IS THERE REALLY A HELL?
Jesus talked about hell more than any other Bible personality...
Is there a Hell?
52% of adults are certain there is a hell.
27% think there might be.
What might Hell be like?
48% think it is a real place where people suffer eternal fiery torment.
46% think it is an anguished state of existence rather than an actual existing place.
6% don't know.
"There is only one reason why Jesus died, and that is because there is a literal Hell." —Bailey Smith
On an American troopship, the soldiers crowded around their Chaplain asking,"Do you believe in hell?" "I do not." replied the Chaplain frankly. "Well, then, please resign, because if there is no hell, we do not need you, and if there is a hell, we do not wish to be led astray."
THE CONCEPT OF ETERNAL DARKNESS...
Some years ago a family visited a cave in the state of Kentucky. The guide led us through many beautiful and winding subterranean passageways. Suddenly he turned off all the lights and said, "I'm the only one who knows how to get back to the entrance. If I left you here, you'd probably never find your way out. Anyone lost in this cave would no doubt become insane within a week from the oppressive loneliness. Be quiet for a moment and feel the darkness!"
The youngster instantly clutched his father's arm. After about 30 seconds, someone in the party could endure it no longer and cried out, "Turn on the lights! I'm going crazy now!" The guide laughed, but they didn't soon forget that frightening experience. It reminded them of the 'outer darkness' of Hell and made them shudder!
HELL IS A PLACE OF ETERNAL CONFINEMENT...
If Jesus came to set the captive free, then hell is where the unrepentant dwell in their captivity...
Hell is a place of confinement, a Prison for the incorrigibly wicked. It does not matter what the nature of it is, the fact is—it is a place of torment. Even in the most humane conditions, a Prison is still a Prison, and it is horrible even to contemplate. Hell is the Jail where the wicked are locked up when under indictment until the court sits and their sentences are passed on them; a pre-trial facility...Later, they go into what is called in the "Book of Revelation" in the Bible as the "Lake of Fire", the "Gehenna" of the New Testament. The Lake of Fire is the Federal Prison of Eternity; Hell is just the county Jail. No one has yet been put into the Lake of Fire.
We may choose to believe in a literal Lake of Fire and Brimstone, which Jesus Christ describes often, or you may think that the term is only used to illustrate the torture and misery of confinement and separation from God. Either way, the Fact is, to even be locked up in a Federal Prison away from your loved ones with loss of freedom and a consciousness that all your mortal days will be spent behind walls, knowing that Gods Great big out-of-doors is forever closed to you—That no longer can you go where you wish or come when you please—that you have lost the power of choice and of action and that a guard with a gun walks up and down the concrete corridor before your steel barred doors in a uniform that becomes hateful to you...this is Hell enough for any man. If this is to last throughout eternity, then God help me, I want no part of it. I don't need the fumes of sulfur, nor the creeping, biting, burning worms of hell described in the scriptures on top of that...
To be shut up with the wicked throughout eternity; to be eternally associated with blasphemers and murderers, with the whoremongers, homosexuals, the liars, the thief and prostitutes of all ages; never to see a pure face again, never to hear a baby's prattle, never to hear hymn of praise or folk songs, or songs of Love; to hear nothing but bitter, hideous, blasphemy, the gnawing of the tongue, the gnashing of teeth; the biting agony of the eternal confinement is all that is necessary to make it Hell for me. As for me, at any cost, let me escape it; never let me be in any danger of it.
"And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh." -Isaiah 66:24
HISTORY and ETYMOLOGY OF THE WORD FOR HELL...
Hell is the Jail where the wicked are locked up when under indictment until the court sits and their sentences are passed on them; a pre-trial facility...Later, they go into what is called in the "Book of Revelation" in the Bible as the "Lake of Fire", the "Gehenna" of the New Testament. The Lake of Fire is the Federal Prison of Eternity; Hell is just the County Jail. No one has yet been put into the Lake of Fire.
