IS HELL FOR REAL?
The Great Gospel Tragedy
The great tragedy in the modern Christian Church, is that so few people have a fear of God anymore. Preachers and pastors and are afraid to talk about the subjects of hell and final judgment. Long gone are the days of men the likes of Jonathan Edwards, who preached his fiery landmark sermon—Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God.
Christians can sit in front of their TVs, or in a darkened room glued to the internet—looking at R rated movies and all the filth on the web—filling their hearts and minds with all sorts of stuff that is highly offensive to God—every type of spiritual violence and perversion imaginable—being oblivious to the fact that every deed and thought that we administer to ourselves will someday be called into account before a righteous and holy God—a God that demands that we be holy even as He is holy (1 pet 1:16).
Yet all the while God's galactic computer is systematically recording every deed and thought, and intent of the heart, that occurs in every living person (Heb 4:12). Someday the books will be opened, and those whose names are not written in the Lamb's Book of life—the Bible explicitly says—they will be "cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (this is mentioned all of five times in the book of Revelation—Rev 19:20,20:10,14,15,21:8).
The Bible clearly teaches the fact that almost every person who is born into this world, who lives and breathes, and who eventually dies… When they die they will go to hell. Here are just a few of the verses that speak concerning this.
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Heb 9:27).
"In Adam all die" (1 Cor 15:22).
"What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction" (Rom 9:22).
"Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others" (Eph 2:3).
"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" (Mat 25:41).
"And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal" (Mat 25:46).
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev 20:15).
Our Eternal Destiny
As positive thinkers we want to believe in the goodness of man and all of our wonderful human potentials—we tend to recoil at such a notion as hell or the idea of a final and irreversible judgment. We try to convince ourselves that, "Yes, there is some evil in this world, but man is basically good and we are indeed capable or climbing upwards and onwards, and we will somehow rise above all our problems." Yes, hell may be a good place for people like Adolph Hitler or Charles Manson or Osama BinLaden. But if I'm at least trying to be a "do-gooder," how could God possibly send me to a place like that?
We only want to hear a "Crystal Cathedral Gospel" that makes us feel good about ourselves. Yet the Bible clearly teaches the eternal consequences of sin from cover to cover—in literally hundreds of verses. But even though most preachers realize the Bible has much to say about this subject, many are afraid to talk about it openly (for obvious $$$ reasons).
The bare bones fact of the matter is that all of us are going to eventually die, not only physically, but as fallen sinners we are ultimately headed straight for eternal damnation whether we like it or not. As fallen sinners, there is a death sentence hovering over the head of every individual born on planet earth. That is what the Bible teaches—clearly, plainly, and unambiguously—cover to cover.
Make no mistake about it. During this lifetime our very eternal destiny is at stake. Jesus spoke more about hell than He did about heaven. Yet most people skip merrily down the garden path of life believing that a kind and benevolent God would never send anybody to a place like that.
Yet it is important to point out that God really sends nobody to hell—we choose to go there ourselves. Someone once handed me a Bible tract. On the cover were written the words, "What must I do to go to hell?" Upon opening it up, there was no printing—nothing but two blank white pages staring back at me. The message was clear. You don't have to do anything. People are going there automatically by default (of course on the back page of the tract was an explanation about God's plan of salvation).
When you die, the Bible makes it very clear that your soul is going to either go up or down. There is nothing in between (forget about the unbiblical Catholic concept of purgatory or universal reconciliation). Every person who has not fully repented and been baptized—with a real and permanent change of heart and mind—making Jesus both Savior and Lord in their personal lives—the Bible says that they are going to go to hell. You either believe what the Bible states on the matter, or you must throw the entire volume out the car window.
Sadly, as we sit and watching the Dallas Cowboys play the Miami Dolphins, or laugh with our friends, we are obviously not thinking about these sorts of matters. Yet the fact remains that some day, all of us are going to have an appointment with the grim reaper. Our souls will some day leave our physical bodies. Then what happens?
