“All else is weak disguisings of the wishful heart, All that seemed earth is Hell, or Heaven. God is: thou art: The rest, illusion…” ~ C.S. Lewis, The Pilgrims Regress
The idea of heaven and hell being in set locations is a common dogma in Christianity. Peppered throughout scripture, there are references to hell’s physical aspect in time and space. Therefore it can not be dismissed as metaphorical, but there is more to it.
We might be tempted to think of heaven and hell as unmovable entities, but you ought not. They’re alive, one teeming with life, the other death. They’re advancing, retreating, and fighting for the soil under our feet and the souls of men.
We’re informed of the idea of advancing eternal states onto human existence in the Lord’s prayer.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
In the opening line, “Your kingdom come,” we see an advancing fluid eternal state. One which is coming, advancing, and renewing the earth. Yet, what is the kingdom of God pushing against? The ruler of this age, Satan and his dominion.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Eph 6:12
In further observation of these eternal entities; what makes them advance or retreat? Perhaps, it has to do with the souls of men. There are believers who in the weakness of their flesh choose to advance the fury of Hell. Likewise, there can be unbelievers advancing the glories of Heaven. However, only the Holy Spirit inside a believer has authority to topple down the mightiest strongholds of darkness.
We tend to think the most horrific idea of hell is unquenched pain and agony in the physical sense. However, that is a mere flesh wound of the real suffering, which be the creation is void of the Creator. Look out the window, look at the trees, the rain, snow, sun; creation. All these things have the likeness of God. Even if you choose to deny belief in a deity, you’re still surrounded, engulfed, consumed by the Creator’s presence. One cannot escape God, He just is.
The act of God removing his presence from a created being is pure anguish. We cannot comprehend this concept this side of eternity. In hell, there is no hope; there is no love, there is no creation. It is a black hole in which Man was never meant to dwell.
Nonetheless, we in our foolishness can advance this horrific reality.
We all do it. Either it be the gossip we spread; the lust we give into; the greed in which we hoard; the fear which controls us. When we do what we ought not, we advance a darkness we can’t control. We all choose to walk away from the eternal glories promised to us.
In Romans chapter one we find that for someone to be under the wrath of God, they must willingly continue to reject Him. It would be like a homeless person who continually pushes away an offer of a home. Eventually, the giver will let the homeless person go his own way. Likewise, hell is for those who choose it, no one is forced, all enter by their own power.
A soul which is hell bound is much like two parties who’ve been in an argument. The party in the wrong must humble themselves to admit their error. Unfortunately, with most cases the party in error stays in its folly. They are unwilling to accept their wrong and reconcile. In the same way anyone who does not come to God in submission will only wander into the darkness of their own hearts, believing the lie they claim as truth.
Yet, there is hope.
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2
All those who place their faith in Christ are the first fruits in his new Kingdom. Hope eternal is stored in our weak bodies. Oceans of grace, compassion, and love swell in our soul awaiting the floodgates to open. As we walk, streams of water flow over the dry crust of the earth, Psalm 84:6.
The bells of Hell shall be drowned out by the chorus of saints. This is not a time of peace, but one of war; rest will come, but now is not the time for rest. The saints are the light bearers of the new Kingdom; we are the “kingdom come.” The beauties of the eternal restored through the hands of weak mortals.
Those who place their lives in the blood of the Lamb, usher in hope.
No longer should an elder saint say, “I can’t wait to leave this dark world.” Do you not know this world is your eternal home? It is our command to restore this earth in which the eternal Jerusalem shall be established.
Heaven and hell are eternal destinations, but they are not set entities. Hell lurks in our lives, though we may not be aware. A Poem by Death, highlights many examples the darkness which lurks.
Hell resides in the father who abuses his children every night. Yet, heaven lives in the foster parent who rescues and restores the broken children.
Hell lurks in the dark streets in which prostitutes linger. Yet, light eternal shines through, when a women’s ministry opens a recovery home.
Hell’s purpose is to house the darkness which exists from the rejection of God. This darkness resides in everyone. But, Christ offers to exchange that darkness for his light.
‘God in His mercy made
The fixèd pains of Hell.
That misery might be stayed,
God in His mercy made
Eternal bounds and bade
Its waves no further swell.
God in his mercy made
The fixèd pains of Hell.’
C.S. Lewis, The Pilgrims Regress