Time, Truth, & Wisdom

Chapter 17---Hell

     We sure know how to use this word in our normal conversations, don’t we?

 

     “I’ll see you in hell first!”

 

     ....is used to indicate that someone is not going to do what you wanted them to do and they’ll go to hell to prove it.

 

     “It’ll be a cold day in hell before I let that happen!”

 

     This pretty much falls in line with the first one: a declaration of determination.

 

     “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”

 

     ....would lead one to believe that maybe you shouldn’t make the little woman too unhappy, and continuing with this particular thought, in the Book of Proverbs we find:

     Proverbs 21:9 It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.

     It’s better to live in a small space in the attic, away from this woman, than down on the main floor with her when she is on a rampage.

     Goody-goody Christians try to make us believe that if they ever spoke the word hell that they would just die of embarrassment and spend the rest of their lives asking for God’s forgiveness. However, there are times when they want to show us that they can communicate on “our level” and instead of using the word hell they will say:

 

     “H-E-Double hockey sticks”.

 

     How juvenile can a person get? Just say the damn word and get over it. Oooops.

     The Westminster Confession of 1646 presents the historic Protestant view of hell as follows:

     “...but the wicked, who know not God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”

      Protestants traditionally believe that hell will be a place of unending conscious torment, both physically and mentally and spiritually.

     The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church presents this view:

     “....we cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: ‘He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him’.

 

     Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren. To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called ‘hell’”.

     By tradition, Catholicism believes in the existence of a place called Purgatory which is different from hell in that it is a temporary place where unrepented sins are purified from the soul before being allowed to enter heaven. Unlike hell, you can eventually escape from Purgatory and enter the eternal Kingdom.

     Limbo is the afterlife for those that die before they are baptized, especially children who die at birth but are not guilty of committing a mortal sin.

 

     In the eyes of the church every human being is born with Original Sin on their soul, from the transgression of Adam and Eve in the Garden, and since this sin is retained until baptism is performed, the Catholic Church believes that this soul cannot enter into the Kingdom of God and it is therefore placed in limbo.

 

     Forever. Neither purgatory nor limbo is mentioned in the King James Bible.

     In fact, reading our Father's Word, we find out that Original Sin is a lie, Purgatory is a lie, and Limbo is a lie. Thank you, established religion.

     The Greek Eastern Orthodox Church traditionally defines hell in the sense of an underworld where the dead await resurrection and the damned are thrown into the fires of hell on Judgment Day and not at the time of death.

 

     They teach that both God’s Elect and the lost enter into the presence of God after death and that the elect experience God’s presence as light and rest, while the lost experience it as darkness and torment. Hell to them is the dreadful anticipation of Judgment Day while the elect awaits the resurrection of the dead.

     The teachings of Protestant Universalism by MacDonald, Barth and others, believe that:

     “.....after serving their sentence in Gehenna that all souls are reconciled to God and admitted to heaven or ways are found at the time of death of drawing all souls to repentance so that no ‘hellish’ suffering is experienced.”

     Christian Scientists define hell in this way:

     “....mortal belief; error; lust; remorse; hatred; revenge; sin; sickness; death; suffering; and self-destruction; self-imposed agony; effects of sin; that which worketh abomination or maketh a lie. (Science and Health with Key to the Scripture by Mary Baker Eddy.)"

     The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints views hell from two different aspects: they believe in a concept of hell as a state of punishment. Righteous people, Latter-day Saints notwithstanding, will be resurrected and live with Christ on earth after His return.

 

     In the time period between death and resurrection, those that rejected the Gospel or had no chance to hear the truth will reside in a spiritual prison awaiting teaching and judgment.

 

     The second aspect is that during the millennial reign of Christ both mortal and immortal peoples will coexist. After the 1000 years of the Millennium, those in the spiritual prison will be resurrected and be given an immortal physical body. They explain the descriptions of hell as being eternal or endless, as being descriptive of their sins by God, rather than an unending period of punishment. Latter-day Saint scripture quotes God as telling Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Mormon religion:

     “I am endless, and the punishment which is given of my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore, eternal punishment is God’s punishment. Endless punishment is God’s punishment.”

