Scriptures and Thoughts on Hell

What does “hell” mean?

Hebrew:
Sheol – synonym of pit or abyss. A monster that is never satisfied (Proverbs 1:12, 30:16). Underworld (place to which people descend at death). Does not consistently carry a specific connotation of punishment or reward.

Greek:
Hades – properly, the “unseen place,” referring to the (invisible) realm in which all the dead reside, i.e. the present dwelling place of all the departed (deceased). Does not consistently carry a specific connotation of punishment or reward.

Tartarus – only occurs in 2 Peter 2:4, referring either to the negative side of Hades or to the eternal abode of the wicked.

Ge’enna – appears 12 times, all but once spoken by Jesus. Loan word from the Hebrew meaning “the valley of (Ben) Hinnom,” an actual valley associated with idol worship and child sacrifice.

            Hell is a place of fire:
(Matthew 5:22) “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

(James 3:6) And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

(Reveltion 21:8) But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Is there a difference between hades and hell?

The KJV translated hades as hell and gehenna as the Valley of Hinnom. Since that time, scholarship and critical reading of the text reveals that Hades is a more general term, like Sheol, while Gehenna is a specific term for the eternal abode of the wicked.

(Revelation 20:13-15) And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

(Acts 2:27) For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.

Is hell forever?

(Matthew 25:46) And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

(Revelation 14:11) And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

(Daniel 12:2) And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Do people experience eternal conscious suffering in hell?
See above references on hell being eternal.  Hell is also a place of conscious suffering:

(Matthew 13:50) And throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(Luke 16:23) And in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

(Revelation 20:10) And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Relevant passages for the “annihilationism” discussion:

(Matthew 10:28) And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

(Matthew 7:13)“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.

(2 Pet. 3:7) “by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”

(Hebrews 10:39) But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

(2 Pet. 3:9) “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance,”

(John 10:28) “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

(1 Tim. 6:15-16) “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light.”

(2 Timothy 1:10) “Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel”

(1 Corinthians 15:52-53).” “the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality

(Matthew 25:46) And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

(Jude 7) Sodom and Gomorrah “are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.”

(Isaiah 66:24) “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”

(Isaiah 34:9-10) “Its streams will be turned into pitch, And its loose earth into brimstone, And its land will become burning pitch. It will not be quenched night or day; Its smoke will go up forever. From generation to generation it will be desolate; None will pass through it forever and ever.”

Is Satan in charge of hell?

(2 Peter 2:4) God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

 (Matthew 25:41) “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

(Revelation 19:20) And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.

(Revelation 20:10) And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Do we talk enough about hell?

Could there be an excessive emphasis? Could there be an under-emphasis?

(Ezekiel 3) watchman principle

(Luke 12:5) But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!

(Matthew 23:33) You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

(Mark 9:43-48) And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

(Hebrews 10:26-31) If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”d and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”e 31It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Why will God send people to hell? How could He do something like that?

(Romans 6:23) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Galatians 6:8) For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

(John 3:16-18) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

(Ezekiel 18:23) Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,’ declares the Lord God, ‘rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?’

(2 Peter 3:9) The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

(Matthew 10:28) And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

(Matthew 25:41) “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

(Matthew 13:41-42) The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(2 Peter 2:1-10) protecting His people from harm.

(Matthew 3:12) His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.

(Matthew 13:49-50) So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(Matthew 7:13)“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.

Other Discussion Questions:
Are you afraid of hell daily? Why or why not?
Is it appropriate to scare young children by teaching them about hell?

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Scriptures and Thoughts on “Creation”

Our church is embarking upon a weekly study, with a particular word being the focus of each week.  The second word we devoted our attention to was: “creation.”

We have had several requests to make the scriptures and brief notes from these studies readily available online.  Hopefully this can be a helpful resource.

