Perhaps the reason so much Christian teaching so emphasizes the idea that Jesus came to save people from hell is that the promises Jesus made about life before death are so hard to live.

Jesus said,

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

The Greek word translated “rest” is anapauo. It means “to cease from any movement or labour in order to be refreshed and recover strength.” It carries the connotation of “calm”, “patience” and “peace.”

Who would not sign up for a regular dose of anapauo? But, how many of us actually find ourselves enjoying daily calm, patience and peace? Do we really believe it is possible, even desirable to “cease from any movement or labour”?

In the hectic world most of us occupy, confronted by the stress of daily living, it is a lot easier to identify with being “weary” and “carrying heavy burdens” than with having anapauo.

Jesus also promised that he

came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

The promise here is that Jesus gives life that is perissos – “extreme, more than is necessary, surpassing, much more, supremely.”

How many of us live with a sense that life has given us “more than is necessary”? How often do we live with an overflowing sense of abundance?

It seems more often that our lives are lived from a sense of scarcity. Our needs, wants and desires are insatiable. There never seems to be enough to go around. Jesus’ promise of a life that is perisoos seems an elaborate fantasy.

In a similar vein, Jesus promised,

Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)

Imagine living as if all our needs had already been met. How often do we live in the midst of all the pressures and demands of our lives with a peaceful sense that everything we need has already been perfectly provided?

Jesus promised,

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

In the turmoil and chaos of so much of life, a fearless life of peace, is perhaps a little difficult to imagine.

Perhaps most challenging of all, Jesus promised,

If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. (John 8:31,32)

How often do we feel trapped, bound by circumstances far beyond our control?

Imagine living in utter freedom.

The beauty of spending our lives worrying about heaven and hell is that of course, we will never be held accountable in this life, for the truth or error of our convictions.

It is easy to preach heaven and hell on Sunday. No one is going to show up on Monday and prove me wrong.

But, if I preach a vision of life before death that is restful, abundant, content, peaceful, and free, I risk facing the possibility that someone may say, “Show me.”

Preachers who preach the transformed life Jesus promised can be held accountable to demonstrate the truth of what they say. This is way more challenging than promising to save people from hell.