The Truth About Hell!
The Lord Jesus Christ was very forthright and outspoken when it came to the topic of Hell, and he never watered down the word in any way. When Jesus spoke about the broad way that leads to destruction, he was ultimately talking about the road to Hell. Contrary to popular opinion, the majority of the people in the world are on the broad road to destruction (ultimately Hell), as opposed to the way which leads to eternal life (ultimately Heaven). Of course most people will reject that whole idea, and label it as a scare tactic to brainwash people into submission, but they must completely disregard the words of Jesus Christ himself to do that!
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. (Matthew 7:13-14)
As you read this article, it would be a good time to assess your own situation, whether you are on the narrow way which leads to life, or the broad road which leads to destruction. If you were to question people all over the world about the existence of this place called Hell, you would probably come up with a million different answers. Some people believe that there is a Hell, while others do not. There have been many different books written about Hell, and some of those books have been sensational in nature, and they were not based upon the scriptures. People can talk about having a divine revelation, but if it does not line up with the WORD OF GOD, it is DEMONIC and NOT DIVINE and it means absolutely nothing. In this chapter I will examine the scriptures again to see what they have to say about this place called Hell, and I will start with a story told by Jesus Christ himself.
There was a certain RICH MAN, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain BEGGAR named LAZARUS, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that THE BEGGAR DIED, and was carried by the ANGELS into ABRAHAM’S BOSOM: 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. 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, lest THEY ALSO COME into this PLACE OF TORMENT. ABRAHAM saith unto him, They have MOSES and the PROPHETS; let them hear them. 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 16:19-31)
First, I must tell you that I do not belong to the crowd of people who believe that the Lord was speaking to his disciples in a parable here. I believe that the Lord was giving an actual account of something that truly happened at some point in the past. I say this because whenever the Lord would speak to his disciples in parables you would never find him using a person’s real name, as he did here in this story. I do not want to go off on a tangent though, but I want you to understand that this is a very serious thing that we are talking about here in this chapter. So let us take a closer look at the passage above and see what we can learn from the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord introduced us to two different people, one being a rich man and the other a beggar. The rich man obviously led an extravagant type of life, which included expensive clothing, and plenty of fine food. On the other hand we have Lazarus, a beggar who was outside the house along with the dogs. Lazarus was in such a bad condition that the dogs would come to lick his open sores. It seems to be, that Lazarus depended upon those spare crumbs to keep himself alive, on a day by day basis. It is likely that Lazarus was eating the same leftovers which were thrown to the dogs outside. It is also likely that Lazarus had a very filthy look about him, and it must have been very humbling for him to be found begging alongside the dogs. The scene suddenly changes and the next thing we know is that Lazarus was found sitting right next to Abraham, even in his bosom. That word bosom is also used in the Bible when the apostle John is sitting right next to Jesus at the “passover meal” before Jesus was slain in the cross.
Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. (John 13:23)
It was not unusual for the Jewish people to be found sitting in a reclining position on the floor as they would eat, and that is what the apostle John was doing during the passover meal. Lazarus was found in a place of comfort, next to Abraham in his bosom. The rich man observed Lazarus and “Father Abraham” enjoying each others company from his vantage point in Hell (hades). I bring this up because many have been taught that “Abraham’s bosom” is the name of an actual place, when that is simply a man-made myth. Lazarus was a believer and he ended up in a place of comfort, sitting in the very bosom of Abraham, just as the apostle John sat next to the Lord, on his bosom at the passover meal. This is the same Abraham, who we read about in the book of Genesis, the one whom the Lord called to be a “father of many nations.” (Genesis 17:4-5) The passage does not tell us how old Lazarus was when he died, but it is very likely that his physical condition accelerated his death. The good thing though is that Lazarus clearly had a true relationship with the Lord, despite his low status in this life at the time of his death. People might have felt sorry for Lazarus, because of his sorrowful condition, but Lazarus knew where he was going AFTER his life in this world came to an end. It is NEVER too late to get it right with God, and we know that one of the thieves who was crucified alongside Jesus Christ, repented of his sins and trusted Christ in the closing moments of his life. By outward appearance the thief was getting his just punishment, but most would have never believed he would end up in paradise that very day! (Luke 23:39-43) The only thing that truly matters in this life, is if a person knows the Lord BEFORE they cross over to the other side, and Lazarus had it right where it counted, but the rich man did not. What an incredible turnaround for this poor man Lazarus who was carried by angels and placed next to “Father Abraham”. This should put a hope in the heart of all true believers, that good things are coming for those that wait upon the Lord! The story goes on to say that the rich man also died, was buried and ended up in Hell! Can there be any question that the Lord was showing us the grand difference between the eternal end of the saved, and the unsaved? I do not think so. It is important for all people to know that they will not simply cease to exist after they die as some people even teach. There will be no second chance after death for you, or anybody else for that matter. You do not find Purgatory in the Bible, so do not expect to find it after you die either. It simply does not exist. Many Roman Catholics continue to have Catholic Masses said so that their loved ones may have their time in Purgatory shortened. I used to do the very same thing, until I got saved and came to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Throughout the ministry of Jesus Christ on earth he spoke about two different places, which were Heaven and Hell. You can be sure that every person who has ever had breath in their body, is going to spend eternity in either one of those two places. So with that in mind let us take a look at what the unsaved soul can expect to find in this place called Hell.
