palmer is the Youth Ministries Specialist for Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., where he works with to provide resources for youth leaders and students. Dare 2 Share exists to energize and equip teens to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries or the GameDay youth conference tour, please visit www.dare2share.org. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.