Hell = Everlasting Fire : : : : Heaven = Streets of Pure Gold
I have long held that the descriptions are symbolic of the greatest horrors and desires man could then conceive in his efforts to comprehend and communicate the incomprehensible, unfathomable separation from or union with God respectively. Could it be, however, that the symbols have even more meaning? Given their author, I think so. We have been taught that the purification process of gold requires that it pass through a flame more hot than it can withstand in its current state. During this time, the block of gold is tortured until broken down. Only then can those things which do not belong be fully removed allowing the gold to return to itself more golden than ever before.
In much the same way, could it be that the process of salvation has been divinely, and in fact quite graciously, intended to pass through the flame? Why do we suppose that upon death we are immediately and miraculously made eternally perfect. That would actually be the working of a miracle to accomplish something that God has created a process of nature to naturally perform; which is something I have rarely read or heard of Him truly doing. Is it not more probable that in order to experience heaven we must, either now or in the hereafter, pass through hell? For one who’s life has seemed breezy, this could be quite haunting; but, for those who feel they have experienced hell on earth, it offers hope that there is a greater purpose for which this is all being endured.
In summary, could it be that all of heaven has, and indeed must, passed through hell? Either way, I’m just passing through.