The unbelievers (those who do not believe that there is a God who created heaven and earth and all that is in them, and who rules the universe) do not believe in the existence of heaven and hell. These people believe that death will be the end of everything and all things. In short, they are the so-called atheist.
The canonized Bible tells us that “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). This heaven is defined by God himself by saying:
“6 And God said, Let there be a firmament (the heavens or the sky) in the midst of the waters and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven…” (Gen. 1:6-8 KJV)
In Luke 16:19-31, the LORD Jesus Christ himself related the story of the RICH MAN AND LAZARUS, as follows:
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades (or hell), where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ 25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ 27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:19-31 NIV)
This must be a true picture of Hades (or hell) because it was related by Jesus Christ who said, “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life; no one cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6 KJV). Meaning, any statement made by Jesus Christ is absolutely true. God never tells a lie. It is impossible for God to lie, according to the Bible (Numbers 23:19 and Hebrews 6:18). This story is related by Jesus Christ to let the living know and warn us what happens to us in the next life or world to come if we behave like the rich man, or like Lazarus, poor but a believer of Christ (God in the flesh).
Let us analyze carefully the import or meaning of the aforequoted narrative story of Jesus Christ.
In verse 23, hell really exists and it is a place of TORMENT (KJV) or AGONY (also vs. 24-25, 28 NIV).
When someone dies, he/she is consigned to either heaven or hell. There is no intermediate or other place: it is only heaven or hell. Once there, the soul of the dead one can no longer be transferred from hell to heaven or from heaven to hell. No amount of repeated petition by prayer of the living loved ones will cause the transfer of the soul from hell to heaven (vs. 26, 29-31). This is the very reason why true and genuine theologians do not believe in the existence of an intermediate place called “Purgatory”. Indeed, we can find nothing said in the canonized Bible about purgatory. Consequently, there is reason to believe that there is no such place. It is here now while we are on earth that we can prepare ourselves to qualify to enter the kingdom of God – HEAVEN.
Only the Bible (Word of God [Moses and the Prophets] can convince people about God on the existence of heaven and hell (vs. 31). If someone does not believe the Word of God (the Bible), then no one else can convince that someone, even by someone who rose from the dead (Luke 16:31).
Beginning at Chapter 18 of the book of Revelation, the Bible mentions heaven. This is repeated in Chapter 19:1 and in 20:1. In Rev. 21:1, the Bible says, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth! for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. Then John further described the new heaven and hell as follows:
“2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." 5 He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." 6 He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars - their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." (Rev. 21:2-8 NIV)
Since the Bible tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23) and “For the wages of sin is death…” it seems very difficult if not impossible to enter heaven or the kingdom of God. In fact, Jesus himself said, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matt. 19:23-24 NIV). Imagine the physical impossibility of a camel to go through a “needles eye”!
The lesson is: We must believe the canonized Bible; act on it; repent of our sins; accept by FAITH the LORD JESUS CHRIST as our LORD and ONLY SAVIOR, and be assured of a place in Heaven.
The Bible tells us, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceived ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9 NIV). For the repentant-believer Jesus Christ “died for his sins” (1 Cor. 15:3 and 2 Cor. 5:21 KJV).
Thus, Jesus Christ said, “I am the resurrection and the life: He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die (spiritually)” (John 11:26 NIV). He demonstrated this truth by resurrecting Lazarus, His friend (a believer) even after the latter died and was buried already for four days (John 11:38-44 NIV).
Heaven is as real as hell. The believer’s destiny is Heaven. He will live there with Jesus Christ (God) forever.