     There will be NO MORTAL "PEOPLE" during the Millennium. At Christs' return, on the Lord's Day, all flesh is done away with as we ALL transcend or transition into our spiritual bodies.

     Seventh-day Adventists do not believe that sinners will spend eternity in hell but rather they will suffer conditional immortality. They also believe in the doctrine called soul sleep. They believe that at the second coming of Christ that He will resurrect the righteous that have died and take them to heaven.

 

     God will then kill the unrighteous which will leave only Satan and his fallen angels on earth. After the Millennium Christ will return with His righteous, the New Jerusalem will be set up, Christ will resurrect the wicked and they will surround the New City, along with Satan. God will then destroy Satan, his angels and wicked humanity by fire. This view of hell is known as annihilationism.

     Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that hell, as translated from shoel and hades is mankind’s common grave for the good and the bad while Gehenna signifies eternal destruction. The idea of eternal torment is inconsistent with God and his love. Hades is emptied during the judgment of Revelation.

     I have given you a listing of several major denominations; Protestants, Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Universalism, Latter-day Saints, 7th day Adventists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses and their views of hell, not to point out errors or belittle them because of differing beliefs, but to give you an overview of how each church differs, one from the other.

 

     Collectively, their viewpoints are determined by the higher authority of the church system. Not one denomination uses the first verse from God’s Word, the Scriptures, to define their definition of hell.

     So, with that thought in mind, let's find out what Father's Word tell us about Hell. In the English-translated version of the King James Bible, 1611, all occurrences of the word hell in the Old and New Testaments can be found in only three words:

     1.) In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word Sheol is always referenced as a temporary resting place for the soul.

     2.) In the New Testament, the Greek word hades is always referenced as a temporary resting place for the soul.

     3.) In the New Testament, the Greek word Gehenna is always referenced as an eternal place for the soul to go.

     Let's take a look at the Hebrew and Greek definitions of Shoel, hades, and Gehenna:

     Hell_OT:7585 she'owl (sheh-ole'); or sheol (sheh-ole'); from OT:7592; Hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranean retreat), including its accessories and inmates:  KJV - grave, hell, pit.
 

     Strong's number OT:7585 is the ONLY word for hell throughout the entire Old Testament. Now, for the New Testament..

     ✡ Hell_ NT:86 haides (hah'-dace); from NT:1 (as negative particle) and NT:1492; properly, unseen, i.e. "Hades" or the place (state) of departed souls:

     ✡ Hell_ NT:5020 tartaroo (tar-tar-o'-o); from Tartaros (the deepest abyss of Hades); to incarcerate in eternal torment:

     This is a special word and used only in the Book of Jude and applies to the 7000 fallen angels.

     This "everlasting punishment" will be explained a little further into this study.

     For the soul to be placed in a temporary holding place (Sheol or hades) would indicate that further action is going to happen to that soul; it is awaiting Judgment Day by our Father.

 

     If a soul is in Sheol or hades it indicates that that soul did not overcome in this life; they have passed on from this life and didn’t quite make it. The final outcome for these souls depends on what choices and decisions they make during the Millennium IF they indeed get the opportunity to go through the Millennium.

 

     People who lived their lives in the flesh with total disregard of God’s laws and commandment will never see the Millennium. Their soul will go straight to…..the Lake of Fire. I’m not judging them, that’s just a straight and simple fact from our Father.

     For a soul to be in an eternal holding place, Gehenna indicates that conditions are final; it is the final abode of evil souls and ungodly people. Satan included. Jesus Christ was the only one who ever used the word hell (Gehenna) throughout all of Scripture with the exception of the book of James 3:6.

 

     Gehenna is used, in this sense, figuratively because the eternal holding place of souls that did not overcome will be the Lake of Fire and it is eternal in the sense that soon after the last Judgment is over this lake will be sealed forever and all that once offended will be blotted out forever and ever.   

