It seems as if there is a temporary place of torment, sometimes also translated as “Hades” (Acts 2:27,31), just as there is a temporary place of glory where Abraham and Lazarus are, which is called “Paradise” (Luk 23:43). These will only be there up to the White Throne judgment (Rev 20:11-15).
Much of what we know of Hades is found in Jesus’ account of the Rich Man and Lazarus. So please read it in Luk 16:19-31 before considering the following deductions.
- After death comes the immediate intermediary execution of judgment
And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment, (Heb 9:27).
He who believes on Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. (Joh 3:18).
Following death there is no further opportunity of repenting. What is more, those that die outside of Christ, are already condemned. There is no trial or opportunity for the unredeemed sinner to plead his case with God. After the rich man had closed his eyes on earth in death, he reopened them in Hades.
- The unbeliever finds himself in torment
Regarding the rich man:
- He was encompassed by flames.
- He suffered thirst.
- His plea for water was refused.
- There was a deep gulf separating him from heaven.
- He had to look on while Lazarus whom he had despised and never comforted with a cup of water or a plate of food, was now being comforted with everlasting heavenly comforts.
- He was reminded of his lascivious life.
- He knew that his brothers on earth were heading for the same judgment, but he could do nothing to stop them.
- So, both his pleas remained unanswered – never has a single plea rising up from hell been answered.
- He never even saw the face of his judge; the face of God.
Oh, what a terrible, horrible place!
This is the place of eternal punishment, but before sinners will be moved from Hades to Hell, a public hearing will take place. Read more about that in chapter 35.
- Physical suffering in hell
- 2The 1:7- 9 (“everlasting destruction”).
- Luk 13:28 (“There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”)
- Rev 14:9-11 (“And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. And they have no rest day or night, … “)
- Rev 21:8 (“But the fearful, and the unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, will have their part in the Lake burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.)
- Varying degrees of punishment
And that servant who knew his lord’s will and did not prepare, nor did according to His will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he not knowing, and doing things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For to whomever much is given, of him much shall be required. And to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luk 12:47,48).
Clearly God’s judgment will be fair and will in each case consider the amount of spiritual enlightenment the person had received. Even in nature so much of God is revealed.
For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because the thing which may be known of God is clearly revealed within them, for God revealed it to them. For the unseen things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being realized by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, for them to be without excuse. Because, knowing God, they did not glorify Him as God, neither were thankful. But they became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Rom 1:18-21).
Much of God’s law is also revealed in men’s consciences.
For when the nations, who do not have the Law, do by nature the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law unto themselves; who show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and the thoughts between one another accusing or even excusing one another, in a day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. (Rom 2:14-16).
Clearly those that had never heard the Gospel, will stand condemned before the Lord.
- Losing all the good that is of God
To understand what this means we need to have another look at creation and the fall of man. Everything which God created was good, so was man; his body, his mind, his thoughts, his habits, his deeds, all of these were good and everything around him was good. He was inwardly at peace with himself and with his surroundings.
When he sinned, he was no longer in harmony, in peace with himself and with nature, he had lost much of the good that was within himself and nature lost much of its splendour because it was cursed, but … God did not immediately withdraw all his good from them and from nature. Adam retained his wife and he could still cultivate the soil and make a living, although with much effort. God was affording humanity the opportunity of correcting their failure by accepting him as their God. This he did at a terrible price, because his Son had to become a sin offering to purchase man’s freedom.
However, the human being who does not grasp this opportunity, but rejects God’s gracious offer, now loses all of God’s goodness that he experienced during his lifetime. It is like an employee that resigns from his job and loses his salary, house, car, and all other benefits for his employer has no further legal responsibility towards him.
Now let us consider what it means to lose all the good we are enjoying, and experiencing the opposite which is all that is bad, for this is what happens when we reject Christ: we reject all the good that He bestows on us, even that which we enjoy as an unbeliever:
- Fellowshipping with other people. God has made us to be socializing beings. In hell a person will have not a single friend, nor ever speak a single word to any other being or be spoken to by any other being for all eternity. He will be alone with his own thoughts.
- A person rejected God’s way of life which is to love your neighbour; now he will have lost the ability to love and will be consumed with raging hate towards God and every other being; it will consume him and make him incomprehensibly unhappy. He vented his anger on family, shop attendants and whoever crossed in any way, now there will be no-one on whom to release his pent-up anger, so it will get worse and worse.
- He rejected God’s way of having sex in love with his marriage partner and slept with many other men or women, now uncontrollable lust will consume him. It will continually build up but never be gratified.
- He rejected the good food and wholesome fluids God provided for his body and gave in to temptation to use stimulants such as alcohol and drugs and now he will crave them but have no supplier or means to procure them.
- He rejected Jesus, the Light that enlightens every person, and so he will lose all knowledge of what is right or wrong and his thoughts will be in continual turmoil, accusing and excusing one another, without ever finding the answer.
- He will become unto himself, the worst person he ever met and will have to live with him forever.
- Since he will be dropping into a bottomless pit, his condition will continually get worse and worse; he will forever be moving further away from what is good and entering deeper into what is bad.
- These will not be things God inflicted on him, they will be what he chose for himself during his life on earth; now he will have the fullness of it.
- This is what hell will be like, even if God would just stand aside and let a person go, without inflicting any punishment on him.
- In this life, people in a state of mind not nearly as bad as this, try to take their own lives, hoping to escape into a better world, but once in hell, even that option is no longer available.
- Demons, though not yet in hell, are the unhappiest of all creatures; the demoniac of Gadara, that was inhabited by demons, was inwardly in such turmoil and pain that he bellowed day and night on the mountains and amongst the graves and beat himself with stones to still that inner torment (Mark 5:5). These are the flames of hell that will burn within man.
Oh, how my heart cringes within me, just to have to write these words! God never intended it to be so; man brought it upon himself; he alone is to blame.
C. CHOOSE LIFE
Having read these frightening portions of Scripture, if you have not yet repented and accepted the Lord Jesus as your Saviour, please, please do so now. He will accept you gladly, just as He did for me and for every other sinner that ever turned to him.