The author of this website is a serious pilot. There is an old saying in aviation that if your plane is on fire and you are trying to make an emergency landing and "get it down" so to speak, the most useless thing there is to a pilot is the runway behind him and the air above him.
At the moment of death we will have no control over what happens to our souls. At that point in time everything we have ever accomplished in our lifetimes, our family and friends, our fame, our money, our possessions—none of it will matter even a drop. At that point in time it will be just you and your Creator. Nobody else will be present. Every person who dies will die by themselves.
Either the angels will be there to escort your soul to heaven, or you will be at the mercy of the demons and swept away with the tens of thousands of other lost souls who die each day without Christ.
Again, the Bible teaches that the vast majority of individuals will someday wind up lost eternally—only a handful will actually make it to heaven. Jesus referred to His own as being a "little flock" (Luk 12:32). These solemn words should be embedded in the heart and mind of every true Christian.
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Mat 7:13,14).
"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. " (Mark 8:35-37).
If you are a gambler and want to play the odds with your eternal destiny by living your life as you wish, living each day only to please your fleshly appetites, the odds are against you. You will definitely lose in the end.
This is No Reason to Fear
Yet for the Christians, all of this concerning hell and final judgment is no reason to fear. The comforting fact is that no one can earn their way to heaven by doing good works. Salvation is not an issue of our actions. It is a matter of giving our hearts and minds to Christ, and then letting good works become the RESULTS of our salvation. Salvation always has been and always will be a free gift. In that regard, the following passage is extremely reassuring.
"And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: (2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (7) That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast. (10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph 2:1-10).
If we are HIS workmanship, and God HIMSELF is actually re-creating us, then the good things that we do are not found in us, but in HIM. Salvation and avoiding hell is only an issue of us giving ourselves—heart, mind, and body—as a sacrifice to God.
A Major False Premise
The Bible clearly teaches that we will indeed reap what we have sown. People have the mistaken notion that the only sins we are being judged for are the ones we commit down here on earth. Far from it. We are being punished in this lifetime for deliberately rebelling and violating angelic law and eating the forbidden fruit of evil—then becoming bitter in our hearts towards our Creator and eventually divorcing ourselves eternally from the One who actually made us in the first place. We are all guilty of violating the one great commandment that Jesus talked about.
"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these" (Mar 12:30,31).
The words "thy neighbor as" is 141 x 18, the key number of the angels—this passage is not only talking about loving our neighbor or brothers down here, but during the rebellion everybody was hating everybody else due to greed and trying to gain position (see Mark 9:33,34—almost every passage to do with brotherhood is 141 as well). Down here we are only acting out in final judgment the sin nature that exists ALREADY in our hearts. A baby when it is born is automatically under a death sentence—it ALREADY has a sinful heart and disposition because of the fall.
Heart sins are far more serious to God than overt actions or even sins of the flesh. That is why God can many times save the worst murderer or prostitute, but pass up the self righteous religious cynic. Let us not forget that God is still a merciful God and full of love and grace. The prodigal son, who represents the young immature angels, chose himself to forsake His Father/Creator and then leave heaven (Luk 15:11-18). NO! Sin is not the wicked things we do in this lifetime. Sin is an ACQUIRED DISPOSITION, an attitude that has become fact and fiber of our very spiritual being. That is the sole reason for hell. The only reason men do bad things is because of the condition of their hearts.
The Garden of the Heart
The Garden of Eden originally represents the total environment in which God has fellowship with man. It is the original temple—see chap 3b and http://members.cox.net/8thday/124.html.
And the Bible teaches that we ourselves are the temple of God within (see 1 Cor. 3:16, and 2 Cor 6:16), so in a certain sense the garden also represents us specifically. When God placed man in the garden, he was commanded to guard and keep it—the garden represents our heart within the entire makeup of ones conscious being in relationship with the Creator. Instead the serpent entered paradise and the subjective (female) portion of man's being and thoughts. That is when his whole psychological makeup and attitude changed—his entire thinking process became crooked. Death and Hades were the only recourse God had at that juncture.
