Hell: Fact or Fiction
When Jonathan Edwards preached his famous sermon “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” in 1741, those that that were there were so moved by the sermon that many were saved. It is considered one of the greatest sermons ever preached. In the message, Edwards mentions hell over 50 times as a place of torment. In the mid 1800s, many Biblical beliefs and doctrines were rejected. One of those rejected was the doctrine of hell being a place of torment for those who rejected Jesus Christ as their Savior.
Liberal Biblical scholars taught that the parable of the rich man was not real history but a story taken from Babylonian folklore. Why would the Lord speak more on a folklore than on the realities of heaven? Was heaven another story taken from other myths as well? If the whole idea of hell or the pit as it is mentioned in the Old Testament is untrue, then we would have to say that the Exodus is a fable, too, since it mentions the pit from which those that rose up against Moses fell into.
What does the Bible tell us about hell?
The word “hell” in the Old Testament is always a translation of the Hebrew word “Sheol” which occurs 64 times. It is rendered “hell” 32 times, “grave” 29 times, and “pit” 3 times. In the New Testament, hell is found 23 times of which 12 times coming from the Greek word “Geena”, 10 times from the Greek word “Hades” and 1 time from the Greek word “Tartaoo”, which was the deepest part of hell for the fallen angels.
The Authorized Version lists some 54 references to hell. The newer versions like the NIV, has either removed it or has reduced its references.
The NIV has changed the meaning of the word hell to “Hades”. Hades is the mythological place of the dead as well as the god of the underworld and brother to Zeus. In today’s time, Hades is known as the funny character in Disney’s Hercules. The term hell has lost its meaning and is no longer referred to as a place of terror.
The cult of Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that when a person dies who is not a part of their group they return to the dust. Thy say that an all loving God would not cause a person to suffer no matter how evil, but they fail to realize that he is a Holy God and will judge the affairs of men and nations one day for we all will give an account.
When Jesus spoke of Judas Iscariot, he said that it would be better if he had never been born. If evil people are destroyed when they are dead then why would it matter?
Today there are many who teach that hell does not exist or that the pains of the fires are actually the thirst to know God but can’t. (Evangelist Billy Graham believes this) Regardless of what people are taught, if all people will eventually be redeemed, then what was the need of having a redeemer, or savior of mankind?
One of the greatest proofs in scripture concerning the reality of Hell is found in Luke 16 “The Parable of Lazarus and the rich man”.
And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom:
· When the righteous die they are received by the angels of God. This is one of the ministries of angels.
“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”.
· In Hell the rich man was alive, he could see, feel, think, and did not know the boundaries of his condition. (He asked for things that could not take place)
· He was not screaming and yelling uncontrollably, yet he was in torment.
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,
· The rich man is concerned with the future of his brothers who are still alive. Even Jesus said that evil people know how to give good gifts, therefore have feelings toward others.
lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
· Abraham tells the rich man that the way to avoid this place is by the word of God. The rich man did it his own way which led to his destruction
“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: 22-31
· The first word out of the rich man concerning the word of God was Nay (not indeed, strongly), thus rejecting the power of the scriptures
· Further, the rich man thought that if someone came back from the dead his brothers would believe, but what did Jesus show?
· When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, what did it do to those who hated Jesus?
“Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all. Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not… Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.” John 11:45-53
Where will you spend eternity?
If you were to die today where would you go?
If you said heaven, then my next question would be:
If you were to stand before God in Heaven and He asked you why He should let you into his kingdom, what would you say?
If you can’t say or are unsure, let me tell you that there is a way to know for sure. God’s Word tells us:
“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.”
I John 5:12,13
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”