Posted - 22 Jan 2006 : 21:47:27
| The Doctrine of Hell
The English word for Hell comes from O.E. hel, "a hidden, unseen place," which is related to the Latin word celo, hide, conceal, keep secret. In the N.T., there are 162 passages that describe hell as a place of eternal torment for unrepentant sinners, 70 of these being described by Jesus himself. When a person who is not born again dies, then he immediately goes to Hell (also the same as Hades), which is the fiery abode of the wicked dead. That person then remains there until the great white throne judgment which occurs after the 1000 year millennium (Rev. 20:5). At the Judgment he/she will leave Hell temporarily to face the Judgment seat of Christ. After the Great white throne Judgment, Death (the payment for sin) and Hell (i.e. all who were in Hell) are cast into the Lake of Fire, which is the second death (Rev. 20:11-15). In the Bible there are three Greek words and one Hebrew word that describe this place of eternal torment: 1) Sheol (Heb) 2) Gehenna, 3) Hades, and 4) Tartarus.
1) Sheol (07585) in O.T. times simply referred to the abode of the dead which in the N.T. is called (and translated from the O.T. to the N.T.) in Greek Hades. It had two compartments, an upper section called Abraham's Bosom, and a lower section called Hell which were separated by an impassable gulf (Luke. 16:19-31; Gen. 37:35; Deut. 32:22; Ezekiel. 32:23,24; John. 5:28:29). Abraham's Bosom was the upper part of Sheol (Hades) which the abode of the souls of the pious until the resurrection which Christ performed (Acts. 2:31; Heb. 11:35). It was a place of comfort for the dead who were righteous (Job. 19:25-27; Psalms 16:8-11; 17:15). Abraham's bosom was emptied when Christ resurrected (Matt. 27:53), releasing the O.T. saints from temporal paradise with Abraham (Luke 23:43) into Heaven with God the Father (Eph. 4:8-10). Hell, Greek Hades, was lower Sheol which still exists as Hell today and is a place of torment for the wicked dead of both O.T. & N.T. unbelievers.
2) The word Gehenna (1067) is used only in the N.T. but comes from two Hebrew words, (01516) gay, which means a valley or a narrow gorge, and (02011) hinnom, which means lamentation, thus it can be translated as the valley of lamentation (or sorrow). The word also has two historical meanings: a) Hinnom (or Tophet) is a real place in Israel, with a deep, narrow ravine, and steep rocky sides, which separates Mount Zion to the north, from the `hill of evil counsel,' and the sloping rocky plateau of the `plain of Rephaim' to the south. It was the place where the Israelites sacrificed their children to the false god Molech, the god of the Ammonites and Phoenicians. b) The name Gehenna is a figurative term borrowed from the fires that burned rubbish in the Valley of Hinnom near Jerusalem. These fires burned rubbish continuously. Jesus used this word to describe the place of everlasting punishment, where there is filth, foulness, fire, and smoke. In Gehenna the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned, symbolizing the wicked and their future destruction, except the worms in hell fire will never die (Mark 9:44-48).
3) The name Hades (86) originally comes from Greek mythology describing the ruler of a place called Orcus or Tartarus (see below), which was the region of the dead. Hades was also called Pluto, the god of the underworld. This concept was used by the writers of the New Testament to describe the Sheol, which is translated from the Hebrew into Greek as Hades (86). Sheol was also translated Hades in Greek O.T. versions. The meaning of Hades is twofold, 1) the place of eternal punishment for N.T. unbelievers and 2) the place of both the righteous and the unrighteous when describing afterlife for O.T. folk. Basically it is the same as the Hebrew word Sheol, but because Christ emptied upper Sheol at His resurrection, all post resurrection scriptures indicate lower Sheol, or simply, Hell.
4) Tartarus (5020) is the name of the underground world in Greek mythology, which Greeks believed was the abode of the wicked dead where people suffer punishment for their evil deeds. This world is also the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Sheol, in that it represents the "lower region" of the dead, which is a place of torment. It is the deepest abyss of Hades where some evil angels are held captive.
