Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Oh Hell! (No I am not swearing)

Hell No! (No I am not swearing)

There is a question as to whether those some of us believe in Hell… I would say even the most liberal actually do. The issue is not whether there is a Hell, rather it is that the Hell we teach in Sunday school and our churches is truly Hell… Often it is hellish… but not biblical.

We must first define the terms.

The Bible uses various words for hell

It can mean:

Sheol The Grave
Hades The abode for the dead
Abraham’s Bosom The abode of the Righteous dead
Tartarus The place the fallen Angels are held
Gehenna The place of rubbish, the garbage dump
The Lake of Fire The second death

Most people just assume that those who die go to heaven or to hell… in a sense that is correct. Yet, the problem is they miss define which heaven and which hell people are going to. In the OT it is most often spoke of as Sheol. Rabbis would talk of Gehenna, but not in the sense most Christians use it. In fact, it is more liken to purgatory with a time limitation of about 12 months of suffering… (That is what the rabbis taught!) I believe this is where Roman Catholics have come to teach purgatory.

In the passage Jesus speaks of Gehenna (Mark 9:43) I have heard some teach that Jesus was saying that it is better lose your hand than be tossed to the garbage pile. Gehenna was the dump outside of the city of Jerusalem… it burn continuously. I tend to think that this is more akin to the idea of “tossed to Hades” the abode of the unrighteous that will be eventually tossed into the Lake of Fire, though I do give some credence to the idea that it is not the final place of Judgment.

There is a parable in which Jesus describes Hades and in it is Abraham’s bosom… in it has a gulf between the rich man and Lazarus. In fact it is said that Lazarus is in Abraham’s bosom… I take that to be that since Abraham is the father of our faith, this man was a man of faith. He was in a beloved place separate from the rest (or unrest) of Hades as a whole. Later Jesus states to the thief on the cross next to Him that the thief will be with Him in Paradise… I think this is another reference to Abraham’s bosom… and later after the resurrection, after Jesus lead the captives free, Abraham’s bosom, or paradise was taken into Heaven.

Many think that when they die they will go to Heaven… and yes that is true of those of the faith of Abraham… yet that is not our final resting place. That is the main issue that is become problematic as this teaching of “going to heaven” or getting “your ticket to heaven” implies that that is it… there is nothing else. But that is not what Scripture teaches.

There is more.

There is a passage in the Book of Revelation… it is in chapter 20 we read of the Great White Throne Judgment. Each person will be raised from the dead and those alive will be taken and stand before Jesus… this is when every knee will bow and tongues confess Jesus is Lord. Jesus then will judge all by their works… that is what it says.

Rev 20: 12 -15. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (NIV)

There is some question as to that some have gone to great lengths to avoid that the righteous are here being judged also. Much of the “rapture” theology goes out of its way to avoid what is clearly written. But here is the thing… it is of the Righteous, that they are judged by their works and that their name is in the Book of Life. What that means is that they have lived the Life of Christ… or rather Christ has Lived His Life in and through them and thus made them righteous. The sad thing is that some will be judged on their own merit... And will be found wanting. They will receive their wages… and that is death.

So, no, eternity will not be spent in Hell, it will be spent in the Lake of Fire… I tend to see that Gehenna may be this same idea. All in all hell or the Lake of Fire is most probably worse that one can imagine... so for that reason I cry our Hell no! Say no to hell... boycott hell.

Here is the tricky thing though. Just before this the devil and his followers are judged and cast into the Lake of Sulfur… or Lake of Fire. Even more trick is that in verse 14 that Death and Hades will be tossed into the Lake of Fire also… that is death and hell… so if one is spending eternity in hell, then it is either compounded by being thrown into the Lake of Fire… or as they are all resurrected and judged, this is the last and bitter end.

So, no, eternity will not be spent in Hell, it will be spent in the Lake of Fire… I tend to see that Gehenna may be this same idea.

There is good news and it is not about saving money at Geiko!

Chapter 21 is about our rewards… it is when we are also presented to Christ as His Bride and He presents us to the Father as pure and Holy. We are then living as people of the Faith of Abraham, living in total trust in Jesus as Messiah, now in the New Creation fulfilled. That is where I hope to see you.


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