WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT HELL?
HELL IS A REALITY
An earmark of cultic religions is their views about hell. If they do not use the fear of going to hell to bring people into bondage, then they try to discount hell altogether. One of Satan's favorite lies is to try to convince people that they suffer their hell on earth and that there is none hereafter. He also tries to get them to believe the lie that death only brings a state of sleep or rest. Another doctrine teaches that hell is only temporary and eventually after being in the fires of hell people become cleansed and purified to the degree that they will then be accepted into heaven. These terrible heresies are believed by many Christians who are ignorant of what God's Word has to say about it. Cults also teach that hell is a place where souls are simply annihilated and therefore no longer exist. Some teach reincarnation, giving people another chance to be born on this earth for as many times as it takes to become purified, progressing to higher forms each time they return. Others say hell is only a place away from God, but it is not a literal burning fiery hell. All of these are lies of Satan to cause people to minimize the reality of hell.
What does the Bible say about hell? To make a point, Jesus described this place as such a place of horror that it would be better to sever a member of our body that would lead us there, than to end up in that place of torments.
"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: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And 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: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched'' ( Mark 9:43-48 ).
We don't have to cut our limbs or pluck out our eyes to be free from hell, Jesus made a way for us to escape this evil through our repentance and acceptance of what He did for us on the cross when He died for the sins of our flesh. However, we see clearly that His statement signifies the exclusion of the hope of restoration and that punishment is eternal once a person is there. He repeats the words, "where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched," three times for emphasis.
Another account of the torments of hell is found in Luke 16:19-26:
"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." Hell is described not only as a fiery place of torment, but also as a separation from God and His saints, a place where there is continual torment."
HELL WAS MADE FOR SATAN
This place was prepared for the devil and his fallen angels. It was never meant for man to go there. Man is going there by choosing to follow Satan and his evil ways by rejecting the free grace Jesus is offering to mankind. "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:" (Matthew 25:41).
The Greek word for hell in the New Testament, "hades" means the same as "Sheol" in the Old Testament Hebrew. It is also spoken of as the grave, the pit, and the place of the dead. It is described as below the surface of the earth (Numbers 16:30, Psalm 55:15), beneath the depths of the sea, and is also spoken of as "the deep." It has gates and bars that hold its prisoners. The wicked go down into the region of hell where they are kept in torment until the day of the White Throne Judgment. Hell is a place of shame, remorse, consciousness, memory, and anguish.
There was also a region surrounded by "hell" known as "paradise" where the righteous dead went prior to Calvary. It was separated by a great impassable gulf from the lower regions. It was a place of peace and comfort and was the place referred to as "Abraham's Bosom." Not only was Abraham there, but all the Old Testament saints were kept there until Christ's crucifixion. Christ then descended into hell (Sheol, hades) (Psalm 16:10) (Luke 23:43) and at His ascension He led "captivity captive" and delivered the prisoners of hope from paradise and led them to heaven. Ephesians 4:8-10 says, "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.)"
One note here: Jesus did not take the punishment for our sins in hell. He took our punishment for sin on the cross as a type of a sacrificial lamb. He bore our iniquities on the cross. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 the Bible says, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." When it says "He was made to be sin," it means He was made to be a "sin offering." He bore the sins of many on the cross. He did not bear our sins in hell. He went to hell (Sheol, the abode of the dead) to take the keys of death and hell away from the devil and to set the captives free and take them from paradise to heaven. All those who had died in faith, prior to the cross were kept in paradise which was a temporary place of rest and blessing until Christ paid the price for His own to enter heaven permanently. Although the location of paradise was in Sheol (the abode of the dead), it was not a place of torment. It was a special protected place until the day the Lord would free those in that place of captivity.
The Bible speaks that Jesus went to hell for three days and three nights after His death on the cross. Matthew 12:40 records this statement, "For 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." He was not in hell (Sheol) to receive torment but rather to preach to those that were there awaiting their release to be taken to heaven with Him. After those three days and three nights in hell (Sheol) Jesus took all the Old Testament saints with him to heaven (including one of the thieves that was crucified next to Him. Luke 23:43: "And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." This explains why Jesus said He would be in hell for three days and three nights and yet would that day also be in paradise. Paradise was that safe place in hell (Sheol) that all the Old Testament saints were kept until their sins were atoned for on the cross.
Jesus is now seated on the right hand of God in a position of all authority and power over all things. He is awaiting the time of His second coming to this earth to get the rest of His people and take them to heaven also. For Christians, this will be a joyous time. His second coming for the evil and wicked however, will not be a joyous event as they will be judged and then sent to hell.
1 Peter 3:18-22: "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; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him."
The gates of hell (sheol and hades) do not prevail against the church today as they once did against the righteous in the Old Testament ( Matthew 16:18 ). All true believers go directly to heaven at death and do not wait in paradise as the Old Testament saints did. II Corinthians 5:6-8: "Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord."
LAKE OF FIRE
Christ has the keys to death and hell which will ultimately have to give up its wicked dead for judgment. "Sheol" and "Hades" (the present hell) will then come to an end and "Gehenna" (the "Lake of Fire") will take its place.
Revelation 20:1-3: "And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 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."
Souls will burn forever there with no escape; this is the second death. The only escape from this fate is accepting Jesus as our Savior. He is the only one that has the keys of hell so we can be released from our prison of hell and condemnation.
"I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death" ( Revelation 1:18 ).
"And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. 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; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire"(Revelation 20:10-15).
Hell and hellfire are realities according to God's Word and any that speak otherwise are in error and are promoting false doctrine. The only way to escape this dreaded place is becoming a child of God so we can go to heaven. It is man's sin that is leading him to hell. If we repent of our sin and ask Jesus to come into our heart we not only can be saved from the hell to come but also delivered from the hell in this earth