". . . testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment."
(The rich man in Hell) (Luke 16:28)
By Noel Chartier
"There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 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; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 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. 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. 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. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." (Luke 16:19-31)
In this article we would like to give a brief dissertation on the doctrine of Hell. The Lord taught more on hell than he did of heaven, so I believe that our teaching should reflect proportionately with that of our Lord. But it seems that in these last days many are either compromising the Biblical teaching of Hell, or else avoiding the subject all together, perhaps because it is not a "positive" message. Perhaps those who would hold forth the Word of God are worried that they might scare away those in their assemblies, and so they shrink back from preaching "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27) which would be contrary to their "church growth" principles. But we are clearly told by our Lord Jesus Christ to teach those who become believers "all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Mt. 28:19-20). This is a most important principle, which is coupled with the Great Commission to go forth and preach the gospel to all creatures.
The apostle Paul tells us to "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (1Tim. 4:16). This would be the mark of a true disciple "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32). Paul told Timothy to "give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine" (1Tim. 4:13) and to "charge some that they teach no other doctrine" (1Tim. 1:3). He counted the Word of God as a sacred "trust" (1Tim. 6:20) that ought to be committed "to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." (2Tim. 2:2) This is a high and commendable work so Paul said let those "who labour in the word and doctrine" (1Tim. 5:17) be counted worthy of a double honour.
There would be a great and specific purpose for such exhortation in preaching the Word, primarily for the salvation of lost souls, but Paul would tell Timothy to "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2Tim. 4:2-4). This would be the characteristic of the latter days, a "departing from the faith" (1Tim. 4:1) that would lead to "perilous times" (2Tim. 3:1). So, as the Lord told his disciples to "watch" , the apostle Paul tells his young disciple Timothy to "watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry" (2Tim. 4:5). Likewise, we too are to "Hold fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers" (Titus 1:9).
Hell: A Real Place With Literal Fire
Many religious leaders these days, from the highest levels, at the least, are sowing doubt into their followers as to the reality of Hell, and that it is a real place, with literal fire and brimstone, where the lost will spend eternity in conscious torment. Pope John Paul II said recently, "Hell is not a punishment imposed externally by God, but the condition resulting from attitudes and actions which people adopt in this life." He added, "Hell exists, [but] not as a place . . . " Some of this seems similar to Billy Graham's view, who recently stated in Time magazine (November 15, 1993), "The only thing I could say for sure is that hell means separation from God. We are separated from his light, from his fellowship. That is going to be hell. When it comes to a literal fire, I don't preach it because I'm not sure about it. When the Scripture uses fire concerning hell, that is possibly an illustration of how terrible it's going to be, not fire but something worse, a thirst for God that cannot be quenched." But the Bible teaches that hell is ever bit as real as heaven, and that it is a place with literal fire, where unbelievers will spend eternity in conscious torment, and that God does impose Hell as a punishment for those who reject His salvation and offer of grace and mercy provided for by His Son.
There is probably no doctrine of the Bible more hated by unbelievers than the doctrine of everlasting punishment. But the Bible is very clear concerning this doctrine. "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt" (Dan 12:2). "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). Jesus warned, "it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where . . . the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:47-48). Christ will say to the goats on his left hand, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels . . . these shall go away into everlasting punishment" (Mt. 25:41, 46). Paul also warned that those "who obey not the gospel . . . shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord" (2Thes. 1:8-9). Everlasting contempt, everlasting fire, everlasting destruction, and everlasting punishment await all those who reject God and His Christ through the Word.
What is Hell?
Hell is a lake of fire (Rev. 20:15).
A devouring fire (Isaiah 33:14).
A bottomless pit (Rev. 20:1).
Everlasting burnings. (Isaiah 33:14).
A furnace of fire (Matt. 13:41,42).
A place of torments (Luke 16:23).
Where they curse God (Rev. 16:11).
Where they can never repent (Matt. 12:32).
A place where they have no rest (Rev. 14:11).
A place of everlasting punishment (Matt. 25:46).
A place of blackness of darkness forever (Jude 13).
A place where they gnaw their tongues (Rev. 16:10).
A place where their breath will be a living flame (Isaiah 33:11).
A place prepared for the Devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41).
A lake of fire into which the Antichrist and the False Prophet are cast alive (Rev. 19:20).