Again, that is why God cares far more about what is in our hearts than He does about our actions (the two are inextricably connected however). That is why the Bible, again, clearly teaches the fact that we can only be saved by faith and never by works—good works are simply the RESULT or the fruits of our salvation, not the cause or it. A dog does not become a dog because he barks—he barks because he simply IS a dog. We only do bad things because we rebelled up there in heaven—Adam and Eve attempted to take the shortcut and become gods themselves and subsequently acquired a hostile heart that is totally self centered and now follows the law of sin and death. The end result is a mind set devoid of both faith in the Creator and which now has no sincere desire to follow a path of holiness. It lives only to please itself and its fleshly appetites. That is what the mark of the beast is all about (see Revelation 13—theomatics proves it is the mark of the fall and has little or nothing to do with a supposed end time "Antichrist").
We are flying our little airplane lost in the clouds, spatially disoriented, and all of us are in a slow death spiral downward. Sadly, hell is not a remedy. It is the inevitable end result—total ruin and perdition.
Man's soul cannot be fixed and is beyond repair except for the redemptive power of God and the Holy Spirit coming to dwell within. That is why Jesus told his disciples, the salvation with men was impossible. Only God can save anybody (Mat 19:25,26).
The Traditional Teaching on Hell
Christian fundamentalists have always followed the hyper-literal teaching that hell is a literal place and that God's wrath will cause horrific pain and suffering, burning "flesh," people screaming and cursing in flames, etc. etc., that lasts for millions of years—there is no escape ever from hell and it never ends. After ten million years the souls in hell will have only been there for 15 minutes. The conscious existence and torment lasts forever.
Others have proposed a different point of view. They want to believe that God is good and merciful by nature and would never be vindictive towards those individuals He Himself created in love, no matter how badly they insulted His sovereignty. In the end, hell will not be as dreadful as it seems and we should not try to interpret the concept of eternal punishment in the Bible literally.
These second group of individuals have been labeled by fundamentalists as "liberals" who are deliberately tampering with the clear and overt meaning of God's word, attempting to water down the penalty for sin. Their reasoning, "if hell is not literal and forever, then why should somebody be afraid to go there?"
Then there are those who go even a step further. A certain group of individuals have proposed the popular teachings of "universalism," or "universal reconciliation" —the idea that once all implications of sin and evil have ripened and people realize that rebellion and sin does not work—everybody who dies will then have their eyes opened and will be given a "second chance"—100% of individuals will eventually "come back" to God and everybody will ultimately be saved and go to heaven and be happy. Even the devil himself will finally repent and "get saved."
Universalists love to use one verse in scripture as the basis for their entire belief system They interpret "all things" as meaning "every person."
"And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven" (Col 1:20).
The problem with universalism, is that there are just too many other verses in scripture that unambiguously state that not everybody is going to go to heaven and that hell is final and eternal separation from God forever—for those who do not believe in this lifetime. The Bible nowhere teaches that there is a second chance beyond the grave (see Hebrews 9:27). Universalists must go through a tremendous amount juggling and gymnastics and denial in order to try and explain away dozens of pointed and clear passages of scripture in order to make their premise fit.
What Saith Theomatics?
Many people have wondered what conclusions I have come to—based upon theomatics and all the research—as to the subject of hell? There are two major questions for which answers are needed.
These are valid questions, but they do not always provide an easy answer when it comes down to how a person interprets the Bible (people will tenaciously cling to their own convictions about the matter). No school of theology has ever been able to prove beyond reasonable doubt any of these tenures—the grammatical/historical method simply cannot lead to a conclusive answer. On the other hand, theomatics can reveal much about the symbolical and spiritual significance of everything in the Bible. But neither can it give us the complete picture as to specific times and events or "physical" places concerning the afterlife—whether they are literal or symbolical (or in some cases may actually be both).
However, much to our surprise we found some spectacular theomatics evidence that seems to clearly indicate the answer to at least one of the above two questions.
