Lesson 09 第九课

THE DOCTRINE OF HELL

I.    Descriptive Words for “Hell”

A.    Hades

1.    The Greek word hades is the equivalent of the Hebrew word sheol, meaning “the covered state.”

2.    These words referred to the realm of the dead.

B.    Tartarus

1.    2 Peter 2:4 speaks of the wicked angels imprisoned in Tartarus in gloomy dungeons (See also Jude 6 and Rev. 20:3).

2.    Tartarus was the place in Greek thought where the wicked were punished deep in the bowels of the earth.

C.    Gehenna

1.    The Greek word Gehenna, used 12 times in the New Testament, described the abode of the unrighteous dead.

2.    The word is derived from a word that means “the Valley of Hinnom,” which was a valley to the south of Jerusalem where the wicked kings Ahaz and Manasseh set up idols and caused the people to worship them (2 Chron. 28:3; 33:6).  They led in the offering of human sacrifices and even offered their own children as sacrifices to the false gods (See also 2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 7:31; 32:35).  Under King Josiah’s reign, the heathen idols and altars were destroyed (2 Chron. 34:3-7).

3.    The Valley of Hinnom became the garbage dump for the city where residents cast their garbage, bodies of dead animals, and bodies of the poor who had no burial place.  A perpetual fire burned in the valley, and maggots ate away at the bodies.  Therefore, Gehenna was the word Jesus used to describe the eternal punishment to be experienced in hell (Mark 9:42-48).


II.    The Certainty of Hell

A.    The Bible declares the certainty of hell.

1.    Jesus said, “So it will at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 13:49-50).  See also: Matt. 5:22, 29-30; 7:13; 8:12; 22:13; 25:30, 46; Rev. 14:10-11; 20:10-15

2.    It is worthy of notice that Jesus often spoke of hell and warned of its terrors. In fact, Jesus had more to say about hell than he did about heaven.

B.    Hell is a real place.

1.    When the word Gehenna is used to describe hell, it does not refer merely to death or cessation of existence.

2.    Hell as eternal punishment was originally created for the devil and his angels.  Jesus said, “Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matt. 25:41)  See also: Rev. 20:10.


III.    Hell Will Be a Place of Tormen

A.    The torment will be eternal.

1.    Jesus often spoke of hell’s eternal torment: “But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:12).  See also: Matt. 13:49-50; 22:13; 25:30, 41, 46; Mark 9:43-46.

2.    Gehenna is also called the “lake of fire and brimstone” (Rev. 19:20; 20:10; 21:8).

B.    All those whose name is not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone (Rev. 20:15).

1.    Notice that the devil and his angels are the first to be cast into hell (Gehenna) (Rev. 19:20; 20:10).

2.    However, death and hell are also cast into the lake as well as the unbelievers (Rev. 20:14-15).  The word “hell” in this passage is the Greek word hades, which is the abode of the dead.  Therefore, those who have not been resurrected into eternal life through Jesus (Rev. 20:6), and have remained in hades, will all be cast into the lake of fire along with the devil and his angels.  Notice also Rev. 21:8, which again states that those whose sins have not been forgiven through salvation will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone.

C.    Other Characteristics of Hell:

1.    Hell will be a place of sorrow and of mental and emotional anguish (Luke 16:22-23).  Some claim that Luke 16:19-31 was a parable of Jesus and therefore cannot be referred to as a description of hell.  However, even if this passage is a parable, one must acknowledge that Jesus used parables to illustrate truths; and he would not have described a potential hell in an inaccurate way.  In addition, it could be argued that this is not a parable since Jesus used actual names, which he never did in any of his other parables.  Also, there is no introductory notation preceding this story to indicate it is a parable.

2.    Another characteristic of hell will be that of separation (Luke 16:26).  Those there will be eternally separated from God and from those in heaven: “dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” (2 Thess. 1:8-9).

3.    Hell will be a place of darkness (Matt. 8:12; 22:13).  Critics claim that a place of fire cannot also be a place of darkness.  However, one cannot attempt to understand God’s eternal plan using our ability to conceive of it in a logical manner.  In addition, we cannot assume that the characteristics of either heaven or hell will be confined to current laws of nature.

4.    Hell will be a place of hopelessness.  Revelation 20:14 describes hell as the “second death.”  This means spiritual death, which is eternal separation from God.


IV.    Why Should There Be a Hell?

A.    God’s love demands a hell.

1.    The objection most often leveled against the doctrine of hell is that is eminently unloving, that an all-loving God could not possibly send anyone to hell.

2.    The Bible does teach that “God is love”: “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8)  See also 1 John 4:16).  But the truth is, love cannot act coercively, only persuasively.  A God of love cannot force people to love Him.  Therefore, those who do not wish to love God must be allowed not to love Him.

3.    In addition, those who do not wish to be with God must be allowed to be separated from Him.  Hell is this eternal separation from God.

B.    Human dignity demands a hell.

1.    Since God cannot force people into heaven against their free choice, human free choice demands a hell.  As C.S. Lewis said, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘Thy will be done.’”

2.    The Bible makes it clear that God wants to gather everyone with Him: “The Lord is not slow about His promises, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)  See also: Matt. 23:37; Romans 2:4.  But not everyone is willing.  Forcing people to do something against their will is an affront to their dignity.

C.    God’s justice demands a hell.

1.    The Bible makes it clear that all that God does is just and righteous (Ps. 7:11; 11:7; Prov. 29:26; Isa. 45:21; Zeph. 3:5).  God is so pure that He cannot even look upon sin (Hab. 1:13).

2.    However, we also know that not all evil is punished in this life.  Many observers have noted that the wicked sometimes prosper (Job 12:6;            Ps. 37:35; 73:3; Jer. 12:1).  Thus, the existence of a place of punishment for the wicked after this life is necessary to maintain the justice and righteousness of God.

D.    God’s sovereignty demands a hell.

1.    Unless there is a hell, there is no final victory over evil.  The wheat and tares cannot grow together forever.  There must be an ultimate separation or else good will not triumph over evil.

2.    If good does not ultimately triumph over evil, then God is not in ultimate control.  Therefore, God’s sovereignty demands a hell, otherwise He would not be the ultimate victor over evil which the Bible declares that He is (cf., 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Rev. 20-22).

E.    The cross of Christ implies a hell.

1.    At the center of Christianity is the Cross: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3). See also 1 Cor. 1:17-18.  Without the Cross there is no salvation (Rom. 4:25; Heb. 10:14).  It is the very purpose for which Christ came into the world (Mark 10:45; Luke 19:10).

2.    Only through the Cross can we be delivered from our sins (Rom. 3:21-26). Jesus suffered great agony, even separation from God on the Cross (Matt. 27:46; Heb. 5:7-9).

3.    If there is no hell to shun, then why was the Cross necessary?  Christ’s death is robbed of its eternal significance unless there is an eternal separation from God from which people need to be delivered.