People Are Conscious In Hell
The rich man was fully conscious and he immediately recognized Abraham, and Lazarus who was sitting alongside him. We do not know how the rich man knew that it was “Father Abraham” but he could have heard others including Lazarus calling out his name, or Abraham might have told him who he was, but that is really not that important. The truth is that the man had a memory, and he knew that he was not in a good place. Oh what a horror show it must be for those people who have ended up in Hell. The people in Hell are fully conscious, and they remember their life on earth. Keep in mind that the one who is telling the story is Jesus Christ the Creator of all things, and the one to whom all judgment has been committed! (John 5:22) Oh what a terrible place is this place called Hell, because all the souls that have ended up there, remember their past lives. The rich man was calling out to “Father Abraham” and it was not unusual for the people of Israel, to refer to Abraham as their spiritual father. There is a very good chance that the rich man in Hell thought that he was saved but he was not, and he ended up in Hell! Please keep in mind that it was the Lord Jesus Christ who told us about these things, and they are for our spiritual instruction. Jesus was confronted with the Jewish religious leaders of his day who also proclaimed that Abraham was their “Father,” but Jesus refuted them.
I know that ye are ABRAHAM’S SEED (descendant); but YE SEEK TO KILL ME, because MY WORD hath NO PLACE IN YOU. I speak that which I have seen with MY FATHER: and ye do that which ye have seen with YOUR FATHER. They answered and said unto him, ABRAHAM IS OUR FATHER. JESUS saith unto them, If ye were ABRAHAM’S CHILDREN, ye would do the works of ABRAHAM. But now YE SEEK TO KILL ME, a man that hath told you THE TRUTH, which I have heard of GOD: this did not ABRAHAM. Ye do the deeds of YOUR FATHER. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; WE HAVE ONE FATHER, even GOD. JESUS said unto them, If GOD were your FATHER, ye would LOVE ME: for I proceeded forth and CAME FROM GOD; neither came I of myself, but HE SENT ME. (John 8:37-42)
You can see from that passage of scripture, that the Jewish people to whom Jesus was talking, automatically assumed that they were the children of Abraham. The Lord Jesus Christ acknowledged the fact that they were indeed Abraham’s seed (or descendants), but only in the flesh (or physical), but NOT in the spiritual sense. It is important to see this because the Lord Jesus Christ was speaking to the religious leaders of Israel who intended to kill him. They did not receive him, (John 1:11) and they did not believe that he was the Son of God, and yet they insisted that Abraham, (as well as God), was their Father. Jesus told them that if God were their Father, they would have loved him, because it was the Father who sent him to this earth! There has always been a TRUE remnant of faithful believers within Israel, which you might call “spiritual Israel” because they were faithful to the Lord. The apostle Paul put it this way:
Not as though the WORD OF GOD hath taken none effect. For they are NOT all ISRAEL, which are of ISRAEL: Neither, because they are the SEED of ABRAHAM, are they all CHILDREN: but, In ISAAC shall thy SEED be called. That is, They which are the CHILDREN of the FLESH, these are NOT the CHILDREN of GOD: but the CHILDREN of the PROMISE are counted for the SEED. (Romans 9:6-8)
So all the way back then there were multitudes of Jewish people who rejected the Lord Jesus Christ when he came into the world, and there are multitudes in the world today who still reject him. Many people automatically assume that if a person is of the Jewish race that they are included in the true Israel, when nothing could be further from the truth. The Jewish apostle Paul was as lost and hell-bound as a person could be until he got saved and converted to Jesus Christ. He did not become part of the TRUE Israel of God until he came to Jesus Christ. Not only that but any Gentile who has put their faith in Jesus Christ would also be included in the true Israel of God. Paul said this:
