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Hebrews 6:1-3

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What Does the Bible Say about Hell

Before you read: This article is part of a larger series that builds on itself from the foundation up, with each study building on the last. If something in this article does not make sense to you or if you believe it to be incorrect please be sure you have read over the entire course before passing your final judgment. Also be sure to visit this page’s FAQ And Objections Page

“It is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment.” This is a well-known quote from Hebrews 9:27. So far we have spoken in this course about sin and what it is. We have even said that sin is the reason we die. But now we are going to talk about what the Bible says happens after we die.

Hebrews 9:27

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

There is a process to being judged. First is the pleading (are you guilty or innocent). Then comes the trial. You can either be proven innocent, or guilty. After that comes the judgment. And finally, comes the sentencing (free to go, or punishment).

But before you make it to the day of judgment you are “under arrest.” This means you are in jail. Or, at the very least, you are in the custody of the court.

Luke 16:22-24

22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

We see in these verses such a situation. These 2 men have died and await the judgment (read further to see why it isn’t immediate). But there is something different that happens to each of them. Lazarus is carried by the angels to a different place than that of the rich man. It is a place where Abraham is at.

What are these 2 places, and why were they already divided, with one going to hell, and the other to Abraham?

What Is Hell Like

Hell, in the Bible, is not like the cartoons and movies. The Hebrew word for hell is the same word for the pit and the grave. That word is Sheol. So when you see the word hell, the pit, or the grave you can know that they are all the same thing. Hell is the grave, which is a pit dug for the dead. You can also see this referred to as the bottomless pit in the book of Revelation.

Another word that is often translated as hell is “Gehenna.” Many believe this refers to a garbage pit. But if you read the context of the verses you will find that the word hell is an accurate translation. It is also called the “Lake of Fire.” Both Sheol and Gehenna are basically the same thing though.

Hell (Sheol) has the same characteristics of the “Lake of Fire” (Gehenna). Both are a place for the wicked. Both are eternal torment. Both are filled with fire. The only difference is that Hell (Sheol) will be cast into the lake of fire (Gehenna) at the final judgment. So hell is a temporary lake of fire.

This is where we see the rich man. He has been cast into a pit and buried. He is in hell (sheol). But what grave has flames? And how would he feel it if his body were decomposed?

Can the Dead Feel Pain

soul and mind

Man is made up of 3 parts, as we spoke of in an earlier unit. The mind, body, and soul. At this point, the body of the rich man has died and turned into dust. But there are 2 other parts of this rich man. His mind and soul.

Can you feel pain where there is no body? When we lose a limb such as an arm or a leg we can still experience pain in them. Even though we no longer have that part of the body, our mind still feels as though we do. So we feel pain in a leg, … that is no longer there. Often this is called “phantom pain.”

This is believed to be due, in some cases, to the nerves at the amputation site. But if you research this you will find that even without these nerves to signal pain it can still be felt. We are told it is because the brain (our mind) remembers the pain. Webmd.com has a quote on their site about this: “Sometimes, the brain memory of pain is retained and is interpreted as pain, regardless of signals from injured nerves.”

So even without the body our mind still feels and acts as though we have a body. What are the symptoms of phantom pain? Another quote from Webmd.com: “In addition to pain in the phantom limb, some people experience other sensations such as tingling, cramping, heat, and cold in the portion of the limb that was removed. Any sensation that the limb could have experienced prior to the amputation may be experienced in the amputated phantom limb.”

Now let’s take all of this information and apply it to death. Our breath of life, our mind, and soul have been removed from the body. So we don’t just have a limb removed, we have our entire body removed. How is the soul going to interpret this? The same way it would with an amputated leg.

The physical brain may have turned to dust, but the soul itself is the real “mind.” Without it the brain would have no power. So our soul (being our very consciousness) can still feel the tingling of a thousand pricks of needles. It will feel muscles cramping, like a body deformed and unmovable, from the worst muscular diseases. It will feel the heat like a flame of fire that is never put out, and the cold chill of outer darkness. As well as any other pain you could imagine. But the pain will be REAL in hell. It won’t be phantom pain.

How Can Hell Be Fire

Now I need to make something clear. Just because it is the soul that feels the pain does not mean hell is a metaphor (as we will cover in another unit). The Bible does not give any indication that the flames are not real. In fact, it presents them as very real.

The obvious question is how can hell be both a place of flames and a place of darkness as well? This question can be answered by understanding a concept taught in the book of Genesis. Before God created the stars, sun, and moon He created light and darkness.

