Look at everything around us. Look at the material world. Why are things done the way they are here? Why is it that so many things are set up to have you fail and learn from them? It is because we live in a world of purpose. Things on this world are set up for our growth and development. We are constantly struggling so we can constantly grow. When people die, they die with more growth than when they started here (at least I hope so).
Most people believe in some type of God which I think is good. It doesn't matter what your religion is, but most people who believe in God believe something happens when we die here. Most religions teach that your "spirit" is eternal and once you die you will go to heaven forever. Well let's take that word eternal and see what that means.
A quick look on dictionary.com and we will find that eternal means, "without beginning or end; lasting forever; always existing." This is where I think a lot of people don't grasph the full meaning. The main thing to note here is "without beginning or end". Most people truly mistake the meaning of eternal and think that the beginning of it is here on this world. If that were the case the word eternal would not make sense when it is used in the Bible and other religious scriptures. We are a living spirit that has no beginning or end. We have existed before this body, and we will exist afterwords. Just to make this a bit more clear, here are a few scriptures from the Bible to back this:
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
2 Corinthians 4:17,18
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
There are a lot more examples in the Bible, but these are just a few.
So for something that is eternal (our spirit) why are we in a temporary world? My answer is because we are being tested to help our spirit grow. We are learning and growing each day.
Allow me to clarify myself. Forget about the material world and just think about being an eternal spirit that is existing eternally, that is, outside of time. Now outside of time how would your spirit grow? How would you improve? How would you learn new things? There is no change in eternity... think about it. Time is Change. Outside of time there is no change. This is a pretty interesting concept so really put some thought into it and toy with it. This world really does create change, where eternity does not have change.
So in order for us to grow there has to be some sort of contrast. It can't just all be one way. There has to be change, time! That is why we are here, to grow and move on to the next level. And just what is that next level?
Heaven and Hell
Most religions talk about things like heaven, hell and higher degrees of glory. Most people are probably very familiar with the concept of heaven and hell. I would have to agree with this concept as well, but not in the sense that most people think of it in.
If heaven or hell really is where we go when we finish this test here on earth then why is it that we suddenly stop here for all of eternity? That does not make sense. Why would we want to stop in a place of eternity, with no more change or progression? Our goal is not to complete this life satisfactorily, our goal is to become closer and closer to God. Just as a child grows closer and closer to his father, we grow closer and closer to God. If we are on this earth to grow, it could only make sense that we would be on another higher level earth to grow even more.
I believe our spirit is tested according to how it needs to grow and what it can take on. Just as you need algebra before you can do calculus, you need this life before you can do the next one. Things are done in steps of progression.
Heaven and hell is just a state of being for the most part. Let's look at the definitions again on dictionary.com:
1. the abode of God, the angels, and the spirits of the righteous after death; the place or state of existence of the blessed after the mortal life.
6. a place or state of supreme happiness: She made his life a heaven on earth.
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
There are different degrees of glory. The next test will have many different factors just like this test does.
1. the place or state of punishment of the wicked after death; the abode of evil and condemned spirits; Gehenna or Tartarus.
2. any place or state of torment or misery: They made their father's life a hell on earth.
3. something that causes torment or misery: Having that cut stitched without anesthesia was hell.
I think these definitions are a bit weak, but they still give a bit of an idea about the two, and I really don't think they are the definitions most people think of. The Bible has quite a bit to say on hell as well:
For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.
As you can see here the term "lowest hell" is used, which implies some type of degrees of hell.
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Here hell is being referred to as outer darkness, and a few attributes are described. It talks about "weeping and gnashing of teeth." Well doesn't this type of thing happen here on earth?
2 Peter 2:4
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
1 John 1:5
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
I could go on and on with stuff from the Bible, but I think you can see what I am getting at. Hell is no more than the absence of God, getting further and further away from God. So how many degrees of hell are there? I would say infinite, just as there are infinite degrees of heaven. God does not work restrictively, everything he does is infinite. It is all very simple if you think about it. You either work your way closer to God, or you work your way away from God.
I think this life we are all living in is a test. I also find it possible that we are all eternal beings that keep moving on from test to test, each one giving us more growth and development in becoming closer to God. I think this type of thing can really upset a lot of religions folks, but I don't really think it contradicts a lot of things they believe - it just adds a lot to it.
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
You see, we are striving for perfection!
Filed under:Spiritual, Life, God