The important thing to point out when it comes to the subject of hell—we dare not try to believe something on either side of the coin, just because we want it to be true. The answer does not lie with us or our biases. God is the everlasting judge, and He will in the end determine the ultimate outcome.
Irregardless, one thing is certain. Hell is final. Once you are "there," apparently, there is no way back. Hell will be eternal separation from our Creator—forever and ever without end. Realizing that fact, in and of itself, will be pain enough (the worm never dies).
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (Heb 9:27).
The words, "As it is appointed unto men," is 1410 x 2 theomatically—the most significant value possible to do with men who are fallen angels. The passage is packed solid with just about every significant number possible relative to the fall.
Literal vs. Symbolical (and just one example)
Because of the theomatic evidence and the weight of that evidence, the symbolical basis in the Bible provides a much stronger premise than what many fundamentalists have previously believed or even known about. And in many cases may wipe out a sole literal interpretation on many issues that have been traditionally taught as only having a literal interpretation or application.
Just one good example (among many) of this sort of thing, is the New Jerusalem mentioned in the book of Revelation—the heavenly City that "comes down from God" as the final dwelling place for all those who have been redeemed (Revelation Chapter 21). Many Christians have always believed that the only reason God put that in the Bible is to give us a physical description of our final home—an actual brick and mortar city with streets of literal gold.
Based upon theomatics (and a simple reasonable logic), the City is, apparently, not literal at all. My own conclusion, which is also based upon simple and reasonable logic, is that all of it is 100% symbolical. Theomatics clearly indicates that all the dimensions and descriptive aspects of the Holy City contain vast realms of deep spiritual meaning.
A city that "lies foursquare" and is as tall as it is wide or long, could only be an actual cube or pyramid. If you stop and think about it, this is not easily practical or even workable as a living environment (more like living in a huge high rise condominium). God's physical ideal for creatures such as men, apparently, only comprises planets with a continuous surface and sky above. Some people who claim to have died and gone to heaven and "seen it," come back and tell us that heaven is an incredible planet. There is no physical evidence for some sort of cube or pyramid 1500 miles long, 1500 miles wide, and 1500 miles high, floating through outer space and finally resting on planet earth (only God knows 100% for sure of course). That idea is pretty far fetched. For one thing, an object with that much weight and mass sitting on earth would not only look weird, but the weight distribution could perhaps throw the whole balance of the planet off as it revolved (like a tire out of balance). And if the earth contains as much geographic area as it does, why would a big high rise like that even be necessary for habitation? Furthermore, how could the earth's atmosphere extend 1500 miles high to accommodate the upper levels of "the city." Again, the idea of something like this is rather preposterous when one considers the physiological aspects.
These sorts of questions of literal vs. symbolic can be applied to just about everything in the book of Revelation. The entire book is packed solid with things that can only by symbolical and to try and take them literally would be absurd and a little bit insane (seven headed monsters rising out the sea, literal stars falling into the rivers and streams and poisoning them, a three foot long stainless steel sword protruding out of the mouth of Jesus as He sits on a white horse, etc.) If the symbolic principle is clearly at work with many things mentioned, then why not virtually ALL OF THEM? That is a really good question that no one can provide a truly objectively answer concerning.
So why are we discussing this? If the New Jerusalem is not a literal physical city, then why would the lake of fire be a literal lake burning with real fire and brimstone? How can physical fire have any effect on the invisible and weightless souls? If hell fire is real and painful, it would have to be some sort of "spiritual" fire in another dimension.
We must understand that God is using earthly/physical expressions (such as fire, smoke, brimstone, worms that do not die, outer darkness, etc.) to describe matters and issues that almost defy description—matters and issues that conceptually have spiritual and eternal ramifications. An interesting argument, is that few people would believe that there are actual maggots or worms writhing around in hell. If the worms are not literal, why would the fire be? The worm that never dies obviously has something to do with the memory that gnaws away without end.
A Little Overview
When it comes to the subject of hell, it is important to point out a few elementary facts that many people are not aware of.
