A session exploring the theme of heaven and hell, what the bible says and how to know where we are going
Suitable For Ages 14 upwards
Required: the two studies attached to this resource
Extra Files Needed (i.e. worksheets etc): Heaven, Hell & Philippians Studies – click to download
Life After Death & Taxes
Introduction: A lot of people carry the view that we live and then we die and that’s it, us done, time to rot in the ground and be forgotten about! However death isn’t the end as we know Jesus proved to us when he rose from the dead and tonight we’re going to look at what’s after death.
If we’re a Christian Jesus tells us that we can get to heaven through Him, Jesus says ‘I am the way, the truth and the light’ so by following Jesus we can get to heaven, but we’re going to come back to how later, first we’re going to look at what heaven is.
Brainstorm: What’s the first thing you think of when someone says heaven?
Say: Many people think that heaven is just something good. A good football match is heaven to some people, clothes shopping, people even describe drinks as ‘heavenly’ but if we can have ‘heavenly things now’ it takes away the excitement of heaven. Heaven is not football, clothes shopping or shoes, heaven is something far far greater!
However heaven isn’t the only option for us hell is another possibility, one which I’d hope we don’t want for our eternities. If you ask anyone if they want to go to heaven most people would say yes.
Group Work: Split Into 2 Groups – One group to look at heaven one at hell (Taken from Devotions for Teens – Susie Shellenberger)
Group Feedback Bring the groups back together, read each of the groups stories and get the groups to feedback to each other.
Say: Sometimes it’s pretty difficult to be certain that as Christians we’re going to heaven, and it’s important to remember that God isn’t looking for ‘nice people’ to go to heaven, God is looking for people who have a relationship with Jesus. It says in Matthew
“Not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do what my Father in heaven wants them to do.
Matt 7:22 When the Judgment Day comes, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! In your name we spoke God’s message, by your name we drove out many demons and performed many miracles!’
Matt 7:23 Then I will say to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you wicked people!’
Matt 7:24 “So then, anyone who hears these words of mine and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock.
Matt 7:25 The rain poured down, the rivers flooded over, and the wind blew hard against that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock.
Matt 7:26 “But anyone who hears these words of mine and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
Matt 7:27 The rain poured down, the rivers flooded over, the wind blew hard against that house, and it fell. And what a terrible fall that was!”
Say: It’s quite a scary idea that we could spend our life doing things which we think God approves off yet not get into heaven because we’re missing the key thing ‘a relationship with Jesus’ and that’s the only thing that will get us into heaven, being nice alone isn’t enough!
So what do we have to do to get into heaven?
Explain Getting into heaven isn’t about being a nice person and getting along with everyone, if you look at Jesus he didn’t come along and get on with everyone, he came along and annoyed everyone.
In Pairs: Have a look through a gospel (allocate each pair a gospel) and find as many things that Jesus did which annoyed people as you can.
Jesus although what Jesus did annoyed some people he was doing what God told him. There are three things which we are going to look at on how to get to heaven.
Our Actions – Let’s be different!
If we look around at each other we can see that everyone is different, however a lot of the time if we look at the actions of people around us at school they’re quite similar in their thoughts. In playgrounds for example there’s lots of swearing.
The Difference Game: Send someone out the room explaining that when they come in they must ask people questions and try and work out what the action is that each person does whilst answering. For example the group may decide to scratch their nose when they answer and the outsider has to notice.
Explain: We notice when things are done differently, because it doesn’t fit in. If someone was walking around naked you’d notice because it’s not what you’re used to. As Christians, one thing Jesus calls us to do is to be different to society.
Bible Romans 12:2a says ‘Do not become so adapted to your culture that you fit in without thinking, instead fix your eyes on God, you’ll be changed from the inside out’
Jesus was different and people noticed, Jesus didn’t conform to what society went with and neither should we. We should be different for Christ!
We should be willing to follow God whatever!
If we look at the character of Jesus again he followed God whatever, nothing could stop him from being focused on God even when he knew he had to die, before his death we see Jesus was praying and he says to God ‘I don’t really want to die, you could stop me but if it’s your will that I do then I’m willing’. Now that’s commitment!
Illustration: Ask 2 people to have a race, then explain that at that moment in time both were focusing on winning and nothing really would take their attention away from the race.
However Jesus had the most amazing relationship with God ever! We can have that kind of relationship but it takes time and commitment, however lets look at someone else.
Let’s have a look at Paul, Paul spent a lot of time slagging off Jesus, killing Christians and going round generally being a pain in the bum for Christians but he became a Christian when he was healed of being blind and went into it full steam ahead, he wasn’t bothered about the consequences of preaching Gods word and did it, he got thrown in jail 3 times and the third time was pretty much waiting to be given the death sentence, this is when he wrote the letter to the Philippians.
Philippians Study Split the group into smaller groups and get them to do the study on Philippians attached to this resource
Give: each group a study sheet for the Philippians passage.
Bring The Group back together have chat about answers.
What does being ready to do anything for God mean?
Get the group to discuss the question above to start with. Then read Matthew 19:16.
Ask Ask The Group what they think the story is about? What is the message from Jesus from this story?
Explain (If they don’t) that Jesus isn’t commanding us to sell everything for him but for us to be willing to do, for us to be willing to give up the thing or person we love the most for Jesus, for Jesus to be absolutely number 1 in our life!
So How do we get to heaven?
Even if we screw everything up, we sin, we deny Jesus and we have a month where we don’t read the bible or anything it’s by grace that we get to heaven. Romans says that it’s not by works which we are saved but by grace, Jesus tells us that we can only get to heaven by knowing him, no matter what our sin is God opens up his arms and welcomes us back, however this isn’t an excuse to sin! If we know we can get away with something it’s always more tempting to do it however everything we do (or don’t) should be because of Jesus.
Who here has a boyfriend/ girlfriend?
When you’re with someone and you love them you don’t want to do anything to hurt them, for example guys might try not to look at other girls not because they shouldn’t but because they love their girlfriend and don’t want to upset them or to put it another way if you love someone you don’t want to hurt them.
Us sinning hurts Jesus, it is our sin which drove the nails into Jesus’ body and I don’t want to hurt Jesus more than I have, I don’t know about you?
Bible Romans 6 says (quote up to verse 7 from Youth Bible)
Ask The Group: What do you think it means when it says about us dying to our old selves?
Discussion on this would be good!
So, there is life after death and taxes, this life isn’t all we get, this life is our chance to sort out our eternity, and our eternity is down to us, we either choose to follow God, have an awesome relationship with Jesus and go to heaven because Jesus has took our punishment or we go to hell! I know where I’d rather be. Where do you think you’re going?