Heaven or Hell, by Choice

This tract was written by my grandfather, Laurance W. Long.

Laurance W. LongDear You:

Yes, dear you. You are dear to God. God loves man despite the fact that he is sinful and deserves to be punished. This can be understood as we realize that parents love their children even though they often do things that are wrong.

And God wants the best for errant man, even as parents want the best for their errant children.

When God created man, He gave him not only a body but an eternal soul and spirit, in His own image and likeness. With his body, man could easily relate to the earth. And by his spirit, he could have fellowship with God. He could have fellowship with God only by his spirit because God is a spirit and “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto Him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Cor. 2:14). So man is both physical and spiritual, material and immaterial.

When God created man, He made him perfect. The Bible says, “God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).

In making man like unto Himself, God gave him a will, with the ability to think and reason and make choices. And with the ability to make choices, man could choose either right or wrong. God wanted man to live Him, but He wanted such love to come from a willing heart as a matter of choice, not because he had been programmed to do so like a robot. Thus, man was given a will. God an man then enjoyed fellowship together from willing hearts. They were like-minded and shared common interests: true fellowship and communion, for without like-mindedness there can be no fellowship: friendship, yes, but no fellowship.

Then Came a Problem: Sin and Death

God gave man a test. After putting him in the garden of Eden, God told him, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: fir in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17). And Adam, along with Eve, chose to do the very thing God had told him not to do. Despite knowledge of the truth, Adam chose the wrong instead of the right. Thus man became a sinner.

And just as the animals, birds and fishes reproduce after their own kind, so does man, after his kind.

Neither Adam nor Eve was born. They were created. And they were created without sin. But they soon became sinners by sinning and thus acquired the nature of sin. Then they had children, who were born with that sin nature, after the kind of their parents.

Adam and Eve were the only humans who became sinners by sinning. All others were born that way, with the nature of sin, just like their parents. They were born sinners (just as skunks are born stinkers). Then, of course, they sinned. All do. God says, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10 and Ps. 14:3). “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). And just like Adam, we choose to do wrong even when we know better.

That’s why we have evil in the world today. The world is populated by sinners, all of us. God was good and gave us a will to do as we pleased. And we please to do wrong. Then we have the gall to blame God, or not believe in Him at all, or question His love.

What would you have God do about all the sinful things that people do in the world today? Put the sinners to death? If He did, that would include you, because you are a sinner, like all the rest of us.

However, it so happens that is exactly what God is going to do: put the sinners to death. You will die and so will I, just like Adam. That will stop our sinning. God told Adam, you eat of that tree and you will die. He did both. He ate and he died. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). All are sinners. All die.

Does that sound like God loves us or that He wants the best for errant man? Well, He does. He really does. So far we’ve seen only one side of the picture. And the picture is rather gloomy. But in reality it isn’t quite all that gloomy. There is a ray of hope, real wonderful hope.

The Bible tells us that God is live. It also tells us that God is just. And in the justice of God, sin must be punished. We must reap what we sow. The consequence of sin is death. Therefore we die. Yes, man must die because of sin. And since man is both physical and spiritual, he is subject to both physical and spiritual death. But remember, man has an eternal soul. And though man is subject to both physical and spiritual death, his soul goes on forever. There is no such thing as annihilation of the soul of man.

In keeping with with warning of God, the moment Adam sinned the process of physical death began. And spiritually he died immediately. The spiritual union between God and man was broken, just as though someone had pulled the plug. Adam was now helpless to have fellowship with God. Spiritually he was dead, “dead in trespasses and sin,” the Bible says. Man was now separated from God spiritually.

That’s was death is–separation. When one dies physically, the soul and spirit are separated from the body. When one is dead spiritually, the soul and spirit are separated from God.

Adam, now spiritually dead, was left to his physical senses, earthly, sensual and carnal. His ways were no longer God’s ways: nor could they be. He had forfeited spiritual perception and fellowship. Spiritually, he was blind and dead. And that’s the way people are born, just like Adam was after he had sinned: physically alive, but dying and dead spiritually.

