I would like for all of you to consider a few questions we might ask ourselves. We may have come from various locales or backgrounds - some of us from New York, some from Michigan, some from Kansas, some from here from in Tennessee and some may have lived in other areas. We also represent different Ethnic groups. So how did each of us come to believe what we do? What formed the philosophies, the political ideas, the ideologies and the religious beliefs that we may have? Well it comes from what we’ve been taught! All human beings know absolutely nothing at birth. So we had “knowledge” funneled into our minds and accepted that as truth. But was it the truth? The Bible states what is the TRUTH in John 17:17. “Thy word is truth.”
Now, let’s look at the truth about the subject of “Hell”.
First, what is the generally accepted common belief in our western world about hell? Here’s a brief summation of this POPULAR BELIEF from the Encyclopedia Americana, “As generally understood, Hell is the abode of evil spirits; the INFERNAL REGIONS---whither lost and condemned souls go after death to suffer indescribable torments and eternal punishment”.
(continuing “The Western religious leaders through the Middle ages borrowed the doctrine of eternal torture FROM THE PAGAN PHILOSOPHERS.---”. For more information on the subject of HELL enroll today in our Bible Study Course, “Traditional Christian Doctrines”, request lesson No. 4, entitled, “Hell: Is it a tradition of Men or is it Doctrinal?” or send for your FREE copy at: The Church of God, New World Ministries - P.O. Box 5536 - Sevierville, TN 37864. Or call: (865) 774 - 8485.
Now to add to these comments we’ve just read, I’ve gone through some personal experiences that demonstrate the utter lack of understanding the vast majority of even professing Christianity has on this subject of hell. (At most Protestant funerals, you’ll hear “their ideas” of “the deceased going immediately to Heaven after their death”. And, “later on”, having their “soul” reunited with a “spiritual” body, at the resurrection. (They usually don’t know there are actually three resurrections revealed in the Bible.) They picture this as the “better” resurrection as in Hebrews 11:35 and the first Resurrection in Revelation 20:6. As you may understand, they are partially correct- the first resurrection is the better resurrection, BUT, they have it all misconstrued and mixed up to where it is nowhere near the truth!
It is not our purpose to disparage or condemn these ministers for their lack of understanding. Frankly, they can NOT understand the real Plan of salvation for mankind because God has not revealed it to them YET. Even among the most educated and famous Theologians or ministers of this present evil world, you find profound ignorance of the Truth.
My friends, understanding the TRUTH about the Hell of the Bible ties directly to understanding HOW false ideas such as: “going to heaven”, “the immortality of the soul”, “burning in hell fire forever” and other doctrinal errors of the Bible have crept into these false ministers teachings! (Read II Corinthians 11:13 - 15.)
In this study, we’ll find our English word translated “hell” is from more than one word from the original Hebrew or Greek word. This is very important in our coming to an understanding of this subject.
Christ Spoke of a Hell-Fire:
Mark 9:43 “--- to go into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”
The Greek word that Mark wrote down here is “GEHENNA”. Note that Christ associated this Greek word with fire. So there really is a “hell-fire”! So those who transgress God’s laws will receive punishment by fire as their ultimate reward if they do not repent of those sins. In verse 45, 47, Christ emphasized that anyone who allows any part of his body to persistently serve sin will receive this punishment by Gehenna “fire” or “hell fire”.
Sometimes, the English word “Hell” is applied incorrectly:
In most of the passages of the New Testament where we see the word “hell” in our English translations, the original Greek word was a different word than “Gehenna”. This word is “Hades”- which does not refer to fire at all, but has an entirely different meaning. Yet the translators have used the one English word “Hell”-for these two entirely different Greek words that have two entirely different meanings!
Notice in: Luke 12:4, 5 Here again the word “hell” from the Greek word “Gehenna”, and refers to the Hell-Fire that will kill the transgressors in a second death. We’ll cover this more fully a little later. But notice in another Scripture, where we find the word “hell” (In the King James version), it is from an entirely different Greek word, “Hades”. The New King James. version has it correctly translated “Hades”, but it can be confusing if you are using certain translations such as the old King James version.
Acts 2:31 “He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.”
You might think the word “hell” would be the same in both, but here we find that “Hades” is the Greek here in Acts 2:31 and it merely means the “GRAVE”! “Gehenna” is the Greek in Luke 12:5. So when we come to the word “hell” in our New Testament, we must carefully distinguish whether it is speaking of punishment by fire, or of the grave, where one lies quietly buried. These two vastly different meanings for the word “hell”, must constantly be kept in mind when we see the word “hell” in the New Testament.
We find in, “A Dictionary of the Bible” by James Hastings, what he has to say about “Hell”: “In our Authorized Version the word ’Hell’ is unfortunately used as the rendering of THREE distinct words, with different MEANINGS. (1) The ‘SHEOL’ [GRAVE] of the Hebrew Old Testament, and the ‘HADES’ [GRAVE] of the [original Greek written] New Testament. --- It is now and entirely misleading rendering especially in the New Testament passages. (2) as the equivalent of the Greek word ‘tartaros’ (II Peter 2:4) [A PLACE OF RESTRAINT FOR FALLEN ANGELS] [OCCURS ONLY ONCE IN THE BIBLE] and (3) as the equivalent of the Greek word ‘Gehenna’ [GEHENNA - FIRE PUNISHMENT].” (Read I Timothy 4:13 - 16.)
Where to after Death?
When the sinner dies, what happens to him? Does he lie quietly and silently there, knowing not anything, and awaiting the resurrection, or does his “soul” descend immediately into an inferno of eternal hell-fire torture for his sins? That’s what this “preacher” believed and taught at a funeral I had to attend. What is the Truth? What is the state of man after he dies??
Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20 You have never heard of a beast going to “hell” to be tortured, have you?! Beasts go to the grave, and so does mankind! And the same event happens to both the righteous and the wicked:
Ecc. 9:2 “All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath. 5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything---. 10 ---For there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest.”
Psalms 146:4 “His breath goeth forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.”
All mental and physical processes of an individual ceases at death.
All men must die once, and even Christ took upon Himself the same mortal flesh of which we are composed. He also had to go to the grave the same as all mankind. Christ did not go down into a fiery hell but merely into the grave, from the Greek word “Hades”. In fact, even a sinner does not go to a fiery hell immediately after he dies, but merely to the grave. Another example is that of Jacob, speaking of his son Joseph, whom he thought was dead, knew that his son would be waiting in the grave for him. Genesis 37:35 “---For I will go down into the grave unto my son.---”
The evidence is overpowering that the unrepentant sinner or anyone else does not go immediately at death to a place of torment! They go to the grave, where they “know not anything”! We will cover more on this subject in a future article. Be looking for it.