Monday, November 13, 2006

Hell? Yes...

Hell. If just saying the word sounds controversial, how much more is its reality controversial? The reality of hell ranges from beliefs that it is real geographical location to a metaphor. It ranges from a place of torment to a valley in Israel. It ranges from eternal to 23 minutes. As always, I find that the only way I can be dogmatic is if I quote the Bible. The Bible has the answers on hell.

Hell, in the most normally used sense, would be the place of punishment for all the unrighteous of all time. However there are several different words in Scripture that are translated as hell. Sheol (Gen 37:35), Hades (Matt. 11:23), Gehenna (Matt. 5:22), The Pit (Job 33:24), Unquenchable Fire (Matt. 3:12), the Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:20), and the Grave (Ps. 30:3)1, to name a few, are all different words referring to hell, but they aren’t all exactly the same although there is definitely overlap in meaning. Context would determine what the Bible is saying in each case.

Most every human (with the exception of the church and a couple other unique cases) will experience death at some point. Before the death of Christ both the righteous and the unrighteous dead went to the same place however there were different components to this place. (Luke 16:23) The part of this place that was for the unrighteous we know consisted of fire and suffering. (Luke 16:24) However, this is not the destiny or the final resting place of the unrighteous. One day, they all will be resurrected, only this resurrection will be unto death. (Rev. 20:12-13) Once resurrected, they will be judged and cast into the lake of fire which will be their eternal “resting” place. (Rev 20:15) Therefore, hell when looked at with all its components is a place of confinement, a place of judgment, and a place of torment. It was made originally for Satan and his angels who will be sentenced there and those of them who are already there. (Matt. 25:41, Rev. 20:10, 2 Peter 2:4) This however will also be used for all the unrighteous humans of all time as well. (Rev. 20:12-13, Matt. 25:41)

Some would try to say that hell isn’t a literal place but a concept. However the Bible gives us a geographical location for where hell currently is. Jesus said that when He died, He was going to go to the center of the earth. (Matt. 12:40) At that time the place of torment could see paradise. (Luke 16:23) Jesus went to paradise (Luke 23:43) which He said was in the center of the earth, and since you can see paradise from the place of torment, it must also be in the center of the earth. The Bible also states that when Christ went to paradise and led captivity captive, that He had descended into the lower parts of the earth.2 (Eph 4:9) Hell is currently in the middle of the earth, however we do not know the location of the future lake of fire.

Hell is laid out very systematically in Scripture. We know the plan, purpose, and location. With such specific details one should come to the conclusion that this place is real and that God thinks it very important that we know about it. He doesn’t desire anyone to perish there (2 Pet. 3:9) but unfortunately people are perishing. Such knowledge of hell should spur the believer on to spreading the gospel to help people avoid this fate.