Creation
Genesis 1:1 – in beginning God created
Genesis 1:27 – man created in God’s image
Genesis 2:3 – God rested after He created and made
Genesis 2:4 – in the day that God made earth and heaven
Genesis 2:7 – man formed from dust of ground
Genesis 2:22 – woman made from man’s rib
Genesis 4:51-52 – Ephraim born second
Genesis 5 – genealogy indicates time since creation?
Genesis 6:7 – God sorry He made man and animals
Psalm 51:10 – “Create in me a clean heart”
Psalm 102:18 – a people not yet created will come
Psalm 104:20 – “you send forth your Spirit, and they are created.”
Isaiah 20:46 – “see the One who created all these stars”
Isaiah 43:7 – God creates people for His glory
Isaiah 45:18 – God, as creator, has authority and deserves glory
Isaiah 48:7 – things created now, and not long ago
Isaiah 65:17 – I create a new heavens and new earth
Isaiah 65:18 – I create for rejoicing and gladness
Jeremiah 31:9 – Ephraim referred to as firstborn
Ezekiel 28:11-19 – Origin of the Devil?
Amos 4:13 – God as creator has authority and glory
Malachi 2:10 – God created us all, so we ought to live in harmony
Matthew 1 – genealogy helpful for chronologies
Matthew 1:17 – “14 generations” and the way Jews did genealogies
Matthew 19:4 – Male and Female an important part of creation
Mark 16:15 – preach the gospel to all creation
John 3:3-8 – born again of water and spirit
John 8:58 – “before Abraham was, I am”
John 17:5 – Jesus was there before the kosmos
Romans 1:20 – we learn of God by His creation
Romans 1:22 – professing to be wise, they became fools.
Romans 1:24-25 – worship and serve creature or creator
Romans 5:12, 18-19 – Sin entered when Adam sinned
Romans 6:1-4 – saved people still need to be told not to sin, why?
Romans 8:18-25 – creation itself to be set free?
Romans 8:29 – conformed to image of His Son
Romans 8:37-39 – no created thing can separate us from God
1 Corinthians 15:42-44 – our new bodies will be spiritual
1 Corinthians 3:1 – mere babies in Christ still live carnally
2 Corinthians 5:17 – old has gone, new is here
Galatians 6:15 – being a new creation matters, not circumcision
Ephesians 2:10 – created for good works
Ephesians 4:24 – new self is created by God
Colossians 1:15 – He is the firstborn of all creation
Colossians 1:16-17 – all things created by Jesus, and FOR God
Colossians 3:10 – we are renewed according to the image of Him who created us
1 Timothy 2:13 – Male leadership reflected by creation order
1 Timothy 4:3 – God created food to be gratefully shared
1 Timothy 4:4 – everything God created is good
Hebrews 12:25-29 – created things that can be “shaken” will be removed
1 peter 2:2 – the new creation is a newborn who must grow
2 Peter 3:4 – “all things will go on like they have since creation…”
2 Peter 3:10 – creation to be burned up
Revelation 3:14 – Jesus is beginning (meaning?) of the creation of God
Revelation 4:11 – all things exist because of God’s will
Revelation 5:13 – every created thing blessed God and the Lamb

Why did God create the universe?
Isaiah 43:7
– for His glory
Colossians 1:16-17 – for Himself
Isaiah 65:18 – for rejoicing and gladness
Ephesians 2:10 – for good works
1 Timothy 4:3 – for grateful sharing
Revelation 4:11 – because of His will

Did God use evolution?
Science has not demonstrated macroevolution, because there is no viable means for adding new, meaningful information to the genome.
Gen 1:27 – Man is made in God’s image, not through unguided, chance processes.
Genesis 2:7, 22 – describes process and does not mention common ancestry and gradual change.
These verses are used as basis of Biblical doctrines throughout the New Testament.
Romans 5:12, 18-19 – Sin of Adam
Matthew 19:4 – Male and Femaleness and marriage
1 Timothy 2:13 – Male leadership reflected by creation order and because Eve was deceived

Literal 24 hour days?
Compare Genesis 1:5 to Genesis 2:4 interlinear (Hebrews word depends on context)
Genesis 1 – Notice, there was no sun by which to judge a day.
Genesis 2:3, God rested on seventh day, Jews also. We worship every seven days.
The Hebrew word itself is ambiguous, but the context of “evening and morning” lends credence to 24 hours being a natural reading, and why posit another period of time? What agenda does that advance?

How long ago was the creation?
Genesis 5
– genealogy/ Matthew 1, focus on verse 17 (in the thousands of years since Adam)

Is Jesus created?
Colossians 1:15
– look at context and at Greek
Genesis 4:51-52 and Jeremiah 31:9 – firstborn indicates preeminence
Revelation 3:14 – look at Greek
Romans 1:24-25 – distinction between creation and creator, as highlighted by placing Jesus in the beginning, before heaven and earth, and before the kosmos – John 17:5
John 8:58
– before Abraham, “I am”
Mark 16:15 – preach gospel to all creation (preach it to Jesus?)
Romans 8:37-39 – no created thing can separate us from Christ
Revelation 5:13 – all created things bless God and Lamb

Will creation be destroyed or renewed?
Isaiah 65:17
– new heavens and new earth
Romans 8:18-25 – creation to be set free? Similar to how Christians will – 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 the natural becomes spiritual
2 Peter 3:4, 10 – last time it was a flood, this time it will be fire
Hebrews 12:25-29 – created things that can be “shaken” will be removed

Is Satan created?
Ezekiel 28:11-19
– Origin of the Devil?
1 Timothy 4:4 – everything God created is good

Did God create evil?
1 Timothy 4:4
– everything God created is good

What does it mean for a saved person to be a new creation?  Why do they still sin?
2 Corinthians 5:17
– old has gone, new is here
Romans 6:1-4 – yet they still need to be told not to sin, why?
John 3:3-8 – born again of water and spirit
1 Corinthians 3:1 – mere babies in Christ still live carnally
1 Peter 2:2 – the new creation is a newborn who must grow

Can science explain creation without God?
When scientists try, their answers increasingly converge on God but just insist on using another name.
You have a being that is: eternal… immaterial… present everywhere and constantly, powerfully active… filled with meaningful information… containing a fundamental consciousness… etc.
Stephen Hawking say that the universe can and will create itself from NOTHING! – Romans 1:22

God’s Victory is Near

For as long as there has been pain and suffering, we have been struggling to understand why. How can a loving God allow injustice and tragedy to happen?