 

     Gehenna, also a physical location, is known as the “valley of Hinnom” or the “valley of slaughter”, and is located to the west and southwest of the city of Jerusalem. It’s a deep and narrow ravine and served as the garbage pit for the citizens of Jerusalem.

 

     Sewer systems would empty into this ravine to be washed away by the occasional rainfall. Jesus used this word to demonstrate a condition of degradation that the soul will find itself in when covered with unforgiven sin.

     In the book of 1st Kings 11:7 King Solomon built a “high place” for the people to worship the pagan god Molech:

     1st Kings 11:7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.

     Molech was the god of the Ammonites and parents would offer up their infant children to this god. The idol was made of brass with outstretched arms. The people would build a fire underneath these arms and lay their infants on them to burn them and offer them to the god Molech. This was not a practice that God told them to do nor did He approve of it as written in Jeremiah 7:31:

     Jeremiah 7:31 And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.

     Our Father said that it never crossed His mind that we should do such a thing. The valley of Hinnom will also be the place where the final war of this dispensation, Armageddon, will be fought and is the reason it is referred to as the valley of slaughter.

     So, if there is no hell where souls will burn for eternity, what happens to them? We know that the souls of those that overcome Satan will be in heaven but what happens to those that don’t overcome Satan? Let’s talk about what happens to all souls at the time of our physical death, the death of this flesh body.

     Everybody has heard the story of Lazarus and the rich man. And many preachers have told the flock for centuries that being rich is the greatest hindrance to entering the kingdom of heaven.

 

     “Give all you have to me or the poor.”

 

     And they back that up by saying:

 

     “It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven”

 

     So give all your money to me....and of course, they are quoting Christ from Matthew 19:24:

    Matthew 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

     I know that this is a digression from the subject of hell that I was talking about but since I brought it up and I’m the one writing this book I’ll go ahead and explain what Matthew 19:24 really means. It is a figure of speech that has nothing to do with rich people getting into or being kept out of heaven.  

     In the Old Testament, many cities built walls around themselves for protection against their enemies. During the daylight hours, there were several main gates that were open throughout the day to allow for unhindered access into and out of the city. But come sundown all main gates were locked and all access into and out of the city was controlled by a smaller gate, a part of the main gate and this smaller gate was called the “needle gate”.

 

     People could easily walk through this gate but if you had a camel that was loaded high with goods or possessions then these had to be taken off of the camel and the camel would have to get down on its knees in order to crawl through this smaller gate.

     The analogy and point being made by Christ is that you can’t take material possessions into heaven with you. It doesn’t mean that if you are wealthy that you can’t enter the eternal kingdom but if you focus all of your time and efforts in this life to gain these riches then chances are you have ignored your spiritual side and you will fall short of the mark.

 

     It’s not a sin to be well-off if you have gained this wealth according to God’s laws. It’s quite different if you got it by ripping-off the people. Not too hard to understand, is it?

 

     Alright, back to Lazarus and the rich man.

     Luke 16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,

     Luke 16:21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

     Luke 16:22 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;

     Luke 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

     The word “hell” in verse 23 is haides or hades.

     Luke 16:24 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.

     Luke 16:25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

     This word “evil” in the 25th verse is a bad translation of the Greek word kakos which actually means “worthless”. Lazarus received worthless things.

     Luke 16:26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

     The words that we should be most aware of are found in verse 26: a great gulf fixed. What we have been given here is a picture of what Paradise looks like. Paradise is a temporary holding place for souls. And according to verse 26, there are two sides to paradise; both being separated by a fixed gulf that will not allow souls on one side to pass over to souls on the other side.

     One side contains souls that have not overcome (the rich man), and the other side contains souls that have overcome (Lazarus) and are in the presence of the Lord. The rich man is tormented by the knowledge that he has screwed up and he can see the peacefulness being experienced by the souls on the other side of the gulf and their close proximity to our Lord.

     The Apocrypha is a collection of books that at one time were a part of the King James Bible but over time and with protests from various religious groups they have been omitted in recent publications.

