Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
When I had the vision of Jesus on January 7, 2017, it was like a veil was lifted. I could finally know the real Jesus! And then reading and studying the entire Bible helped me to know him even more.
Prior to my conversion, I was one of those people who said “all paths lead to God.” I was a “universalist,” which is a term for the belief that all good people go to Heaven. After all, how could a loving God send anyone to hell? That is, if hell even existed (which I had strong doubts about).
People frequently ask me what changed my mind about hell, and it really started with Michael and I watching YouTube videos of people having near death experiences. We watched dozens of videos of people who claimed they went to hell during a near-death experience, and then they were rescued by Jesus. This included people of non-Christian religions, and also atheists and agnostics. They all converted to following Jesus after they were revived, and then they made videos to warn others that hell is real, and that only Jesus saves us from hell.
I also read Jesus’s teachings about hell (he used the terms Gehenna, sheol, outer darkness, and hades). Jesus taught more about hell than anyone else in the Bible, and it’s clear that his motivation is love and caring, rather than trying to frighten us.
The Bible explains that God created hell as a prison for the devil and his fallen angels. Those who follow the devil and demons during their earthly life, will also follow them in their afterlife. Those who choose to be disconnected from God in this life, will remain disconnected to him in their afterlife.
C.S. Lewis wrote:
“There are only two kinds of people: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, “All right, then, have it your way.”
So, hell is about our free will choices to follow the devil or to follow God. That made so much sense to me.
When we study the Book of Romans in the Bible, we see that Jesus was sent to relieve us of the burden of trying to perfectly live by the 613 laws of Moses. When Jesus died on the cross, he exclaimed “It is finished!” to signify that the laws were fulfilled. We were now under a new covenant of following the two most important commands:
- Love God with all of your heart, mind, strength, and soul
- Love your neighbor (all people) as yourself.
At first glance, these two commandments sound easy. No problem! But then when we realize their implications, we realize why we need Jesus in order to obey the commandments.
Loving God with ALL of your heart, mind, strength, and soul means having total and complete trust in him for every part of your life. It means turning only to God for answers. No horoscopes, card readings, predictions, idols, or psychics. It also means praising God for every circumstance, instead of complaining.
Loving your neighbor as yourself, means treating all people as you want to be treated. No judging, gossiping, stealing, lying, cheating, or breaking promises.
Okay, so in all fairness, every person breaks these two commandments. That’s called sinning. And God asks us to bring that sin to him, so that he can forgive you and teach you why you did it, and how to avoid it in the future.
So you can have a silent or aloud conversation with God, admitting to him what you’ve done. You confess directly to God, and God directly forgives you. No priest, saint, angel, or prophet is needed for this direct connection with God that Jesus’s crucifixion gave to us as a free gift.
The joy of unburdening your heart through this process of direct confession to God is so freeing! You take the weight and pressure that you’ve been carrying, and lay them at God’s feet. You apologize sincerely, and ask for his forgiveness. God always forgives those who are sincerely repentant.