Monday, June 27, 2011

Is Hell forever?

Would you be surprised if I said No?   I was pretty surprised to find this out too. Yet it's right there in Scripture.
First of all, what is hell like? Is it just a big pit of burning fire?  Well, that's not how the Bible describes it. Jesus gave us a clear view of hell in Luke 16 when he describes how a man in hell who was rich and happy on earth speaks to Abraham and another man named Lazarus who are both across the void between hell and what used to be paradise.

(On a side note, paradise was a holding tank before the cross for the souls of the righteous departed. When Jesus died on the cross, Ephesians 4:9 says He 'descended into the lower parts of the earth'. Then in John 20:17 and Hebrews 9:23-25, we see that the ressurrected Jesus ascended to the Father and led those who were captive in paradise to heaven)

But what do we learn about Hell from this story of Jesus's?  We see the following:
  • The man is hot and thristy
  • He's not in a great deal of pain or he wouldn't be able to carry on a conversation with Abraham
  • He could reason
  • He had full memory of his life on earth
  • He didn't want to be there.

So, hell appears to be a bad place. An unhappy place. Actually it's a place where God is not. And since God is love, joy, peace, friendship, loyalty, goodness, comfort... then none of those things are in hell. I would imagine there's also no good food or drink, no homes, beds, entertainment and no friendship--since everything good that we enjoy on earth that isn't sinful comes from God.

But hell is just a holding place. Just like Paradise was. It's very clear from Revelation 20 that after Jesus's millenial reign on earth, there will be a great judgement. ...death and hell gave up the dead in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hell were thrown into the lake of fire...Anyone whose name was not found in the book of the living was thrown into the lake of fire

So, hell is thrown into the lake. Hell is gone at this point. But what about all the people. Some are obviously thrown into the lake as well, but there are some scholars who believe that only the worst of the worst will suffer that eternal demise.  Others believe that those people will cease to exist at that moment and will not have to suffer eternal torture. We don't really know. This is one of the mysteries God has not revealed.

Why do I mention it? Well, I know many people think God is cruel for sending people to be miserable forever and ever. I don't personally think that because God is just. He gives people what they ask for. If he wasn't a just God, He wouldn't be God. But, I'm bringing this hell issue up because for me, it made me realize that there is so much we don't understand or know about God or how He works or His plan for eternity. We may have a preconceived notion about how things are going to be in eternity, but we have NO IDEA.  People who you thought were lost forever may end up being pulled from the fire at the last minute! We don't know.

And because of that, we must trust in the goodness of God. How Good is our God? And how important is it for you to believe that He is Good?  Tune in next week....


  1. Monday, June 27th,
    "Morning, MaryLu."
    Well, talking about -- the 'unknown', our 'preconceived ideas' (about Hell), how exactly God 'chooses to work', and 'everything' we don't understand ..... all I can say is: I only WANT to be, 'where' our God is (Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- Three in One) !!! Absolutely anything/anywhere -- living apart from our Lord ... would be a 'living Hell' ! So, even though there is definitely a Heaven, and, there is definitely a Hell ... I can leave all of the 'details' up to God ... of the -- what's, how's, and why's. And, trusting that because He IS a righteous, just and Holy God ... it is "His plan", and, "He knows best". He already said, that we would NOT understand 'everything' while here on Earth, and, that all would NOT be revealed for us, right now. I (we) ... can trust Him though ... knowing that for those of us who are His children ... we are held safely and securely in the palms of His Hands.
    I just know -- I NEVER want to be separated from HIM !!!!!!!!!!!!!
    God IS good, ALL the time .... no matter what !!!
    Thanks for sharing, MaryLu.
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  2. I'm glad you posted on this! I stumbled across this controversy for the first time about a week ago - up until that point, I had thought that everyone agreed that hell was forever - but it's stuck in my mind as something I want to study out. I've looked into it a little, and one thing I've found out is that the verse that talks about "the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever" (Revelation 14:11) only refers to the people at the very end who worship the Antichrist and get the mark of the Beast - it doesn't say ANYTHING about other non-Christians before them.
    This is definitely something I want to study out a lot more.
    Thanks for always pulling us away from our preconceived notions and church traditional beliefs and back into the Word. :-)

  3. Good morning. You've certainly given us all something to think about and to look into ourselves. The part about Hell being a temporary place sounds very correct to me. My understanding is that once the Book of Life is opened, there is no turning back. But, as you said, we don't know everything. When you think about it, God knows a person's true heart, so maybe at the last minute, some hearts may change sincerely. Only God the Father knows. Thanks for the post, MaryLu, I will definitely do my own research.
    Jack hasn't received the call for the interview yet. I typed up my own resume to give them, though it's none too impressive. I did, however, take an online typing test and found out that I type about 56wpm. I will let you know how it goes. Keep praying. :-)

  4. Hi Ladies.. yes I thought this was interesing. I'd like to do more research on it as well. I know it may be controversial but I brought it up because it made me look at things differently.. gave me hope I didn't have before. We often put God in a box of our own making.. when He is so much bigger and better than we can imagine!

