Here is an exquisitely poignant illustration of how it goes for someone who willfully lets his opportunity to say yes to Christ run out.
From The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis:
A Bishop from Hell Meets a Friend from HeavenI saw another of the Bright People in conversation with a ghost. It was that fat ghost with the cultured voice...and it seemed to be wearing gaiters.'My dear boy, I'm delighted to see you', it was saying to the Spirit, who was naked and almost blindingly white. 'I was talking to your poor father the other day and wondering where you were.''You didn't bring him?' said the other.'Well, no. He lives a long way from the bus, and, to be quite frank, he's been getting a little eccentric lately....Ah, Dick, I shall never forget some of our talks. I expect you've changed your views a bit since then. You became rather narrow-minded towards the end of your life: but no doubt you've broadened out again.''How do you mean?''Well, it's obvious by now, isn't it, that you weren't quite right. Why, my dear boy, you were coming to believe in a literal Heaven and Hell!''But wasn't I right?''Oh, in a spiritual sense, to be sure. I still believe in them in that way. I am still, my dear boy, looking for the Kingdom. But nothing superstitious or mythological...''Excuse me. Where do you imagine you've been?''Ah, I see. You mean that the grey town with its continual hope of morning (we must all live by hope, must we not?), with its field for indefinite progress, is, in a sense, Heaven, if only we have eyes to see it? That is a beautiful idea.''I didn't mean that at all. Is it possible you don't know where you've been?''Now that you mention it, I don't think we ever do give it a name. What do you call it?''We call it Hell.''There is no need to be profane, my dear boy. I may not be very orthodox, in your sense of that word, but I do feel that these matters ought to be discussed simply, and seriously, and reverently.''Discuss Hell reverently?....You have been in Hell: though if you don't go back you may call it Purgatory.'The Bishop Questions His Friend'Go on, my dear boy...No doubt you'll tell me why I was sent there.''But you don't know? You went there because you were an apostate.' . . .'Dick, this is unworthy of you. What are you suggesting?''Friend, I am not suggesting at all. You see, I know now. Let us be frank. Our opinions were not honestly come by. We simply found ourselves in contact with a certain current of ideas and plunged into it because it seemed modern and successful.... When, in our whole lives, did we honestly face, in solitude, the one question on which all turned: whether after all the Supernatural might not in fact occur? When did we put up one moment's real resistance to the loss of our faith?''If this is meant to be a sketch of the genesis of liberal theology in general, I reply that it is a mere libel. Do you suggest that men like...''I have nothing to do with any generality. Nor with any man but you and me... You know that you and I were playing with loaded dice. We didn't want the other to be true. We were afraid of crude salvationism, afraid of a breach with the spirit of the age, afraid or ridicule, afraid (above all) of real spiritual fears and hopes.''I'm far from denying that young men may make mistakes. They may well be influenced by current fashions of thought. But it's not a question of how opinions are formed. The point is that they were my honest opinions, sincerely expressed.''Of course. Having allowed oneself to drift, unresisting, unpraying, accepting every half-conscious solicitation from our desires, we reached a point where we no longer believed the Faith. Just in the same way, a jealous man, drifting and unresisting, reaches a point at which he believes lies about his best friend: a drunkard reaches a point at which (for a moment) he actually believes that another glass will do him no harm. The beliefs are sincere in the sense that they do occur as psychological events in the man's mind. If that's what you mean by sincerity they are sincere, and so were ours. But errors which are sincere in that sense are not innocent.'The Bishop is Urged to Come to Heaven'Well, that is a plan. I am perfectly ready to consider it. Of course I should require some assurances.... I should want a guarantee that you are taking me to a place where I shall find a wider sphere of usefulness - and scope for the talents that God has given me - and an atmosphere of free inquiry - in short, all that one means by civilization and - er - spiritual life.''No,' said the other. 'I can promise you none of these things. No sphere of usefulness: you are not needed there at all. No scope for your talents: only forgiveness for having perverted them. No atmosphere for inquiry, for I will bring you to the land not of questions but of answers, and you shall see the face of God.''Ah, but we must all interpret those beautiful words in our own way! For me there is no such thing as a final answer. The free wind of inquiry must always continue to blow through the mind, must it not? "Prove all things"... to travel hopefully is better than to arrive.''If that were true, and known to be true, how could anyone travel hopefully? There would be nothing to hope for.'...'The suggestion that I should return at my age to the mere factual inquisitiveness of boyhood strikes me as preposterous. In any case, that question-and-answer conception of thought only applies to matters of fact. Religious and speculative questions are surely on a different level.'...'Do you not even believe that He exists?''Exists? What does Existence mean? You will keep on implying some sort of static, ready-made reality which is so to speak, "there", and to which our minds have simply to conform. These great mysteries cannot be approached in that way. If there were such a thing (there is no need to interrupt, my dear boy), quite frankly, I should not be interested in it. It would be of no religious significance. God, for me, is something purely spiritual. The spirit of sweetness and light and tolerance - and, er, Dick, service. We mustn't forget that, you know.'The Bishop Makes Up His Mind'Happiness, my dear Dick,' said the Ghost placidly, 'happiness, as you will come to see when you are older, lies in the path of duty. Which reminds me...Bless my soul, I'd nearly forgotten. Of course I can't come with you. I have to be back next Friday to read a paper. We have a little Theological Society down there. Oh, yes! there is plenty of intellectual life. Not of a very high quality, perhaps. One notices a certain lack of grip - a certain confusion of mind. That is where I can be of some use to them. There are even regrettable jealousies....I don't know why, but tempers seem less controlled than they used to be. Still, one mustn't expect too much of human nature. I feel I can do a great work among them. But you've never asked me what my paper is about! I'm taking the text about growing up to the measure of the stature of Christ and working out an idea which I feel sure you'll be interested in. I'm going to point out how people always forget that Jesus [here the ghost bowed] was a comparatively young man when he died. He would have outgrown some of his earlier views, you know, if he lived. As he might have done, with a little more tact and patience. I am going to ask my audience to consider what his mature views would have been. A profoundly interesting question. What a different Christianity we might have had if only the Founder had reached his full stature! I shall end up by pointing out how this deepens the signficance of the Crucifixion. One feels for the first time what a disaster it was: what a tragic waste...so much promise cut short. Oh, must you be going? Well, so must I. Goodbye, my dear boy. It has been a great pleasure. Most stimulating and provocative...'The Ghost nodded its head and beamed on the Spirit with a bright clerical smile - or with the best approach to it which such unsubstantial lips could manage - and then turned away humming softly to itself 'City of God, how broad and how far'.