GEHENNA: ge-hen'a; The Greek word for the Hebrew word, hinnom, the "Valley of Hinnom". A deep, narrow glen to the South of Jerusalem where the Jews offered their children to Molech.
In later times it served as a dump for all sorts of putrefying matter and all that defiled the holy city, and so became the representative or image of the place of everlasting punishment, especially on account of its ever-burning fires; and to this fact the words of Christ refer when He mentions "the unquenchable fire."
The passages of the New Testament show plainly that the word 'gehenna' was a popular expression for 'hell' of which Jesus and his apostles made use.
In the NT the word gehenna ("hell") is spoken many times from the lips of Jesus Christ in the most awesome warning of the consequences of sin.
He describes it as a place where their worm never dies and their fire is never to be quenched.
Gehenna is identical in meaning with the "lake of fire" (Rev. 19:20; 20:10,14-15).
Moreover, the "second death" and "the lake of fire" are identical terms (Rev 20:14).
These latter scriptural expressions describe the eternal state of the wicked as forever separated from God and consigned to the special abode of unrepentant angels and people in the eternal state.
THE STATE OF MANKIND...
Man is an Eternal Being. In this way, he belongs to the same class as God. If he dies a criminal, then he enters eternity as an eternal criminal. Logically, as it is on earth there is an eternal prison—the criminals must be segregated. If they were permitted to roam indiscriminately throughout eternity, they would demoralize the New Heaven and the New Earth. We have Jails, State Prisons, and Federal Prisons for the criminals who break the laws of man. Who can raise a protest against God if he has a prison in which are incarcerated the men who have violated the Laws of Heaven, and who are eternal criminals.
"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels... And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." Matthew 25:41,46
Now it has become the Jail and the Home for the wicked human; it is called the place of eternal punishment or constraint; a place out of which no pardon has yet gone or ever can go; no pardon can reach them, horrible as it may seem.
"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 Peter 2:4
"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. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit." Revelation 9:1-2
A PLACE OF ETERNAL REGRET...
Jesus gives a picture of Hell that only he could give...THIS IS NOT A PARABLE! It is not scripturally placed among the parables of Jesus. He says "A certain Rich Man." He is quoting history and He gives a description of Hell and of torment, of conscious intelligible torment that surpasses Dante in his Inferno, or Milton in his Paradise Lost. No human literature can quite describe Hell as Christ does...
Lazarus and the Rich Man:
"There was a certain rich man," Jesus said, "who was splendidly clothed and lived each day in mirth and luxury. One day Lazarus, a diseased beggar, was laid at his door. As he lay there longing for scraps from the rich man's table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores. Finally, the beggar died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham in the place of the righteous dead. The rich man also died and was buried, and his soul went into hell. There, in torment, he saw Lazarus in the far distance with Abraham.
"'Father Abraham,' he shouted, 'have some pity! Send Lazarus over here if only to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in these flames.' "But Abraham said to him, 'Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted and you are in anguish. And besides, there is a great chasm separating us, and anyone wanting to come to you from here is stopped at its edge; and no one over there can cross to us.'
"Then the rich man said, 'O Father Abraham, then please send him to my father's home — for I have five brothers — to warn them about this place of torment lest they come here when they die.' "But Abraham said, 'The Scriptures have warned them again and again. Your brothers can read them any time they want to.'
"The rich man replied, 'No, Father Abraham, they won't bother to read them. But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will turn from their sins.' "But Abraham said, 'If they won't listen to Moses and the prophets, they won't listen even though someone rises from the dead.'"
During the Old Testament times, the underworld was divided into Two. One side for the Righteous and the other side for the wicked people. There was a great gulf fixed between them so that none could cross over.
The rich man went to Hell because he had broken the fundamental principles of the Mosaic Law: He did not Love his neighbor as Himself. The whole Law was summed up in this "Thou shalt Love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself." This he had broken and was paying the penalty for it.