This is the condition of natural man, physically alive, but dying and dead spiritually. And let me tell you, this is dangerous. Man is already dead spiritually. And if that condition is not corrected before he dies physically, his death will be complete and his destiny settled: separation from God forever. The destiny of the conscious eternal soul of man is either with the Lord in heaven or with Satan in the lake of fire, commonly known as hell.

God has made provision for the spiritually lost and sinful condition of man to be corrected. Man need not be separated from God forever: if only he will accept the provision God has made. By the way, God made such provision because He loves us and is merciful. He wants the best for errant man.

The Solution to the Problem: Death and Life

Let me tell you about the provision God had made. The Bible tells us that “Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6). That’s us–you and me. We are ungodly because we are sinners.

God sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to the earth to die on our behalf, to take our place, as a substitute. Our sin had to be punished. The penalty for our sin had to be paid by death. And blood had to be shed if sins were to be forgiven. God had taught throughout the Scriptures that atonement for sin required the shedding of blood so as to sacrifice the life. So Christ made the sacrifice. His blood was shed that our sins might be forgiven and He paid the penalty for us by dying in our stead. Our sin was laid on Him. And though Christ was sinless, He became sin for us and took our punishment. Both before and during the time that the Lord Jesus hung on that cross, He was so punished as to constitute payment in full for our sin. He paid the penalty.

God exercised both justice and love in giving His Son to die on the cross. Justice was fulfilled in that the price for our sin was paid. And God did it because He loved us.

Now, on the basis of Christ’s substitutionary death, complete forgiveness of sin (past, present and future) and eternal life is available, free, as a gift. Salvation is free. It cannot be earned. “By grace are you saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). The moment you accept that gift, your spirit is “quickened” (made alive), by the Holy Spirit of God. Spiritual union with God is established. The plug is plugged in. You are joined to Him. And your are spiritually alive. Fellowship with God is now possible. You have been “born again,” born once physically and born again spiritually (John 1:12,13 and 3:3-6). Spiritual death has been banished forever.

You still have a mortal body that will die. But now that you have eternal life, your body will be resurrected from the grave and changed to a new body that will be immortal and incorruptible, never to die again. And when that resurrection takes place, there will be no more separation. Your body, soul and spirit will be intact, alive, and from that point on you will be forever with the Lord: Heaven at last and eternal life. All death will have been banished forever (I Thess. 4:16-18 and I Cor. 15:51).

Is that what you want? It’s yours for the believing and receiving. Salvation is a gift to be accepted or rejected. Accept it and receive eternal life. Reject it and receive eternal death (referred to in the Scriptures as the “second death”), separation from God forever in hell, the “lake of fire.”

God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world: but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16-18).

As many as received Him (Jesus Christ), to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor or the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13).

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him (John 3:36).

Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14-15).

In a sense, one little Scripture verse says it all. “The wages of sin is death: but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

Are you willing to allow the death of Christ to avail for you, as a gift, as a debt already paid? Or will you by default have to pay the price yourself, and be separated from God forever in the lake of fire?

All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever (John 2:16-17).

Destiny by Choice

It’s heaven or hell. Which will you have? Will you accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your substitute, as your Saviour from hell and eternal punishment? Right now, right where you are? I urge you to do so. If you will, let me suggest that you tell it to God. Use your own words, or mine, as follows:

Dear God:

I know I am a sinner. And I understand that the penalty for sin is death, eternal separation from God. But I believe the Lord Jesus Christ died for me, in my place, as my substitute, and thereby made provision for the forgiveness of my sin and for my salvation, body, soul and spirit. I desire to turn from sin and follow the Lord. Accordingly, I accept the Lord Jesus as my Savior and trust in His substitutionary death for eternal salvation. Thank you for eternal life. Amen.

This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life: and he that hath not the son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life (I John 5:11-13).

Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).

See you in heaven!

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