heaven and hell: fairy-tale fantasy or real reality? 

What about people who have never heard about Jesus?

I think this short article is very helpful:
 
http://www.christchurchcentralsheffield.co.uk/tough-questions/what-about-those-whove-never-heard/

What difference should the reality of a heaven and hell make to our everyday lives?

Assuming this is a Christian asking this, then the Bible, I think, gives two principal applications of the reality of coming judgement:
 
1. Holiness
We are to live now, in the light of God’s coming Kingdom then. Since we are citizens of heaven, let us live as citizens of heaven. See, for instance, Phil. 3:17-21, Col. 3: 1-4 and 1 Thessalonians 5: 4-11.
 
2. Evangelism
We should try and be those who care more about people’s eternal future than saving face and keeping quiet. See, for instance, Mt. 28: 16-20 and 1 Cor. 9:22-23.

In the light of God's just judgment, how do we deal with the prospect of friends and family who reject God and show no signs of changing?

The danger with a brief, written response to this question is that I come across as glib, which is certainly not my attitude. This would be a good thing to chat and pray through with a Christian friend.
 
Here are some things I think we can say:
 
a. What makes heaven, heaven? It is the presence of Jesus rather than any particular member of our family etc.. It’s a key point that we sometimes obscure when we talk about heaven being ‘our favourite things here but better’. The glory of heaven will be seeing our saviour face to face and singing his praises, in a perfected world in which we no longer endure sin, suffering and death.
 
b. Who is ultimately responsible for my friends and family? Jesus. ‘And will not the judge of all the earth do what is right?’ Jesus will do the right thing with my friends and family and in heaven I will know that Jesus has done the right thing.
 
c. They are responsible. We are, all of us, responsible for our decision. God has given us that responsibility and our friends and family are responsible for their decision to accept or reject Jesus.
 
d. We have a responsibility. Pray, speak. Many have become Christians after showing ‘no signs of changing’ for many years.


 

Jonathan Vaughan, 11/11/2015