For ye are all the CHILDREN OF GOD by FAITH in CHRIST JESUS. For as many of you as have been baptized into CHRIST have put on CHRIST. There is neither JEW nor GREEK, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all ONE in CHRIST JESUS. And IF ye be CHRIST’S, then are ye ABRAHAM’S SEED, and HEIRS according to the PROMISE. (Galatians 3:26-29)
The whole point of that passage is to show us that there is only ONE true body of believers, and that body is made up of believers in Jesus Christ. Paul used the conditional word IF when he spoke about Abraham’s descendants including only those who belong to Jesus Christ! Paul told us that it did not matter whether a person was Jewish or Gentile or whether they were a man or a woman. The ONLY thing that really mattered was whether a person had a living faith in Jesus Christ. It is quite obvious that the rich man in the story told by Jesus did NOT have a true faith in the Lord, because he ended up in Hell. He must have had some understanding of the scriptures though because he addressed Abraham as “Father Abraham.” It is more than likely that John the Baptist encountered that same type of mindset in his ministry, otherwise he would not have spoken the way he did to the religious people of Israel.
But when he saw many of the PHARISEES and SADDUCEES come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of VIPERS, who hath warned you to flee from the WRATH to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And THINK NOT TO SAY within yourselves, We have ABRAHAM to OUR FATHER: for I say unto you, that GOD is able of these stones to raise up children unto ABRAHAM. (Matthew 3:7-9)
John the Baptist knew that the Lord was not impressed with the religious lineage of the Jewish people, and he expressed that very clearly to them. This should be a warning to all the people in the world, who declare that they are in a right relationship with God, when it is not based upon the truth. If you insist that God is your father, then you would naturally love Jesus Christ, the one whom he sent! Those were the words of Jesus himself, and he is the one each of us will face on Judgment Day!
People Are In Torment In Hell
The next thing that we notice concerning the state of the rich man in Hell is that he was in absolute torment. (Luke 16:23) The rich man also made a passionate plea to Father Abraham for mercy. He requested that Abraham would send Lazarus with just a drop of water on his finger to cool his tongue. (Luke 16:24) The rich man specifically said that he was “tormented in this flame” which can only mean a fiery flame which the rich man could see. I have heard people try to spiritualize away the absolute torment and suffering of this place called Hell, but there is no sane reason to attempt to change what was written here by Luke into something that was not written. Jesus did not speak about Hell in terms which might be easily dismissed, but he spoke in such a way as to get the attention of the listener. Jesus was sending forth a warning, and he was not one to play games with words, or to tease people either.
The rich man who fed Lazarus with mere crumbs, after filling his belly with whatever he desired, was now begging Abraham for mercy. Remember that Lazarus settled for the crumbs which fell from the table of the rich man, so he was not eating a gourmet meal by any means. Oh what incredible torment it must have been for the rich man in Hell, when he looked up and saw the beggar Lazarus sitting alongside “Father Abraham” while he was in such great suffering. Oh what hellish torment for the rich man to hear Abraham tell him that there was nothing that could be done for him.