A place from which the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and forever (Rev. 14:11).
A place where they drink the wine of the wrath of God (Rev. 14:10).
A place where they do not want their loved ones to come (Luke 16:28).
A place where there are murderers, liars, the fearful and abominable (Rev. 21:8).
A place where there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth (Mt. 13:42).
Where Does Man Go When He Dies?
The patriarch Job proposed the question "But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?" (Job 14:10) That is a good question to ponder. From a physical point of view, when a man dies, we see that his body is buried in the grave. That certainly is the visible evidence as to what happens to his body, but what about the soul or the spirit of man? Does it go with the body to the grave? Or does it go to sleep (soul-sleep), or to "limbo", as some of the modern-day cults teach? Or does it go to heaven or hell? These are most important questions that many are uncertain of, but we can rest assured that the Bible has the answer, and therein we have all things that pertain to life and godliness.
While this is not intended to be a lengthy discussion in regards to the teaching on Hell, we will try to give enough Scripture to lay a foundation for this doctrine, that if one desires to search the Scriptures whether these things are so, he might be able to use this as a stepping stone for his own individual and personal study.
In the Bible, the words "Sheol" (OT Hebrew), and the word "Hades" (NT Greek), are the words used for the same place. While "Sheol" is translated as hell 31 times, grave 31 times and pit 3 times, and "Hades" is translated hell 10 times and grave once, we believe that Sheol and Hades never mean the grave, but always the place of departed spirits. The Hebrew (OT) word for grave is "Queber" , which is translated sepulcher 5 times, grave 4 times, burial 4 times and burying place once. The Greek (NT) word for grave is "Mnemeion" , which is translated as sepulcher 29 times, grave 8 times and tomb 5 times.
The reason the translators rendered "Sheol" as the grave in certain passages was that they did not discern that "Sheol" had two compartments . They therefore did not see "Sheol" as the place where both the spirits of Old Testament saints along with the spirits of the wicked would go. Therefore, they would at times erroneously translate "Sheol" as grave. They could not see it being translated as Hell in certain passages because this was where the saints were said to go at death, so they rendered it in these passages as grave.
For example, the first mention in the Bible of the word "Sheol" is in Genesis 37:35. When the patriarch Jacob was lamenting over the death of his son Joseph, he said, "I will go down into the grave [Sheol] unto my son mourning." No one could ever imagine Jacob going down to Hell to his son Jacob, but neither did Jacob believe that his son Joseph went to the grave, but that "an evil beast hath devoured him" (Genesis 37:33) and tore him to pieces. Besides, the Hebrew word for grave is Queber not Sheol. It is the lifeless body that is buried in the grave after the body gives up the spirit at death, but the souls of the saved as well as the unsaved, in the OT, went down to Sheol. It was the place where disembodied spirits go, which we will see was divided into two compartments. The Old Testament saints such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were "gathered to his people" (Genesis 25:8, 35:29, 49:33) in the upper compartment of Sheol, called "paradise" , but their bodies were buried in the grave (Heb. Queber). The lost were designated to the lower compartment to await the "day of judgment".
The Location of Sheol
As to the location of Sheol, the Scriptures are very clear, for it is the place that our Lord descended when he gave up the ghost at Calvary. Jesus said, "as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Mt. 12:40). When the Lord Jesus died his body went to the grave but His soul went down to Sheol or Hades . We know this because the prophet David said concerning Christ, "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (Sheol); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (Psalm 16:10). But Isaiah makes it clear that his body went to the grave for he said of Him that "he made his grave (Queber) with the wicked, and with the rich in his death" (Isaiah 53:9). The apostle Peter brought both of these Scriptures together on the day of Pentecost when he preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead saying "that his soul was not left in hell (Hades) , neither his flesh (in the grave) did see corruption" (Acts 2:31). These Scriptures in the OT & NT also show explicitly that Hades and Sheol are one and the same place, which is located at the center or the "heart of the earth" .
Perhaps another reason the translators thought that Sheol at times meant the grave was that those who go there are said to be "brought down" , or "go down" , or they "went down" , or "descend" , and both the wicked as well as the righteous are said to descend down to it, which could lead one to think that it would be the grave which is common to the lost as well as the saved. Job said "O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave (Sheol) , that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!" (Job. 14:13) Pharoah and his entire multitude are also said to descend down to Sheol, to "the pit" , to the "nether parts of the earth" (Ezek. 31:14-18).
