HELL IS ETERNAL?
David L. Odom
First we must ask the question: Do you even believe there IS a Hell, a place where the Creator will eternally punish those who do not obey Him?
I'm not asking you what you WANT to believe, I'm asking you about TRUTH on this subject, whether we like it or not, what is TRUTH on this subject, that is the question!
Some today teach that Hell is simply the grave, others teach that there is a Hell, but it isn't eternal!
I've had many tell me that this is Hell now, on earth!
Many denominational preachers today teach against the idea of eternal punishment in this place called Hell!
But what does God say in His God-breathed word, the Bible?
DEFINITION OF TERMS
This is the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek word Hades, meaning underworld (place to which people descend at death), the unseen world, the state of the dead, the region of departed spirits! Also used for simply the grave!
Jesus maps out this place to us in detail in:
"19 Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. 20 And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, 21 and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. 22 Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”
First we see that this is NOT a parable! Jesus does not refer to it as a parable!
Jesus is NOT making up stuff about what happens to us when we die!
Jesus does not lie! This is the way it will be when we die!
We will ALL go immediately to Hades, and remain there until the Judgment Day comes when Jesus Christ returns:
2 Peter 3:3-18
3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation. 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
2 Thessalonians 1:7-12
7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."
But when we die, Jesus is showing us Hades in Luke 16:19-31, not Hell!
Notice there are TWO places in Hades -
Abraham's bosom, also called a place of comfort, and paradise!
This is where Jesus went when He died on the cross!
Remember that Jesus said to the thief on the cross next to Him that believed that Jesus was the Messiah in -
Luke 23:42, 43
"42 And he was saying, 'Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom!' 43 And He said unto him, 'Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise!' "
But we find in Acts 2:27, 31 that the Messiah, Jesus Christ, went to Hades when he died!
"27 Because You will not abandon My soul to Hades, nor allow Your Holy One to undergo decay." "31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay."
The rich Jew who was NOT following the Law of Moses, went here! Notice the great agony he was in!!
NOTICE ALSO THAT THERE IS A GREAT GULF FIXED BETWEEN THE TWO PLACES IN HADES, SO THAT NO ONE CAN PASS FROM THE ONE PLACE TO THE OTHER PLACE!
BUT, HADES IS NOT HELL!
(Strong's Concordance: Gehenna, a valley W. and South of Jer., also a symbolic name for the final place of punishment of the ungodly.)
Gehenna was used by idolatrous Israel in worshipping the idol 'moloch'
(2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6; Leviticus 18:21)
This idol 'moloch' was brass with arms extended outward. It was hollow; a fire was built inside of it. The idolatrous Jews sacrificed their children on the arms and muffled out the screams of the child by beating drums! When the Jews returned from captivity, this place was held in abhorrence. They threw all the dead animal carcasses and their garbage and filth of the city there, and it burned continually!
The verb tartaroo, translated "cast down to hell" in 2 Peter 2:4, signifies to consign to Tartarus, which is neither Sheol nor hades nor hell, but the place where those angels whose special sin is referred to in that passage are confined "to be reserved unto judgment"; the region is described as "pits of darkness." RV (from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)
IS HELL ETERNAL?
"These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Hell will last as long as heaven!
HELL IS A PLACE OF ETERNAL SUFFERING AND PAIN
"40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of age. 41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
"43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, 44 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. 45 If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell, 46 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. 47 If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, 48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched."
Side Note on the above passage:
(Hyperbole is defined as “Deliberate exaggeration used for effect; an extravagant statement not intended to be understood in the literal sense” (Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary, quoted in Hightower, p. 167). We use hyperbole frequently in our daily speech when we say such things, as “I am so hungry I could eat a horse!” No one expects to be taken seriously when he says something like this, because no one could eat a horse, of course.
The most obvious hyperbole in the Bible is the following.“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched-- where 'Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.' And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched-- where 'Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.' And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire-- where 'Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.’” (Mark 9:43-48)
Jesus did not expect to be taken literally but was stressing the importance of cutting sin out of our lives in order to “enter into life,” which is heaven. Another lesson is that the sanctity of the body is not nearly as important as the purity of the soul. He also uses the valley of Hinnom outside Jerusalem as a metaphor for the final abode of impenitent sinners. Bob Myhan)
"And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."