We must not forget that it was Jesus Christ, the “way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6) who told that story. Jesus, the compassionate and humble servant was not trying to tease or badger people with this story. No, not at all, he was simply trying to shout a wake up call to those who were following their own way, and who were in danger of perishing forever. The motive behind the Lord’s instruction was absolute LOVE. If you were headed toward a bridge which had just collapsed only minutes earlier, would you appreciate it if somebody WARNED you, and shouted for you to STOP before it was too late? Of course you would, and if you managed to stop your car, would you not thank the person who warned you? Of course you would, and you should take this warning concerning Hell as a loving gesture from the Lord to get right with God. Again I must ask you if Jesus Christ was telling the truth or was he a liar? Remember this: TRUE LOVE WARNS! Do you think that there are any people in Hell today who thought the gospel preacher should have been more laid back in his warnings about Hell? No, I do not think so. I have had people mockingly tell me that they want to go to Hell, because that is where all their friends are going to be. I wonder how many “gospel mockers” are in Hell today, because they thought that they would see “all their friends there.” There is not any laughing or mocking going on in Hell, and there never will be. You are reading the truth about Hell as told by Jesus Christ, the creator of all things, including Hell! (John 1:1-3, 10, Genesis 1:1, Isaiah 44:24)
People Cannot Escape From Hell
The rich man in Hell had to painfully endure listening as Father Abraham told him that he enjoyed the good life (good things), while Lazarus suffered (evil things), but now Lazarus was comforted, and the rich man was tormented. (Luke 16:25) The party was over, and it came suddenly for the rich man. Please do not misunderstand this whole teaching, because it does not mean that rich people go to Hell, and that poor people go to Heaven. There are countless millions, of both rich and poor alike in Hell (and Heaven), but this particular situation was used by the Lord to bring out a point. The Lord wanted people to know that there was more to life than just this old evil world. The Lord knew that there were countless multitudes who had no regard for the things of God, and who gave no thought for “the afterlife” and who were not prepared for eternity.
Father Abraham told the rich man that there was “a great gulf fixed” so that there was no way that he could be reached by them going to him, or by him coming to them. Oh the horror of knowing that there is absolutely no way out of Hell, it is sickening to the human spirit to even think about it, never mind experience it. Keep in mind that this account concerning Hell was not spoken by some wild-eyed raving maniac, with a “fire and brimstone” message as the gospel haters often refer to it. Those words were spoken by the gentlest, humblest, and most compassionate man to ever walk this earth, and his name is Jesus Christ. It is also important to remember that since Jesus Christ, (the Word) created ALL things (John 1:1-3), then he is the very one who created this place called Hell also! The rich man’s thoughts eventually turned, and he began to focus on his earthly family, and his five brothers who were still alive. The rich man obviously knew that his five brothers were in the same spiritual condition that he was in before he died, and he did not want them to end up in Hell with him. The rich man begged Father Abraham to send Lazarus back to his earthly father’s house to testify to them, so that they would not end up in that place of torment! (Luke 16:27-28) It is absolutely incredible that the rich man in Hell sounded like a true evangelist because he was begging Abraham to sound a warning to his five living brothers so that they would not end up in Hell. Is it not the true call, and responsibility of every true Christian to warn others so that they would not end up in Hell. How is it that Hell is so rarely preached in the modern day pulpits throughout the world? How is it that the torments and horrors of Hell which Jesus Christ described is often simply referred to as a Christ-less eternity? For many people a Christ-less eternity would be nothing but bliss for them in their own way of thinking, because they do not want Jesus now in this world, and they do not want him later either!
Abraham responded quickly to the rich man’s request to send Lazarus to warn his five brothers, and said ” They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” (Luke 16:29) What did “Father Abraham” mean by that statement? He was simply telling the rich man that his five brothers had the scriptures, and the way of salvation was readily available to them. The words spoken by Abraham to this rich man in Hell would apply to all people in the world today, because the word of God (the Bible) is so readily available for all to read. People continually balk, and rant about people who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, but you need not worry, because the Lord Jesus Christ will judge all people fairly! Many times that argument is used by people who want nothing to do with Jesus Christ themselves, and they seek to get others to join hands with them, so that they are not alone in their guilt. You can be sure that the holy and righteous God knows exactly how to deal with every individual including you. What a day it will be for the “gospel mockers” when they realize that their own foolish heart was darkened by their own rebellion and sin.