But we also learn from the Scriptures that there is a division of this place at the center of the earth, into an upper and lower compartment separated by a great gulf. The upper compartment is called "paradise" or "Abraham's bosom" , and the lower compartment is called "the lowest hell" (Sheol) (Deut. 32:22, Psalm 86:13). It is this lower compartment in Sheol that may rightly be rendered Hell, for it is the abode of the spirits of wicked and unregenerate men.
That Sheol or Hades is divided into two compartments is clear from the teaching of the Lord Jesus concerning the "Rich man and Lazarus" (Luke 16:19-31). When Lazarus died he was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom and was comforted. But when the rich man died he was buried "And in hell (Hades) he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom." The rich man said "I am tormented in this flame" and his desire was for Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool his tongue. But Abraham said this would not be possible. For "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."
Jesus said, "if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24). He also said to those who would die in their sins "whither I go, ye cannot come" (John 8:21). Death seals the eternal state and destiny of every individual, there is no second chance. "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still" (Rev. 22:11). This is the final state of man when death overtakes him, after rejecting Christ and His pardon for sin. It is sin that defiles a man (Mt. 15:18-20). "And there shall in no wise enter into [Heaven] any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Rev. 21:27).
In the NT this lower compartment is called "Tartaros" . This is the place where the "angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation" (Jude 6) were delivered in the days of Noah (Genesis 6). "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell (Tartaros) , and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment" (2Peter 2:4). It is the same place where all unbelievers go when they die, to be "reserved . . . unto the day of judgment" (2Peter 2:9) at the Great White Throne. This is the place prepared for the devil and his angels (Mt. 25:41), which agrees with the "lake of fire" , which is the final Hell. Here they will be delivered to be tormented day and night, where there will be wailing and gnash of teeth in the unquenchable fire. As the throne of God is forever and ever (Heb. 1:8), so will be the torment of the wicked (Rev. 19:20, 20:10).
What is also now necessary to discern from the Scriptures, which "cannot be broken" , is that the place of comfort called Paradise and Abraham's bosom, in Hades, where Lazarus went when he died, has now been moved from the "heart of the earth" up to the "third heaven" which Paul called "paradise" (2Cor. 12:1-4), wherein is "the tree of life" (Rev. 2:7).
We might ask, when did Paradise change locations? By examining a few Scriptures, I believe that it is possible to come to a right conclusion. First, when Christ was on the cross, He told the thief "today shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43), yet three days later, when he arose from the dead, he said he had not yet ascended to heaven (John 20:17). And before Christ came from heaven to earth, he said, "no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven" (John 3:13). When Christ died, He first descended down to the lower parts of the earth. After He cried "It is finished" , and was "put to death in the flesh" (1Peter 3:18), his body was laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea, but his Spirit descended down to Paradise or Abraham's bosom, in Hades, with the thief on the cross, where he "preached unto the spirits in prison" (1Peter 3:19).
But on the third day, when he rose from the dead, He lead a multitude of captives up to the glories of heaven, leading them in victory. "Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)" (Eph. 4:8-10) In the margin of this verse it says that he lead "a multitude of captives" . When John saw Jesus Christ in the Revelation, He said "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell (Hades) and of death" (Rev. 1:18). Christ alone had the key to unlock the door of Hades that He might lead captivity captive when he ascended up on high, where He is now exalted to the right hand of God, the hosts of heaven round about Him to adore Him, their Lord and Saviour.
These captives, or "prisoners of hope" , our Lord says, "by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth . . . out of the pit" (Zech. 9:11-12). Now that the Lamb of God had been slain, and the ransom price for their redemption paid to take away their sins, He could now deliver them "out of the pit" to be with Him for ever more (Hosea 13:14, Psalm 49:15). "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison" (1Peter 3:18-19). He came "to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound" (Isaiah 61:1). "To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house" (Isaiah 42:7). "That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness" (Isaiah 49:9). "Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel" (Isaiah 44:23).
Those who were in the Paradise side of Hades were those Old Testament saints who were justified by faith, but not yet "made perfect" (Heb. 12:22-24). "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect" (Heb. 10:1). But now, after Christ "had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever . . . hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified" (Heb. 10:12-14). Before Christ had "given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God" (Eph. 5:1), and ascended to heaven, their sins were not yet "put away" , but now Christ hath "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Heb. 9:26) and become "the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance" (Heb. 9:15).