"10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. 11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."
"But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
DO WE HEED THE WARNING OF JESUS?
Luke 12:4, 5
"I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!"
This is the whole duty of man!
Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14
"13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil."
HELL IS A PLACE OF DARKNESS
"Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' "
"Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
FULLY REMOVED FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD
2 Thessalonians 1:7-9
"7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed-- for our testimony to you was believed."
These passages of Scripture are quite clear!
But why are there so many people today that don't believe in hell, yet turn right around and believe in heaven?
Because we often only believe what we WANT to believe!
Don't forget what the Bible tells us about ourselves:
"Every man's way is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts."
Which leads us to:
"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel."
We must NEVER forget this truth:
"There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death."
Are we in the right way?
Are we in the way of TRUTH from our Creator, Jehovah God?
I would encourage you to be a seeker of TRUTH,
and seek to obey God above all else!
WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?
Hear, learn, and come to Jesus Christ!
John 6:44, 45
"44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught of God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me."
By believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that He is Immanuel, the Messiah, the Word!
"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, And they shall call His name Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us."
John 4:25, 26
"25 The woman said to Him, 'I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.' 26 Jesus said to her, ' I who speak to you am He.' "
John 1:1, 14
"1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." "14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth"
"Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."
BUT YOU DO NOT RECEIVE REMISSION OF SINS IN A MENTAL BELIEF ONLY (called Faith Only)
By repenting of our sins!
"I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."
"Peter said to them, ' Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.' "
Acts 17:30, 31
"30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."
BUT YOU DO NOT RECEIVE REMISSION OF SINS AT THIS POINT IN OBEDIENCE!
By confessing Christ before men!
Matthew 10:32, 33
"32 Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven."
Romans 10:9, 10
"9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, unto righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, unto salvation."
1 Timothy 6:12-16
"12 Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen."
BUT YOU DO NOT RECEIVE REMISSION OF SINS AT THIS POINT IN OBEDIENCE!
By being baptized into Christ!
NOTE: This is immersion in water 'INTO CHRIST'
for (UNTO, IN ORDER TO) the forgiveness, the remission of your sins!
This is NOT sprinkling or pouring!
"Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.' "
"1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin."
"37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brethren, what shall we do?' 38 Peter said to them, 'Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.' 40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, 'Be saved from this perverse generation!' 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."
Notice in the above Scripture that only those who 'received his word' obeyed the gospel!
"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."
Have you yet been involved in the 'new birth' from above?
Have you yet been baptized for the correct reason?
Some are baptized today because they have been taught they have already been saved by 'faith only', and that water immersion is only an 'outward sign of an inward change'!
BUT NOTICE THAT 'PREACHING JESUS' INCLUDES WATER BAPTISM!
"35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, 'Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?' 37 [And Philip said, 'If you believe with all your heart, you may.' And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'] 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing."
Acts 10:47, 48
" 'Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?' 48 And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days."
This is where we meet His soul saving blood (figuratively of course) which washes away our sins!
Revelation 1:5, 6
"and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood" 6 and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen."
"Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name."
I Peter 3:20-22
"20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him."
There is not any power in the water (water salvation), but it is DOING what God commands us to do, in HIS WAY , according to HIS TRUTH, which is an appeal to God for a good conscience through Christ's resurrection, by doing His will!
Also notice that is how Jesus purchased His church, with His own blood!
But why are people telling us today that the church isn't important!
"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood."
Therefore we read:
1 Corinthians 12:13
"For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit."
Christ Jesus is the Savior of this body, the church, which is His kingdom!
"For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body."
"15 He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' 16 Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' 17 And Jesus said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.' "
The rock upon which Christ's church was built was the Truth which Peter had just stated that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God! The Lord's church was NOT built upon Peter!
Ephesians 1:22, 23
"22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all."
"4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all."
Notice only one body, which is His church, His kingdom, just as there is only one baptism, which is water immersion into Christ!
This is how we put Christ on!
"26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise."
YES, YOU DO RECEIVE REMISSION (FORGIVENESS) OF SINS AT THIS POINT IN OBEDIENCE!
Notice the examples of conversion in the book of Acts:
Are you in this church you read about in the New Testament?
Have you correctly put Christ on yet?