Notice some significant facts about the man that went to Hell. "And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment." Notice that he has all the faculties of the Soul. Remember, man is not a physical being; he is primarily a spirit that has a soul and lives in a body. The physical Body is just the earthly outerwear needed to survive on the earth while you are here.
His tongue was burning in the intense heat (Vs. 23), "For I am in anguish in this flame." Whether we want to insist that this is purely figurative language or not, is irrelevant. The fact is, Jesus declared that this man was in torment in the flames. If the flame was simply a figurative burning conscience, then give me literal fire!
(Vs. 25) "Son, remember." Lazarus remembered. Memory Lives on in Hell. Two things will haunt a person in Hell. 1) The sins that he has committed against God and man. 2) That he had an opportunity to escape it, but he resolutely preferred Hell to Heaven.
Herein lies the eternal regret...
We sow our lives in the face of constant warning towards an eternal hell, but we refuse to listen; neglect to change our attitudes and choices, preferring Hell to Heaven. Hell is a place of anguish, with a great gulf fixed so that there is no passing over from one side to the other. There is no second probation here. Purgatory, as you have probably already surmised, is a lie from the Evil One to keep man forever refusing to face his options and guide his life accordingly. The man, who is guilty enough to be sent to Hell, is guilty enough to stay in Hell.
Now to the most pathetic things of all (Vs. 27-28): He said (paraphrased) "Will you not send Lazarus up to the Earth? I have five brothers there, lest they also come into this place of torment." What a hopeless request! What a great preacher somebody would make fresh from the agonies from Hell. What a passion that preacher would have to warn of that place, never to go there... Jimi Hendrix would not come back to play the 'Star Spangled Banner' on his guitar one more time. You couldn't even get him to talk about music at all; he would answer no questions about his untimely death; he would but shriek out constant passionate warnings about the place he just came from. But men would not listen to his message.
The Bible says that Lazarus prayed to Abraham for the warning to go to his five brothers... I ask you, how many souls in HELL are praying for you?
Some of the most intelligent people we have on this earth believe that they can keep the subject of heaven and hell and the sufferings of Christ from their minds, or stay away from places where they hear it preached—that they will somehow escape the responsibility of knowledge and that in itself will prove their salvation from Hell. A dangerous way to think, which could not possibly be more wrong!!
But the answer came (Vs. 29), "They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them" Nay father Abraham, but if one go from here up there, him they will listen to." But did they? Jesus went from Hell's dark dungeons and awful fiery sufferings up to the earth and gave his testimony, but have men heeded it? No, mankind ridicules it today.
WHO GOES TO HELL...
"The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." Psalm 9:16-17
Every Person who refuses to recognize the Lordship of Jesus Christ or confess Him as Savior will go to Hell. There is no distinction; "Unless a person is born from above, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God;" he will enter the Kingdom of Satan.
There will be no Educational test, No financial test; the person who is not cleansed by the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ will go to Hell as surely as does the Devil.
Man does not go to Hell because of what he has done, But because of what he is. Man goes to Hell on purely intellectual grounds; he can evade it if he wishes. He goes to Hell today in the face of modern civilization with his eyes wide open, and because he prefers Hell to Heaven. He goes there cause he has served self, and Satan and because he prefers Satan as his god to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
"But I did the best I could?" Did you? Let's look at your choices! Which choices have you made ignorantly? And which ones have you made purposefully in rebellion to what you knew was the right?
A man goes to Hell because sin is more attractive to him, and Hell, more desirable than heaven is. Be sure about one thing, whatever you sow, you shall also reap.
What about Children?
Thank God that babies and young children do not go to Hell, for they do not know right from wrong—Good from Evil. They are still innocent... A baby cannot forget or ignore that which he was never able to comprehend in the first place...
Is it too late for me?
Thankfully and graciously, there is still time for you today. The right choice can still be made right now, but please do not delay. Hell is REAL! And you do NOT want to go there.
"For He says: 'In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.' Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." 2 Corinthians 6:2