Where now do the Saints go at Death?
Today, in regards to the church, our Lord says, "the gates of hell (Hades) shall not prevail against it" (Mt. 16:18). Those who now die in the faith are said to be "absent from the body and . . . present with the Lord" (2Cor. 5:8). They "depart . . . to be with Christ; which is far better" (Phil. 1:23), who is at the right hand of God in heaven. Now that their sin debt has been paid in full, and taken away by the Lamb of God, they may enter into His very presence in the heaven of heavens.
Hades at this time may now be said to be the prison where the unjust are reserved "unto the day of judgment to be punished" (2Peter 2:9). The Righteous have been removed from this place to be with Christ when He ascended up on high, so the wicked alone are left in Hades. While Hades claims the soul, and death the body, both of these (Death and Hades) will be cast into the lake of fire that burneth with fire and brimstone at the "great white throne" judgment (Rev. 20:14), which will take place at the end of Christ's millennial reign (Rev. 19:20, 20:10-11, 14-15). The sea will give up the dead (bodies of those from the Genesis flood), and death or the grave will give up the dead (bodies buried), and Hades (place of disembodied spirits) will deliver up the dead which are there (Rev. 20:13), and they "shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Rev. 21:8). Also known as the "ressurection of damnation" (John 5:29).
Peter says, "The heavens and the earth, which are now . . . are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men" (2Peter 3:7). John said, "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God" (Rev. 20:11-12). At the end of the millennial reign of Christ the heavens and earth, which are now, shall be folded up as a garment, and the elements thereof shall be melt with fervent heat. The dead shall seek to hide "from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne" (Rev. 6:16), but there will be no place left for them to hide.
Those who have rejected Christ as Savior will be raised from the dead to face Him as their Judge. "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son" (John 5:22). At this time they will be judged "according to their works" , whereby no man can be saved, then cast alive to spend eternity in the place originally prepared for the devil and his angels, in the torments of the everlasting lake of fire, which will be their portion in the blackness of darkness forever.
The Lake of Fire
In the NT, the lake of fire was likened to a place in the OT called Tophet, which was in the valley of Hinnom (Isaiah 30:33, Jer. 7:31), south of Jerusalem. It was the place where apostate Israel burnt "their sons and their daughters in the fire" (2 Chr. 33:6, Jer. 32:35), as they joined the pagan worshippers of Baal and Molech. In later days the filth and dung of the city was brought into it. Malefactors were also buried there where the worm was said to never die. The fire there never went out and the smoke ascended up continually. But it has far greater meaning than just a garbage dump or cemetery "For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared (devil) ; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it" (Isaiah 30:33).
Christ used this place to depict the eternal fires of Hell, which He called Gehenna (Ge-Hinnom). Jesus warned, "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna) " (Mt. 10:28). He said, "if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire (Gehenna) " (Mark 9:47).
Hades took the soul, while the grave claimed the body, but there will be a resurrection of the unjust (Acts 24:15), called the "resurrection of damnation" (John 5:29); where they will face Christ as Judge (2Tim 4:1), then cast body and soul into hell (Gehenna). Jesus said, "But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell (Gehenna) ; yea, I say unto you, Fear him" (Luke 12:5). If death was an end of consciousness, just an endless soul sleep, there would be no need to fear any consequence after death, and this Scripture would be meaningless, but in Gehenna they will in "flaming fire . . . be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord" (2Thes. 1:9).
Everlasting Life or Everlasting Destruction?
Choose this Day!
While this may not be a "positive" message, there is hope for those who have not yet departed from their body, that they may with all certainty know that they will never have to face the wrath of God and the Lake of Fire, which we call Hell. If while there is yet breath in our lungs, if anyone call upon the name of the Lord, and "confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." For He is rich to all that call upon Him, and this is His promise, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:9-13).
"Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And . . . he was buried, and . . . he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (1Cor. 15:3-4). "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:25). Our God desires "all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all" (1Tim. 2:4-6). "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture" (John 10:9). "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Won't you receive God's Son by faith today and receive the gift of eternal
"this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life,
and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that
hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto
you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye
have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God"
"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain
salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake
or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves
together, and edify one another, even as also ye do"