Are heaven and hell real? Insights from Jesus to guide you

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Matthew 10:28 [NIV]

Do you ever find yourself pondering the reality of heaven and hell?

Heaven and hell aren’t just abstract concepts. They are real, tangible destinations.

And Jesus’ teachings provide us with seven key insights that affirm this reality.

In the forthcoming sections, we will uncover these insights from Jesus’ teachings. We will understand how His words shed light on the reality of heaven and hell, helping us prepare for our inevitable journey toward one of them.

Heaven and hell through Jesus’ teachings

The question, “Are heaven and hell real?” has been a topic of contemplation throughout the ages.

It is a query that goes beyond intellectual curiosity. It delves into the existential and spiritual dimensions of our human existence.

To find answers, we turn to the teachings of Jesus Christ, as recorded in the Scriptures. His words provide a clear and insightful perspective on the reality of heaven and hell.

Jesus spoke about heaven as a place of eternal joy, peace, and communion with God. It is a place prepared for those who believe in Him and follow His teachings (John 14:2-3).

On the other hand, hell is depicted as a place of eternal separation from God, a place of torment and despair (Matthew 13:49-50).

These descriptions underscore the reality of these places.

Jesus’ descriptions of heaven and hell

The next insight comes from the vivid descriptions Jesus gave of both heaven and hell.

These descriptions aren’t abstract or vague — they’re detailed and tangible, underscoring their reality.

Jesus depicted heaven as a place of immense joy, a place where ‘there will be no more death’ or sorrow or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4).

He spoke of it as a paradise, a place of eternal life in the presence of God.

Contrastingly, His portrayal of hell was starkly different. It was painted as a place of ‘eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’ (Matthew 25:41).

Further, He described it as ‘outer darkness’ where ‘there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Matthew 25:30).

Not surprisingly, these vivid depictions reinforce the reality of both places.

They’re not mere symbols or metaphors but actual places that exist beyond our earthly realm. I believe that this understanding is crucial in grasping the reality of heaven and hell.

The role of faith in determining our eternal destination

What is the pathway to heaven, according to Jesus’ teachings?

Now, let’s focus on the crucial role of faith a bit

Jesus emphasized that belief in Him is the key to eternal life in heaven.

He declared, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

This statement asserts that faith in Jesus is the determining factor for our eternal destination.

The concept of faith leading to heaven, while disbelief leading to hell, is a core theme in Jesus’ teachings.

Look, I know this might seem harsh or exclusive to some, but it’s important to remember one thing:

Jesus also taught about God’s immense love for all humanity and His desire for everyone to choose faith and receive eternal life (John 3:16).

Did you know? The Greek word for “faith” used in the New Testament is “pistis,” which implies trust, confidence, and reliance – not just intellectual assent.

Unraveling afterlife myths

1) The Nature of the Soul

Ancient Jewish beliefs, which Jesus himself inherited, articulate a vision of life and death starkly different from the eternal paradise or torment narrative common today.

They saw the soul not as an immortal essence set to depart to a heavenly or hellish realm upon death but as life itself – breath.

When that breath ceases, so too does existence.

This perspective roots itself in the creation story of Adam, where life began with God’s breath and ended with its cessation, emphasizing a return to dust, to non-existence, without continuation in a spiritual afterlife.

2) “Eternal Fire” misunderstood

Jesus’ reference to “eternal fire” has been a source of much debate and fear.

However, understanding his use of Gehenna—a real valley on Jerusalem’s edge associated with the forsaken and unclean—sheds light on his teachings.

This was not about torturing souls but about total annihilation; those excluded from God’s kingdom face non-existence.

“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

This emphasizes accountability for one’s actions rather than the threat of eternal torment.

3) A Kingdom on Earth

Contrary to popular belief, Jesus’ teachings about the afterlife focused not on ascending souls to heaven but on establishing God’s kingdom on Earth.

This earthly utopia would be for those living by God’s greatest commandments — loving God and your neighbor.

It redefines the traditional heaven-and-hell dichotomy into something more immediate and tangible:

A world transformed by love and justice, rewarding not just the spiritually pure but those committed to love and service.

4) The Final Judgment

Jesus’ concept of final judgment diverges from perpetual suffering towards a more definitive end—annihilation for those who turn away from God’s path.

This notion challenges contemporary views of hell as eternal torment and aligns more closely with ancient Jewish beliefs in Sheol as a state of non-existence.

What’s more, it calls us to live righteously, not out of fear of eternal pain, but to partake in the restoration of Earth as God’s kingdom — a paradise regained for all.

The ongoing existence of heaven and hell

As a Christian, you probably understand that neither heaven nor hell are temporary states or places.

They are eternal.

Jesus made it clear that both heaven and hell are eternal destinations.

In His teachings, He used terms like “eternal life” (John 3:15) and “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46) to emphasize the eternal nature of these realities.

The notion of eternity can be challenging to grasp, given our finite human experience. However, through Jesus’ teachings, we understand that:

  • Heaven is a place of eternal joy and communion with God.
  • Hell is a place of eternal separation and torment.
  • Our decisions on earth have eternal consequences.

This understanding underscores the gravity of our choices and the reality of these eternal destinations. It also emphasizes the urgency of making a faith commitment to Jesus Christ to secure our place in heaven.

The link between heaven, hell, and God’s justice

The final insight is an essential one – the existence of heaven and hell testify to God’s justice. This is a fundamental truth we can’t ignore.

Justice is an intrinsic part of God’s character.

We see this played out in the existence of heaven and hell. Heaven rewards those who have chosen to follow Jesus, while hell is the consequence for those who choose to reject Him.

Understanding this, we can see that heaven and hell aren’t arbitrary constructs.

They are manifestations of God’s promise to reward righteousness and punish wickedness. They affirm that no action—good or bad—goes unnoticed by God.

In a world where it often seems like injustice prevails, the reality of heaven and hell offers hope.

It assures us that in the end, justice will be served. This perspective can give us comfort and motivate us to live righteously.

Where does this leave us?

The insights from Jesus’ teachings make it clear that heaven and hell are real. They’re not just philosophical or theological concepts but actual destinations where we will spend eternity.

This understanding prompts a deeper reflection on our beliefs, choices, and actions. It invokes a sense of urgency and responsibility toward our spiritual life.

It encourages us to take our faith seriously, knowing that our decisions have eternal consequences.

The question now is, how will this understanding shape our lives? Will it influence the choices we make and the way we live our faith?

  • Will it inspire us to delve deeper into Scripture?
  • Will it motivate us to share the gospel with others?

The answers to these questions have profound implications for our spiritual journey. They determine how we live out our faith in this world and where we will spend eternity in the next.

What would Jesus say?

Unsure whether to move on from a failed marriage? Struggling with desire and feeling guilty for it? Wanting to live a life Jesus would be proud of?

Let Jesus tell you how to be a good Christian according to the teachings of the Bible.

We brought Jesus back to life with the help of AI. Ask your toughest life questions, and Jesus will tell you exactly what to do.

Check it out here.

 

Mikkel Andrews

Mikkel Andrews

I'm Mikkel Andrews a theology professor currently based in Philippines. I've been walking with Christ ever since I can remember. My life's work is about understanding His teachings and sharing that knowledge. You'll often find me involved in community outreach or curled up with a book on theology, always looking to deepen my faith. When I'm not volunteering or diving into the latest theological texts, I'm writing for Bible Scripture to make spirituality relatable.

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