When we read the Bible in English, unfortunately, the translation for the word "hell" gives the reader a great deal of misunderstanding. There are five completely different expressions in the Bible that God uses to describe "hell." Unfortunately the English Bible translators refer to all of these unique expressions with just the one English word—hell.
Thus throughout the Bible, we have these five separate expressions, all of them different and each carrying a distinct meaning of its own.
Five Possible Outcomes
Obviously, something has to happen to the souls of those who die without Christ. According to the Bible, only those who are redeemed live on in God's kingdom. So what happens to the souls of those who are lost? As best we can tell, there are five possible outcomes that have been proposed (with many variations of these as well).
The Question Still Begs
The big difference between the literalists (who believe in conscious torment), vs. those individual who believe in annihilation, is how one interprets the expression "second death" and also the interpretation of Matthew 10:28, where Jesus talked about the destruction of BOTH body and soul.
Bible scholars have wrestled with these profound questions for ages. Other than the direct statements of scripture, there are only two sources in trying to find out the truth on this question of what really happens after death.
NOTE: Even if Hell (or sheol and hades) is a literal conscious environment that people have actually seen, that does not explain the lake of fire which is perhaps future.
My Own Conclusion
I have spent many hours studying both of the above, and have come to some preliminary conclusions which I will share at this time.
What is most interesting and remarkable about many of these NDE (Near Death Experiences), is that the people who have actually died do not know for some time that they are dead. They walk around the hospital room, fully conscious, acutely seeing and hearing everything. It is only when they reach for the door knob and their hand passes through it, or they yell at a nurse in the hallway and she walks right through the middle of them, that things seem very different. They can even look back and see their own bodies lying on the bed. It is only then that they realize what is happening. This confirms the fact that as humans, we are actually spiritual beings living in these earthly bodies (which the Bible calls "tents"—see 2 Cor 4:4). It is important to point out that hundreds and even thousands of people say that this is exactly what happened to them during the first moments of death. Many find themselves going through a tunnel experience shortly after they leave their bodies, and others quickly confront angels and demons. There are many websites that give stories and accounts of these types of experiences. Most are probably untrue and little more than visions of grandeur or spiritualized delusions. But there are some accounts that are undoubtedly genuine and authentic.
The Fire That Consumes
There are hundreds of websites that debate the subject of hell. There is one book on the subject that I would highly recommend. It is probably the most comprehensive Bible study ever done on the subject of eternal punishment (500 pages)—extremely well documented and written. The author is a devoted Christian attorney (with a PhD in jurisprudence and a masters degree in theology). He approaches this subject with the utmost respect and reverence for God's Word. I have studied this work extensively and agree with the author's conclusions which theomatics generally confirms.
The Fire that Consumes
By Edward Fudge
A Most Important Comment
It is important to point out the fact when it comes to this vast subject of hell and final judgment—all of our reasoning and hypothesizing will not have any effect on God's ultimate outcome. In other words, what we have traditionally believed or think the Bible means, or hope it says, will have no effect on what ultimately happens or what God's ultimate judgment pronouncements will be like. This should make all of us humble, never allowing ourselves to become too dogmatic. Our hearts and minds should be open to whatever the truth ultimately is—we must be candid with ourselves and never allow our biases to dictate the meaning of scripture, especially with this solemn of a subject.
It is my overwhelming and objective conclusion, that those Christians who teach literal and conscious torment lasting forever in a conscious state of linear time, have never looked deeply into this subject in the Bible. They are simply basing their conclusions on surface logic and a perfunctory reading of the language of the text (usually the KJV). A more careful analysis will reveal something quite different than the traditional view of many fundamentalists.
The theomatic evidence agrees with the following fact. Few things are stated more conclusively in scripture, that man's final end is that the wicked will "die," "perish," "be destroyed," "be consumed," "burn up," "pass away," "be no more," "cast into outer darkness," and "be forgotten forever." None of these expressions are in agreement or synonymous with the traditional concept of eternal everlasting conscious torment.
The next chapter will present the conclusive theomatics evidence.