Hell Fire and Damnation

[This is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to any real person is purely unintentional.]

After 10 days, or perhaps it was a hundred, the angel returned. This time he looked like a pillar of darkness, as dark now as he had been bright before. How did I know it was the same angel? I just knew.

“Where am I?” I asked again.

“You are where you belong.”

“This can’t be heaven.”

“Why not?”

“Well, there are no harps, no streets of gold, no sign of friends and loved ones, and I haven’t seen Jesus.”

“Do you want to see Jesus?”

Suddenly, I wasn’t sure. But that was impossible. All my life, I had talked about seeing Jesus. It was the most important thing to do when I got to heaven. I had preached it to congregation after congregation.

“Everyone ends up where they belong,” intoned the angel again, looking helpful.

“But I belong in heaven. I accepted Jesus as my personal savior. I depended totally on his grace. I should be in heaven.”

“Well, perhaps you are.”

“But this isn’t heaven. There is no joy here!”

“Are you sure you’d like JOY?” The uppercase “JOY” was clear in the angel’s voice.

“Yes. I did everything right. I’m supposed to be in heaven. I’m supposed to be filled with joy.”

“But you’re not.”

“No, I’m not. So I must not be in heaven. But there’s no fire, no demons, no damned souls in agony, so this can’t be hell.”

“I could be a demon if you want.” The angel grew horns, turned red, and his fingers became spiked tentacles.

“No! Nothing like that.”

The angel slipped back into his previous form. “As I said, you end up where you belong.”

“So what did I do to make me belong here?”

“Are you afraid?”

“No. A little bit. YES! I’m afraid I’ve gone to the wrong place.”

“That can’t happen.”

“I think it has. This isn’t heaven. There’s no purgatory. It can’t be hell, because it isn’t what the Bible describes as hell. There’s something wrong.”

“Have you ever considered that you might be wrong?”

“I didn’t rely on my own opinions, only the written Word of God, absolutely true.”

“Ah, so you’re certain.” The angel said this with some satisfaction.

“Absolutely. My faith is rock solid.”

“And your knowledge too.”

“What does knowledge have to do with it? I had God’s word.”

“So you couldn’t possibly be wrong.”

“No. I couldn’t be wrong. Never!”

“Yet here you are.”

“God wouldn’t do this to me. God loves me. I’m his servant.”

“God doesn’t love you.”

“Yes he does! His word says he “so loved the world.”

“OK. Does he love his Hindu children?”

“Yes.”

“But he’ll torture them eternally.”

“Yes, but only because they worship false gods and don’t accept Jesus.”

“So they belong in hell.”

“Yes.”

“What about his Jewish children?”

“They don’t accept Jesus either.”

“So he’s going to torture them forever too.”

“Yes, of course. You’re sounding like a demon.”

“I’m just saying what you believe.”

“Well, I wouldn’t put it like that.”

“I would. What about his Catholic children?”

“Well, they worship false gods and believe in salvation by works.”

“So they burn forever too, right?”

“Of course! It’s very clear in God’s Word. You’re an angel. You should know this.”

“We’re talking about what you believe.”

“Well then, Catholics will burn in hell unless they accept Jesus as their personal savior and stop relying on their works.”

“Unlike you, who is absolutely right on everything, and therefore must be in heaven.”

“Of course.”

“Yet you aren’t there.”

“Yes. Something is wrong.”

“Well, what about God’s Methodist children?”

“They baptize babies, and believe in salvation by works. Unless they accept Jesus as their savior and rely solely on his grace, they will all burn in hell too.”

“Well, what about the members of First Baptist Church? What happens to them?”

“They compromised with the world and became like everyone else. I really don’t think anyone from there is going to heaven.”

“And you let them know that, right?”

“Well, yes. You have to warn the sinner, and they were definitely sinners.”

“So what about Brother Fred. Will Brother Fred go to heaven.”

I considered this for a moment. “Well, no. Brother Fred denied the Lord Jesus to me right in committee when he questioned the church books. I was the one chosen by God to lead and he questioned me and challenged me. I don’t think his confession of Jesus was true and firm, either.”

“And what about Sister Sue?”

“The way she flashed her body around for all to see? Those clothes she wore wouldn’t cover a woman half her size properly! I swear one day she was sitting on the front pew and wasn’t wearing any underwear!”

“And of course it was proper for you to look closely to make sure of that, right? You wouldn’t want to lie, would you?”

“It was proper for me to know. I rebuked her in the name of the Lord!”

“So just who do you know that you are certain is going to heaven?”

“Well, to be honest—and I know I must be honest—I’m not really certain of anyone. I know my own heart, and it’s right with God. I’m depending totally on his grace, so I must be going to heaven.”

“Yet here you are.”

“You keep saying that! Why do you keep saying that?”

“Do you believe that God makes mistakes?”

“No. God is perfect.”

“So God must have put you where you are, right?”

“Well, maybe he permitted it.”

“But in either case, it’s God, right?”

“Well, yes.”

“And you knew you were going to die, right?”

“Yes.”

“So you must be receiving your eternal reward.”

It was airtight. I knew it. Somehow I wasn’t where I expected to be. I had been so sure. I couldn’t be wrong. Yet I am wrong! It’s impossible! “Save me,” I scream, and then just keep on screaming.

“Everyone ends up where they belong,” muttered the angel. “Enjoy your heaven, or hell, or whatever it is.”

. . .

After 10 days, or perhaps it was a hundred, the angel returned.