T H E S I S # 91
More than any other person in the Bible, Jesus warned of an eternal hell. Eternity is a long time.
There are actually two hells….
Luke 16:19-24 (NLT): Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores. Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side. The rich man shouted, “Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’”
The Lord Jesus often spoke in parables, and many take comfort this very scary story of Lazarus and the rich man was but a parable. Others point out that Jesus never used names (Lazarus, Abraham) in a parable, and therefore this must be a true account of real people in a real location. It does seem so.
Luke 16:26 (NLT): “There is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.”
This place of “torment”, let’s call it hell # one, is located in what the New Testament calls (in greek), “hades”. Hades, a place of huge proportions, is divided into two great sections, one pleasant and one terrible. Abraham and Lazarus were in the paradise section. Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise”, the same paradise that held Abraham, Lazarus, and the great multitude who placed their trust in the coming Messiah. This paradise is now empty, as the Lord Jesus had, at that time, led the eager multitudes into heaven.
The other section, hell # one, was separated from paradise by “a great chasm”. Obviously, the population of # one has greatly increased since the rich man’s encounter with Abraham. This place of torment, though a place of torment, is nothing compared to gehenna (in greek), “the lake of fire”. Let’s call gehenna hell # two.
Hell # two is now empty. Those dying Christ-less go immediately into # one, not # two. At some future time “the dead” (the spiritually dead) will be removed from # one and brought before the Lord Jesus at His “great white throne” where they will be judged according to their works on earth. From there they are cast into hell # two (which has varying degrees of punishment). “And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
So “the rich man” (no longer rich) is still where he was, in hell # one. There will be a day when he will have to face our Lord to be judged according to his earthly deeds. From this judgment he will be cast, permanently, into hell # two. Sad. Very sad.