People must take control of their destiny as they determine where they will spend eternity, Pastor Greg Laurie writes.
Laurie, who leads Harvest Christian Fellowship in Orange County, California, wrote in a blog post this week that people have the ability to choose whether they will spend eternity in heaven or hell, and they need to start acting on this choice now, instead of waiting until it is too late.
The megachurch pastor compares the story of Lazarus, who was raised to heaven, to the story of a man "possessed by his possessions" who spent his eternity in hell, referencing Luke 16.
"The impossibility of crossing from one side to another, from a place of comfort 'to Abraham's side' (verse 22 NIV), where Lazarus was, to the place of torment, where this other man was, suggests that a person's eternal destiny is settled here and now and not in some future world. Some people think they'll work it out later. But they had better work it out now," Laurie warns. "The fact of the matter is that you determine now where you will spend eternity. There are no changes later."
Laurie adds that the "last thing God wants is to see you to that place called hell" because He loves you.
"That is why he took drastic measures by sending his own son to die on the cross in your place. He offers you pardon and forgiveness if you will turn from your sin and turn to him by faith," Laurie writes.
The pastor has warned about the reality of hell before, writing in May 2015 that while people enjoy picturing God in heaven, they have a harder time thinking of God as sending people to hell.
"People are selective in their belief about God and the afterlife. For instance, they like the idea that God is loving, but they do not like the idea of a God who would send people to Hell. They don't know how to reconcile this apparent contradiction," Laurie writes.
Although God is loving, people should have no doubt that hell really exists.
"Some might think Jesus would never have discussed such a thing as Hell. He is, after all, the personification of love and compassion. But it's because He loves us that He spoke about and warned of it often," Laurie writes. "The same Jesus who tells us of Heaven with all its glories also tells of Hell with all its horrors. He would never have said these things if they were not true. Most of the biblical teaching on the subject of Hell comes from Christ Himself."
Ultimately, everyone should be made aware of the dangerous reality of hell, Laurie continues, and they must also know that the only way to truly avoid hell is to form a strong relationship with Christ and follow His teaching.
The reality of hell "is why we want to do everything we can to warn our friends and loved ones about it," the pastor writes. "We need to tell them that God loves them and wants them in Heaven. And is only possible by putting your faith in Jesus Christ."