In my last post we discussed what happens to those who die outside of Christ.; the are confined to hell. Hell is a word used for both the temporary holding place of the wicked dead, as well as the place of eternal punishment, which is the lake of fire.
In the Old Testament, the temporary place of the dead is labeled Sheol. When considering the New Testament equivalent, we discover the word Hades, which in some older translations is translated as “Hell”.
It is important to note Sheol/Hades/Hell is a real geography in the “lower parts of the earth”, where those who die outside of Christ are conscious and experience pain, fear, anxiety, regret and loss, as they wait their final judgment. If you have not read Part 1 of this series, click here for the scriptural background on Sheol/Hades/Hell.
Today we will examine the final judgment, which is most often translated “hell” in the New Testament, which is related to Hades, but a separate eternal location in God’s final judgment of humanity’s sin.
Let’s begin with an often missed passage of scripture in the gospel of John.
John 5:26-30 (NKJV) For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
Interestingly, this passage reveals that all people will be resurrected, with bodies that will never die; those who received the grace of God in Christ Jesus to live forever with Christ and those who did not (receive God’s grace in Christ) will suffer everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (II Thessalonians 1:6-10). Lest we forget Jesus words mirror the Old Testament revelation of eternal life with the Messiah for those who follow Him and eternal punishment or condemnation, for those rejecting Him.
Daniel 12:1-2 (NKJV) “At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.
It is now important to form our understanding of word of God basis for the second death, and why it is translated “hell: (Revelation 20:11-14).
When referring to God’s eternal punishment on those who reject the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must consider the Greek word ge-henna, which is translated as “hell” in most New Testament passages dealing with the fire of eternal punishment.
Matthew 5:21-22 (NKJV) “You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.
Matthew 5:29 (NKJV) If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
Matthew 25:41-43 (NKJV) “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
Mark 9:47-48 (NKJV) 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.’
In dealing with our last passage, we get a full view of the real time illustration Jesus was using, when choosing the word ge-henna, which in the Jewish mind was seen in the “Valley of Hinnom” outside of Jerusalem. During the times of the wicked kings of Judah, they burned their children to death, in sacrifice to pagan deities and in rebellion against YHWH.
Because the Jews considered this valley “curse” (because of the prior abominable activities), the only thing they would use it for, was to burn the tons of trash produced by the city and surrounding area. This was practiced from after their return from Babylonian captivity, through the time of Christ.
The fire, in “the valley of Hinnom” was never quenched, because of the volume of trash, which needed to be incinerated. There were also always ample worms because of the garbage, so despite the heat, “die not”.
This was the illustrated message Jesus most often use in teaching the disciples about the eternal nature of the second death and it’s torments, which never end for those who reject the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Below are a few more passages describing eternal punishment.
OUTER DARKNESS SPACIAL REALTION RELATIONAL DISTANCE FROM CHRIST
Matthew 8:12-13 (NKJV) But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.
The above passage is one of three referring to eternal punishment as outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. II Thessalonians will enable us to reconcile an assumed contradiction to “hell fire”, which is not normally thought- of as dark.
2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 (NKJV) since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.
In these two passages reveal eternal punishment as being in lake of fire (the second death). We also discover that outer darkness reveals the spiritual/soul punishment of being relationally separated from Christ, who is the Light of the world, because of their sin. This hopelessness is outer darkness, which causes weeping and gnashing of teeth. This understanding carries with it a spatial distance “away from the presence of the Lord, for those who suffer eternal punishment.
As we consider the nature of the second death, in the lake which burns with fire, we must confess its absolute awesome and overwhelming terribleness. Not only will those who wind up there, suffer pain in a body that will never die, but they will live forever in the knowledge that they can never get free, because they used their free will choice to reject Christ’s call to repentance and faith in His cross and resurrection.
let’s meditate for a moment on what Revelations says about the finality of eternal condemnation.
Revelation 20:11-15 (NKJV) Then I saw a great white throne and Him who 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, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
In the above passage we see the temporary nature of Hades, as it will end in the lake of fire. We are also left with the sobering reality of those who are cast into the lake of fire.
Is there a danger to those who are truly in Christ. No, as our sin was judged at the cross; unless we begin to walk in unbelief (See John 15:1-8; Romans :17-23; Hebrews 6:4-6).
Let the reality of the second death, cause us to be sober in our faith for we live in the last days and apostasy is abounding. This apostacy was prophesied and it is not a pagan religion but a counterfeit Christianity, where there is a form of godliness, which denies the power of godliness (II Timothy 3:5).
As we consider our times, let us look to share the gospel and call the lost to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. May we never be those who do not live fully for Christ, who is the Truth.
2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 (NKJV) The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.