 

     The main reason being that they were not included in the Jewish version of the Bible and ultimately were not canonized as were the other 66 books in the Old and New Testaments (39 OT and 27 NT). This by no means diminishes the scholarly value of the Apocrypha.

     There are two books in the Apocrypha named 1 Esdras and 2 Esdras. Esdras is a variation of the name Ezra who wrote the Book of Ezra of the Old Testament. I want to go to 2 Esdras because there we can find out what the souls on the left side of Paradise are thinking and experiencing.

 

     I will be quoting from Edgar J. Goodspeed’s American Translation of the Apocrypha which is the only complete book of the Apocrypha, beginning with 7:79:

               First way is that they have scorned the Law of the Most High;

     They didn’t follow the commandment of the living God.

               The second way is that they can no longer make a good repentance, so that they may live;

     The time for repenting of their sins is over and their soul will die, which is called the second death.

               The third way is that they will see the reward destined for those who have believed the agreements

 of the Most High;

     They can see the rewards that will be given to the souls that overcame on judgment day

               The forth way is that they will consider the torment destined for them in the last days;

     They will have time to think about the error of their ways and their unforgiven sins. And did it say for an eternity? No, it said in the last days.

               The fifth way is that they will see that the dwelling places of the others are guarded by angels in

                profound silence;

     Profound silence is total, absolute, all-encompassing peace. And they will be able to see it and it will torment them.

               The sixth way is that they will see that some of them will pass over to be tormented henceforth;

    It won’t be long before some of them will experience the torment.

               The seventh way, which is worse than all the ways that have been mentioned, is that they will

 waste away in shame and be consumed in disgrace, and wither with fear, at seeing the glory of the Most High before whom they sinned while they lived, and before whom they are destined to be judged in the last times.

     They will feel the gut-wrenching fear that penetrates their very soul that comes from the knowledge that they will soon die a spiritual death. And it’s all due to the decisions that they made in this life. And now it’s too late.

     These seven ways are what hell is all about. It’s not flames licking at your feet or ghouls or some cheap Hollywood thriller. It’s the dread in the pit of their stomach that becomes stronger and stronger with every passing minute because they understand that they can no longer make a good repentance.

 

     It didn’t seem important while they were in the flesh;

 

     “Hey, I don’t have time for this God crap!”

 

     And now there is no more time.  And now they understand. I think that we can see, at this point anyway, that the words sheol, hades and Gehenna, from which the English word hell has been translated, does not indicate a literal, permanent place of hellfire and brimstone.

     At the moment of physical death our spiritual body comes forth and it, along with our soul and spirit, go back to the Father that gave it. But what about this spiritual body?

 

     In 1st Corinthians 15:44, Paul tells us that the spiritual body is raised incorruptible which means that it will never get sick; bones won’t break; it will never get old; it will never get the flu and it will never die except that God Himself destroys it. In the next chapter we’ll go into the differences between the flesh and spiritual bodies.

     In essence, since flesh and blood cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven so also the flesh body cannot enter into hell.

 

     1st Corinthians 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

     And if the spiritual body is incorruptible then it could not feel the pain of hellfire and flames and hot coals anyway. Hell has to be an awareness of the soul; the knowledge of what it could have been and the certainty of what it will never be.

      There is one more word that can be associated with the word hell and it is found in the Book of 2nd Peter 2:4;

     2nd Peter 2:4 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;

     The word hell used here is: tartaroo (tar-tar-o’-o); from Tartaros (the deepest abyss of Hades); to incarcerate in eternal torment.

     It is the holding place of the seven thousand angels of Genesis chapter six, who left their habitation and took wives of Adam’s daughters.

 

     Figuratively, they are being held in chains by the Archangel Michael, awaiting certain death on Judgment Day. This is a special place just for them and we will never have to worry about being sent there.

     Is there a place where souls will perish by fire? Yes, there is but it won’t happen until after the Great White Throne Judgment and it won’t last for an eternity. You’ll find out where that place is shortly.