When Job asked God these questions, God gave no short, simple answer. He did not give Job a stone tablet with a brief explanation, nor has He given us this bulletin article to suddenly answer all of our questions.

God’s answer was a series of over 60 questions that contrasted Job’s smallness with God’s bigness, and Job’s limited knowledge with God’s infinite wisdom.

Perhaps God was telling Job that man can no more understand the problem of suffering than he can understand how to create a universe out of nothing.

It is not a comprehensive answer, but there is something that we must remember: this world lies under the power of the devil.

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:1-2)

“The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

Something else that we do know is that the devil’s reign is temporary and will come to an end.

“Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” (John 12:31)

In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

He is not slow to fulfill His promises, but is patiently waiting for more to repent. (2 Peter 3:9) Even so, we long for the day when His victory will be swift.

“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)

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Ancient Shadows in the Book of Exodus

What we call “The Old Testament,” Jews often referred to as “The Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.”  One remarkable thing about living after Christ’s resurrection is having the opportunity to look back and notice the many fulfilled prophecies and symbols that these ancient inspired works contain.

The New Testament refers to the Law of Moses as “a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:17).  The historical account of Noah and the Ark, for instance, is spoken of as “symbol” or “antitype” which corresponds to baptism (1 Peter 3:21).  Many such “shadows” and “antitypes” can be seen in the account of Israel’s sojourn in Egypt and pilgrimage to the promised land.

·      Israel became a great nation in the land of Egypt, so that the Pharaoh feared what they might accomplish (Exodus 1:7-10).  In the same way, we each have the potential to do great things for God, which the devil will try to thwart.
·      The Pharaoh decided to “deal shrewdly” with the Israelites in order to keep them under control (Exodus 1:10).  In the same way, Satan has been using trickery and scheming since Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:13) and continues to do so (John 8:44).
·      The Pharaoh’s plan was to force the people to do hard labor as a means of controlling them (Exodus 1:11-14).  Likewise, the devil seeks to enslave us to sinful desires (Romans 6:20).
·      Help came to the enslaved Hebrews in the form of a newborn baby (Exodus 2:2).  Our help, also, was prophesied with the words: “unto us a child is born.” (Isaiah 9:6).
·      Moses fought for his people to be free, displaying many signs and wonders (Exodus 5-11).  The Christ also suffered many things (Luke 17:25) and did many miracles (John 21:25).
·      In the end, the oppressors were swept away and drowned in the same water that the Israelites passed safely through (Exodus 14:21-30).  We also pass through water, that it might wash our sins away (Acts 22:16).
·      God’s salvation of His people was commemorated by a feast of unleavened bread and the marking of doorposts with the blood of a lamb (Exodus 12:14-27).  We also remember what God has done for us in a feast of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine, which represents the blood of the Lamb of God (Luke 22:15-20).
·      A land of milk and honey awaited the Israelites as they left Egypt (Exodus 3:8, 33:3).  We, as sojourners, also seek a better land, in heaven (Hebrews 11:16).
·      While they sojourned, the people of Israel needed to be careful that they did not turn aside to foreign gods (Joshua 24:14-15).  We also must be faithful until death in order to receive the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).

Hidden away in an Old Testament book like Exodus are many symbols that still have great power today.
Ancient Egypt

The Serpent’s Deception

When the spotlight was turned on Eve in Genesis 3, and God asked her “What is this you have done?” Eve’s response was “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

While Eve certainly does not get off the hook by simply blaming her actions on the serpent, there is indeed some truth to her statement.  Eve truly was deceived, for surely she would not have sinned if she had only known what the outcome would be.  The serpent had not been honest in his dealings with Eve.  He had emphasized what was desirable about the fruit while leaving out that part about getting kicked out of the garden, into a world of painful childbirth and backbreaking labor.

In John 8:44, Jesus describes that serpent like this:

“He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

  • The simple fact of the matter is that any and every time you and I are tempted to sin, we are at risk of being deceived.
  • He will deceive us by hiding from our hearts the truth about the ripple effects that our sin could have months or years from now on those that we love.
  • He will deceive us by emphasizing to us the short term gratification we can experience while hiding the long term costs.
  • He will deceive us by denying that the behavior in question is even sinful in the first place.
  • He will deceive us by telling us that no one can see what we are doing, as if God Himself could not see, or as if that fact made our actions less somehow less sinful.
  • He will deceive us by telling us that some particular sin is necessary to make us more relatable to the world so that we can witness to worldly people.
  • He will deceive us by not really telling us anything but simply distracting us from the whole internal debate by some distraction such as mealtime or television.
  • He will deceive us by encouraging us to place all of the blame onto someone else who “made us do it.”
  • He will deceive us in many other ways.  As diverse as our situations and personalities are, so diverse are his techniques.

But remember this my friends, temptation places us in danger of deception!  Deception leads us to make decisions that we would not make if we were thinking clearly.  In times of temptation, “trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)”  When our hearts or minds suffer from temporary impairment from temptation, may we rely on God’s unchanging and eternal words of truth.  When the deceptiveness of the temptation passes, we will be glad that we did.

Snake, Serpent