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|Articles - Your Destiny|
|Written by Kenneth E. Hagin|
This farmer's ground brought forth much fruit - so much fruit that he didn't have any more space to store all of his goods. This foolish farmer said, "... This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and goods" (Luke 12:18). So he built even greater barns. Then this foolish farmer said to himself, "... Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry" (Luke 12:19).
That's the attitude of many in the world today. Folks are laying up treasures for themselves upon the earth, and in effect they're saying, "Eat, drink, and be merry. Just enjoy the pleasures of life today and don't think about tomorrow." People like that take no thought whatsoever about eternal things. But God said to this farmer, "... Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?" (Luke 12:20).
There is a Heaven to gain and a hell to shun. When I was raised off the bed of sickness, I used to preach in the school yard and on street corners in the marketplace. I would tell people, "Even if I didn't have a Bible, I would know there's such a place as hell." I had been there, you see. And I would tell them the story:
"Why it happened just over at 405 North College Street," I would tell folks. "It was a Saturday night. Just as grandpa's clock struck 7:30, my heart stopped.
"I was lying in bed, bedfast. I had been sick all of my life with a deformed heart and an incurable blood disease. And at 7:30 that night, faster than I can say it, the circulation was cut off in my body, way down at the end of my toes, up to my ankles and my knees, then to my hips and stomach. Then suddenly, I leaped out of my body, like a man would leap off a diving board into a swimming pool.
"As I leaped out of my body I began to descend. It was like going down into a well or a deep cavern. I could look back up through that dark cavern and see the lights on the earth flickering in the distance above me. I was descending feet first - down, down, down - until the lights of the earth completely faded and darkness encompassed me round about.
"It was a darkness so dark, you couldn't see your hand if you held it one inch in front of your face. And the darkness was so dense, it seemed you could cut it with a knife. The further down I went, the darker and hotter it became.
"When I reached the bottom of this cavern of darkness (it took only a few seconds, but it seemed like eternity), I could see fingers of light flickering, as great orange flames of fire crested with white tips played on the wall of blackness.
"At the bottom of the pit was the entrance into hell itself. The pathway that led to hell's gates was a downward incline, and I just sort of floated toward those gates that led to hell, unable to stop my decline. Somehow I knew that once I went through those gates, I could never come back, and I was afraid.
"As I approached the gates of hell, some kind of a creature met me. I kept looking straight ahead, my eyes riveted on hell, so I never looked directly at this creature, but I knew he was there.
"I tried to slow down my descent into those gates, but the creature took me by the arm to escort me in. At that moment, from way above the darkness, a Voice spoke. It was a male Voice, but it was a foreign tongue or language to me. This Voice uttered only a few words, but the entire place - hell itself - shook from top to bottom, like a great earthquake.
"When that Voice spoke, the creature let go of my arm, and I began to float upward, toward the earth and away from hell. It was as if a great suction or magnet drew me upward from my back, and I began to ascend.
"Before I reached the top of the pit, I could see the lights of the earth once again. When I came up from that dark cavern, I was on the front porch at 405 North College Street, just outside the south bedroom. I could see the giant cedar trees there in the yard, and I could see grandpa's porch swing on the porch. Then I seemed to go right through the wall and jump inside my body, like a man would slip his foot inside his boot."
This actually happened three times that night. The third time I began to descend into that darkness, I screamed out in fear, "But God, I belong to the church! I've been baptized in water. I shouldn't be going down!" But there was no answer - only the sound of my own voice as my cry echoed through the darkness.
Friends, it takes more than belonging to a church or being baptized in water to miss hell and go to Heaven. The Bible says, "You must be born again" (John 3:3)! You must know Jesus Christ as your own Lord and Savior.
So the third time I came to the bottom of that pit and the creature met me and took me by the arm, that Voice spoke again, and I came floating back to earth. Only this time, as I ascended through the darkness, I began to pray. I began to call on God in the Name of Jesus to save me and to forgive me and cleanse me.
When I leaped back into my body, my natural voice picked up my prayer right in the middle of a sentence and I continued to pray, lying there in my bed. It was 7:40 p.m., so all of this had happened in ten minutes' time. Momma had run outside the first time my heart stopped beating, and she was on the porch praying and calling on God at the top of her voice.
When I came back into my body the third time, she and I were both praying so loudly, they tell me traffic was jammed for two blocks around our house! But I'll tell you, when something like that happens to you, you get serious with God, and you can get loud! Seeing hell will scare you so much, you will want to get right with God! It scared me, and I made Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior that night. When I did, I was transferred out of the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God's Son, Jesus Christ (Col. 1:13)!
Friends, there is a Heaven to gain and a hell to shun. You may not be aware of hell today, but when you die, you will spend eternity in either Heaven or hell. And if you don't know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you will go to hell and spend eternity there, in that place of torments and punishment.
