I’m sure many people probably don’t like the idea of an entire article on hell, and I want to make it clear that I don’t focus on why people go to hell in this article, but what hell is.
Why write/read about hell? I can think of at least three reasons why Christians should know a lot about hell:
- The realization of the details of hell should make the Christian cling tighter to God.
- The realization of hell should motivate the Christian to save sinners.
- The knowledge of hell should help Christians persuade sinners.
Before we look at the details of hell, however, I think we should look at a little background—on heaven and hell. That will comprise Part One.
Christians who have passed on are now in “paradise,” or “old heaven.” In the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31), heaven is referred to as “Abraham’s Bosom.” The heaven that Christians (and God) are currently in isn’t old, but it will be in comparison to the new heaven and the new earth (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1) that is created, which will include the new Jerusalem (Revelation 3:12; 21:2) and all of our mansions Jesus is currently preparing (John 14:2), when Jesus comes again to claim His throne and judge the world in righteousness. ( Acts 17:31)
(Note: “Heaven” or “heavens” may refer to the sky, and therefore the original heaven may remain forever, for whereas the “sky” has been affected by sin, “heaven” has not.)
Similarly, people who are dead but are not covered by the blood of Jesus to save them, now are in hell (or Hades), but not in the “Lake of Fire.” (Revelation 20:14-15) The definition of Hades is “the abode of the dead,” but basically, it is hell, for those who God finds favor in go to heaven (“Abraham’s Bosom,” Luke 16:19-31), and Jesus says in the same parable that the rich man in Hades was “in torment.” The Bible refers to Hades synonymously with what we refer to as hell (“…the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”—Matthew 16:18; “And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will be brought down to Hades!”—Luke 10:15) It is clear that hell is already being experienced because the Bible states, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment...” (2 Peter 2:4) “Gehenna” is another term for the “place of punishment,” but it’s synonymous with hell as well, so much so, that, the NASB (the most accurate readable translation of the Bible to date) considers them interchangeable (see Matthew 5:22,29; 10:28; James 3:6) Eventually, however, complete judgment will come—the “Day of Judgment” or “Day of Wrath” will come (2 Peter 3:7; Romans 2:5)—and then Hades and all it contains (including death itself) will be thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14). This implies that hell will get worse (Hell "inside" the Lake of Fire). I think of the deceased unregenerate people’s current state as the torture chamber before the execution—the flogging before the cross.
(Note: Some believe that those now in “Hades” are actually on earth—under it, in secret chambers. Greek mythology states that Hades is “under the earth.” This is intriguing but unrealistic. At death, we know that the spirit separates from the body, so why would the spirits stay on this earth?)
~ Kingdom Advancer
September 21st, 2006