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Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Hell Jesus Really Meant II: The Gospels

In Part 1, we examined the Old Testament concept of hell, or more properly, Sheol. We could verifiably conclude that Sheol explicitly was a place of the dead, that it was bad, and that the wicked went there. The OT also left open the possibility that everyone goes to Sheol, and although there are places that strongly allude to the righteous being saved from Sheol, it certainly does not clearly speak of a heavenly reward for the righteous and eternal judgment for the unrighteous.

Enter Jesus, the Son of God. What did Jesus teach about hell? One of the first things we may notice about Jesus’ description of hell is that there is a difference in the way the OT speaks of hell and the way He does. The Greek word most often used by Jesus to describe hell is gehenna. Gehenna is well described by Wikipedia here. Gehenna has a different aspect to it than hades, one of fiery torment. The scriptures do occasionally use hades as the word for hell, but even in a number of those cases Jesus mentions that Hades is, in fact, fiery, (Luke 16:19-31, ) removing the distinction.

Jesus does not leave us in limbo as to where the wicked will go. He also dos not leave us in limbo wondering who those are who go there – sinners. Sinners include those who lust , who lie, who says, “You fool!”, who do not believe the gospel, who murder the prophets, who claim they follow Jesus but actually do not, who mistreat others. Whoever has failed in one area of the law has failed in all, Jesus says, and thus is guilty and condemned to this place called hell. What should be startling is that the wicked are not only the robbers, rapists and murderers. They are us.

Jesus clearly also describes hell as fiery not just by using gehenna, but by actually calling hell a place of eternal fire in Matthew 5:22, Matthew 18:7-9, Mark 9:42-29, Luke 16:19-31, Matthew 25:41-46, Matthew 7:19-20, Matthew 13:27-30, 36-41, John 15:6.

Some wish to quibble, that hell is described as eternal but that the punishment is not. It is certainly true that the torments of hell are described more often than the state of the sinner thrown in. A few passages tell us otherwise. “Their worm never dies, their fire is never quenched” from Mark 9 speaks of it – it is not “the worm never dies” but “their worm never dies”. Why is it “their” worm if its only function is to eat quickly before the person dies (again)? More explicitly, Jesus calls hell a place of “eternal punishment” in Matthew 25:41-46, and in Mt 13:36-43 Jesus tells us that hell, a fiery furnace, will be “a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth”. If hell is a place, an eternal place of eternal fire, how can it be a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth if its ‘residents’ are expunged quickly? An eternal place can only have an adjective that is eternal!

Hell was not created for men. It is a place of fire made for the devil and his angels. Yet, our sin, according to Jesus, condemns us to it, as a just punishment from a holy God. This is The Hell That Jesus Really Meant. Yet, the Word of God is the words of Jesus from beginning to end. In the next, final, post, we will see what the remainder of the New Testament says about hell.

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  • Just to imagine the horror if burning sulfer forever is beyond mere words to desribe it. Sulfer has a horrid odor, melts and runs. To imagine this on your body; it is too terrible to comprehend. It should cause people to hasten a relationship with Jesus Christ. Sadly too many of us see only what is in front of our noses, houses, money, nice women or men, fancy cars, drugs, things of this world. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things (wonderful things, will be added unto you. seek Jesus Christ and He will draw close to you. Love Jesus, accept Him and repent of your sins. That is the only way to Heaven.

    By Blogger triggerfish, at 2/19/2009 01:32:00 AM  

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