For the INVISIBLE THINGS OF HIM from the CREATION of the WORLD are clearly seen, being UNDERSTOOD by the things that are MADE, even his ETERNAL POWER and Godhead; so that they are WITHOUT EXCUSE: Because that, when they knew GOD, they glorified him not as GOD, neither were thankful; but became VAIN in their imaginations, and their FOOLISH HEART was DARKENED. Professing themselves to be WISE, they became FOOLS, (Romans 1:20-22)
The rich man in Hell was still mightily concerned for his five brothers, and he believed they would repent, at the sight of Lazarus, whom they knew had died! (Luke 16:30) One cannot fault the rich man for insisting that his five brothers would repent at the sight of Lazarus, because he knew enough that they needed a good “shaking” and a ” spiritual awakening” as to the eternal peril which awaited them. He had enough knowledge about his five brothers to realize that they were also on the same slippery slope to destruction. The rich man figured that they would be scared out of their wits, and that they would listen to Lazarus as he told them that their rich brother died, and went to Hell. Abraham responded quickly to the rich man and he told him that if his brothers would not listen to the words of truth from the scriptures, then they would not listen to anybody who came back from the dead. (Luke 16:31) Oh what truth was spoken by Father Abraham to the rich man because Abraham knew first hand the anointed power behind the scriptures. Abraham knew that the scriptures were not just plain words that you might find in a novel from your local bookstore. Abraham knew that people would eventually question the words of a man or woman who declared that they came from the dead. Abraham knew that it was God’s choice that men would be saved by believing the truth of the gospel which came by preaching. Jesus Christ put it this way:
It is the SPIRIT that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: THE WORDS that I speak unto you, they are SPIRIT, and they are LIFE. (John 6:63)
The Lord Jesus Christ did not tell this story to scare people, but he told this story to awaken all people to the true state of their own souls. Jesus knew that the world is filled with countless millions of people who were just like that rich man. That includes people from every class of life, including the poor, the destitute, the middle class and the rich also. The Lord Jesus used the example of the rich man in Hell, because he knew that all too often the rich become so satisfied with their own opulence, and success in this life, that they often have little interest for God now or in the afterlife. That is why the Lord said this:
It is easier for a CAMEL to go through the EYE of a NEEDLE, than for a RICH MAN to ENTER into the KINGDOM OF GOD. (Mark 10:25)
The Lord also said the following and it certainly is a scripture which applies to the rich man who ended up in Hell.
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? (Mark 8:36-37)
What could the rich man in Hell possibly give in exchange for his own soul? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! He probably knew deep inside his heart that he would never be getting out of the place that he found himself in. He was in Hell and he could not fathom the reality of what had happened to him. One moment the man was going about his worldly business, and the next thing he wakes up in Hell. While he was still alive, the rich man probably had every material thing his heart desired. It is also very likely that he had plans for both the near, and distant future, but they certainly did not include his death and entrance into Hell. When a person dies without true salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ, they will leave all of their possessions behind them. Their bank accounts will still have the same amount of money in them at the moment they died. Their automobile will still be parked where they left it. Their home will still be sitting in the same place as always. The televisions and DVD players will be sitting on the same table as before, and the cellphones will have several text messages which will go unanswered forever! The question is where will the person be who owned all those things? They will be in Hell, with the millions of others who have died over the course of history, where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth! The following parable was spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ and it dealt with these very things:
And he (Jesus) said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: FOR A MAN’S LIFE CONSISTETH NOT in the abundance of the things which he POSSESSETH. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain RICH MAN brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, WHAT SHALL I DO, because I HAVE NO ROOM where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and BUILD GREATER; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; TAKE THINE EASE, EAT, DRINK, and be MERRY. But GOD said unto him, THOU FOOL, this night THY SOUL SHALL BE REQUIRED OF THEE: THEN WHOSE SHALL THOSE THINGS BE, which thou hast provided? SO IS HE that layeth up TREASURE FOR HIMSELF, and is NOT RICH TOWARD GOD. (Luke 12:15-21)
Jesus could not have been any clearer in that parable about the possibility of sudden death, and it’s ability to transform the circumstances of a person’s life in a split second! We have all read the stories over the years about jet planes going down with hundreds of precious lives being lost. Many people on those planes were on their way to a long awaited, and well deserved vacation in a beautiful getaway spot, but then disaster ended their plans and their life in a split second. It was only moments before perhaps, that the pilot spoke over the intercom and gave them the cozy temperature reading of their place of destination, but then the end came for them in just a moment!
BOAST NOT THYSELF of to morrow; for THOU KNOWEST NOT what a day may bring forth. (Proverbs 27:1)
Whereas YE KNOW NOT what shall be on the morrow. For WHAT IS YOUR LIFE? It is even a VAPOUR, that appeareth for a little time, and then VANISHETH away. (James 4:14)
We all make many different plans in this life from the daily and simple plans, such as what clothes to wear, what to eat, to the more serious plans such as what school to attend, what job to take, and who we are going to marry. Why is it that so few people make plans for eternity?