Without the Bible, you will believe in neither; you may hope there is a heaven, but you won't know how to get there; you may fear a hell, but you won't know how to avoid it. Likewise when a loved one dies, you will hope they went on into another life, but you won't really know where they went, how they got there, or if death is just the end.
First of all you must believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and believe what is written in the pages is truth from God. If you believe that, you will see your need to become a Christian and hopefully that will be the case. Even before I became a Christian, I believed that the Bible was true and was from God. I may have been a bit brain-washed as a young Roman Catholic, but that led me to study as I got older to see if what was said was so. I am no longer a Roman Catholic, but the early teaching I received gave me the desire to find the truth, of which I am extremely thankful for.
I did not accept Jesus Christ as my Savior until I was 30 years old, but I have never regretted that decision and never doubted that Jesus Christ is who He says He is. I know that when my life ends here, I will go on to my heavenly home. I also know I will not sit on a cloud with a harp, but there will be work of some sort for us to do besides the fact that we will be worshiping God for all He is and for all He has done. I am looking forward to seeing my friends and relatives there; I am also aware that some will not choose salvation and will not be there. This will be heartbreaking even though we know that it was their choice and they are in hell where they chose to be. We will cry and God Himself will wipe our tears away, then we will go on to an eternity of happiness. I am assuming, but not positive, that we will forget that our loved ones who are not there will have ever been part of our lives. This is because I am carnal and can't see how I would be happy if I knew my child was suffering - but whatever happens in that vein, the Lord will work it out.
The ones that chose not to accept Christ as their Savior will face an eternity without him, without their loved ones, and will be punished forever for their sins in a literal hell - a real place of suffering. They will have their memory (see Luke 16, the parable of Lazarus and the rich man); they not only will remember each of the opportunities they had in life to choose Christ, but the reasons they thought were so important to avoid that choice. They will remember their family and know that the ones who did choose the Lord are happy in His presence. They will also know without a doubt that God, the angels, and their loved ones have forgotten that they ever existed; they will be lonely and be tormented forever by that knowledge and if only they had taken a moment to accept Christ as their Savior instead of putting it off, they would have joined their loved ones and be with Christ forever instead of having an eternity of pain and regret.
Read more articles by Margaret Sleasman or search for articles on the same topic or others.