What we understand through our own experience is that light must have a source, and fire produces light. But Genesis teaches us that GOD is the source of all things, including light. He gave the sun the authority to rule over the light, but if God took that authority away there would still be light. This is because God is in control.

So if God were to create a place of flames, He would not be forced to have a light there. If He wishes He can produce flame without light. This is something that you have to understand by knowing that God is not limited by the laws He sets on creation.

These are some of the things in the Bible that answer the question, “What is hell like?”

Mark 9:43

43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

Matthew 13:42

42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

2 Peter 2:4

4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

2 Thessalonians 1:9

9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

Matthew 8:12

12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Now we understand a little bit about what hell is like. It is a place of darkness, pain, and suffering. And since the soul does not turn into dust it will continue to feel these things forever. Because death is NOT annihilation. It is destruction.

If you speak with a physicist he will tell you that nothing can be created or destroyed. This is a fancy way of saying that nothing ever truly vanishes from existence. It just changes form. For example, our body doesn’t vanish. It turns into dust. The word “destroyed” that the physicist used should actually be annihilation. You can destroy a wall, but not annihilate the dust from the broken bricks.

Madness

Death is not annihilation. Death is destruction. It is decay, breaking down. The death of the body is to decay into dust. The death of the soul is to decay into madness and despair. The body will lose its ability to feel pain. But the soul has no physical reason for feeling pain, it feels it because it is simply aware.

Where Is Hell

We know that the body is turned into dust as it sits in the tomb, in the grave underground, or in the waters of the sea. So the body is wherever that dust is. It can be scattered through the whole earth. But what about the soul? Where does it go?

Luke 8:30-31

30 And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. 31 And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep.

The demons requested that they would not be sent to a certain place, which they called the deep. The word deep here is another word for the abyss, the unfathomable depth. This is speaking of a place which is bottomless. These demons are requesting that Jesus would not send them to the bottomless pit (hell).

2 Peter 2:4

4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

Revelation 20:1-3

1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

It should be clear to us that there is a very real, physical location of this place called hell, also known as the bottomless pit. This is a place known as a prison. It is a place within the Earth:

Isaiah 14:15

15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

Revelation 9:1

And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.

We see here how hell, known as the bottomless pit, is a place on earth, … or actually, IN the earth.

Isaiah 14:9

9 Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.

This is where hell is. This is where the soul of the rich man is. He is in the place known as the bottomless pit, which is a place inside the earth. As his body went down into the dust of the ground, his soul also did. Again, this is a prison, a jail cell for those waiting for the final judgment.

That final judgment is for all in hell, the pit, to be cast into a lake of fire. So hell isn’t actually the final place of eternal torment. It is only a holding cell until they get to the lake of fire. The lake of fire is pretty much the same thing, except that the lake is not just a holding cell. It is the final eternal judgment. We also do not know much more of this lake of fire other than it is eternal, and it is torment.

Now one thing I want to point out is that hell is NOT what the Catholics call purgatory. It IS a place of waiting, but there is no escaping. You can not plead your way out. This is also shown in the fate of the rich man.

What Does the Bible Say about Heaven

heaven

You should have a firm grasp on what hell is like and where it is. You should also understand that it will be cast into the lake of fire. But, what about Lazarus? Where did he go? Why is he not in pain?

We are told that when Lazarus died he was carried to a place of comfort in the arms of Abraham. Many people have named this place “Abraham’s bosom.” But what is this place?

2 Corinthians 12:2-4

2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Paul was not speaking of 2 different people. He was speaking of the same person and the same event. That is why he uses the words “such a man.” This is to show that he was still speaking of the same man and same event. This man was caught up to the third heaven, also known as paradise.

Luke 23:43

43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Jesus made it clear that those who would be spared from hell were to be carried to paradise immediately. They are carried to the third heaven.

Revelation 2:7

7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Read Revelation chapter 22. You will see that this place called paradise, and the third heaven, is the city of God. It is a city not made with hands as the Bible says. It is new Jerusalem. This is where the saints of old are, and where the throne of God is.

The pain felt by the rich man isn’t felt here. This place is not darkness. It is not hot. It is a place of healing, a place of comforting. It is a place where the soul is at rest.

This is the inheritance of Christians. We will be able to walk in it when our bodies die. And then when the final judgment comes and the dead are judged, those like the rich man will be cast into the lake of fire. But those like Lazarus will be told to enter into the kingdom which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world.

They will no longer just be walking in it. They will now own it with Jesus. And they will never be removed from their home.

Continue To Unit 2:8a – Is Hell Real OR

Return To Christianity 101 Unit 2 – Sin and Eternal Judgment

July 24, 2015 at 1:22 am | | No comment

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