Al: If you were to die suddenly would you end up in heaven or hell? Bev: Well, presuming they exist(1) and presuming they are the ONLY destinations that exist (2), I would HOPE I would go to heaven. I'm not a bad person.

Al: Bear with me and let's presume the choices ARE heaven and hell, period. OK. Now good and bad can be pretty slippery terms. May I doublecheck your goodness based on the 10 commandments? OK. How many lies have you told in your lifetime? Lots

Have you ever stolen anything, even something small? Yeah. Have you ever used God's or Christ's name in an irreverent way -- that is have you sworn or blasphemed? Some, not a lot Ever looked with lust on a person... you know what I mean? Yes, I've done that. I'm only human.

Just for your information, the Bible says that lusting is like committing adultery in your heart. (3) We aren't doing so well, are we ? Do you know what? Nobody does well by GOD'S standards (4). Well, I've never murdered anyone! Me neither, but Jesus said hatred is like murder to Him (5)

Well, I may have done some lesser stuff without any major harmful intentions...but I don't see that I am bad enough to deserve hell. The problem is that we don't look at sin the same way GOD does. His requirements are to be more righteous than the religious leaders (Pharisees and Scribes) of His day, and they fasted twice a week and gave money (a tenth, or tithe) even off of their herb gardens. (6) I don't fit that picture... but isn't God forgiving?

Some people qualify for forgiveness. Do you think you do? Don't we just have to ask? Yes, but my question had to do with a sudden death. Have you already asked for forgiveness for all the things we have just talked about here? No, I guess I haven't really. I'm sure you must realize there are far more sins that we have talked about. I have a question for you. If you have a number of charges against you in a U.S. court and are standing before the judge and ask Him to forgive you, saying you are sorry and won't do it again....can he justly or fairly let you off the hook, with no penalty being paid? I guess not.

Well, God's requirements get even more strict. First we see that Christ's SUMMARY command is to love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, ALL your mind, ALL your soul and ALL your strength, and your neighbor as yourself, which can be measured by whether you are obeying His commands (7), and THEN to make it worse, James 2:10 says that if you fail on any one point of the rules, you are going to be judged to be as guilty as if you had broken them all. But that's an impossibly strict standard!

AGREED! But it isn't hopeless. Before I explain more though, I need to ask you.... based on this discussion so far, you have admitted you are a liar, thief, blasphemer and an adulterer at heart, who does not show God love by obeying His commands. Do you think that if you died suddenly (Bible destinations being real) that you would end up in heaven or hell? I am still fighting this within...but I guess if those verses are true... I'd end up in hell.

OK... Does it seem unjust somehow? Well, then let's pretend you are a brilliant scientist who creates robots to work in your hospital, but you manage to endow them with feelings and a will to choose. They serve in the hospital for a time, cleaning, preparing food, measuring medications, and delivering them, but then decide they don't want to do that any more, and do whatever they wish, causing more harm than good in the hospital, endangering and hurting the patients in the process. How would you deal with those robots? Hmmm...I'd be soooo MAD! I'm beginning to get the picture. It is partly about his ownership of us, isn't it?

Yes. Now let's go back to the court scene. You have a long list of offenses against you and in penalty terms, you deserve both death and to pay a lot of restitution fines. Let's say someone came along and offered to pay your fines, and take the death penalty for you, in your place.... and let's say the judge allowed it and therefore offered you a pardon. Would you take it? OF COURSE! I think I see where you are headed. You are talking about Christ, right?

Yes. God has allowed, in HIS system of justice, for Christ to pay your full fine by HIS death in your place, and on THAT basis God can still be JUST in offering you a pardon.(8) I never quite saw it in these terms. It seems too good to be true. This is what the Bible says... "Christ died for our sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God".(9) But it can't be that simple... if I get a pardon and then go on sinning.... I'll just be guilty again, won't I?

Good question! The type of forgiveness we are talking about with this pardon is a PERMANENT legal standing forgiveness! (10) We know that it is not temporary because the Bible says we can KNOW that we HAVE eternal life (which includes being forever with God in heaven), (11) When we sin, we only need to admit it to God (12) and it will always be forgiven. Think about this: When Christ died, all your sins of your whole lifetime that He paid for were still IN THE FUTURE. So the one sacrifice covered every one of them, past, present and future. (13)

But the rest of the story is that when we come to God with a repentant heart(14), no longer WANTING to offend Him by breaking all the rules, and we put our trust in Him, He puts His Holy Spirit in us as a guarantee that we are His forever (a bit like an engagement ring's promise)(15) and that Spirit in us will change our desires so that we want to at least TRY to follow God. He changes us from the inside out. We may never be perfect, but our GOAL will be to follow God. (16) Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand." (17) It is a secure picture. That is what our loving God wants for us.

You have given me much to think about. Maybe I will take that step....but, to be honest with you, I am not unhappy with my life as it is at present, and perhaps the fear of the unknown involved in following God makes me hesitant to jump into it.

It is a choice of the WILL, and cannot be forced. God knows our hearts. Sinlessness isn't the requirement, surrender to Jesus is. But I would plead with you to think about this: No one knows for sure what tomorrow holds for them. Furthermore, I believe the return of Christ, followed by a terrible time of trouble on the earth, is quite near (18) If you wait too long, you may not have the chance to take that step (19). You may truly regret your hesitating!! (Visit, "Signs: Christ is Coming Soon") Jesus said, "What shall it profit if a man gains the whole world and loses his own soul?. (20)

OK, if I WERE to choose this forgiveness, exactly how would I do it?

It is offered as a gift (21) to those who BELIEVE in Jesus Christ. We are to believe that He was God in human form, and that His death and resurrection did happen and were for the forgiveness of "MY" sins. This faith brings to a person eternal life, and the person becomes a child of God.(22) Mattew 3:2 tells us to REPENT, which means a turn-around in your mind and heart (a willingness to start following God).

These invisible steps constitute a heart-transaction with God. A simple prayer can solidify it, such as this one: "Dear God, I realize I have sinned and angered you in my actions and deserve punishment. You said you would save me by your death and forgive me. I ask you to do that today. You said that if I turn to you, you will receive me and save me, and I thank you for that Help me follow you with my life.(23) Amen

If you, as a reader of this dialogue, DO decide to make this important decision, please let us know so that we may rejoice with you! We want nothing from you... but are available to help in your new walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.

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1. There is a huge volume of near-death experience evidence that parallels Biblical descriptions of heaven and hell.

2. For info on 3 Heavens, Purgatory & Annihilation, see Afterlife Options  

3 Matt. 5:28 13. Heb. 10:12,17-18

4. Rom. 3:10,23 14. II Peter 3:9

5. Matt. 5:22, I John 2:9-11 15. Eph. 1:13-14

6. Matt. 5:20 16. Phil. 2:13

7. John 14:15 17. John 10:28

8. Rom. 3:26, Eph. 4:32 18. Matt. 24:21

9. I Peter 3:18 19. II Thess. 2:8-12

10 Heb. 10:14, Rom. 8:1-2 20. Mark 8:36

11. I John 5:13 21. Rom. 6:23, Eph. 2:8-9

12. I John 1:9 22. John 1:12; 5:24

23. John 6:37, Acts 2:21