    Brenda, how did your weekend go at your sisters? Good to have you back!
    Sapphire, I like to question things.. I'm tired of believing what others tell me, so I ask God a lot of questions.. Hope He doesn't get tired of me!
    Debbie, 56 WPM is great! Wow.. That should help a bit at least. Let us know when you find out anything!

  5. Mon June 27th,
    "Evening, MaryLu."
    Thank-you for asking ... my weekend went very well. Why I originally went up to my sister's ... it was the "Cancer Relay for Life" - on Friday night. That is where cancer survivors, and, those who are walking for cancer victims ... walk around a track, and are sponsored to raise money, to go toward Cancer Research. Anyway ... this was my first time to 'volunteer' at it -- I "printed names" on the luminary-bags ... of survivors (obviously still living), or ... cancer-victims (who have passed away from it). My niece Heather (one of my sister's daughters), passed away in February 2011, age 44, with Stage 4 colon cancer. Most of their family members were there ... 'in memory of Heather'. One of my other nieces -- bought t-shirts for us all to wear ... with a photo of Heather on it ... it was meaningful and precious. We were there from about 4:00 to 10:30 p.m.
    I stayed at my sister's (Barb), for the rest of the weekend. On Saturday, we drove around (doing errands and shopping). Then on Sunday afternoon, her and I went to see -- "Mr Popper's Penguins" (cute, funny, and, "decent"). Then I drove back home after supper.
    Anyway, it was good to be with them. (Something I don't get to do too often.)
    Thanks again, for the good wishes, and, prayers. Driving was great.
    (*** And Debbie .... 56 wpm is terrific !!!)
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  6. Our souls are eternal. So our belief or disbelief in God determines our eternal destination when we die. Our eternity has already started. It's just when we die that we go to the place we have chosen for ourselves. Heaven is eternal. Hell is eternal. It says so. Hell is called "everlasting, a fire that will never be quenched." Punishment for sin is eternal.

  7. Brenda, what a special weekend! I hope you raised a lot of money. Cancer is such a horrid disease. Popper's Penquins looks cute. I've always loved Penquins for some reason. They are all dressed up with no where to go!

  8. Kath, I agree with you completely! I'm sorry if something I said caused you grief. I was merely pointing out that at the end, hell will be tossed in the lake of fire along with the devil, his angels, and anyone whose name is not written in the book of life. It struck me as odd that hell was tossed in there too as I always thought the lake of fire was hell. So, it seems that the lake of fire is the ultimate destination for those who reject God. I was merely making the point that we humans understand so very little of God and how He works and His plan. There are no doubt all sorts of possibilities that we cannot fathom. God Bless!

  9. There is no Paradise separate from heaven; there is simply heaven. The word paradise is a synonym for heaven just as Sheol is for hell. Otherwise, we would have to believe that "good" people earned a special place separate from the people who weren't "good". This implies that we can do something to earn salvation. However, only Jesus earns salvation, and he does it completely and fully. He does not need our help; He gives us all we need. People of the Old Testament were judged by God immediately after their deaths, as are we. If they had faith that God would send them a Savior, then they received salvation. There is no special holding place for them. They simply went to heaven or to hell, just as we will when we die. In fact, in 2 Kings chapter 2, we learn that God took Elijah up to Heaven not paradise. He did not go to a "holding tank". The theory of paradise, like that of purgatory, is a false teaching. Similarly, the idea of a millennial reign on Earth is also false. Never has Jesus claimed to be an earthly king. In fact, He says "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36). God also teaches that the final days before Judgment will be full of many distressful things such as what is mentioned in Matthew chapter 24, not 1000 years of peaceful living with Jesus as a king on earth. Besides, the numbers found in Revelation are symbolic, not literal. For instance, 1000 represents completeness, which is fitting, because believers will enjoy the completeness of heaven with God for eternity.