Hell is described as a place of fire (Matt. 17:15 18:8, 25:41; Luke. 16:24; 17:29 Jude. 7) which is unquenchable (Matt. 3:12). People in Hell remember their past lives and regret their rejection of God (Luke. 16:21). The continuous thought of rejecting Jesus will torment the wicked forever. They have a thirst that will never be quenched (Luke. 16:24), which is in stark contrast to Christ's offer in John 7:37, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." Just as water brings life, so too, dryness brings death. The separation felt by the rich man (Luke. 16:26) was not only separation from God (Luke. 13:25, 28; 2 Thess. 1: 7-9), but also from the rest of humanity. He was alone in torment. The sad thing is many jokingly say that they will see all their friends in Hell. Unfortunately for them they will be alone for all eternity, there is no escape. After a while, the reality of an eternal Hell will sink in. The first 100 million years is only the beginning of forever (Rev 20:10)! The only horrible smell will be sulphur (Rev 21:8). Never will they experience any pleasure in their senses, like smell, touch, sight, etc... only pain. All of these desires will never be fulfilled. Even the request to warn others is refused (Luke. 16:19- 31). The usual aspects of decay like worms, don't eventually fade away as they would on earth, but are prolonged forever. The worm, or maggots that eat up the flesh and spirit, never die (Mark. 9:44, 46, 48)! The pain of the fire will be so intense that they will grind their teeth together in sheer agony (Matt. 8:12; 13:49, 50). The shame and condemnation felt by people in Hell will be unbearable (Dan 12:2). The sound of others wailing and screaming will only add to the torment. The claustrophobic feeling will never pass as people will know that they are confined and imprisoned in a bottomless pit in the lower parts of the earth. They will be falling forever and ever... (Num. 16:33; Ps. 63:9; Eph. 4:9,). A place of outer darkness (Matt. 22:13; 2 Pet. 2:4,17; Jude. 6,13), unquenchable fire, everlasting contempt, everlasting torment (Rev. 14:10,11)., destruction and eternal punishment, eternal judgment (Heb. 6:2); everlasting destruction (2 Thess. 1:9);. This is the picture the Bible gives us of Hell, and the Lake of Fire. Imagine drowning forever in Lava, in a literal lake of fire (Rev. 20:14)!
Many people say, "Why would a loving God create a place like Hell?" God never intended for humans or angels to go to Hell. The Devil became full of sin and iniquity, and had to be cast out of Heaven, because sin is like a disease and spreads. God prepared a place for humans, and the fallen angels, to punish them for their rebellion against all that is holy, righteous, true, and good (Matt. 25:41). When Satan deceived mankind to join in his rebellion, subsequently God knew that billions humans would be born into this world with an Adamic (fallen, sinful, satanic) nature. God has demonstrated His love toward us (Rom. 5:6), and is not willing that anyone should go to Hell (2 Pet. 3:9), but he must judge sin, and will definitely not allow any type of sin into Heaven. Because we are sinners we deserve Hell. We are all guilty of sin and deserve punishment. Sin is a transgression of the law, and the law demands justice. It is God Almighty we have disobeyed and contended with. If you are not yet converted, what you are doing making up excuses? Others may be blamed by you for your rejection of Christ, but God never will be. You would be better off playing with the fire in your backyard incinerator than with the fire of His burning wrath. God is a God of love yes, but He is also a God of wrath and Judgment, who thunders against unbelief and sin. Hell would not be so full, if people were willing to know their eternal state, and desire to hear and think about it. The reason why so few escape Hell is because they will not strive to enter in at the strait gate of the born again conversion experience, and to go the narrow way of holiness. They do not strive, because they are not awakened to the reality of the danger they are in, and they are not awakened, because they hate to hear or think of Hell, and that is partly through foolish pride, and self love, and partly because they do not believe the Word that threatens Hell. Think about it. Though you may put this out of your mind, you cannot put it out of the Bible. And the Bible will stand forever as the warning flag for generations of fools who stubbornly refused to believe the truth and heed the warning. The rejection of that truth you shall experimentally know for ever. There is no other way out of hell but to repent now and escape this horror. To say "I'll wait and see what happens when I get there," after knowing of the danger, is eternal suicide. Nothing can remove your misery or give you ease and comfort if you suffer in Hell. Should there then be any consideration to excuse you for neglecting your own salvation? Christ was punished in our place and if we believe in Him we will not perish but will have everlasting life (John. 3:15-18). If sin be such an evil that it requires the death of Christ for its expiation, no wonder we deserve such everlasting misery. If you want to avoid Hell simply receive Christ as your Lord and Savior. That comes through repentance. Confess that you have sinned and broken God's law. He died to set us free from eternal death, and wants to give you the free gift of eternal life.
For a believer, the reality of billions of souls going to Hell should be enough to stir us to reach out to the unsaved. This should be the main function of the Church. A true church should be a rescue shop 5 yards from Hell! When a Church becomes insensitive to the reality of a literal Hell, it becomes cold and religious. Every time we meet an unbeliever a true soul winner will be mindful of the sinner's fiery future unless they repent. The seriousness of eternal damnation should also put a Godly fear in the heart of each believer, causing them to refrain themselves and others from backsliding (Jas. 5:20). A true preacher will mention Hell regularly. He will not just say that a sinner will go to "another place" of will "miss out on heaven" but will preach about the horrors of hell.
William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, once said that if he could, he would finalize the training of every man in his army by suspending him for 24 hours over hell. That is the kind of vision we need!
Many years ago in Great Britain, Scripture was being read to a criminal on his way to the gallows. The chaplain was reading the Scripture somewhat piously. The prisoner suddenly interrupted him and said, "Sir, if I believed, what you say you believe, about what you are reading; even if England were covered with broken glass from shore to shore -- I would gladly walk over it on my hands and knees, if I could rescue one soul from that hell about which you have read."
For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! (1 Cor. 9:16)