But God doesn't want anyone to spend eternity in hell. That's why He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to die on the Cross and be raised to life again for our redemption. Jesus paid the price with His own blood so that we could be reconciled to God. And it's God's will that every man, woman, boy, and girl accept Jesus Christ as Savior and be saved (1 Tim. 2:4).
I was fortunate to get the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior the night my heart stopped three times and I went to hell. If God hadn't spoken as that creature took me by the arm, I would have descended into hell's gates - into hell itself - and that place of torments and punishment would have been my eternal dwelling place.
Because of my experience of going down into that dark place, I've always wanted to tell others there is a Heaven to gain and a hell to shun. I know there's a hell to shun because I've been there. But, really, we should believe there's a hell because the Bible says there is. That's what I have endeavored to teach folks all these years - that it's what the Bible says that counts, not someone's opinion.
I was 17 when I was healed and raised from a deathbed. I had lived with my grandmother most of my childhood. We lived in McKinney, Texas, and my grandmother had a cousin who lived about 30 miles away from us in Sherman, Texas. My grandmother and her cousin would visit each other occasionally.
When I was still bedfast, this cousin, Aunt Lizie, as we called her, would visit us with her daughter, Lorenna. We could never mention God around Aunt Lizie. If we ever did, she would start ranting and raving, saying, "There is no God! There is no Heaven or hell. Every preacher ought to be shot and every church burned down because those preachers are just fooling people. They're just trying to get people's money."
Once Aunt Lizie started ranting and raving, it would take some time for her daughter to get her quieted. When Lorenna eventually got her quiet, we would change the conversation to something else.
Soon after I was healed in 1934, I went into the ministry. Aunt Lizie was up in age before I saw her again about 10 years later. I had married by then, and my wife and I were holding a meeting in the town where Aunt Lizie lived. Lorenna, Aunt Lizie's daughter, asked us to come and visit them. There seemed to be such an urgency about her request that we paid Lorenna a visit.
After Lorenna greeted us, she took my hand in hers and began to cry. "Oh, Kenneth. I wanted you to come and talk to Momma. She's living here with me, and she's in a coma. The doctor said she will never recover. If we can get her to come to, will you talk to her?"
"Well, I sure will if I can," I answered her. So Lorenna led us to the bedroom where Aunt Lizie lay in a coma. This dear woman was in her 70s by now, and she was just lying there, dying. Her eyes were wide open, but they were like marbles. She never blinked. Her mouth was partially opened, and there was a rattling sound in her throat as she struggled for breath.
Lorenna leaned over her mother and said, "Momma! Momma!" But there was no answer. "Momma!" Lorenna hollered and shook her a little bit.
Aunt Lizie's mouth stayed partially opened the entire time, but somehow from way down inside, from her throat, Aunt Lizie answered, "Yes, my baby, what is it?" We could hear her plainly, but her lips never moved.
Lorenna said, "Momma, do you remember Aunt Lillie's boy, Kenneth, who was bedfast for so long and later became a preacher?"
When Lorenna said the word "preacher," Aunt Lizie raised herself up in bed, though she never batted an eye and her lips never moved. She reached out her hand to me and said, "Ken! Ken, where are you?" I took her hand, and she said to me, "Oh, Kenneth! Kenneth! You're a preacher. Tell me there's no hell. I said there was no God! I said there was no Heaven, and I said there was no hell!" and Aunt Lizie became frantic.
"Tell me there's no hell," she continued. "I'm so afraid. It's so dark, and I'm so afraid. Oh! Oh!" she gasped, "I'm going to hell!" and Aunt Lizie fell back onto her pillow.
I couldn't tell Aunt Lizie there wasn't a hell. I started to tell her there was a Heaven and that she could go there if she accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior. But Aunt Lizie had exhausted all the strength she had. When she fell back onto her pillow, she lapsed into unconsciousness and never did come out of it. I say it with tears - Aunt Lizie died and went to hell.
So you see, my friends, while you and I sit in our lighted homes here on the earth, many today are in the darkness, misery, and torments of hell. There are people like the rich man we read about in Luke 16 who are in hell today, and they dwell eternally in torments (Luke 16:23). And there are people like the foolish farmer who missed Heaven and went to hell because they valued earthly things more than spiritual things and failed to secure Heaven as their eternal destiny by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
And there are also people in hell today like those five foolish virgins who may have lived good lives but weren't ready to meet the Master because they never accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. In Matthew 25:12, the bridegroom said to the foolish virgins, "... Verily I say unto you, I I know you not." The only accusation brought against them was they weren't ready to meet the Master, and He didn't know them!
Are you ready to meet the Master? You can be ready if you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. The Bible says there is no other name under Heaven but the Name of Jesus by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12).
By accepting Jesus Christ, your name can be written in the Lamb's book of life. Through Jesus, you can miss hell and be listed among the "who's who" of Heaven where you will dwell eternally with the Lord!
Excerpt permission granted by Faith Library Publications